Monday, 27 September 2010

RED KNOT spends Saturday morning at Wilstone

Myself and Roy Hargreaves initially watched the RED KNOT fly in and land amongst the Coots on the recently exposed spit opposite the car park steps, before it relocated to the mud just off the old overflow (Dave Bilcock).

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Belated News - EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD over Stocker's Lake

Andrew Moon found and photographed this EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD at Stocker's Lake on 15 September. The bird glided fairly low overhead but quickly moved south - the first sighting of the year and autumn. Superb.

WOOD SANDPIPER at Amwell at dusk

A total of SIX sandpipers flew in at 6pm with one being smaller and browner in flight. A closer look from the Gladwin hide revealed 1 WOOD SANDPIPER with 5 GREEN SANDPIPERS. They all flew off south after half an hour (Mike Ilett).

Thursday, 16 September 2010

PIED FLYCATCHER at Tyttenhanger today

Graeme Leckie photographed this first-winter PIED FLYCATCHER at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits today, feeding in Pines in the wood behind the hide - a superb record

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hemel Hempstead area over weekend

I took a couple of hours on both Saturday & Sunday having a look in case any migrants had decided to stop off at a rough field bordered by bushes & trees I'd seen from the dual carriage-way in Hemel. It's a disused recreation/sports ground of a factory that used to be there, it's only 200m x 200m & about 1km from my house on the North side of Breakspear Way & East of Maylands Avenue.

Anyway... a brief summary of the highlights.

Female COMMON REDSTART calling from a small tree on W side flew to the hedgerow at E corner.
A beautiful Male COMMON REDSTART calling & feeding under a bush on concrete on W side.
At least 1 MEADOW PIPIT.
An abundance of COMMON DARTERS in E corner.
At least 4 CHIFFCHAFFS calling nearby on Boundary Way / Buncefield Lane.
Nearby on Hogg End Lane / Green Lane a flock of 136 LINNETS & another of at least 81 LINNETS appeared to be two different parties.
I also watched one of a couple of HAWKERS attempting to catch SPECKLED WOODS in the air behing Holiday Inn.
Atleast 58 BLUE TITS passed through/over my garden in 2 minutes in the morning & thats just the ones I could see, who knows how many passed before I went outside!

A NORTHERN WHEATEAR moved about the field. [I'm not sure of age/sex because (looking at the photos) when sat up in bright sunlight (pic1) it looked a perfect 1st Winter, but when seen out of the glare (pic2&3) it was actually rufous-buff right down to it's under-tail coverts like a Greenlander, seemed to have too much white on it's forehead & in front of it's eye, & a very prominent moustachial stripe. Any help with full ID would be greatly appreciated.]
2 MEADOW PIPITS stayed the whole time
No Redstarts but in the male's bush from yesterday were 2 CHIFFCHAFFS & a WILLOW WARBLER.
A nice surprise was a presumed passage migrant, stunning male COMMON WHITETHROAT in the NW corner.

Dan Forder

Sunday, 12 September 2010

REDSTART at Amwell - Saturday

A COMMON REDSTART at Amwell Saturday (in bushes at the southern end of Ware GP). Also 150 House Martins, Hobby, Common Sandpiper, 10+ Chiffchaffs and 4 Blackcap.

A look along the Mimram produced 1 Little Egret and a Cetti's Warbler and 2 Teal at Tewinbury (Graham White)

Another wave of OSPREYS at Amwell following 8 reported in spring

Upon arrival at Amwell this morning, Barry Reed told me he had had one OSPREY flying southwest at 7 am. Amazingly, this one was followed by one flying in low from the south, making a tour over Great Hardmead Lake and flying off southwest at 10.30, a more distant one (with a missing primary) at 12:00 flying south, and an even more distant bird flying south at 13:00.

An immature Marsh Harrier flew over at about 10:40 and a Red Kite was seen (shortly) twice. The Hobbies, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards were easier to get to grips with.

There was a reasonable passage of Meadow Pipits, but not too many other small birds (one Yellow Wagtail, one Swift, quite a few fouraging Swallows & House Martins).The goose flock was complemented by a Barnacle and a Bar-headed Goose (Jan Hein Steenis)

MEGA - WRYNECK at Tyttenhanger - but briefly !

I was walking along the top of the bank which overlooks the sheep field and the main pit towards the 'Tree Sparrow hedge' this morning when I noticed a Common Chiffchaff in a small tree. I stopped to look, and saw a larger bird behind it at the back of the tree: it moved slightly, to show the unmistakeable head of a WRYNECK! It then moved to the next tree, perched in the open for about 5 seconds, then flew down behind the bank. This was about 9:35. I walked to the sheep field and looked up the bank, but the vegetation there is very thick and I couldn't see the area where it seemed to have gone very well. Reinforcements finally arrived, but despite 15 - 20 birders searching it had not been relocated by 12:00. This is the rarest bird I have ever found in Herts, and it is a pity that no-one else was able to enjoy it. It was also a first for Tyttenhanger, taking the site total to 193, but with only one addition last year (Glossy Ibis) and one this year it may take a while to reach 200.

There was also a Wheatear in the stubble field next to where I found the Wryneck, and Ian Bennell picked up a Hobby high over the main pit: it was later feeding low over the scrape. Martin Parr mentioned seeing a stoat chasing a rabbit: I heard the squeals of a rabbit which had definitely been caught by a stoat! (David Booth)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

WHINCHAT in Batford

Darin Stanley located a WHINCHAT and NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the barbed wire fencing in the farmers field at Batford, only about 30m away from the B653 Lower Luton road. Meanwhile, up to 5 WHINCHATS have been present for much of the week in the weedy field adjacent to the perimeter fence at Luton Airport, just across the county border.

Monday, 6 September 2010

MARSH HARRIER still in Sandon area - Saturday 4 September

A female MARSH HARRIER was hunting by the Kelshall / Therfield road off the A505 this evening. It seemed to have caught a young hare, but dropped it when an adult hare charged at it! There were also 18 Grey Partridges, a Red Kite and 3 Buzzards in the area (David Booth)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

REDSTARTS in St Albans

Sandridge near St Albans - 2 COMMON REDSTARTS - Heartwood Forest. Male & female/imm in hedge running NE from scout hut carpark (TL165107) towards Hillend Farm. 9.30am (per Steve Blake and HBC)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Easterly winds produce BLACK TERN at Wilstone


High pressure still firmly in charge with continuing light NE winds. In fact, gorgeous early autumn weather and prime conditions for drift migrants. Prize of the day was an adult BLACK TERN and yet more WHINCHATS.........

In Hemel Hempstead town centre this morning, I recorded Grey Wagtail and 65 Feral Pigeons.

(1930-2000 hours; with Ian Williams)

The highlight was undoubtedly an adult BLACK TERN just moulting out of breeding plumage - only the third Black Tern recorded at the reservoirs this year, following two on one day in May.

Also seen were the following -:

Great Crested Grebe (18)
Continental Cormorant (30)
LITTLE EGRET (1 flew in and landed close to the hide)
Grey Heron (5)
Mute Swan (35+ including the lone first-winter)
WHOOPER SWANS (adult pair still present)
MANDARIN (drake roosting with other ducks on Drayton Bank)
Mallard (64)
Gadwall (8)
Northern Shoveler (large increase - now 26 present)
Common Teal (107 - huge increase)
Northern Pochard (62)
Tufted Duck (55+)
HOBBY (1-2 by Drayton Bank)
Moorhen (16)
Coot (704)
Lapwing (102)
COMMON GREENSHANK (juvenile still present)
Black-headed Gull (5)

Pied Wagtail (adult and juvenile)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Western Reed Warbler (13)


Nothing exceptional present but 5 Great Crested Grebes now present (including a pair with two juveniles), 14 Mute Swans, the female Red-crested Pochard, 2 Common Teal, 4 Shoveler, 66 Tufted Ducks and 137 Coot.

No hirundines were encountered in the clear skies.