Friday, 31 December 2010

COMMON CRANE flies over reservoirs

A first-winter COMMON CRANE present recently in Oxfordshire flew over Bishopstone and Stoke Mandeville today (Clive Woodward) and was then seen circling Wilstone Reservoir a couple of circuits before heading off towards Mentmore.

Chiswell Green WAXWINGS

67 birds were present commuting between the tall trees on the opposite side of Watford Road to the Pink Rowan un the front garden of number 136 (LGRE)


Approximately 185 WAXWINGS in Welwyn Garden City late morning, feeding in Rowans beside Council offices on The Campus. The Mistle Thrush was still trying to 'see them off' but was overwhelmed by the weight of numbers! Took some photos so will try and double check precise numbers and evidence of rings later (Anthony Dorman)


Two BEARDED TITS (m +f), 1 Jack Snipe and 2 Water Rail at Michaels Mead Pond Reedbed, Southern Country Park, Bishop's Stortford - Mike Harris

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Stanborough Reedmarsh

Took a quick but fairly productive morning walk around Stanborough lakes, with the Reedmarsh area producing the following:

Jack Snipe - a bobbing bird showing briefly at edge of pool at back of reeds before being lost to view.

Water Rail - at least 3 birds, occasionally showing well.

Teal - 12

Waxwing - 21 flew over at 11.15pm.

Anthony Dorman

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Chiswell Green WAXWINGS

A flock of around 40 Waxwings was in the garden of 203 Watford Road, Chiswell Green, this morning. They were resting in a large beech tree and were dropping down to feed on a Sorbus in the front garden (Alan Gardiner)

Hitchin CURLEW present for 12th day

Just walked round the perimiter of the playing field just in case the Curlew was hiding somewhere and witnessed the bird "arriving" for the day; it flew directly over my head and has just landed and begun feeding straight away. Its 12th day in Hitchin! (Ben Andrew)

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at East Hyde - Boxing Day

Mike Watson photographed this single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at East Hyde on Boxing Day (26 December)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

CURLEW still present

The EURASIAN CURLEW is still present in Hitchin for its 11th day.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

CURLEW flock

At noon, while watching a rather cold pair of Stonechats and Water Rail on the bank of the New River, a flock of 8 EURASIAN CURLEWS flew low over the White Sluice House and continued south. This is a new record and 120th species seen on Kings Meads in 2010.

Earlier, 22 Waxwings again present at Tanners Crescent in Hertford until at least 10:45am (Simon Knott)

Monday, 20 December 2010


There was a flock of 42 WAXWINGS feeding on Hawthorn in Bread and Cheese Lane, Cheshunt at 3.20pm today. They were at the southern end in front of the white bungalow and only stayed for a few minutes, flying off toward Hammondstreet Road in groups of 28 and 16 (Ron Cousins)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Two hefty flocks of WAXWINGS

Ian Bennell had about 130 WAXWINGS in Watford this morning and Mike Ilett had the 188 that are present for their third day in Waltham Abbey.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Called in to Tanners Crescent at 11.20am and there were 19 Waxwings in the tall trees behind No 24. Then on to Waterford Heath on a totally flat calm morning and was rewarded with 50 Redwing, 30 Siskin, 20 Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest and a few Bullfinches.

Dropped in to Tanners Crescent again on the way home and the number of Waxwings had risen to 26 (Alan Reynolds)

Monday, 13 December 2010

WAXWING reports today

15 still in Primrose Close Bishops Stortford;
1 flew over Cassiobury Park, Watford;
50+ in Cheshunt near the junction of High Street and Church Lane, then 90 flew NE to roost;
54 in Waltham Cross, near KFC / Royal Avenue (possibly same as the Cheshunt birds?);
7 at junction of Louvain Way and Poplar Close, Garston;
6 in Tanners Crescent, Hertford;
49 at junction of Longmead and Hillfield, Hatfield;
11 at junction of Shepherds Lane / Chiltern Drive, Mill End nr Rickmansworth;
50 in Highfield Way, Rickmansworth

Compiled by Graham Knight

Sunday, 12 December 2010

CURLEW and SMEWS at Hilfield

A CURLEW flew into Hilfield Park Reservoir at dusk this evening, just after 4pm and was still there on the dam at 4.15pm. Should it stay the night, it may be visible through the concrete fence that runs between the reserve perimeter and the verge of the A41, just east of the Hilfield Lane junction, and opposite the M1 footbridge. Obviously take great care there as it's a busy road. It was initially on the top of dam, then walked down to the water's edge, near the kink in the dam that you can see on the map. Also three redhead SMEWS (along the north bank) and a "white" Black-headed Gull in the roost (Tony Blake)

And Over 100 again

Lee, following your posting yesterday, I went to Hatfield for dawn and on arrival (7:30 am) there were no waxwings in sight. After about fifteen minutes a flock of 40 arrived and over the next hour, the flock gradually grew to 124 or thereabouts. They stayed high in the surrounding Poplar trees for a lot of the time with occasional frantic forays to gorge on the white Rowan berries, but they did seem to spook easily when feeding. After about 10am the numbers seemed to drop off with the occasional bird or two still remaining. I left at 10:15. Managed to get a few pictures (attached) - my first waxwing photographs! (Michael Nott)

At least 70 WAXWINGS still present in Hatfield

I watched the birds in this area between 11.30am and 1pm. I didn't attempt to count them but there were far more than 30 by the time I left. I would guess that there were 60 at least. The Pink Rowans are behind the flats in Great Heath. I used to live in one of those flats many, many years ago. They occasionally fed on the berries even while someone was working on a car, directly underneath, and having a row with someone else through the window of one of the flats. Skittish though (per Steve Chilton). There were still at least 20 in Hertford today and 9 in Bishop's Stortford.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Amwell Today

A MEALY REDPOLL showed (more or less...) for about 30 minutes this morning, in the birches south of the lock at Tumbling Bay Lake. It was accompanied by only 4 Lesser Redpolls.

.While waiting for a gull roost that never really materialised (and was disturbed by gun shots again...), a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE flew in with a mixed flock of Greylags, Canadas and hybrids. Probably the Stevenage bird, according to Barry who had seen pictures. My video footage only looks good on the camera I'm afraid! It flew off after about 30 minutes, towards Harlow.

Otherwise, all the expected ducks were present, including only one female Smew. Two Cetti's Warblers were heard and the Harris's Hawk flew by. I made an afternoon cycle tour of the Hertford rowans... at least I now know where they are (which can't be said of the Waxwings) (Jan Hein).



The warmest day in over three weeks with temperatures reaching 7 degrees C. Ice on many of the gravel pits and reservoirs was beginning to melt with many wildfowl on the move between sites. There was a little bit of brightness but generally it remained grey and overcast. The winds were light.

As has been the case for several weeks now, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were the talking point and today they were just everywhere. My tally for the day was 252 birds - but there were many more, especially in Hertfordshire.


My first port of call was Wendover, where a highly mobile flock of 14 WAXWINGS was commuting between Lionel Avenue (just off of the main road) and the Haglis Drive cul-de-sac.


Next off, at around midday, I relocated Anthony Dorman's flock in Hatfield, where a total of 124 WAXWINGS was flying in to five heavily laden Pink Rowans within the flat complex at the entrance to Hillfield. They were commuting between here and the tall Poplar trees on the adjacent Langmead. Not one appeared to be ringed.


I spent the last hour of daylight at Marsworth - overlooking the reedbed. A total of 88 CORN BUNTINGS eventually came in to roost (best count this winter so far) and at least 1 CETTI'S WARBLER has survived the freeze.

The wintering EURASIAN BITTERN flew from 75 yards from the causeway at 1614 hours and quickly out of view and the resident BARN OWL at 1630. At least 3 WATER RAILS were squealing (with two walking across the ice) and at dusk, a TAWNY OWL started hooting from trees at Tringford.


At Amwell NR, Barry Reed and others recorded the MEALY REDPOLL (feeding in Birches with 6 Lesser Redpolls) and towards dusk, the Stevenage PINK-FOOTED GOOSE flew in with 6 Greylag Geese and a flock of Atlantic Canada Geese briefly.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Odd grey goose in Stevenage

A putative Pink-footed Goose was present overnight at Fairlands Park, Stevenage, and was last seen at about 1100 hours (Darrel Bryant). Both Barry Reed and LGRE arrived shortly later but it had departed, presumably flushed by dogwalkers. A single Greylag Goose remained, and the 42 Atlantic Canada Geese, plus a female Mandarin Duck.


40+ WAXWINGS again feeding on yellow-berried rowan at Riversmead Housing Assocation, next to FOCUS car park, Ware Road at 11:00am.The flock is quite mobile commuting between various tall trees in the area such as at Davies Street and Caxton Hill (Simon Knott).

In addition, 19 still in the Primrose Close area of Bishop's Stortford (Michael Harris et al) and 36 in Tanners Crescent, Hertford (Graham Knight)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Hertford WAXWINGS increasing in number

I decided to call into FOCUS Hertford at 2.30pm on my way home from Amwell. There was a flock of Starlings flying around which, as I had my bins in the car, I decided to check out. Just as well I did as they turned out to be 45 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. They were favouring a large tree behind the outdoor garden section of FOCUS but would occasionally feed on berries in front of the Riversmead Housing Association building.

At Amwell a male and female Smew, 1 female Red-crested Pochard, 11 Goldeneye and a Harris Hawk (Alan Reynolds).

Wednesday, 8 December 2010



Another very cold day, with an increasingly fresh easterly wind. Still much of an air frost in the vegetation and large bodies of water still iced over. Other than Smew though, very little moving through......


Largely iced over but the remaining open water totally crammed full of wildfowl. The highlight was of course the SMEWS - 3 of them in total - an adult drake and two adult females. There were also 2 female GOOSANDERS moving about together.

Also counted were 2 Little Grebes, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swans (8 first-years), 72 Mallard, 14 MANDARIN DUCKS (7 drakes), 92 Gadwall, 22 Eurasian Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck and 389 Coot; also 1 Ring-necked Parakeet in vicinity.


The marsh was largely frozen but the main lake was ice-free, with more duck present than I have seen at the location all year. Dave Bilcock had seen a female SMEW earlier (photographed by him above) but I failed to relocate it. The roll-call was as follows -:

12 Mute Swans (2 first-years), 70 Mallard, 22 Gadwall, a remarkable 332 Eurasian Wigeon, 22 Tufted Duck, 95 Northern Pochard and 2 Common Goldeneye (1 drake). There were also a fair few Redwing around.


Again, drew a blank on DB's earlier redhead SMEW and apart from that, very little change from yesterday, with a major increase in Wigeon (300+) and Common Teal (127). The undoubted highlight was the presence of a single COMMON SHELDUCK, standing on ice just off the jetty.


I took a quick lunchtime stroll today and finally tracked down the local WAXWING flock - 37 were present between 13.20 and 13.40 in Applecroft Road. The birds were mostly in the tall trees on the opposite side of the road to the school, occasionally swooping down to feed on berries on the trees in front of the school classrooms. There were plently of berries, so although the birds flew off at 13.40 they are likely to return.

Please be aware of and sensitive to the fact that Applecroft School has a strict 'No Photography' policy (as recently highlighted in The Daily Mail!!). I managed a couple of discrete, distant, and consequently very poor photos myself! (Anthony Dorman)

Aldenham SMEW still there

Two redhead SMEW still showing very well on ice-free patch of water in front of car park Aldenham CP. Also Redwing, Fieldfare, Nuthatch heard calling and Little Owl (Rex Dunwoody)

More Hertford WAXWINGS

15 WAXWINGS feeding for almost an hour until 9:45am at Merchant Drive, Mead Lane Industrial. Also 2 Bullfinches and Mistle Thrush in the Rowans (Simon Knott)

SMEW at Wilstone

David Bilcock reports a redhead SMEW on Wilstone Reservoir........

Meanwhile, the EURASIAN BITTERN remains at Tyttenhanger Main Pit (Steve Blake) and a cluster of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are still to be found in major conurbations


15 Waxwings in tree by 24 Tanners Crescent but have just flown off at 8.30 - Graham Knight

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Ten WAXWINGS in Borehamwood

I have now heard back from the observer - the Waxwings were in Oberon Close in Borehamwood today (per Graham Knight).

Two SMEW at Aldenham Reservoir for second day

The two redhead SMEW were showing well from the car park with the redhead GOOSANDER. There were also 5 Mandarin Ducks present. Another pair of SMEW have been seen at Stockers Lake in the last few days (per HBC Website).

Hertford WAXWING flock now up to 35

Just got out of the car to hear a chorus of trilling nearby - no less than 35 WAXWINGS in Tanners Crescent at about 3.30, in a large tree by the river, just next to number 24. Unfortunately they flew off south after a couple ofminutes (Graham Knight).

WAXWINGS at Waltham Cross

There are now 6 WAXWINGS at Waltham Cross in the trees on the roundabout opposite KFC and feeding in a pink Rowan beside No. 40 Eleanor Cross Road at 3.00 p.m. (Simon West)

HAWFINCH again in Harpenden

Stopped off at Woburn (Beds) to see the regular flock of Waxwing that has been seen in Leighton street for around 2 weeks now, then straight to Thames Wood outside Harpenden to attempt to locate the Hawfinch found by Graham Knight on the weekend.

What a pre-christmas treat I had when within 30 minutes on site, I saw the HAWFINCH perched on top of a tree to the east side of the wood (east of the large transmitter) at about 11.25 for about a minute, giving glorious views before it headed off toward Mud lane through the wood. Was not able to relocate it in the next hour on site. Jason Chapman and chums came up to assist in the search to relocate it. Hope they got lucky. Co-ordinates are as per Graham Knight, TL151125 - Cheer & Merry Christmas to all - Darin Stanley

Stevenage WAXWINGS

Total of 7 WAXWINGS at 77 York Rd Stevenage at 0930 hours (Dave Beer)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Amwell today


After a relatively balmy weekend when temperatures rose to a heady 5 degrees C and melted all the lying snow, the freeze returned with a vengeance today and a combination of freezing fog and overnight frost left many areas a ghostly white. All day the temperatures remained below freezing.

I spent the morning searching the Amersham Recording Area for Waxwings but failed in my quest; none even at the Beacon Sports Centre in Beaconsfield.

I then decided to chance my arm at the Amwell gull roost but that was paltry too - and bitterly cold........

(with Phil Ball fresh in overnight from India!)

I arrived at 1400 hours and stuck it out until 1600 hours, by which time I was virtually frozen stiff.

There was no sign of any Bitterns, Cetti's Warblers or Mealy Redpolls and not much in the way of open water. The following birds were noted -:

Just 3 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Egret, 27 Sinensis Cormorants, 9 Mute Swans, 112 Gadwall, just 5 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Common Teal on the ice, a pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL, 15 Shoveler, 38 Tufted Duck, 5 Northern Pochard, 3 female Red-crested Pochard on Hollycross Lake, 8 Common Goldeneye (including one drake), 3 SMEWS (including a fabulous adult drake), 3 Lapwing, 1 Common Snipe, 106 Coot, 15 Moorhens at the feeding area, 2 WATER RAILS on the ice, Jay, 1,500 Jackdaws south to roost, 12 Common Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll and a Goldcrest.

A fairly paltry pre-roost gull gathering on the ice but including 118 Common Gulls, 11 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, just 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 71 Herring Gulls (virtually all Argentatus) and 400+ Black-headed Gulls.

WAXWINGS in Hertford and St Albans

Six WAXWINGS again present in large tree in front garden of 2 Tanners Crescent (per Graham Knight) and a fairly mobile flock of 21 in Church Street, St Albans, this afternoon.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Red Letter Day at Amwell - MEALY REDPOLL and CASPIAN GULL recorded

At 12:30, I found a MEALY REDPOLL in a 40-strong Lesser Redpoll flock near Hollycross Lake. A typically "grey" individual, lacking any buff in the face or in the wing. Unfortunately, the birds were very mobile and I lost it quickly. The flock was seen later in the afternoon, but the bird was not. They appear to come back to the birches along the footpath from time to time.

Later, in the gull roost, a 2nd winter CASPIAN GULL was present from 3:30 till 3:45, when someone fired a gun a couple of times which sent all the gulls to the reservoirs (and left one bird for dead: heart attack or shot?)... Alan Harris also had an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL in this flock.

A Dunlin which spent all day in front of the viewpoint was only the third one this year.

Probably the most curious sight today was a swimming Rabbit, trying to escape a Stoat. The Stoat got out of the water quite quickly, leaving the Rabbit to float around for a minute or so, before it tried to reach the bank. All the while, an unringed juvenile Harris's Hawk watched the proceedings. This was the third day in a row a hunting Stoat was seen.

Other birds:

1 Egyptian Goose
3 Pintail (2 females from the viewpoint, 1 drake out of sight)
2 Smew (female)
1-2 Bitterns (not showy at all)
1 Marsh Tit

Jan Hein Steenis

More on that HAWFINCH sighting

This morning started off with a quick look for the Waxwings along Merchant Drive in Hertford. Unfortunately there was no sign but plenty of berries still around. I then went to Tyttenhanger where Ricky Flesher had relocated the BITTERN in the small reedbed on the north east side of the main pit. It showed well if distantly from the hide for about half an hour while I was there, occasionally fishing. The particular location can only be viewed from the other side of the pit, ideally the hide. Also present were a Little Egret and female Goldeneye, along with small numbers of the usual winter ducks.

Then it was off to do a Bird Atlas timed visit in Harpenden, TL11L. I was enjoying a pleasant if quiet walk when I approached a number of birds bathing in a small puddle along a public footpath next to Thames Wood. There were 3 Chaffinches, a Redwing, and amazingly a HAWFINCH. I watched it bathe for about 30 seconds before it flew to a nearby tree on the edge of the wood. A couple of minutes later it again showed in another beech tree along the edge of the wood.

The location is at approximately TL151125, along the appropriately named Mud Lane (which is actually a public footpath). As far as I know the wood is private. The exact place is slightly to the east of the large transmitter which is in the wood. If anyone wants to go, the best place to park is probably at the Three Horseshoes pub on Harpenden East Common, and walk northeast along the footpath.

That's what I love about the bird atlas - it takes you to new places and who knows what is there to be found - Graham Knight

BITTERN at Tyttenhanger

A EURASIAN BITTERN is present at Tyttenhanger Main Pit for a second day, showing intermittently in the small reedbed in the NE corner of the pit (per Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher)

Graham Knight has also discovered a HAWFINCH in the Harpenden area, but Waxwings all seem to have moved on from the county (although 2 were seen in Hitchin yesterday)

JACK SNIPES at Lemsford Springs

Up to 4 JACK SNIPES have been taking advantage of the cressbeds at Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve at Welwyn Garden City since the arrival; of the cold weather and have been showing incredibly well from the hides. Graeme Leckie obtained these amazing images published above.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Amwell today

Today at Amwell:

2 Pintail (pair), 3 Red-crested Pochard (female, Hollycross), 2 Goosander (male + female: female first at Tumbling Bay, pair present for about 30 min on Great Hardmead Lake before flying north), 4 Smew (female), 1 Little Egret, 1 Yellow-legged Gull (adult, roost), 2 Cetti's Warblers.

No sign of Bitterns at all (Jan Hein Steenis)


16 WAXWINGS again present on rowans on Merchant Drive, Mead Lane Industrial Estate, Hertford. The flock flew east at 9:35am and I relocated them at 9:55am on Kings Meads in the small group of alders north of New River near A10 viaduct feeding on hawthorn. After 10 minutes the flock departed north towards Ware Park (Simon Knott)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Amwell today

This afternoon- 2 Northern Pintail, 3 Mandarin, RUFF, BITTERN, SMEW and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (Graham White)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

WAXWING at King's Meads

17 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS on Tansy Mead feeding on hawthorn at 8:20am. The flock flew west as the first train passed. I relocated them fifteen minutes later and 1/2m west on the Mead Lane Industrial Estate feeding on the rowans in Merchants Drive. They stayed for 30min until they gave chase to a small raptor and flew to the treebelt adjoining Park Mead. I followed and was pleasantly suprised to find that the raptor was a little owl, now perched on a security light. The Waxwing flock then departed east. Just to wrap up a good morning Woodcock flying over Kings Mead and landing in Hertford Cut.

There are four decent rowans plus a yellow-berried Sorbus on Merchants Drive and Waxwings may revisit this site (Simon Knott)

Four EURASIAN CURLEWS make brief touchdown at Tyttenhanger

I was at Tyttenhanger GP briefly this morning and decided to have a quick look at the main pit. Walking towards the viewpoint I heard a EURASIAN CURLEW calling at about 11:20 AM and saw 3 birds circling the pit which eventually landed on the sand where it turned out that they had been joined by a fourth bird. However they all flew off after 5 minutes high to the north so it is very unlikely they will return (Alan Gardiner)