Monday, 30 August 2010

COMMON GREENSHANK briefly at Kings Meads

A COMMON GREENSHANK flew over calling at 8:10am then headed SE. Also 14 Common Snipe (Simon Knott)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

GARGANEY at Kings Meads

2 Northern Wheatear, one on Park Mead am and one feeding on the mud on West pool at dusk. Also yesterday at dusk, GARGANEY on East pool but no sign today (Simon Knott)

........And more

At Hatfield Aerodrome Saturday morning between 10-11am:

Male COMMON REDSTART - in bush to east of old metal gate (in middle of hedge which cuts through site) - elusive at times; 1 Spotted Flycatcher - perched on top of hedge west of metal gate, calling freqently and 4 WHINCHATS scattered through site (David Wheatcroft)

..........And even more WHINCHATS

TYTTENHANGER GP - Saturday. 3 WHINCHATS in the field north of main pit. Northern Wheatear Willows Farm by Tyttenhanger house (Steve Blake)

Friday, 27 August 2010


A WHINCHAT briefly on West pool next to White House sluice. Also at the pools Hobby and Common Sandpiper with 10 Common Snipe on Park Mead (Simon Knott)

There were also 5 WHINCHATS and 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS at Norton Green

Thursday, 26 August 2010


Remember to bookmark my Tring Reservoirs blog -

As this is the best site in Hertfordshire, it has a special website devoted to it and all of the birds recorded there are updated several times per week

RUFF and GREENSHANK at Tyttenhanger

I was lucky to arrive at the hide just before a heavy shower set in, and thought that it might bring something down. I was joined by Steven Pearce, and after a few minutes he picked a wader flying in and landing on the spit, and although viewing conditions were appalling through the driving rain, we could see that it was a RUFF, probably a female. It flew up a couple of times with the Lapwing flock and came down in the same place, but when it flew up a third time we lost sight of it and didn't see it land, but neither did we see it fly off, so it may still be there.

The Greenshank were on the new puddle! The recent rain has led to shallow puddles forming on the cleared area, and the Greenshank were taking advantage. I don't suppose that it will last long, but there wasn't any work taking place so it may last a few days. There was also a Common Sand on the fishing lake (David Booth)

Warblers everywhere

KINGS MEADS - Good morning for migrants: Spotted Flycatcher on Filter Beds site adjacent to Park Mead

Yellow Wagtail on Park Mead

7 species of Warbler including singing Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Reed Warblers & 2 Sedge Warblers

12 Swift

Also Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper & Common Snipe (Simon Knott)

Thursday, 19 August 2010


The PIED FLYCATCHER discovered by Roy Hargreaves early on was intercepted by Mike Campbell about 20 minutes later and then by Stuart Wilson, Ian Williams and Steve Rodwell just prior to when I arrived. It moved from the tall flowering Ash tree to the heighbouring apple orchard and I had one further view as it flew along the Elder hedgerow and back into the Ash tree at 0957 hours (the orchard being at the back of Rushy Meadow and alongside the Ringing Area). JT and I searched for another half hour or more and visited later, but the westerly wind increased and there was no further sign of the flycatcher nor the warbler flock that was in the vicinity.

The orchard also yielded a juvenile MARSH TIT, a family party of 6 BULLFINCHES and a nice selection of Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat; also 2 Green Woodpeckers.

Joining Francis Buckle and Martin in the Drayton Bank Hide, we all enjoyed great views of the continuing juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE, the drake GARGANEY and an adult and juvenile HOBBY, whilst from the outflow corner, the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were feeding and a freshly-arrived juvenile RINGED PLOVER.

Also noted were 7 COMMON SWIFTS, 220 Sand Martins, 3 Common Terns, GREEN SANDPIPER and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL, whilst 5 of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were still on view in the meadow behind the hide.

On STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were present (the locally fledged juvenile and a party of 5 eclipse drakes, with 2 COMMON SWIFTS and 68 Sand Martins through

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Today's Highlights

Ian Williams has located a COMMON REDSTART at Rushy Meadow, Wilstone, this evening, feeding in the same hedgerows that the Spotted Flycatcher families have been frequenting.

Meanwhile, a COMMON REDSTART was found by Darrel Bryant in a Stevenage garden and WHINCHAT and Northern Wheatear at Tyttenhanger GP.

The eclipse drake GARGANEY remains on Wilstone, along with the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, whilst a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER was reported on Startop's End Reservoir this afternoon. The juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE was also still showing very well from the hide and photographed today by Francis Buckle (see above)
Tyttenhanger also yielded a Common Greenshank today (per Steve Blake)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


This morning 7 MARSH HARRIERS together at Deadmans Hill viewable from gate at bottom of hill (Mike Ilett)

A post-dispersing BLACK-NECKED GREBE


Well, after a couple of days of north-easterlies, the wind returned to westerly today and with it, torrential rain late on.

Something of a surprise was an overnight arrival of post-breeding BLACK-NECKED GREBES - two of which were the first this year in Buckinghamshire. I also ventured into Essex today........

(birding in part with Graham Smith, Stuart Wilson & Steve Rodwell)

Following an early morning call from Dave Bilcock, I quickly ventured out to catch up with his BLACK-NECKED GREBE find - the first at the reservoirs this year. The bird was a juvenile and was showing exceptionally well - diving for food in the shallow channel to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide and present all day. David, Graham Smith and Charlie Jackson all obtained an excellent selection of images of the bird and a portfolio of these are demonstrated above.

In terms of scarcity, other quality birds included the continuing eclipse drake GARGANEY, the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, two HOBBIES and two family groups of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. A Common Greenshank was also present later.


Great Crested Grebe (27 birds present including 5 juveniles)
Continental Cormorant (15)
LITTLE EGRET (adult roosting in Willows)
Grey Heron (3)
Mute Swan (61 including the independent cygnet)
Greylag Geese (33)
Shoveler (12)
Common Teal (large increase - now 23 birds)
GARGANEY (still present between the hide and the overflow)
Pochard (18)
Tufted Duck (44)
Red Kite (1)
Common Kestrel (1)
HOBBY (2 noted)
Coot (711)
Lapwing (238)
Common Sandpiper (1 on the algae bunds)
ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (the two juveniles showing very well on the muddy margin to the right of the hide)
Black-headed Gull (86)
Common Tern (3 remaining)

COMMON SWIFT (single noted, found by Steve Rodwell)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (2)
House Martin (51)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Dunnock (1 in the Overflow Hedge)
Blackcap (3+ in hedgerow at back of Rushy Meadow)
WILLOW WARBLER (3 juveniles with the above)
Common Chiffchaff (5)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Ian Williams discovered this flock last afternoon; today, 10 birds - 2 family parties - were showing very well feeding from the hedgerow at the Drayton side of the Rushy Meadow Field. There were 6 spotty juveniles in total and all were still very young and being fed by the parents. Stuart informed me that both pairs had bred in the village, one in his own garden)
Long-tailed Tit (6)
Chaffinch (2)
Goldfinch (8)

Up against the reedbed was a crashed red and white model plane - registration number D-EATO


The juvenile Red-crested Pochard was still present, along with 13 Mute Swans, 5 Tufted Duck, the Northern Pochard, 88 Coot, 5 Pied Wagtails (including 4 in a paddock by Startop Farm) and 3 Swallows.

Just as I joined the Tring bypass and headed towards London, I saw a dead juvenile Common Kestrel in the central reservation

MARSH HARRIERS at Sandon - Monday

After a few visits with no Marsh Harriers, tonight produced one on Coombe rd (plus 2 Red Kites) and another 2 at Deadmans Hill.

Yesterday 1 Turtle Dove between Newnham & Ashwell (Mike Ilett)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sunday: REDSTART in east of county

1 imm/female COMMON REDSTART feeding with 12+ SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS along edge of cow field near St Bartholomews church, Layston, this afternoon. Also in the area 45+ Swallow & 1 hobby (Chris Beach)

Friday, 13 August 2010

And yet another flock of BLACK-TAILED GODWITS

Another flock of 6 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were seen today - this time flying SW over Tyttenhanger GP (Steve Blake). Meanwhile, the two juveniles continue to show very well in the SW corner of Startop's End Reservoir (LGRE, DB, et al) but otherwise, few birds of note (Common Greenshank still in Pitstone Quarry).

The rain forced a deluge of hirundines, particularly SAND MARTINS, down at Tring Reservoirs, whilst 8 COMMON SWIFTS were still being seen (LGRE)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

RUDDY DUCK slaying - Please Read

Yet another flock of BLACKWITS and a migrant WHINCHAT

Twelve ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS circled West pool, King's Mead, then flew west at 8:05am

Juvenile WHINCHAT at 10:00am fly-catching above the railway line (Simon Knott)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at Wilstone for second day


A very damp morning with intermittent rain, completely overcast and grey but still quite warm. Light SW winds.

With Wilstone Reservoir dropping in level on a daily basis now, it is increasingly becoming more and more suitable to passage waders and other migrating species. Last night, a juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT dropped in and at long last, stayed longer than just ten minutes, allowing me finally able to catch up with this species in Hertfordshire this year. It was a great morning's birding - here are the highlights..........

(0830-0950 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (21 birds still present)
Little Grebe (adult and juvenile still near hide)
Continental Cormorant (15)
Grey Heron (3)
LITTLE EGRET (adult feeding to right of hide)
Mute Swan (at least 39 still present including the single independent cygnet)
Greylag Goose (1)
Mallard (157)
Gadwall (just 1)
Common Teal (marked increase in number - at least 11)
*GARGANEY (the eclipse drake still showing very well feeding on the emergent vegetation just to the right of the Drayton Hide)
Shoveler (marked increase - 12 now present)
Tufted Duck (53)
Northern Pochard (13)
Coot (711)
Lapwing (132)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (1 circled the Drayton Bank but thought better of landing and continued west)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (juvenile still present from late yesterday evening, showing well on the Drayton Bank with Lapwings. Once it had finished resting and preening, it flew up, circled high and then flew off strongly west at 0843 hours into Buckinghamshire; it represented my 161st species in the county this year)
COMMON GREENSHANK (juvenile present along west shore beneath Poplars, first seen on Sunday)
Common Sandpiper (1)
Black-headed Gull (72)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 flew west)
Common Tern (13)

Common Buzzard and Red Kite
Stock Dove (1)
Green Woodpecker (1)
House Martin (25)
Dunnock (family party of 5 feeding along the sheltered east flank of the Overflow Hedgerow)
WILLOW WARBLER (1 in the Overflow Hedgerow)
LESSER WHITETHROAT (3 in the Overflow Hedgerow, showing well)
Great Tit (2 juveniles in the Overflow Hedgerow)
Blue Tit (5 in the Overflow Hedgerow)
Chaffinch (adult male and juvenile in Overflow Hedgerow)
YELLOWHAMMER (singing male and female in the Overflow Hedgerow)


A flock of 17 COMMON SWIFTS and 28 SAND MARTINS was feeding over the reservoir and adjacent Grand Union Canal, whilst the reservoir itself held 16 Mute Swans, 52 Greylag Geese, 1 Gadwall, the juvenile Red-crested Pochard, 3 juvenile Tufted Ducks and 78 Coots.

At the Angler's Retreat, Marsworth, Moorhens were in the ditch opposite, with 6 in total (adult pair, three well-grown young and a tiny baby), with 8 House Sparrows and a Common Starling noted and 3 GOLDCRESTS in the line of Fir trees bordering the road.

The Mute Swan family were still surviving on the Grand Union Canal (by the bridge) and a flock of 75 Common Starlings was wandering Marsworth Village.


The juvenile COMMON GREENSHANK was still present for its 5th day but apart from that little of note - the 7 Little Grebes, 49 Mallard, the 3 continuing Common Teal, 4 Coot and both Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff.

Yet another migrant MARSH HARRIER - this one through Lilley Bottom

Had a juvenile MARSH HARRIER this morning flying through Lilley at 7.30am. It appeared over Wards Wood TL 104269 (Herts) and flew South over the Quail field, crossing the county boundary at TL 105266 into Beds. vI lost it soon after somewhere over Whitehill Farm, but presumably it crossed the A505 at Putteridge back into Hertfordshire (Paul Anness)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Borderline Sunday Birding - Graham White

Four EURASIAN CURLEW heading north over Cheshunt GP was about the highlight.

On the King George/William Girling Reservoirs, 925 Tufted Duck, with 24 BLACK-NECKED GREBES on the Girling, 6 Common Shelduck, 15 Common Sandpiper and 5 Little Egrets.

At Rye Meads yesterday, 2 GARGANEYS present (there has been 4 different birds here recently) and 9 Green Sandpipers.

Amwell - dull.

Graham White,


A juvenile MARSH HARRIER was present at Wilstone Reservoir early this morning but left at around 0816 (per Johnne Taylor and the Ringing Group).
Meanwhile, whilst Dan Forder was at home and hanging out his washing in the glorious early afternoon sunshine in Hemel Hempstead, the MARSH HARRIER above drifted over at 1230 hours.


There are still up to 6 MARSH HARRIERS in the Sandon and Kelshall areas whilst at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring, this evening, 9 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS flew SW and the eclipse drake GARGANEY was still showing well.

Two COMMON CROSSBILLS and 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were also seen today near St Albans.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

GARGANEY at Wilstone Friday and Saturday - LGRE Diary Notes

The Common Greenshank, Garganey and Wood Sandpiper (David Bilcock)

A much cooler day than of late with frequent heavy rain showers. Disappointed at missing the Wilstone Wood Sandpiper, returned there again but no joy, although a drake GARGANEY was a pleasant surprise....

CHORLEYWOOD (HERTS) - 4 Mistle Thrushes on the cricket ground


Following a call from Steve Blake, I drove over to Tyttenhanger where the largest site record of LITTLE EGRETS had gathered. Feeding on the spit and in the vegetation behind were 9 birds in total - 4 adults and 5 juveniles - presumably post-breeding birds from one of the colonies in NE London.

Other species noted included Great Crested Grebe (6 adults in total, with one pair attending three noisy young and another adult feeding the single young), Mute Swan (family party of 7 birds on the cut-off lake), Gadwall (5), Black-headed Gull (245 on the spit), Common Gull (3 adults), Argenteus Herring Gull (1 adult), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 adult graellsii), Common Tern (7 on spit), Blackcap, Willow Warbler (bright juvenile with tit flock in trees behind the hide) and Coal Tit (3); also Peacock butterfly.


The Common Greenshank that Francis Buckle had found in the morning and had still remained early afternoon (Jeff Bailey) was nowhere to be seen on my visit. In fact, it was deathly quiet - just 34 Atlantic Canada Geese on the marsh and 2 COMMON SWIFTS and 9 House Martins overhead.


Well, no sign of the Greenshank here either, but there was a single juvenile RINGED PLOVER roosting at the end of the spit. The water level here is now dropping dramatically and looks brilliant.

A total of 73 Black-headed Gulls was roosting, including 16 juveniles; also 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

(afternoon visit)

Sadly, there was no sign of yesterday's Wood Sandpiper - it had moved on. Ian Williams 'phoned to say that he and Jeff Bailey were watching an odd eclipse duck which they were both certain was a GARGANEY. I walked around to the hide to join them and there sat sleeping to the right of the hide was an excellent eclipse drake GARGANEY - the first of the year at the reservoirs. After a while it woke up and began feeding and after being hassled by a Shoveler, flapped its wings revealing a clear pale bluish-grey forewing, characteristic of drakes. It was also very dark on the underparts, heavily scalloped on the flanks and dark legged but was very fresh and pristine. Both Dave Bilcock and Francis Buckle obtained excellent images of the bird and these are depicted above.

An adult LITTLE EGRET was feeding to the right of the hide, with 65 Mute Swans counted (including the single grey cygnet), 52 Tufted Ducks (including 50 in one mass), 7 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 714 Coot (favouring the emergent vegetation and feeding in massive close-knit flocks), 18 Common Terns (massive increase on yesterday) and 25 passage House Martins.

An adult argenteus HERRING GULL flew west whilst two HOBBIES (an adult and a juvenile) were showing very well to the north of the main car park, the adult appearing to be training the juvenile to hunt.


Another day of showery rain, particularly in the early morning. Quite windy too, and switching from SE to due south. Temperatures remained quite warm but there was little sign of sunshine until late afternoon.

Much of today was spent either botanising or butterflying but I was delighted at finally adding COMMON GREENSHANK to my 2010 Herts List and GREY PARTRIDGE to my 2010 Bucks List..........


Acting upon DB's posting, I caught up with the Pitstone COMMON GREENSHANK mid-morning (presumably yesterday's College bird). It was feeding in the shallows where the pool was rapidly drying out and appeared to be a fresh juvenile and represented my first in Herts this year. A GREEN SANDPIPER was also feeding in the quarry.

Joining the 7 resident Little Grebes and up to 30 Mallard were now 3 COMMON TEAL whilst the gull flock numbered 68 Black-headed and 3 Lesser Black-backed. Green Woodpecker and Linnet were also noted.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

WOOD SANDPIPER at Wilstone this afternoon



Ian Williams, his son and I failed in our quest to locate the juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER this evening - there was no sign of it from the Drayton Bank Hide or along the numerous muddy stretches of bank now emerging. It had been present from at least 1630 to 1830 hours and was discovered by Jeff Bailey and seen by Roy, Mike Campbell and Chaz Jackson at least. It is the first record at the reservoirs this year, although of course, nearby was the well-watched College Lake adult in June.

There were 3 Common Sandpipers present this evening, as well as 131 Lapwings and a COMMON SNIPE. Also of interest, a juvenile WATER RAIL was showing well, indicating that it had bred in the reedbed.

Also seen were adult and juvenile Little Grebe, 22 Great Crested Grebes, 59 Mute Swans, 4 Common Teal, 15 Pochard, the Sparrowhawk family and just 1 Common Tern.

There was also 100 Common Starlings roosting in the Wilstone reedbed this evening.

Elsewhere today, I saw a single COMMON TERN on one of the new catchment pools besides the southbound M25 a mile south of Junction 17 at Maple Cross and a singing male YELLOWHAMMER on wires in Chesham Vale

Sunday, 1 August 2010

RUDDY DUCKS have a successful breeding season

RUDDY DUCKS have bucked the trend and bred successfully in Buckinghamshire this year (see family images above). I shall be keeping a very close eye on them now that Defra have successfully extended their cull effort until March 2011.