Saturday, 31 July 2010

Had to visit Baldock this morning, so took the chance to check out Deadmans Hill and Ashwell.

Deadmans Hill provided views of 4 Marsh Harrier, and 2 Red Kite flew low over the road. Corn Bunting families were very obvious feeding in the cereal fields, with at least 15 birds visible from the bottom of the hill. Highlight however was a superb Whinchat which joined the Corn Bunting briefly at 13.00, perching on top of the wheat before flying off.

A quick tour around Ashwell revealed 11 Yellow Wagtails including several juveniles, presumably on the same dung heap previously mentioned by Lee a couple of days ago.

Anthony Dorman

Thursday, 29 July 2010

..And even more BLACKWITS

Another family party of 4 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS present this morning on King's Meads West pool until 7:45am when Lapwings were spooked causing Black-tailed Godwits to depart east.

West pool is now 70% dry and unless there is considerable immediate precipitation will not last more than another week (Simon Knott).

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

QUAILS and MARSH HARRIERS in Deadman's Hill Area

A lot of harvesting going on in the area.

MARSH HARRIER - 1 juvenile along Baldock to Wallington road; at least 3 juveniles bottom Deadman's Hill from Sandon Road.

Red Kite - 3 at least from Coombe Road; 2 from the Sandon Road.

COMMON QUAIL - Deadman's Hill pea field being harvested; At least 2 calling in adjacent Flax field and 1 calling from Green Iron Gate (per Roger Millard/Darrell Bryant and Mike Ilett)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Number of MARSH HARRIERS now rises to seven

Coombe Rd, nr Kelshall - now 6 MARSH HARRIERS (ad female & 5 Juv), 4 Red Kite.

Deadmans Hill - 1 MARSH HARRIER (Juv), 2 Common Buzzard (per Mike Ilett)

DUNLIN at Tyttenhanger for second day


A few light rain showers during the morning followed by very humid and cloudy conditions. Dark clouds gathered again early evening. I spent the day searching for Yellow Wagtail in my local Recording Area but without success (these next four weeks are optimum for this species). Autumn is fast approaching now with my local Common Swifts sadly now departed (after an excellent breeding season) and the first juvenile Willow Warbler of the fall appearing.........


The summer-plumaged adult DUNLIN was present on the spit for its second day but other than that still no sign of the hoped-for passage Black-tailed Godwit or Common Greenshank

A supporting cast consisted of -:

Great Crested Grebe (4 adults, with one pair attending two noisy juveniles)
Little Grebe (two adults)
Mute Swan (pair with 3 cygnets)
Greylag Geese (pair)
Gadwall (15)
Tufted Duck (11)
Northern Pochard (1 female)
Lapwing (117 on spit)
Black-headed Gull (126)
COMMON GULL (1 adult on spit)
Common Terns (10 including 4 juveniles)

Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker
Sand Martin (2)
Western Reed Warblers (8)
Blackcap (1)
Common Chiffchaff (2)
Goldcrest (3)
TREE SPARROW (2 in the Oak hedgerow but none now attending last week's nest hole)
Carrion Crow (8 - two family parties in the sheep fields)
Reed Bunting (singing male)


Monday, 26 July 2010

MARSH HARRIER success - LGRE Diary Notes


A band of rain moved through during the morning and eventually cleared away to the west just after midday. It remained warm though and brightened up towards evening.

I spent the day flitting between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, the main highlight being the number of juvenile MARSH HARRIERS seen, indicating yet another good breeding season for this increasing raptor....


I checked out the spoil heaps SW of Guilden Morden and NW of Ashwell village, in the vicinity of Kirby's Manor Farm and Dunton Lodge Farm (at approximately TL 262 420). The major highlight was the number of YELLOW WAGTAILS in the vicinity, with a total of 22 birds seen, predominantly juveniles.

Species encountered included Lapwing (adult on the spoil), Common Kestrel, Stock Dove, Common Whitethroat, Greenfinch (15), Linnet (8), Common Starling (feeding flock of 229) and CORN BUNTING (4 jangling males).

At nearby Bluegates Dairy just east of the River Rhee, large numbers of post-breeding Rooks and Jackdaws were feeding, whilst in Ashwell village proper, 5 pairs of House Sparrow (with juveniles) and 2 pairs of nesting House Martin were observed. Odsey hamlet held a further 4 House Sparrows (TL 296 386).


MARSH HARRIERS nesting in neighbouring Cambridgeshire have repeatedly bought their fledged families in to the cereal fields in the Kelshall and Sandon areas in recent years and this summer is no different. An adult female and four fledged dark and cream-crowned juveniles were showing very well this afternoon over the Coombe escarpment, the juveniles often sparring and 'playing' together.

This very same area also held 4-5 RED KITES, including two recently fledged juveniles, as well as 22 European Barn Swallows (successful breeding at Coombe Farm) and Eurasian Skylarks.


As I transferred from Stumps Cross in to the Mount and Gallows Hill valley, a RED KITE was feeding on a Polecat/Ferret-cross roadkill at Crouch Hill. Nearby, 311 Woodpigeons were in roadside stubble south of Upper Heath Farm, as well as 236 Rooks.

At Deadman's Hill (TL 292 368), the long-staying COMMON QUAIL was still present and calling (at 1615 hours) and a juvenile MARSH HARRIER was quartering the cornfields.

A total of 4 Common Buzzards (including a juvenile) was seen, along with 4 jangling male CORN BUNTINGS.

In Sandon village, both House Martin and Common Swift were nesting, as well as Jackdaw and Greenfinch, with a small colony of House Sparrows just west of Therfield village on Rooks Nest lane.


BLACK-NECKED GREBES have done exceptionally well this year with at least 5 juveniles fledged - two now independent and three accompanying their parents. Several Little Grebes had also successfully fledged young, whilst several pairs of Great Crested Grebe were relaying.

Mute Swans accompanied 5 cygnets (a rare sight this year), whilst 41 Northern Pochard were noted.


The summering female COMMON GOLDENEYE was still present, along with the EURASIAN WIGEON I first noted on 20 July. A total of 22 Tufted Ducklings was counted, whilst the female Northern Pochard and juvenile Great Crested Grebe were still present.

Common Kingfisher, Song Thrush, Common Chiffchaff (5), Wren and Long-tailed Tit (7) were also seen, with a family party of 5 Mute Swans on the neighbouring pit

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Rickmansworth WHIMBREL

Andrew Moon had a WHIMBREL fly over Highfield Way in Rickmansworth at 1927 hours this evening

Fledged MARSH HARRIERS move out of Cambridgeshire and in to East Herts

Baldock - Wallington Rd: 20 Yellow Wagtail, 10 Corn Bunting

Deadmans Hill: 1 COMMON QUAIL (calling), 1 MARSH HARRIER (Juvenile - flew towards Wallington), 1 Red Kite.

Coombe Road, nr Kelshall: 5 MARSH HARRIERS (adult female and 4 juveniles), 5 Red Kite.

Mike Ilett


The GARGANEY was still present at Rye Meads RSPB yesterday but today it or another is at Amwell NR. Not much else to report this weekend.

Friday, 23 July 2010


This juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER remained for a 5th day today, feeding in front of the Mark Draper Hide at Rye Meads RSPB. This excellent image was obtained by Phil Bishop.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

WOOD SAND and GARGANEY still present - Thursday


Another very hot day with temperatures soon rising to 23 degrees C; it was also dry and bright. I arranged to meet JT and Allan Stewart at Chorleywood and together we made our way to a few Hertfordshire locations in search of passage waders and then later much further afield, primarily with the intention of seeing the summer-plumaged adult FRANKLIN'S GULL in Staffordshire.......


Our first port of call was Tyttenhanger, where I was hoping yesterday evening's 3 Common Greenshank were still present. They weren't and I still haven't seen one in Herts this year... Undoubted highlight was the finding of an active TREE SPARROW nest.....

After almost breaking my leg in a hole, I recovered sufficiently to carry out a full census of the main birding pit......results

Great Crested Grebe (successful breeding with a total of 8 adults accompanied by two well grown juveniles, two smaller juveniles and a further single being attended to by a parent)
Grey Heron (7)
Mute Swan (pair with 5 cygnets and a further single cygnet)
Coot (39)
Oystercatcher (3 present, with 2 on the Fishing Pit)
Lapwing (43)
Common Redshank (1 juvenile on spit)
Black-headed Gull (105)
Common Gull (1 adult)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult)
Common Terns (7 roosting on spit, including 2 juveniles)
Green Woodpecker (2)
Sand Martin (13)
Pied Wagtail (adult and juvenile in horse paddock)
Song Thrush (1)
Western Reed Warbler (4)
Sedge Warbler (2 singing males)
Common Chiffchaff (1)
Rook (25 over)
**TREE SPARROW (successful breeding; a pair was feeding young in the hole of a tall Oak)

(we joined Simon Knott in the Draper Hide)

The juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER was present for its third day and showing well on the mud of the scrape at the Draper Hide. There were also 5 GREEN SANDPIPERS present. We did not see the Garganey though, rather frustratingly.

Birds seemed to be everywhere on the scrape and pool with a superb array of breeding wildfowl - at least 63 Gadwalls, including 14 ducklings, 3 juvenile Northern Pochards and large numbers of Mallards. Little Grebes had done well with at least 3 fledged juveniles, whilst the gull roost held 97 Black-headed Gulls (including 17 juveniles) and 5 adult Common Terns. A pair of Coot was feeding 3 small young

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


The juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER remains on the scrape visible from the Draper Hide at Rye Meads RSPB for its third day, feeding alongside up to 5 GREEN SANDPIPERS (LGRE, Simon Knott, JT, Allan Stewart, et al). A juvenile GARGANEY also remains there (Jeff Bailey) as well as good numbers of Gadwall and Tufted Duck broods.

There are still at least 3 calling male COMMON QUAIL in the county, including singles at Deadman Hill, Lilley and near Markyate.

Monday, 19 July 2010

QUAILS still

The QUAIL was still at Deadman's Hill, Nr Sandon this morning (07:45), Itwas heard calling intermittently from the set aside field N of the footpathand SW of the crest of the hill (Bill Haines)

Deadman Hill - Sunday

At 4pm, one COMMON QUAIL calling at the bottom of Deadmans Hill, in the flax field south of the footpath. A more distant second bird may have been heard but hard to tell in the wind.

Also a female MARSH HARRIER, one Buzzard, one Kestrel and at least five Corn Buntings (per Phil Bishop)

Thursday, 15 July 2010


6 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS present at King's Mead West Pool at 7:10pm, a family party of 5 feeding vigorously which departed SE at 7:40pm and a singleton which was still present at 7:55pm (Simon Knott)

GARGANEY at Rye Meads

A GARGANEY from the Draper hide today - the first of the autumn, with a shelduck, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper (per Graham White)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


This EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE was a very unexpected visitor to Laurence Drummond's garden in High Wych, near Sawbridgeworth, today. This summer perhaps 10 'purring' males returned to the county.

COMMON QUAIL near Markyate

Out dog-walking this morning heard a COMMON QUAIL calling from a wheat field along Roe End Lane which goes between Markyate and Studham at about TL 041159 - this is on the byway section of the road (ie no access for cars). Haven't managed to get out there again today so I don't know if it's still there...........Sue

Breeding success for RUDDY DUCKS


Well, we finally got the rain that we were forecast and that which was desperately needed. It was on and off all day but did not amount to much.

Joan T was keen to see some of my EDIBLE DORMICE so we arranged to meet and I showed her two of the adults. At the same time, we checked out a private area and talking to another birdwatcher we met, was delighted to confirm breeding RUDDY DUCK - a female accompanying five quite well grown chicks - fantastic news.

We also saw an excellent selection of waterfowl including 121+ Gadwall (including many young), at least 4 broods of Northern Pochard (5, 5, 3 & 3), a pair of eclipse-plumaged SHOVELER, at least 6 broods of Tufted Duck (the largest of 7), a pair of Mute Swan with one cygnet, 8+ Little Grebes including 4 young, Sparrowhawk, 66 Black-headed Gulls (including 8 juveniles), Common Terns (feeding 3 chicks) and male Common Kingfisher.

In Lodge Lane, Little Chalfont, the fields opposite Cross Lane Farm had been mowed and harboured 4 Stock Doves, 11 Carrion Crows (including numerous juveniles), 3 Red Kites and a total of 10 European Barn Swallows (including two locally fledged family groups)


A party of 7 returning ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS paused briefly on King's Mead West Pool early this morning before continuing their journey south (per Simon Knott)

Monday, 12 July 2010

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at King's Meads and Amwell

A BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was seen briefly on the West pool at Kings Meads this morning until 11:20am. It then flew off east and was seen flying through at Amwell. Also 2 Common Sandpipers (per Simon Knott)

PS - I have still not seen this species in Herts this year and would appreciate a call/text if you are lucky enough to find one; many thanks (LGRE)



Although temperatures had dropped a little from a high of 32 degrees C, today was still hot and dry at 26 degrees. Out of the blue in the afternoon came news of a LITTLE TERN at Tyttenhanger - the first twitchable individual this year in the county.

The bird, a moulting adult, was commuting back and forth between the spit on the main wader pit to the Fishing Pit and remained for the rest of the afternoon and evening, delighting a constant stream of admirers, including LGRE, Brendan Glynne, Allan Stewart, Luke Massey, Steve Blake, David Booth and Ricky Flesher amongst others. Jan Hein Steenis even managed to get the record shot above.

The pits also held 2 Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers and Egyptian Geese.

Elsewhere in the county, several COMMON QUAIL remain in the Sandon and Wallington area (Lee Evans)

Friday, 9 July 2010

WHIMBRELS pass through Tring

A very pleasant evening at Wilstone tonight with many juv Common Terns fledged and begging for food on the straw bales.

Highlight was at 2108 when 3 WHIMBRELS flew in high from the east, gradually dropping in height as they circled looking for somewhere to land. After attempting to drop down on the tiny bit of mud near the hide they thought better of it and headed up and over the poplars towards Broughton (Rob Andrews).


One MARSH HARRIER, very dark individual viewed at some distance no plumage colouring visible, looked a bit tatty at least one inner primary missing from each wing.

Three Red Kite seen all together, later a fourth seen some distance away, may have been one of the three.

A COMMON QUAIL was calling from the usual pea field at Deadmans Hill and Corn Buntings singing everywhere (per Roger Millard)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Summering GOLDENEYE still and Stockers breeding successes

The Late Afternoon Shift

After revelling in the record flock of local Common Sandpipers of the early afternoon, I ventured out this evening to check on a few breeders and the summering Goldeneye. I was not expecting a second event in the valley - the first Common Tern in over ten years.......


The summering female COMMON GOLDENEYE was still present, diving frequently in the middle of the pit. There were also 12 Great Crested Grebes present and most importantly, one pair were attending two chicks (JT please note, as I believe it is a new breeding record for this square)

Tufted Ducks have had another good season with four broods recorded - of 10, 2, 4 and 3 ducklings. Coot numbers totalled 144.


I visited the Tern Hide with the intention of surveying the success on the rafts. The Black-headed Gulls have done very well - two well grown juveniles on the right hand raft, with 3 and 2 less developed chicks on the left hand. In terms of Common Tern, 1 juvenile had fledged and was on the wing, with one well grown unattended chick on the left raft and another very small chick with one parent. There were at least five active nests on the right raft but because of the high vegetation, it was not possible to determine success.

More Sunday news from King's Meads

Early this morning on the pools Common Snipe, 4 Teal & 47 Black-headed Gulls including 2 juveniles. Also SPOTTED FLYCATCHER above Chadwell Spring and Nuthatch in the tree belt along Ware Road (Simon Knott)

Water level dropping at King's Meads and more non-naturalised BARNACLE GEESE in county

Sunday sightings

At last the water levels on West Pool at King's Mead has started to subside and there is now a muddy margin along most of the west bank, up to 4 metres wide in places.Today, to start things rolling, 62 Lapwing and 2 Little Ringed Plovers were present (Alan Reynolds).

Three non-naturalised BARNACLE GEESE spent the day at Wilstone Reservoir, where also 6 Common Sandpipers were present, and a Green Sandpiper nearby on the Sewage Farm (Dave Bilcock) (see photo above)

The BLACK-NECKED GREBE remained at Rye Meads RSPB

Saturday, 3 July 2010


A BLACK-NECKED GREBE in breeding plumage is present at Rye Meads for at least a second day. Elsewhere, up to 4 COMMON QUAIL are present in barley fields between Baldock and Wallingford, 300 yards further along from last year's site.