Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Winter returns with a vengeance grounding hundreds of hirundines and more wagtails; EGYPTIAN GOOSE present for its second day

EGYPTIAN GOOSE, Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Pipit (Mike Lawrence)


Heavy snow and blizzards caused chaos in Scotland, NW England and in North Wales and heralded British Summertime ! We did not get snow in the south but we did get some hefty sleet showers. The temperature hovered between 3 and 5 degrees C all day, with the wind gusting up to gale force and from a Northwesterly direction. In such conditions, my hopes were high for a Kittiwake or Sandwich Tern, but in the end it was mainly hirundines which caused most excitement, with large numbers being grounded by the rain and cloud. Wagtails too seemed to be affected. I managed two more additions to my 2010 Hertfordshire List - BLACKCAP and HOUSE MARTIN.

(1230-1300 hours and again towards dusk)

Although I failed to locate the single EGYPTIAN GOOSE at lunchtime, it was showing well this evening in the grass field immediately east of the reservoir at dusk - my first for the site this year. It was roosting amongst the 48 Greylag Geese in the field.

Other wildfowl included 1 adult Mute Swan, 3 remaining Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 28 Shoveler, 157 Tufted Duck, 15 Northern Pochard and the immature male COMMON GOLDENEYE, whilst 8 Great Crested Grebes, 15+ Grey Herons and a single first-summer Black-headed Gull were also present.

Despite the bitter NW wind, diurnal migrants had arrived on the East Bank, with a fine near-adult male YELLOW WAGTAIL (Steve Rodwell and Chaz Jackson had two later), 4 Pied Wagtails (SR and CJ had two male WHITE WAGTAILS later) and a male Reed Bunting, whilst hirundine passage included a bumper arrival of 68 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, 127 SAND MARTINS and my first Tring and Herts HOUSE MARTIN of the year.


Great Crested Grebe (8 on Marsworth, with 3 on Startop's End and 1 on Tringford)
Mute Swan (2 adults on Tringford)
Tufted Duck (8 on Tringford)
Northern Pochard (5 on Tringford)
Red-crested Pochard (drake still on Startop's End)
Green Woodpecker (yaffling bird in Marsworth Reedbed Wood)
SAND MARTINS (28 on Tringford, with 4 on Marsworth)
EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW (19 on Tringford, with 15 on Marsworth)
Pied Wagtail (8 feeding along the main causeway)
Mistle Thrush (1 in flight appeared to be carrying food)
CETTI'S WARBLER (a ringed individual showing well in scrub near the overflow)
*BLACKCAP (my first Herts bird of the year despite a record number of wintering individuals, this male singing and showing well in low scrub in Marsworth Reedbed Wood)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (a singing male by the road near the road junction by the wood carvery shop and at least two others in the Poplars of Marsworth Reedbed Wood)

(1349 hours)

Fairly quiet apart from a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER on the east island in the marsh and 2 Barn Swallows.

On the East Island, 5 Lapwings were sat on nests, with another on the smaller island, with 2 Common Snipes on there, the two OYSTERCATCHERS on the island on the main lake, a single Black-headed Gull and 8 migrant Pied Wagtails.

(1500 hours)

The female Ruddy Shelduck was still present, along with the pair of Gadwall, pair of OYSTERCATCHERS, pair of Common Redshanks and single LITTLE RINGED PLOVER

(1540-1630 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (6)
Little Grebe (2)
*BLACK-NECKED GREBE (8 now present, virtually all in full breeding plumage now)
Shoveler (single drake)
Tufted Duck (33)

Migrants included 146 hirundines, including 91 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, 54 Sand Martins and a single HOUSE MARTIN, with a COMMON CHIFFCHAFF singing at the east end.

A large passage flock of birds on neighbouring ELSTREE AERODROME included 86 Meadow Pipits and 8 Pied Wagtails.


Surprisingly no hirundines present and the only passage birds of note being 3 REDWINGS.

A pair of Mute Swans was nesting, whilst 16 Great Crested Grebes, 12 Gadwall, 22 Tufted Duck and 6 Northern Pochard were seen

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

YELLOW WAGTAIL arrives - LGRE Diary Notes


Talk about a topsy-turvy day in terms of weather. When I first started birding mid morning, the wind was in the west and the temperature was 9.5 degrees C. It was raining intermittently and activity was rather scant. Around lunchtime/early afternoon however, the wind switched to the SSW, the sun came out and temperatures recovered to 13.5 degrees C. Then, darkening clouds brought heavier rain, and between 1500 and 1900 hours, the temperature plummeted to a freezing 5 degrees C and the wind veered to a strong NNW.

Despite the conditions, I had a great day locally, with some nice finds and new additions - particularly Yellow Wagtail and House Martin - both firsts for the year.

(1200-1338 hours)

By the time I had got to Tyttenhanger, the wind had freshened from the SSW and the sun had started to peep its way through the clouds. The temperature started nudging 13.5 degrees C and it became quite pleasant.

Steve Blake had earlier discovered a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (a Herts Year tick for me and only the second occurrence this year) on the main pit which I was keen to see. I 'scoped across to the mud and located 8 COMMON REDSHANKS and 7 COMMON SNIPE and then a 'ringed plover'. The latter was clearly a RINGED PLOVER so I phoned Steve to query his sighting. He was adamant, so we agreed to meet up at the opposite side. A single COMMON SHELDUCK was also present on the pit.

Making a rendezvous with SB by the conveyor belt, he pointed out the plover that he had found and it was a different bird to that at the opposite end of the sandy spit and a fine adult LITTLE RINGED PLOVER - my first of the year in Herts (120). A party of 8 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS also passed through.

We then went back to WILLOWS FARM POOL (1240 hours), where the female Ruddy Shelduck, a pair of OYSTERCATCHER, a pair of Common Redshank and 2 adult male Pied Wagtails were present. Feeding along the left hand flank were a stonking male YELLOW WAGTAIL (234/121) and a first-summer male WHITE WAGTAIL (122). The latter was soon chased off by one of the male Pied Wagtails.

Returning to the site much later (at 1520), the OYSTERCATCHER pair were still present, along with a pair of Common Shelduck, pair of Gadwall and pair of Shoveler.

Following up on further information of Steve's, I was highly delighted to connect with my first NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the Herts year - a female - perching on the fragments of maize left over in the field behind Tyttenhanger Farm (123). The flattened maize field behind the feeding station hedgerow also yielded 15 Yellowhammers, 12 Reed Buntings and at least 3 TREE SPARROWS.

(Best accessed from Abbey Mill Lane car park)


The main reason I visited this site today was to enjoy and study the drake NORTH AMERICAN RUDDY DUCK that had been present here for the past three weeks or more, perhaps one of the last opportunities to see this enigmatic and charming species in the county following the murderous government campaign to try and eradicate it. The bird was showing exceptionally well and I took the opportunity to show many of the general public the wonders of it. Ironically, it was showing best from just yards in front of the RSPB sponsored information caravan (sadly not being manned today).

I also took the opportunity to do a full inventory of the site with the following results -:

Grey Heron (10 active nests on the main island)
Mute Swan (17 in all, including 11 first-summers and an adult pair on the Model Boating Lake)
Mallard-types (96 in all)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (pair roosting on the smaller island)
Tufted Duck (8)
Coot (96 on the main pond and a further 8 on the neighbouring River Ver - two nests within 20 yards of each other on the Ver, another on the Model Boating lake, 2 on the smaller island and another on the main island)
Moorhen (11)
Black-headed Gull (adult and two first-summers)
Feral Pigeon (25)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (drumming male)
Nuthatch (calling male)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (singing male in trees near church)
Mistle Thrush (singing male)
Coal Tit (singing male by lake)
Wren (singing male)


Depressingly, three dead BADGERS within half a mile of each other on the eastbound carriageway of the A414, all SW of Cole Green and east of the roundabout - presumably all related to the Tewinbury population.


There was no sign of Saturday's non-naturalised Barnacle Goose with the Atlantic Canada Geese but a pair of Great Crested Grebes were busy nest-building on the island, 3 Shoveler were present, 13 Tufted Duck and 8 Coots.


My visit here frustratingly coincided with persistent rain and some blustery winds so no sign of Simon Knott's early singing Sedge Warbler - the only individual in the county so far. The only migrants present were 2 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, a SAND MARTIN and a singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF in scrub by the entrance gate.

Wildfowl included two lingering EURASIAN WIGEON (a pair), 22 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler and 5 Northern Pochard, with a pair of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls on posts and the marshes NW of the flyover yielding 5+ Lapwings, two pairs of Common Redshank and 2 Common Snipes.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Still 2 JACK SNIPE at East Hyde - very late indeed

Still 2 JACK SNIPE lingering at East Hyde this evening, though rather well concealed in the vegetation at the far end of the left bank of old cress beds. Also 1 Little Egret and 1 Green Sandpiper (Roger Payne)


A WILLOW WARBLER was singing at Amwell today, in the alders west of the wooden bridge over the Lee Navigation. Also a few singing Blackcaps and 25 Golden Plovers over the fields along Hunsdon Road - Jan Hein Steenis


Stopped off at Broxbourne Woods NNR west car park today to have a look at the work done on the main ride (looks good !) and whilst managed to locate two singing male FIRECRESTS (one seen well) and a mobile flock of eight COMMON CROSSBILLS. (Laurence Drummond)

Friday, 26 March 2010

Yet another OSPREY at Amwell - 3rd this spring so far

An OSPREY over Amwell NR from 17.15-17.20 this evening was an enjoyable sighting for Ron Cousins and myself. We first saw it more or less level with the viewpoint, it hovered briefly over the lake and made its way slowly in a generally north westerly direction - circling and changing direction repeatedly - when it reached the edge of Ware town it began gaining height with each circle and we eventually lost it still heading NW. This was particularly pleasing having narrowly missed the 2 that went through last Saturday - I missed the second one by just a couple of minutes.

This was the best bird of a pretty decent week that included Mandarin Duck last Friday, Red Kite and Peregrine on Sunday, Ring-necked Parakeet on Monday and Wheatear on Tuesday.

Also this week up to 10 Little Egrets still roosting, Swallow on a couple of dates, up to 10 Sand Martins and up to 30 Linnets daily (Barry Reed)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Early SEDGE WARBLER at King's Meads

This morning at Kings Meads: SEDGE WARBLER on Hertford Cut (per Simon Knott)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Today at Kings Meads, female NORTHERN WHEATEAR, 3 House Martins (first of year), 3 Sand Martins and 3 Common Chiffchaff (per Simon Knott), whilst 3 cracking male NORTHERN WHEATEARS arrived at Norton Green (per Darrel Bryant)


A FIRECREST singing on the north edge of Spellbrook on the edge of the main road at Thorley Wash Grange - Graeme J. Smith

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

BLACK-NECKED GREBES in full finery

At least 6 BLACK-NECKED GREBES are now back on territory at Hilfield Park Reservoir, some in full breeding attire. They can be viewed distantly from the Observation Platform situated at the east side of the reservoir at TQ 161 960 but for much better views, it is necessary to obtain a key from the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust at Glebe House.

The site is monitored by 24-hour CCTV and is therefore afforded full protection

Monday, 22 March 2010

Major arrival of EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS - LGRE Diary Notes


Migrants have come flooding in over the last few days as the wind continues to blow from the south, including some rarer birds in between, namely a Purple Heron and Pallid Swift in South Wales, several Hoopoes, a female Rustic Bunting in Hampshire, a male Little Bittern in Sussex and an influx of early Alpine Swifts.

Now back in the area, I spent the day scouring the local wetland sites in search of incoming migrants, whilst diverting for an Alpine Swift in London late morning........

The main bird of the day was EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW, with a surprising number of birds so early in March......

Sadly, a BADGER I enjoyed seeing only just over a week ago was killed last night on the A404, just east of Stoney Lane in Little Chalfont at TQ 005 978. I also found another one dead on Northfield Road, NE of Tring Station, at SP 950 127.

A RED KITE was gliding across Northfield Road.


My first EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS of the year - four birds - were feeding over the main marsh with 8 SAND MARTINS at 1000 hours.

At least 8 COMMON REDSHANKS were present on the reserve, noisily displaying on the islands, with other waders represented by OYSTERCATCHER (the pair), 3 COMMON SNIPE and at least 12 Lapwings (three birds already sat on nests on the two marsh islands).

Two pairs of Mute Swan were present, along with 8 Common Teal and 10 Northern Shoveler.


A male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing from the remaining Poplars in the windswept plantation, my first at the reservoirs this spring. A ringed GOLDCREST was in the wood, with a pair of Long-tailed Tits nest-building and three pairs of Common Blackbird indulging in the same.

Although the reservoir was disturbed by two guys working in a boat, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 1 adult Mute Swan, 3 Shoveler and 5 Northern Pochards. The pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS was showing exceptionally well, 20 yards out from the bank, the drake in active bobbing display. A Coot was finishing off its nest at the edge of the reedbed.


A pair of adult Mute Swans, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 14 displaced Shovelers and 43 Tufted Ducks present (later Charlie Jackson had 6 BARN SWALLOWS there).


In strong SW winds at 1130 hours and at 12 degrees C, my first Herts EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW of the year was recorded. At least 5 SAND MARTINS were being pushed around by the wind over the Drayton Bank.

Significantly, I could see none of the 25 Eurasian Wigeon present at the weekend. Other wildfowl remaining included 3 COMMON GOLDENEYES, an impressive 217 Tufted Ducks (spring influx), 15 Gadwall, 38 Shoveler, 22 Common Teal and 18 Northern Pochard. Some 56 Black-headed Gulls were resting on the reservoir.


The pair of RINGED PLOVERS were displaying over the pools.


Jack O'Neill and I failed in our quest to locate any of the 4 Northern Wheatears that had been present the day before. They were not where I had seen them yesterday. Several Meadow Pipits were in full aerial display.


Whilst at Ivinghoe, took a call informing me that the ALPINE SWIFT first seen for ten minutes at 0930 hours had reappeared two hours later at 1130. This suggested it was lingering so although I knew that it had already disappeared after just 90 seconds of viewing, I took the decision to go for it. As I was approaching the location, took another call to say Jonathon Lethbridge and others had seen it again at 1225, so I was more than a little optimistic. However, upon arrival at 1240, I was informed that it had reappeared again for just 45 seconds and had promptly disappeared. Why are Alpine Swifts so erratic in their appearances? After three birdless hours, I decided to give up and drove back to Hertfordshire.


Another 6 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS to add to today's tally, swooping low over the water in the drizzle with 12 SAND MARTINS.

At least 6 BLACK-NECKED GREBES were noted, several in full summer finery, along with 44 Tufted Ducks.

A COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in full song from trees bordering the airfield.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Highlights from the past week - first major arrival of spring migrants - DARK-BELLIED BRENT and BLACK REDSTART

Tyttenhanger Dark-bellied Brent Goose and Batford Black Redstart both excellently captured on film by Simon West

DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE: a first-winter was present at Tyttenhanger GP from 16-18 March (Steve Blake et al);

EGYPTIAN GEESE: 2 at Willows Farm Pool, Tyttenhanger GP, on 17-18 March (Steve Blake) with another at Amwell NR on 20 March;

OSPREY: two different birds apparently flew north over Amwell NR late on 20 March (observers unknown);

MARSH HARRIER: the first of the year flew NE over Amwell NR on 20 March (Phil Ball);

RINGED PLOVER: single pairs at Amwell NR and Pitstone Industrial Estate on 20 March (JVHS/Ben Miller);

EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW: the first of the year was at Amwell NR on 20 March (Jan Van Hein Steenis);

SAND MARTIN: southerly winds saw a major arrival with 4 at Amwell NR on 17 March, with the first at Wilstone Reservoir that day (Dave Bilcock) followed by 5 on 18th (DB, Roy Hargreaves, Charlie Jackson), 17 on 19-20th (Lynne Lambert, DB, LGRE, et al) and 23 on 21st (Ian Williams et al). Elsewhere, 1 went over King's Meads on 18th (Paul Hackett)

BLACK REDSTART: a first-winter female at Batford on 17 March (Darin Stanley et al);

NORTHERN WHEATEAR: the first two males appeared at Norton Green on 18 March (Darrel Bryant et al) (with a male still present there on 19th), with another at Stocker's Farm on 19th

COMMON CHIFFCHAFF: widespread arrival of singing birds from 18 March (many observers)

Monday, 15 March 2010

OYSTERCATCHER finally added - Saturday 13 March (LGRE)


A beautiful day, with temperatures reaching 9.5 degrees C. Spent the entire day in Buckinghamshire, attempting to clean up on a few species I was still missing from the year, with a few brief forays in to Herts during the morning.


(1052) Thanks to Steve Blake, finally connected with my first Herts OYSTERCATCHER of the spring (113), the bird showing well on the grassy edge near the sunken causeway at the west end of the Fishing Pit, just down from Willows Farm.

The main pit held a pair of COMMON SHELDUCK and 4 Shoveler (3 drakes)


A total of 7 nests north of the A414 near Sopwell (Herts), with another 18 north of the M10 near Windridge Farm, Chiswell Green (TL 128 056) and 7 within the Whipsnade Wildlife Park complex at TL 000 174.


A full inventory of the site yielded 3 Great Crested Grebes (including a displaying pair), 1 adult Mute Swan, 8 Atlantic Canada Geese, 10 Mallard, NO Gadwall, 1 drake Shoveler, 24 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Common Teal, 43 Tufted Duck and 16 Northern Pochard. There were also 22 Coot counted.

Waders were represented by 9 Lapwing (including a pair on each island on the main marsh and 5 roosting on the bund), a single COMMON REDSHANK and a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (feeding on the turf of the North Bank).

The only other species of note was a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk.


Water back to usual level with species noted including 1 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, 12 Coot, 12 Tufted Duck and 15 Lapwing. Roosting gulls included 189 Black-headed and 15 Common.


Up to 8 pairs of Eurasian Collared Dove in the village, and 11 Common Starlings.


Despite the weather, not a true migrant in sight. Wildfowl numbers were well down with just 8 Great Crested Grebe, 2 adult Mute Swans, 17 Gadwall, 8 Common Teal, 75 Eurasian Wigeon, 18 Shoveler, 118 Tufted Duck, 29 Northern Pochard and 195 Coot counted. A pair of COMMON GOLDENEYE remained off of the jetty, with a Red Kite drifting south.

Nesting was already underway by Grey Heron (6 active nests) and Continental Cormorant (5 active nests).


An impressive 124 Northern Shoveler feeding, with 6 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Mute Swan, 2 Greylag Geese, 16 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Coot, 5 Tufted Ducks and 6 Northern Pochard present. A male Common Blackbird was in full song.


Just south of the reservoir, a flock of 103 non-naturalised geese were grazing, including 54 Greylag and 49 Atlantic Canadas. The reservoir was very quiet with just 2 Mute Swans, 18 Tufted Duck, 3 Northern Pochard and 14 Coot present. The Rookery in the wood to the south held 15 active nests.


Wildfowl included 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Mute Swan, 19 Tufted Duck, 29 Northern Pochard and 71 Coot.


Checked out the local Rookeries with 27 active nests in the tall trees at New Mill (opposite Massey House at SP 926 124) and 8 in Pendley Manor Grounds.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Dancing Jacks

Jack Snipe, East Hyde (Ben Andrew)


Although the wind veered to the north today, it felt much more warmer than of late, and was a very pleasant and bright day. Temperatures managed to climb to 8 degrees C.


With the weather perking up, I decided to return to East Hyde, to make the most of the wintering Jack Snipe before they leave for the bogs of Northern Scandinavia and western Siberia. Darin Stanley was there, and from 1800-1830 hours we enjoyed a fabulous display.

Although 1-2 JACK SNIPES were already 'bouncing' and in full view at 1800 hours, the next 20 minutes saw the remaining three creep out from the vegetation and act out their crepuscular existence. By 1815, all 5 birds were showing very well in the stream, all actively feeding and vibrating with their bodies to attract food to the surface. As dusk approached, they became very active, greeting each other and bathing in the shallow water. One bird was less than 15 feet away. What a fantastic spectacle. These are such special birds and this winter has been one of the best for the species in decades, these five individuals offering a unique opportunity of study.

The GREEN SANDPIPER flew in to roost, whilst a WATER RAIL performed further down the stream. Twelve Gadwall were counted.

The male FIRECREST joined a few Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow late on - perhaps he roosts with them (Lee G R Evans)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Still up to 5 JACK SNIPE at dusk at East Hyde, along with the male FIRECREST (per Darin Stanley)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


This magnificent shot of the gorgeous drake GOOSANDER on Fairfield Lake, Stevenage, was taken this morning when the bird was loafing in the middle of the sailing lake (Phil Bishop). It has now been present for several days.
Both the 3 JACK SNIPE and the male FIRECREST are still at East Hyde, with a further JACK SNIPE showing well from the Watchpoint at Amwell. The two FIRECREST are still present in the Holly bushes by the bench just inside Box Wood.
Meanwhile, the female LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER was seen again this morning in Broxbourne Woods (Danemead NR), along with a male BRAMBLING, and a female Ruddy Shelduck of captive origin remains for a third day on Willows Farm Pool, Tyttenhanger.

Monday, 8 March 2010

First DUNLIN of year

A DUNLIN was on the island in front of the viewpoint at Amwell for about 15 minutes Sunday morning. It then flew off high to the south. Also one Bittern, two redhead Smew (Jan Hein Steenis).

Thursday, 4 March 2010

BLACK-NECKED GREBE numbers building up

At least 4 BLACK-NECKED GREBES have now returned to Hilfield Park Reservoir, showing well from the public viewpoint overlooking part of the reservoir (several observers).

Elsewhere, the male FIRECREST and 5 JACK SNIPES remain at East Hyde, with a BARN OWL nearby in Thrales End Lane, and an Oystercatcher was on Tyttenhanger Fishing Lake.

Second-earliest GARGANEY arrive at Amwell - Diary Notes entry for LGRE


Although temperatures in the south climbed to 7.5 degrees C, a cold easterly wind made it feel very bitter. It remained bright throughout, with long spells of sunshine and clear blue skies.

Recent days have heralded the arrival of spring with many waders returning to breeding localities, including Curlew, Common Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, as well as some early returning migrants such as Little Ringed Plover, Northern Wheatear, Sand Martin and White Wagtail. There has been a wave of coastal GARGANEYS but it still came as a surprise when Alan Reynolds telephoned to say that Bill Last had discovered a pair at Amwell - a very early date. Frustratingly, I was in Dorset, and a mere 198 miles away........


Three LITTLE EGRETS were still lingering today, along with a single CONTINENTAL CORMORANT at Bois Mill Lake.

(1600-1630 hours)

As soon as I returned from Dorset, I drove over to Amwell and was very pleased to see that the two GARGANEYS were still present and showing well. They were an adult pair in pristine fresh spring plumage and although asleep on some branches for most of the time opposite the Tom Gladwin Hide, both birds (and accompanying pair of Common Teal) were rudely awaken by an Atlantic Canada Goose, which hissed and chased them, forcing them to relocate a few yards away. Joan Thompson joined me in the hide, with both birds still showing well when I departed at 1630. Garganey represented my 200th species of 2010.

Earliest Arrival Dates of Garganey in Hertfordshire since 1970

1970: 3 drakes at Broxbourne GP on 25 March;
1971: 3 at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring, on 14 March;
1972: a pair on Wilstone on 18 March;
1973: None recorded all year;
1974: drake on Cheshunt GP on 17 April;
1975: a drake on Wilstone on 2 April;
1976: a drake at Stockers West GP on 1 April;
1977: three drakes and a female at Wilstone Reservoir on 5 March;
1978: a drake at Wilstone from 10-17 May;
1979: None recorded in spring;
1980: None recorded in spring;
1981: A pair were on Wilstone on 18 March;
1982: A pair were at Broxbourne GP on 27 March;
1983: A breeding pair were at London Colney from 18 March;
1984: A pair was at Wilstone on 25 April;
1985: None recorded in spring;
1986: A pair was at Tyttenhanger GP from 19-22 April;
1987: A pair arrived at King's Meads on 1 May;
1988: a pair at Amwell GP on 2 April;
1989: a pair arrived at King's Meads on 13 May;
1990: one was at Wilstone Reservoir on 9 February with a female in spring at King's Meads from 19 March;
1991: a drake was at Tyttenhanger GP from 30 March to 2 April, when found dead;
1992: a drake at Wilstone on 14 May;
1993: a drake at Wilstone from 22-30 May;
1994: a female wintered at Wilstone and remained until 8 January; a pair arrived there on 29 March;
1995: a drake at Wilstone on 22-23 March;
1996: a drake at Hilfield Park Reservoir on 8 April;
1997: an overwintering drake at Rye Meads and Rye House Marsh from 1 January until 5 March, with the first migrant drake at Wilstone on 29 March;
1998: the overwintering drake was again present and remained at Amwell GP until 4 April;
1999: the regular wintering drake was at Amwell from 27 February until 19 April with a migrant pair present on 21 March;
2000: a pair at Wilstone on 6 April, whilst the regular male overwintered again at Amwell;
2001: the regular drake was last observed at Rye Meads from 1-7 January; a pair at Tring Sewage Farm on 19 April;
2002: two drakes at King's Meads on 29 March;
2003: an early drake was at Amwell on 2 March;
2004: a drake at Rye Meads on 7 May;
2005: two drakes at Wilstone from 21 March;
2006: a single drake at Cooper's Green GP on 17 April;
2007-2009: No data

There have been instances of wintering by Garganey in Hertfordshire on three separate occasions, including a long-lived drake which survived from 1997 until January 2001. However, in terms of genuine immigrants, today's pair are the second-ever earlies arrivals, following the drake at Amwell on 2 March 2003.

Also at Great Hardmead Lake this afternoon were 8 Grey Herons, 6 Mute Swans, 38 Eurasian Wigeon, 15 Common Teal,18 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler,112 Tufted Duck, 16 Pochard, 8 Common Goldeneye, 5 SMEW (an adult drake and four redheads) and 6 Great Crested Grebes.


The adult female PEREGRINE was roosting in its usual spot and showing very well (see Dan Forder's superb array of new images above).

A41 (HERTS) - dead Badger on westbound A41 near Dudswell.


No sign of the Red-crested Pochard pair but 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 adult Mute Swans, 105 Shoveler, 3 Tufted Duck, 5 Northern Pochard and 3 Coot; some 62 CORN BUNTINGS roosted.


Four Great Crested Grebe, 76 Coot, 22 Tufted Duck and 30 Northern Pochard.

(1745-1825 hours; with Steve Rodwell)

The number of roosting gulls has decreased dramatically with just 1,200 Black-headed Gulls estimated this evening, along with 87 Common Gulls and 6 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Steve located the 2nd-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL, this bird being the same as that present on 27-28 February and photographed by David Bilcock above. It has some blackish feathering coming through on the head, with a blood-red bill and black band and black primary patterning.

Two LITTLE EGRETS flew in to roost on the Drayton Bank, whilst wildfowl included 8 COMMON GOLDENEYE (3 adult drakes), diminishing numbers of Eurasian Wigeon (just 214) and 18 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Gadwall, 26 Shoveler, 96 Tufted Duck and 38 Pochard.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Five JACK SNIPE again at dusk

This evening at East Hyde just prior to dark, up to 5 JACK SNIPE again, in the company of 1 COMMON SNIPE & 1 GREEN SANDPIPER nearby. Before 18.05 there was only 2 JACK SNIPE & 1 GREEN SANDPIPER (Darin Stanley)