Wednesday, 28 April 2010

RING OUZEL near Ware

A RING OUZEL was seen this morning in the old quarry works on Woodhall Park Estate off Ware road nr Balls Mill - Ray Hooper

Male WHINCHAT at Norton Green

Productive morning produced the following:


Darrel Bryant

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Ayot St Lawrence TURTLE DOVE returns

The male EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE that spends several weeks early summer in Ayot St Lawrence village returned today to the Rectory Garden (per Robin Pearson)

Amwell today - Sunday 25 April

A SANDWICH TERN, 2nd calendar year MARSH HARRIER (hunting for a while over the reedbeds) and a drake Mandarin flew south this morning.

Present on site were 1 Wigeon, 2 Cuckoos, a Yellow Wagtail (female), 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Grasshopper Warblers (per Jan Hein Steenis)

SANDWICH TERN and DUNLIN at Tyttenhanger - Sunday 25 April

I had a SANDWICH TERN on the main pit this morning for 1 minute; also on the site was Common Sandpiper, DUNLIN, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Wheatear and the first Garden Warbler of the year (Ricky Flesher)

SANDWICH TERNS were also seen at Wilstone Reservoir briefly (at midday - Mick Frosdick) and at Amwell NR, whilst the latter site also had a flythrough MARSH HARRIER.

There was a fall of COMMON SWIFTS at Wilstone, involving at least 150 birds (LGRE)

HOBBIES at Rye Meads - from 24 April

Four HOBBIES from the Draper Hide at Rye Meads Saturday afternoon. (24 April) (per Jack Fearnside)

Saturday morning 24 April - brief SANDWICH TERN at Wilstone and nice fall at Tyttenhanger

Ricky Flesher, Tery Smith, and myself found a female WHINCHAT, female COMMON REDSTART and male NORTHERN WHEATEAR this morning at and around horse paddocks at the Colney Heath end of the the "Tree Sparrow" field - TL202 056. Also 2 Cuckoo over and one calling on the common (Steve Blake)

Friday, 23 April 2010

First WHINCHAT of the year

This evening I discovered a stunning male WHINCHAT on Croxley Common Moor. It started off on the opposite side of the track to the model aircraft area but ended up on the same side on the Tolpits Lane side of the aircraft area (Joan Thompson). Both Mick Frosdick and LGRE saw it later.

At Woodoaks Farm, Maple Cross, the first-winter male BLACK REDSTART remained this evening, along with a EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE in the flowering trees of the orchard (Lee Evans)


Two GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS singing next to the viewpoint at Amwell at 8:20pm this evening. One was singing in all kinds of different tones and flying about – I assume there was a third bird around...(Jan Hein Steenis)

East Herts - 22 April

Thorley Church to Thorley Wash - 3 NORTHERN WHEATEAR on footpath at 0530 Hrs with single Common Whitethroat singing nearby.

Thorley Wash - 6 Common Whitethroat (all males), 2 Sedge Warbler improves on y'day's 1, single GRASSHOPPER WARBLER still along with plenty Chiffchaff, Blackcap and amazing numbers of Willow Warbler, 0545-0700 Hrs.

Spellbrook (west) - 3 Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, all over between North and North-west, also a hunting Kestrel - Graeme J. Smith

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

GROPPER at last, more LITTLE GULLS but a near-miss MARSH HARRIER - LGRE Diary Notes

Reeling Grasshopper Warblers (Steve Arlow)


Another light frost overnight and another day of cool NW winds, although these slackened off to almost nothing by dusk. Clear and blue throughout, with bright sunshine, temperatures climbing to 13 degrees C.

It was another bumper day locally, particularly for scarce waders, with the larger species battling their way into the wind. On the downside, I dipped another Marsh Harrier, but on the positive, bagged a nice PIED AVOCET......

(0700-0800 hours)

Failed to meet the dawn commitments with Roy and Dave B so hence missed the Whimbrel that roosted overnight on Wilstone and flew off strongly east at 0618 hours (and most likely relocated further NE in Bedfordshire).

However, just as I drove over the canal bridge from Tring, Ben Miller texted to say that he had just found another LITTLE GULL, this time on Marsworth. Within minutes I was watching it and yet again, another individual in a very confusing state of plumage. It had a patchy black head and all dark bill, pale grey underwings with some dark mottling on the underwing coverts and all white upperwings, so presumably an adult in transitional plumage or a near adult. It also had the salmon-pink flush to the underparts and as it showed well, it flew between both the Bucks and Herts sections of the reservoir.

Acting on news provided by Warren Claydon and Steve Rodwell, I was extremely pleased to finally connect with a reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER - my first of the year. The bird was showing extremely well perched high on top of grasses in the rough field adjoining the sewage works and sang from 0720 until at least 0755 hours.

The number of SEDGE WARBLERS in the Marsworth Reedbeds had also greatly increased with a minimum of 11 singing males, whilst CETTI'S WARBLERS numbered 3, a 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER was located (by the sewage works) and two singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS had arrived, again both in the vicinity of the works.

The only other birds of note were a pair of Shoveler on the Sewage Farm lagoon and a Common Redshank that flew over west calling (whilst Ben saw the first-year Little Ringed Plover that had earlier been roosting on Wilstone jetty)..


As Ben had checked College Lake, I gave it a miss and headed straight for the Chiltern escarpment. It was freezing up there and although the sun was shining, the fresh NW wind kept activity by migrants to a minimum. Just 1 female NORTHERN WHEATEAR remained present on the SE Beacon Hill slope and a single LESSER REDPOLL flew east. Five male COMMON WHITETHROATS were still between the S bend and the penultimate Beacon peak but best of all was a crippling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER reeling from a small bush left (west) of the main track up to the trig point, on the upper reaches of the SW slope. The bird was singing right out in the open with its throat and head reverberating with the strange action of its reeling and its beak wide open. It was still singing at 0820 hours.


A party of 4 House Sparrows was in the hedgerow opposite the farm shop. I was joined by Jim Middleton at the top of the steps (he had been on site early enough to witness the Whimbrel) and over the next half hour recorded 1 LITTLE GULL (the relocating bird from Marsworth), an impressive 6 COMMON SANDPIPERS on the algae bunds, 15 Common Terns and the Common Redshank I had seen earlier now roosting on the East reservoir bank.

Other migrants included 1 COMMON SWIFT, 242+ SAND MARTINS, 22 HOUSE MARTINS, 58 Swallows and a singing male Blackcap in trees opposite the car park.

More familiar species noted included -:

Great Crested Grebes (12)
Grey Heron (25 active nests on the Drayton Bank)
Continental Cormorant (9 active nests in the two main trees on the Drayton Bank)
Mute Swan (just 2 present, both apparent cobs)
Gadwall (19)
Shoveler (5)
Tufted Duck (127)
Northern Pochard (3 drakes)
Coot (64 counted, with several pairs actively nest-building)

Mistle Thrush (pair gathering food on the bank by the car park)

A41 (BUCKS) - Sadly, yet another dead Badger, this one lying on the southbound carriageway near Tinker's Lodge at SP 956 095

........Just as I was skirting Stewartby, Steve Rodwell 'phoned to say that a female MARSH HARRIER was lingering at Wilstone. Frustratingly, I was stuck in the traffic of the A 421 roadworks, but after taking the back route through Lidlington, Flitwick and Toddington, made good headway. Dave Bilcock phoned to say that the bird was showing again at 1840 hours, quartering the reedbed, and I had high hopes. However, just as I entered Wilstone village, the harrier chose that minute to continue its migration, and charged off high to the north. I had missed it by literally minutes.........

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Two DOTTEREL near Ashwell

Two DOTTEREL in the large beet field just north of Ashwell by the minor road to Eyeworth but flushed, 18.15 (observers unknown)



There was a light frost overnight as the wind switched to the Northwest and freshened during the morning. It remained clear and bright but felt particularly cold in the wind.

It was another good day in terms of migration with more fresh arrivals. I managed two year-ticks - HOBBY and COMMON SWIFT but still failed to find either Grasshopper Warbler or Common Cuckoo. In stark contrast to yesterday, most of the Ring Ouzels had moved on overnight......


Following an early morning call from Dave Bilcock, I was able to connect with the 3 DUNLIN at 0900 hours. They were still feeding on the island on the main lake and involved one adult in transitional plumage and two still largely in winter plumage.

There was also a smart adult male WHITE WAGTAIL in the NE corner of the marsh but otherwise, it was the breeding waders which were significant.

In addition to the two lingering COMMON SNIPE, it was great to finally see that the OYSTERCATCHERS have finally settled down to breed with one bird sat on a nest on the larger of the two Eastern islands. At least 7 pairs of Lapwing were nesting, with one pair with fledged young, with 4-6 Common Redshanks also present.

Wildfowl included the two adult Mute Swans, 3 Greylag Geese and single pairs of both Common Teal and Northern Shoveler.

I failed to hear or see the Common Cuckoo, my best being a singing male WILLOW WARBLER.


Two different male LESSER WHITETHROATS were 'rattling' away, with one in the hedgerow 250 yards south of Northfield Grange at SP 947 133 and another SW of Northfield Road at SP 949 128.

The woodland on the Aldbury Nowers escarpment held 2 singing male Blackcaps and a single Common Chiffchaff, whilst 2 Stock Dove, Nuthatch, Robin and Common Blackbird were also recorded. There was one European Barn Swallow quartering the fields and at least one pair of Eurasian Skylarks in the paddock fields.


A third OYSTERCATCHER was present in the quarry, additional to the nesting pair at College.


Despite the sunshine, it must be still too early for Grizzled and Dingy Skipper, with only Peacocks seen and a single Speckled Wood in the coppice.

I was pleased to see the resident population of HOUSE SPARROWS holding up - with 6 pairs in total, with the nucleus around Grace Cottage - as well as one pair of Eurasian Collared Dove, 3 pair of Chaffinch and 3 pairs of nesting Common Blackbird.

The coppice area held a male BULLFINCH, single singing male WILLOW WARBLER, Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap and Great Tit, whilst the main common held at least one singing male Eurasian Skylark.


At the bottom of Inkombe Hole slope, Dave Bilcock and I recorded 33 PASQUE FLOWER spikes (including 16 in full flower) but little in the way of migrants. A male Sparrowhawk drifted over and 3 Sand Martins flew north.

Elsewhere along the escarpment, there was a fall of COMMON WHITETHROATS, with 5 singing males between the S-bend and the Beacon, a LESSER WHITETHROAT showing well on the Steps Hill slope and at least 6 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS (between Top Scrub and the S-bend). The 5 NORTHERN WHEATEARS remained in situ, favouring the SE slope below the Beacon and including two very bright individuals, most likely Greenland-types.

A very bright pipit that appeared to have a long hind-claw and was skulking about in the grass eventually turned out to be a Meadow Pipit.


At the north end, in the Harding's Rookery area, Coal Tit, singing Common Treecreeper and Nuthatch were noted, whilst further south, a circuituous walk between the War Memorial, up the west side of the golf course and out west to farmland NW of Well Farm failed to yield any Cuckoo, Tree Pipit or Garden Warbler.

The highlight was 6 different singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, along with 4 male Blackcaps, 2 male Common Chiffchaffs, a pair of Jays, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Song Thrush, a pair of Yellowhammer and an Orange Tip butterfly. Two Stock Doves were feeding in the chicken pen by Well Farm

Nearby, in trees north and west of the castle remains, the Rookery held 23 active nests.


An early afternoon visit with DB yielded our first HOBBY of the year - a bird giving a fine show flying back and forth over the reedbed and moving as far west as the hide. Mike Campbell and Peter Leigh had first discovered it at 1300 hours.

Common Tern numbers had increased to 18 birds.


There was no sign of yesterday's European Golden Plover flock but a single Lapwing was in one of the meadows immediately beyond the A41 bridge. This area also yielded a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT and 4 Linnets whilst the village itself held a population of some 35 HOUSE SPARROWS.


I spent a long period from early afternoon surveying the extensive conifer woodlands for crests. At the Hale end, a total of 5 singing male FIRECRESTS was located and 8 GOLDCRESTS, with a hooting TAWNY OWL, 3 singing male Coal Tits, 1 WILLOW WARBLER, the 3 male Common Chiffchaffs, Song Thrush and pair of Long-tailed Tits also recorded. A Comma butterfly was seen, along with 3 Peacocks.

In the small triangular coppice west of the A413 just south of the Wendover Bypass, the Rookery at SP 873 064 held 31 active nests.


I then surveyed the southern escarpment of forest along the Ridgeway, from Boswell's Farm (SP 880 065) through Barn Wood to the north end of Hale Wood (SP 894 072) - a 2.5 mile section of forest. This yielded a further 4 singing male FIRECRESTS and 3 GOLDCRESTS, along with Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Robin and male Blackcap. Most unexpected was another HOBBY - a bird flying high over the ridge above Barn Wood at 1620 hours - one of my earliest ever in Bucks.

Whilst walking back, DB texted to inform me that Jonathon Nasir had just located a male Common Redstart at Miswell Farm......

(evening visit from 1700) (with JN, DB, MCa, and later SR and Warren Claydon)

Mike Campbell and Dave were already on site when I arrived at Miswell Farm shortly after 1700 hours but after scouring the hedgerows and fenceposts north of the 'caravan field', there was no further sign of the adult male Common Redstart.

Not only that, Jon's purple patch continued, as an Osprey being trailed by a Red Kite and Common Buzzard flew over him shortly later, and quickly drifted off NNE as it skirted the reservoir.

I drove around to the main car park and was surprised to see the number of 'new' birds that had arrived during the afternoon, including a summer-plumaged pink-breasted 2nd-summer LITTLE GULL, a minimum of 28 COMMON TERNS (Charlie Jackson counted 33 later) and a huge arrival of hirundines including no less than 320 SAND MARTINS, a massive 43 HOUSE MARTINS and 70 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, and with them 3 COMMON SWIFTS - my first of the year.

There were also 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS present, 2 LAPWING flew west, a female Mallard was accompanying three ducklings and several Red Kites were overhead, whilst a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew east, as well as 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Later towards dusk, CJ enjoyed excellent views of a WHIMBREL which settled briefly on the East Bank before being flushed by a dogwalker.

Belated Monday report - COMMON CRANE over Amwell

Amwell NR - Great Hardmead Lake, Common Crane, flew north over watchpoint at 3.25pm (Rupert Evershed)



The fine weather continued, although several degrees down on yesterday's high point of 19 degrees C. Winds remained light but frequently touched SE and as cloud increased during the day, the first rain for some time fell in the Chilterns just prior to dark.

Today was exceptional for RING OUZELS with many seen, along with more BLACK REDSTARTS and late on - a performing HOOPOE..........

(1300-1410 hours)

Instead of covering Norton Green which I had planned to do, I had to rush down to Tyttenhanger, where Steve Blake had discovered another BLACK REDSTART......

Parking by the Bailiff's Office and mobile canteen, I quickly came upon (at last) my first Herts COMMON WHITETHROAT of the year - a singing male in bushes and scrub by the conveyor belt and Fishing Pit. I was also delighted to see my first ORANGE-TIP butterflies - 3 of them flying around the small wood at the entrance.

The BLACK REDSTART - an adult male moulting towards full summer finery - was present in the fenceline bordering the paddocks situated 500 yards east of Tyttenhanger Farm and the Woodyard and was showing very well in the afternoon sunshine. It was commuting between the scattered Oak trees, a tree-stump, some flowering blossom bushes and the fence wire and was ranging along a 200 yard stretch. Steve Blake managed the record shot above. Another male COMMON WHITETHROAT was sharing this same area, whilst two pairs of TREE SPARROWS was nesting, with a male Muntjac Deer feeding out in full view. A few Peacock Butterflies were also noted.

The main pit held a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS and 6 Common Redshank, with up to 10 pairs of Lapwing in adjoining fields and singing male WILLOW WARBLER and several Blackcaps.

Shortly after I departed, yet another male Ring Ouzel was found - most probably the male that had visited Croxley Common Moor earlier in the day.


At least 16 pairs of HOUSE SPARROWS were located in the village, as well as 8 nesting pairs of Common Blackbird. Nearby, the nesting pair of PEREGRINES were utilising their usual crevice.

(1530-1610 hours)

A party of 3 adult-type LITTLE GULLS, two with full black hoods, was showing well commuting between the green algae bunds directly out from the car park and the surface area out from the jetty. There had been 6 birds present earlier in the afternoon. Interestingly, one of the birds had black peppering in the primary feathers suggesting immaturity, but had a full black hood and typically dark underwing. Two birds also had a beautiful pink wash to the underparts. Dave Bilcock obtained the excellent images above. They were loosely associating with 8 Black-headed Gulls.

The 16 COMMON TERNS from yesterday evening remained, whilst new for me was the COMMON SANDPIPER feeding out on the bunds.

Some 8 Shoveler remain, a male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew through and hirundines included 42 Sand Martins and 5 European Barn Swallows.

At STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, the 4 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swan and 27 Tufted Ducks were present, with 5 Barn Swallows patrolling the north bank, whilst MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held 11 Great crested Grebes, 5 Shovelers, a drake Northern Pochard and 2 more Mute Swans. A further 9 Mute Swans was on the adjacent Grand Union Canal.

The horse paddocks held 1 male YELLOW WAGTAIL, 1 adult male WHITE WAGTAIL and 5 Pied Wagtails, with a GREY WAGTAIL by the canal locks and the Marsworth Canal Reedbed holding a singing male SEDGE WARBLER. A further SEDGE WARBLER was in the reedbed wood, where also the first singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER of the year was present (easily audible from the footpath close to the overflow). The male Blackcap and male Common Chiffchaff of the past week or so were both still present and a very noisy CETTI'S WARBLER was by the Sewage Farm.

Overhead of Marsworth were 6 Common Terns, 25 Sand Martin and 7 Barn Swallows.


And just outside Hertfordshire.........

Well the day was almost over but with confirmation from Paul Whiteman of a North London HOOPOE, I utilised the last couple of hours with a visit there........

I arrived on site shortly after 1830 hours and was immediately updated by Roy Woodward as to the behaviour of the bird. After leaving the east bank of the KGV Reservoir, it had flown to a neighbouring area of fields and had been lost from view. A small crowd had gathered, including Roy, Jan Hein, Lol Boldini, Jonathan Lethbridge and Paul Whiteman, and after spreading out along the A 112 opposite Yardley Lane, I relocated the bird as it flew up from the grassy field and disappeared over the hedge and landed on the lawn of the aptly-named Sewardstone Evangelical Church. As HOOPOES always do, it fed on the vicar's lawn for a few minutes before flying again and entering the air-space of a small housing estate and flats. As Alan Stewart, Paul W and I walked into the cul-de-sac, the HOOPOE flew over us and went back towards the church grounds and then went to ground for a while.

It eventually reappeared and then flew 200 yards eventually to settle in front of some barns just east of the reservoir, where 11 of us enjoyed the best show of the evening as the bird fed out on the track and in the field (see Roy's image above). The bird was constantly alert and nervous, raising its crest at every sound, and after just a very short while, flew back south and returned once more to the church grounds. In fact, this is where it roosted just prior to dusk.

ARCTIC TERN at Hilfield

An ARCTIC TERN was present on Hilfield Park Reservoir this evening (thanks to Joan Thompson for disseminating the news far and wide) as well as these beautiful assets photographed above

Monday, 19 April 2010

Productive morning at King's Meads

Productive morning at Kings Meads:

Red Kite flying east at 8:20am
Common Swift over West pool (first of the year)
5 Sedge Warblers with three new singing males today
2 Grasshopper Warblers, one reeling on Broad Mead until 7:40am, and most suprisingly, a second bird reeling and showing itself on Lady's Mead up to 8:30am

Simon Knott

More WHEATEARS at Norton Green - 18 April

3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS present, but no sign of Ring Ouzel but several motorbikes on site (Darrel Bryant).

EGYPTIAN GEESE at King's Meads

Sunday morning (18 April) at Kings Meads:

Lesser Whitethroat on Manifold Ditch
2 Egyptian Geese on Kings Mead under A10 viaduct

Simon Knott

Ashwell WHEATEARS - Sunday

18 April: 4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS, 3 male and 1 female, on a manure heap north of Ashwell, just south of Kirby's Manor Farm at approx TL262421 at 11:30 this morning. Also several YELLOW WAGTAILS (Rob Davies)

Drake GARGANEY still - with Gadwall (18 April)

Managed to see the GRASSHOPPER WARBLER that was seen on Friday, at around 9.00 am this morning in the area on the Hertfordshire side of the River Stort opposite the scrape.

Furthermore, the drake GARGANEY is still present, keeping with a pair of Gadwall; also COMMON CUCKOO and Willow Warbler (Laurence)


18 April: Had a quick walk round with my son Tom mainly looking for Lesser Whitethroat. Within 3 minutes i'd picked one singing but the main highlight was found just as we were leaving when a female NORTHERN WHEATEAR flew up from in front of us and showed well for the next 10 minutes. It was present around the spot of last years Grasshopper Warbler near an old bonfire (Ian + Tom Bennell)

Friday, 16 April 2010


A RING OUZEL was seen just south of Cottered in horse paddocks near Brook End this afternoon, whilst at Norton Green, the first-summer male still remains, often in company with 38 lingering Fieldfares


ARCTIC TERNS photographed today at Wilstone (Dave Bilcock)


With the wind still blowing from the Northeast, most of the day was fairly cool. From about midday onwards, the pressure started to build and the cloud cover dissipated, leaving clear blue skies and long spells of sunshine. Towards evening, the wind slackened right off, making it very pleasant.

I spent the day mopping up a few local year-ticks, the highlight being my first LESSER WHITETHROAT of the year, some nice adult LITTLE GULLS and more ARCTIC TERNS.........

(1200-1245 hours)

Joined Mick Frosdick and Geoff Lapworth on the Moor and finally added LESSER WHITETHROAT to my 2010 Year List - a fairly showy rattling male in a restricted area of bushes adjacent to the canal just north of the small concrete bridge over the river (248). I failed to find Geoff's Common Whitethroat though - the cold wind and grey conditions keeping the bird down and quiet.

Up to 6 Blackcaps were noted however, along with 3 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, and a pair of GREY WAGTAILS were in the vicinity of the lock gates.

Also noted were 1 Mute Swan, 4 Coots, Green Woodpecker, 1 Barn Swallow, Robin (pair nesting), Long-tailed Tit (5), Greenfinch and Reed Bunting.


A pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers have been seen at this site fairly frequently in recent times but this afternoon Mick and I could only locate the regular male Nuthatch.

Most impressive was the male WATER RAIL by the boardwalk - in full 'song' and rarely heard during the day.

Two pairs of Stock Dove were noted, 2 Jays, Mistle Thrush (singing male), Song Thrush, Common Blackbird (male in song), Ring-necked Parakeet (4), Wren (2 singing males), Long-tailed Tits (pair), Blue Tit (pair feeding young), Great Tit (singing male), Blackcap (singing male) and Common Chiffchaff (2 singing males).

Two SAND MARTINS flew quickly north at 1310.


With the weather clearing up and the cold NE wind starting to abate, I walked the entire escarpment from Aldbury Nowers, across Pitstone Hill, past Steps Hill and across the Beacon Hill slopes to Gallows Hill. It was virtually birdless and my only highlight was the 3 male NORTHERN WHEATEARS on Beacon Hill, just south of the trig point.

There was no sign of the two male Ring Ouzels present early morning, nor of the male that had been showing well in Inkombe Hole much earlier (per Dave Bilcock).


At 1800 hours, I stopped off at Wilstone, where Jeff Bailey and Steve Rodwell were chatting, and Ben Miller was just leaving. The main point of interest were yet another group of 4 ARCTIC TERNS - commuting between the algae bunds and the jetty - and consorting with 3 Common Terns. Interestingly, at least two of the Arctic Terns had a blackish tip to the bill, but overall the bills were slimmer, shorter and deeper red and when perched, the much shorter legs were apparent. The underparts of all four birds were also much greyer than on the accompanying Common Terns and in flight, the wings were much more rakish and particularly contrasting on the underwing. The tail streamers were only fully developed on one individual and in general, there were no discernible differences in this feature with the 3 Common Terns.

Duck included 18 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler and 11 Northern Pochard, whilst 35 Sand Martin were overhead.

A walk along the Dry Canal produced a flyover GREEN SANDPIPER and a single Yellowhammer but there was no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat that Roy Hargreaves had seen and heard earlier in the day

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Twitchable RING OUZEL at last


That cold Northeasterly wind keeps blowing, keeping migration to a minimum and preventing many small birds from singing. It remained dry but was grey and overcast up until early afternoon. For me, it was another day birding locally......


Dave Bilcock had seen a single Arctic Tern early morning but there was no sign of it several hours later when I visited - just 5 Common Terns still.

In fact, Wilstone was very quiet, with 8 Great Crested Grebes, 25 active Grey Heron nests, 3 Common Teal still, 18 Shoveler, 8 immature Black-headed Gulls, 15 European Barn Swallows and a migrant male YELLOW WAGTAIL.


A pair of Great Crested Grebes was building a nest on one of the green algae bunds, with 6 Mute Swans, 35 Tufted Ducks and 17 Coot counted. There was a total of 164 hirundines grounded by the grey conditions, including 151 SAND MARTINS and 13 Barn Swallows.

In windy conditions, I still failed to find any Sedge Warblers in the Marsworth reedbeds, even though at least one male is present.


In an attempt to nail Grey Partridge for my Bucks Year List, I spent some considerable time searching the farmland to the east of Wingrave, either side of the Leighton Road and east as far as the Mentmore Cross Roads (SP 890 205).

In the sheep fields to the west of Upper Wingbury Farm (SP 875 198), I located two COMMON RAVENS, both birds in wing moult, with one quite heavy. They were feeding in the fields and later flew off east calling loudly, in the direction of Mentmore Park.

There were two Common Buzzards in this area, as well as 1 RED KITE, whilst Common Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 14 Common Starlings were also noted.

Very pleasing was the locating of four nesting pairs of LAPWING in the fields, although disconcerting was an obvious Carrion Crow nest at the top of an isolated tree (most likely designed to fledge at the same time as the baby Lapwings).

Chaffinches were quite numerous, whilst a pair of Long-tailed Tits were nesting in the roadside hedgerow just NE of Wingrave.

Alas, no Grey Partridge were located.....


I took advantage of my visit to fully survey the breeding birds of Wingrave village, with the following results -:

Moorhen (pair on the tiny village pond)
Eurasian Collared Dove (8+ birds noted)
Dunnock (1 singing male)
European Robin (a bare minimum of 7 breeding pairs)
Common Blackbird (7 nesting pairs)
Common Starling (3+ pairs, with a singing male at 119 Winslow Road)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (a singing male in Willows in Lower End at the south end of the village)
*HOUSE SPARROWS (the real success story, with 5 pairs at the north end and a further 3 at the south end and two more in the ivy on the Rose & Crown public house)
Greenfinch (2 displaying males)
Jackdaw (3 pairs nesting on chimneys, with 2 on Winslow Road and another on Nup End Lane)


Next off, I surveyed the ROOKERIES between Wingrave and Long Marston, with 10 active nests opposite Boarscroft (at SP 882 175) and 68 active nests in the Common Alder trees opposite Betlow Farm entrance at SP 885 165.

A dead Badger was just south of Whitwell Farm (SP 881 170) at SP 883 168, whilst the farmhouse itself held 2 further pairs of breeding HOUSE SPARROWS and 2 Red-legged Partridges and a male Pied Wagtail on the plough opposite.

Just south of Beeching House, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Great Tit were all recorded.

In Long Marston village, another 8 pairs of HOUSE SPARROW was located, including pairs by the Primary School and several on houses 9-15, and 5 pairs of Eurasian Collared Doves.


It was 43 miles between Oving and Norton Green and I finally arrived on site mid afternoon. Just four birders were on site and most were leaving, having had brief flight views of the bird. Fortunately, Alan Reynolds was on site, and kindly helped out with further searching, whilst Tony Heuking was to join us a short time later. When Alan had seen it earlier, it had been favouring the thick scrub and hedgerow along the eastern flank of the former landfill and had disappeared deep within. All three of us spread out and carried out a sweep of the site north to the traveller's site.

Apart from four Common Blackbirds, 2 Red-legged Partridges and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, nothing was found. Just as we were about to finish the sweep however, Alan and Tony flushed the RING OUZEL as it was hiding in a small bramble literally by one of the main tracks. It flew a few yards and landed again and then flew in a wide arc, back over us and landed in a fallen tree, some 150 yards away. At last, we were able to get good views of the bird, albeit it through the 'scope. It was a first-summer male and sat 'chacking' in the branches for the next 25 minutes, acting extremely wary throughout and refusing to move. All three of us hid behind a flowering bush and eventually the bird flew to the open plateau in the middle of the terrain and fed on the ground. These afforded the best and most closest views. Within a short while though, it was on the move again, and flew back to the area it seems to favour, the valley scrub about 75 yards in from the southern entrance (TL 228 235). This is only the second Ring Ouzel recorded in the county this year and after I left at 1645 hours, Darrell Bryant saw it later feeding with Fieldfares in the evening.

Note: access the location from Bessemer Drive

(1730-1900 hours)

It was a very pleasant evening at Amwell, with clearing skies and the cool NE wind abating somewhat. Despite that, the male Grasshopper Warbler present for three days did not start reeling prior to 1930 hours.

The following species were recorded -:

Great Crested Grebe (6)
Continental Cormorant (9 active nests on the smaller island)
Mute Swan (3)
Gadwall (48)
Common Teal (10)
Shoveler (12)
Tufted Duck (52)
Northern Pochard (5)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (1 on the muddy spit in front of the watchpoint)
Common Redshank (4)
Argenteus Herring Gull (2 adults south)
European Barn Swallow (1)
*WESTERN REED WARBLER (2 singing males in the reedbed close to the boardwalk near the White Hide, my first of the year)
SEDGE WARBLER (6 singing males in all, including one on the pit to the west of the railway)
CETTI'S WARBLERS (4 singing birds including excellent views of a showy individual best viewed from the upper deck of James Hide)
Blackcap (2 singing males)
Common Chiffchaff (1 singing male)
Common Treecreeper (singing male)
Linnet (1 flew north)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tyttenhanger attracts another BLACK-TAILED GODWIT but again its stay is all-too brief


The biting NE wind continues, pegging temperatures right back and making birding extremely unpleasant at times. Great once in the shelter but freshening towards evening and bringing increased cloud cover.

Once again, more birds were deposited on the highest hills by the conditions, particularly RING OUZELS, but 2 BLACK REDSTARTS made for a change and a (BLACK-LEGGED) KITTIWAKE was the main prize..........


There was no sign of David Booth's single Black-tailed Godwit at 1500 hours, the main sand workings yielding 10 Shoveler, 8 Common Teal, a Common Redshank, 5 Common Gulls (adult and 4 first-summers), 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 8 Sand Martins and 2 TREE SPARROWS (by the Feeding Station).

Nearby, Willows Farm Pool at 1522 hours held the female Ruddy Shelduck, the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS and a cracking adult male WHITE WAGTAIL

GARGANEY in the far east

A drake GARGANEY south of Sawbridgeworth and opposite Lower Sheering Scrape, with 2 Gadwall on the Herts bank of the Stort this afternoon. (John Slee)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Easterlies finally produce the hoped-for LITTLE GULLS


Well, spring 2010 was certainly short-lived, with cold winds blasting in from the Northeast making it feel freezing. It remained dry though, and fairly bright. Temperatures reached a high of just 11 degrees C, in stark contrast to Scotland, where Aviemore continues to bask in up to 20 degrees C, and even Wick reached 17 degrees. As expected, the biting winds misplaced LITTLE GULLS and RING OUZELS..........


The resident pair of COMMON RAVENS were showing very well, the male calling loudly from an exposed branch in the vicinity of the nest and the female (now fairly heavily worn) visiting nearby fields and returning with large crops of food for the growing four youngsters.

A Peacock butterfly was also seen but the pair of resident Little Owls were sheltering out of view from the cold wind.


Both pairs of RINGED and LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were present, both now nesting.


There was a fall of BLACKCAPS in the NW corner, involving up to 6 individuals - mostly singing males, with a singing male Common Chiffchaff nearby.

The quarry lake was fairly quiet, with 6 Little Grebes present, pair of Tufted Duck, 4 Coots, the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (still not nesting) and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


With a fierce and freezing NE wind, birdlife was scant and poorly represented, with 3 Shoveler on Marsworth and 8 European Barn Swallows on Startop's End being the highlights (the weekend had seen the first calling male Common Cuckoo - per Lynne Lambert).


(midday-1230 hours) With Steve Rodwell, Mike Campbell, Peter Leigh, Chris and Francis Buckle, recorded my first (and that of the reservoirs') LITTLE GULLS of the year - a winter-plumaged adult, a transitional adult and a well-marked second-summer - all drifting around between the jetty and the Drayton Bank with 9 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Terns.

Wildfowl included 3 Common Teal (including 1 drake), 19 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, a drake Pochard and 172 Tufted Ducks, whilst 10 Great Crested Grebes were noted (some pairs in active dancing display). A Coot killed by fishing line at least four days ago lie just off of the car park steps.

Aerial migrants were few and far between, with just a handful of Sand Martins and 3 European Barn Swallows.


Surveying both Roundhill Wood and The Flats (SP 94 08), an area of extensive firwoods, new plantations and scrub, the following species were encountered -:

Although no Woodlarks were found (a pair bred successfully here in 2006), the area produced Moorhen (on the pond at SP 939 085), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush (singing male), Song Thrush (singing male), Wren (3 singing males), European Robin (nesting pair), BLACKCAP (2 singing males), COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (4 singing males, plus a female), GOLDCREST (2+ pairs), Blue Tit and COAL TIT (5 singing males).


Western Reed and Grasshopper Warblers singing, 5 Sedge Warblers, 3 Cetti's, 60 Sand Martin, 25 Swallow, Little Egret, 2 Redshank, 4 Teal, Shelduck. (Graham White)


Female MARSH HARRIER flew north over Cheshunt (just east of A10) at 13.06 on Sunday 11 April (Roy Woodward).

First (and only) RING OUZEL of the year

Trims Green (07:50-08:10) Saturday 10 April

7 Stock Dove
1 Green Woodpecker
c.25 Fieldfare
1 male RING OUZEL (flushed from Parsonage lane, just before Newhouse Farm TL477167. It flew back over my head towards the Playbarn at Parsonage Farm. Unfortunately I did not have time to go back and relocate it)
1M Reed Bunting singing at Blounts

Mike Harris

PS - It was looked for later and not relocated (per LGRE)

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS appeared this morning at King's Meads and Amwell (per Simon Knott) but otherwise it was a quiet day.

The Tyttenhanger BLACK-NECKED GREBE survived overnight but moved to the smaller fishing lake, whilst a male RING OUZEL was seen just briefly at a site in the east of the county

Friday, 9 April 2010

Hertfordshire Birding in 2010 - 143 species recorded

In the 'Three Counties', Hertfordshire still lags behind both Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in terms of total species recorded in 2010, with a respective 143 compared to 148 and 144.

The following species have been recorded in Hertfordshire in 2010 -:

Those 11 species marked with an asterisk (*) have NOT been recorded by LGRE this year

1) BLACK-NECKED GREBE (9 recorded);
2) Little Grebe;
3) Great Crested Grebe;
4) Atlantic Great Cormorant;
8) Grey Heron;
9) Mute Swan;
11) Greylag Goose;
12) Atlantic Canada Goose;
13) Barnacle Goose* (likely escape);
14) DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE* (2 records);
15) Common Shelduck;
16) Ruddy Shelduck (1 female; returning escape)
17) Egyptian Goose (8);
18) Mandarin Duck;
19) Mallard;
20) Gadwall;
22) Shoveler;
23) Eurasian Wigeon;
24) Common Teal;
25) GARGANEY (2);
26) Northern Pochard;
27) Red-crested Pochard (25+);
28) Tufted Duck;
29) Common Goldeneye;
30) SMEW (12+);
31) Goosander;
32) RUDDY DUCK (12);
33) OSPREY* (8);
34) Red Kite;
36) HEN HARRIER* (1+);
37) Common Buzzard;
38) Eurasian Sparrowhawk;
39) Common Kestrel;
40) Peregrine;
41) MERLIN (3);
42) Red-legged Partridge;
43) Grey Partridge;
44) Common Pheasant;
45) Water Rail;
46) Moorhen;
47) Eurasian Coot;
48) Oystercatcher;
49) Little Ringed Plover;
50) Ringed Plover;
51) European Golden Plover;
52) Lapwing;
53) DUNLIN* (1);
54) Green Sandpiper;
55) Common Redshank;
57) Woodcock;
58) Common Snipe;
59) JACK SNIPE (10+);
60) RUFF (1);
61) Black-headed Gull;
62) Common Gull;
64) Herring Gull;
65) Yellow-legged Gull;
66) Lesser Black-backed Gull;
67) Great Black-backed Gull;
68) KITTIWAKE* (1 - dead);
71) Common Tern;
72) ARCTIC TERN (2);
73) Stock Dove;
74) Woodpigeon;
75) Eurasian Collared Dove;
76) Common Cuckoo* (2);
77) Tawny Owl;
78) Barn Owl;
79) Little Owl;
80) Common Kingfisher;
81) Ring-necked Parakeet;
82) European Green Woodpecker;
83) Great Spotted Woodpecker;
85) Eurasian Skylark;
86) Sand Martin;
87) European Barn Swallow;
88) House Martin;
89) Meadow Pipit;
90) Pied Wagtail;
91) WHITE WAGTAIL (13+);
92) Yellow Wagtail;
93) Grey Wagtail;
94) Wren;
95) Dunnock;
96) European Robin;
100) Common Stonechat (5+);
101) Song Thrush;
102) Redwing;
103) Mistle Thrush;
104) Fieldfare;
105) Common Blackbird;
106) Blackcap;
107) Common Whitethroat*;
108) Sedge Warbler;
109) CETTI'S WARBLER (15+);
110) Willow Warbler;
111) Common Chiffchaff;
113) Goldcrest;
114) FIRECREST (7+);
115) Great Tit;
116) Coal Tit;
117) Blue Tit;
118) Marsh Tit;
119) Long-tailed Tit;
120) Nuthatch;
121) Common Treecreeper;
122) Common Magpie;
123) Jay;
124) Jackdaw;
125) Rook;
126) Carrion Crow;
127) COMMON RAVEN (18+);
128) Common Starling;
129) House Sparrow;
130) TREE SPARROW (27+);
131) Chaffinch;
132) BRAMBLING (8);
133) Linnet;
134) Lesser Redpoll;
135) Goldfinch;
136) Greenfinch;
137) Siskin;
138) Bullfinch;
139) HAWFINCH (3);
141) Reed Bunting;
142) Yellowhammer;
143) Corn Bunting.

Devastating blow to rare grebe

The Tyttenhanger Fishing Pit BLACK-NECKED GREBE (Martin Parr), clearly illustrating the true extent of its wing damage after perhaps colliding with the overhead power lines

Jim Middleton's shot, showing the severe damage to the wing

Robin Pearson's images


Another beautiful, warm spring day, continuing the theme of yesterday. Little in the way of visible passage but more and more summer visitors arriving, particularly warblers. Temperatures again reached 59 degrees F, with long spells of sunshine and clear blue skies.


Thanks to JT, finally connected with my first SEDGE WARBLER of the year (243). It was a very skulking individual, and quite mobile, and was working its way through the reed sections on the south side of the causeway. It was singing quite frequently.

There were also 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on show (a pair on the boating lake and an adult drake on the main lake) and 83 Tufted Duck.

A male Blackcap was showing well by the footbridge and two different Common Chiffchaffs


Joan prompted me to get over to Tyttenhanger as soon as possible. Martin Parr had just phoned with some very concerning news. The summer-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE that Steve Blake had relocated this morning on the Fishing Lake appeared to be badly injured and concern for its welfare was being aired. It took me about 15 minutes to be on site, and a further 20 minutes to find the bird. It had been roosting out of the water on the bank but a flurry of kind-hearted fishermen directed me to where they had seen it go and after a few brief glimpses, I eventually tracked it down 75 yards east of the causeway on the north bank.

It was in a sorry state indeed, with one of its wings completely ripped from its socket and twisted back round and left hanging. It had presumably collided with the overhead pylons whilst trying to depart overnight and then crash-landed either on the lake or in surrounding vegetation. Nevertheless, it seemed very perky and alert, was diving frequently, catching numerous small fish and taking insects from the surface. With the aid of the fishermen on the bank, I borrowed a landing net and attempted to catch the bird. I scooped it into the net, had a quick look at its wing injury and was very pleased to see the bird dive swiftly and escape underwater. It was certainly not on its last legs but its injury was very serious and beyond any sensible repair. I phoned several people I knew that cared for wild birds, including staff at the RSPB, and it was generally agreed that it was a lost cause, and best left to nature.

Being such a gorgeous bird in full breeding plumage, I felt naturally devastated, but seeing it diving and successfully eeking out a living, I felt it best to let it live out its remaining days in the wild, rather than having to be put to sleep by the RSPCA. A tragic ending but the first time I have ever been so close to this tiny and most delicate species - and a species I am particularly fond of, which share many similarities, habits and breeding locations of my other favourite - the outlawed North American Ruddy Duck.

The grebe was also in very close company with an early brood of 10 duckling Mallards, whilst the only other species of note were a singing male WILLOW WARBLER and 6 Linnets.

Remarkably early CUCKOO

Jim Middleton found and photographed this remarkably early COMMON CUCKOO at Gaddesdon Row on 4 April


Early morning update

The summer-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Tyttenhanger has relocated to the Fishing Pit, 100 yards east of the causeway below Willows Farm (per Steve Blake)

Quiet on the hills this morning, just 1 NORTHERN WHEATEAR located so far

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A quieter day as high pressure moves in


High pressure is now firmly in charge and with it came the warmest day of the year so far. Clear blue skies predominated, along with warm sunshine, with afternoon temperatures reaching just under 60 degrees fahrenheit. Winds were very light with a touch of southwesterly.

As is often the case with clear conditions, visible migration was stifled and in stark contrast to yesterday, few birds of note appeared. Bird of the day was undoubtedly the male BLACK-WINGED STILT which had relocated from the Isle of Wight to Essex.....


In surprisingly warm conditions, a circuit of this site of Special Scientific Interest yielded two singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, a singing Common Chiffchaff, a pair of BLACKCAPS, Green Woodpecker and 3 Greenfinches. No Common Whitethroat though.


Again, no sign of the singing Common Whitethroat seen earlier. The tiny reserve held a singing Common Chiffchaff, a singing male Nuthatch, a singing male Bullfinch, Great Tit, Song Thrush and nesting pairs of Ring-necked Parakeet and Jay, as well as my first butterflies of the year - 3 Commas, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock.

Sadly, a dead BARN OWL was lying on the central reservation of the westbound A41, just SW of Berkhamstead.


Marsworth Reedbed Wood held Great Spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Bullfinch, two singing male BLACKCAPS and an increase to at least 5 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS. Both adult pair Mistle Thrushes were busy gathering food in the main field, and the male WILLOW WARBLER was still singing along the causeway. A single Song Thrush was also seen.

Up to 5 COMMON TERNS were on the reservoir, whilst the horse paddocks revealed the presence of no less than 8 YELLOW WAGTAILS (SR later had 9) and 2 adult male WHITE WAGTAILS.


Three RING OUZEL remained from much earlier in the day - two males and a female - moving between the southern flank of Inkombe Hole and the Steps Hill slope in line with the stile. Typically, they were very elusive, and repeatedly disturbed by dogwalkers, joggers and walkers.

WILLOW WARBLERS had increased to 5 singing males in the area, with 2 Red Kites and 2 Song Thrushes also noted. A late REDWING arrived late evening.

As dusk approached, the fields around Down Farm attracted at least 107 FALLOW DEER out to feed, as well as several Red Foxes.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ringtail HEN HARRIER in east of county

Wednesday 07/04/2010 - 11.30 to 12.15. Roger Millard

Brief visit to Sandon area - HEN HARRIER, a ringtail seen from Kelshall road flying toward Deadman's Hill, tried to relocate from Sandon road without any success. From green iron gate 200+ flock of Linnets and a Northern Wheatear on the adjacent newly prepared field. Numerous Grey and Red-legged Partridge in the area.

Radwell lake - Two Little Egrets



Phew - what a day ! I struggled to keep up. It really was one of those exceptional days and migrating birds kept grounding all through the day. After the wind swung round from SE to northerly early morning, I just knew it was going to be good. Add to that the fact that it was murky, with poor visibility, and then later with intermittent rain, it was typical fall conditions. Whilst organising my gear, I heard both a singing male EURASIAN SKYLARK and GOLDCREST - both new for the garden this year.


At least 6 Yellowhammers were gathered in the field north of the farm, with 7 or more Eurasian Skylarks present in the cereal field on the opposite side of the road - 4 males in song display. A small group of 4 CORN BUNTINGS was in an adjoining stubble field, with both Meadow Pipit and Linnet also present, 3 Stock Doves and a Red Kite over Pitstone Hill.


The two adult ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS that Mick Frosdick discovered earlier had departed to the north at 1320 and represented the first of the Herts year. During my late afternoon visit, the pool held the drake Common Shelduck, 7 Gadwall, the pair of Oystercatchers and male Pied Wagtail.


Mid-evening, Roy Hargreaves and I located the two adult ARCTIC TERNS that SR and others had seen earlier, feeding amongst 6 COMMON TERNS mainly in the area of water out from the jetty. They represented my first of the year and were earlier than average.

The gloomy conditions (overcast skies with intermittent rain and fresh northerly winds) also grounded large numbers of hirundines, including 186+ SAND MARTINS and 33 European Barn Swallows. There were also 12 Shoveler close to the Drayton Hide, whilst 5 late FIELDFARES were in the tall Poplars.


The paddock wagtail flock numbered 38, including 35 Pieds, a well-marked adult male WHITE and two gaudy male YELLOWS. A high count of 15 Great Crested Grebes was on Marsworth, with a pair of Carrion Crows nesting in the main car park.

All in all, a very enjoyable and highly productive day, but did I get Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat? - No! Tomorrow maybe.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010



A bright and breezy day with some warm spells of sunshine pushing temperatures up to 57 degrees F. Although the wind was initially SW, it veered during the day to a cooler SE.

It was an excellent day for incoming migrants, with good numbers of Osprey, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Common Tern, Garganey and Yellow Wagtails arriving, along with the odd male Pied Flycatcher and Common Cuckoo, as well as some 'new' vagrants, most notably a Black-winged Stilt on the Isle of Wight. On a local basis, it was also a very productive day, a flock of WAXWINGS being the main highlight............

(1230-1310 hours)

The singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was still in the tall Poplars of Reedbed Wood, with the two different CETTI'S WARBLERS in the reedbed, the male BLACKCAP still and the singing male WILLOW WARBLER first found by Chaz Jackson still in trees and ivy just at the start of the causeway. Two male REED BUNTINGS were singing and in parachute display in the reedbed.

Twelve Great Crested Grebes were on the reservoir, with just 4 Pied Wagtails in the horse paddocks and a male Grey Wagtail by the lock.

The neighbouring Grand Union Canal held 10 Mute Swans, including 3 first-summers, whilst Startop's End Reservoir held just 35 Tufted Ducks of note.

My proposed visit to Wilstone Reservoir was immediately interrupted by a very important call from Dave Cleal. He had just discovered 6 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS.................


Following up on Darin Stanley's text message, I was delighted to connect at 1540 hours with the stunning male COMMON REDSTART that he had once again discovered earlier in the afternoon during his lunch hour - his 5th individual in fact. The bird was showing well in the 'usual hedgerow' visible from the layby, and was darting out for insects and frequently perching out in full view on the wire fence. It represented my first for the year both nationally and locally. It was virtually in pristine spring plumage and may well be an individual male that annually stops off here as it stages its return migration. Alan Reynolds, Jim Rudland, Dave Calder and Simon West were also present, Simon obtaining the image published above. A male Sparrowhawk also drifted over.

Nearby, 5 LITTLE EGRETS were showing well on the stream at East Hyde at 1600 hours.

First COMMON REDSTART of the year

Darin Stanley discovered a stunning male COMMON REDSTART at around 13.10 today in the usual 'Redstart' Hedge opposite the weedy field along the B653 at Batford (the fifth individual so far in that hedge). It was still present and showing well two hours later (LGRE, Alan Reynolds, Simon West, et al)


A BLACK-NECKED GREBE in full breeding plumage was present all day at Tyttenhanger Lagoon adjacent to the main pit (Easter Monday only) (Steve Blake et al)

OSPREY NW over Amwell and King's Meads early Monday morning

An OSPREY followed the River Lee west of the A10 viaduct at King's Meads at 8:35am with the local carrion crows in pursuit. It then headed off NW across Ware Park. This was clearly the same bird that flew north at Amwell just fifteen minutes earlier. (Simon Knott)

Saturday 3 - SANDWICH TERN spends day at Marsworth Reservoir

A SANDWICH TERN headed straight over the reservoir in a westerly direction into Bucks just before 11.00am. This bird then relocated to Marsworth Reservoir and remained until late evening, allowing at least 25 local birders to connect (Steve Rodwell/LGRE).

There was again good numbers of Common Gulls passing through. One COMMON RAVEN flew over Wilstone Reservoir (per Steve Rodwell)

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday Highlights

Vicky Buckell had an OSPREY fly north over Rye Meads RSPB at 0915, whilst Barry Reed heard a singing SEDGE WARBLER at Amwell NR yesterday morning - only the second so far this year.

Tring Reservoirs produced EGYPTIAN GOOSE (4th day), Willow Warbler, 2 White Wagtails and 4 Yellow Wagtails today

Friday, 2 April 2010

Tyttenhanger wins out again

Today's YELLOW WAGTAIL at Tyttenhanger captured on film by John Forgham


Continuing cold, with fresh westerly winds which veered slightly more SSW towards late afternoon. Some hefty showers throughout the morning and a belt of rain which was pushed quickly through and cleared by mid afternoon.

Another good day in terms of migration and although nothing new appeared in terms of variety, some good counts continued of those species arriving, particularly hirundines.

(morning visit; with Steve Rodwell)

The EGYPTIAN GOOSE was still present, initially on the main reservoir and then later back in the field with 38 Greylag Geese to the east of the reservoir. An adult Mute Swan also joined the flock briefly.

There were 9 Black-headed Gulls present and during the day, both Steve and Ben recorded some good Common Gull passage.

Hirundines were once again well represented, with 156 present up until midday, including 72 European Barn Swallows, 83 Sand Martins and 1 HOUSE MARTIN, whilst the east bank, in between walkers, attracted 4 Pied Wagtails, a first-summer male WHITE WAGTAIL and 3 passage Reed Buntings.

COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS were singing from just south of East Poplar Wood and from trees behind the reedbed near Cemetery Corner, whilst a singing male WILLOW WARBLER (my first in Herts this year) was present in the hedgerow in the SE corner of the reservoir.

A pair of Common Buzzards was displaying over the hide and a male LINNET flew west.


At midday, Startop's End held 4 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans and the adult drake Red-crested Pochard, with migrants represented by 48 European Barn Swallows, 28 Sand Martins, 2 HOUSE MARTINS and a cracking male WHITE WAGTAIL on the algae bunds.


An early afternoon visit yielded a selection of migrants, including a feeding flock of 47 European Barn Swallows over the cut-off lake, a cracking adult male YELLOW WAGTAIL at the edge of the shingle edge of the track across the cut-off lake and a male NORTHERN WHEATEAR for its second day in the sheep field up near the top gate.

An impressive 10 TREE SPARROWS was feeding in the flattened maize field, in the shelter of the hedgerow with Yellowhammers, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings, with the pair of Common Shelduck on the main pit, a drake Shoveler, 6 Common Redshank and 56 migrant Common Gulls, predominantly immatures. A Common Chiffchaff was in full song in the wood behind the conveyor belt.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tyttenhanger continues to impress: OSPREY over today

But the highlight of the day, for me but unfortunately not Steve, was an OSPREY which I picked up flying along the edge of Garden Wood alongside the river. It passed directly overhead, drifted over the Willows Farm end of the fishing lakes before gaining height and heading off west over London Colney.

There was also a Ringed Plover on the main pit, 2 Oystercatchers on the Willows puddle and 2 Swallows over the scrape with Sand Martins (David Booth)