FRIDAY 7 JANUARY
Rain, rain, rain - almost all day long - certainly all morning - and from just 4 degrees at 0800 hours, the temperature rose to a balmy 11 degrees C by dark !
I eventually braved the elements at lunchtime after having to abandon my original plans of meeting up with MJP at The Lodge to search for pale redpolls. Instead, I decided to catch up with Hertfordshire WAXWINGS - and as it was, a record day for the species......
A bare minimum of 665 birds was recorded today but that figure could in reality be 1-200 birds higher, but difficult to know if some are repeat flocks. Anyway, I personally managed 231 at two locations......
A total of 165 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was present in the tall trees bordering the northern perimeter of Tesco's supermarket car park in Hatfield at 1245 hours, commuting to the berry-laden shrubs opposite the recycling centre. This is presumably the survivors of the huge flock I saw in Hatfield on 11 December.
(the supermarket is literally just off of the A1 roundabout beyond the Galleria tunnel)
EAST HYDE (BEDS/HERTS border)
East Hyde was again very productive with a single JACK SNIPE showing very well close to the road in the stream. A drake Shoveler was a nice record here, along with 26 Gadwall, 8 Common Teal, 1 Little Grebe, 38 Black-headed Gulls, 16 Jackdaws and a performing WATER RAIL.
The two adult EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still present in the field on the slope, 250 yards north of Lower Heath Lane, along with the 6 Greylags and 77 Atlantic Canadas, with the 8 EGYPTIAN GEESE (family party) in the same field but easily viewable from the road.
Driving along Cooters Hill Lane yielded some massive WOODPIGEON flocks feasting on the crops - a flock of 46 followed by a staggering 718 birds. There were also 6 Greenfinches feeding by Cooters Hill Barns.
KIMPTON AREA (HERTFORDSHIRE)
In the town centre, 12 respective pairs of Jackdaw were present on the chimneys along the High Street, whilst in fields opposite the Mill ponds, 2 Brown Hares and a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE was noted. A single LITTLE EGRET was feeding on the river, with a MARSH TIT scolding me loudly from roadside Hawthorns opposite the cress beds.
WHITWELL CRESSBEDS AND ENVIRONS (HERTS)
Quite surprisingly, 28 Rook nests were active in the village, with a field just west of the cressbeds yielding 18 Red-legged Partridges, 46 Fieldfare, 35 Common Starling and a Great Tit. Three LITTLE EGRETS were feeding on the beds.
A further LITTLE EGRET was feeding on the River Ver at TL 110 115, just south of the B 487 roundabout.
WOOD END LANE, SPRING WAY INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD (HERTS)
A maximum of 66 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was feeding on a cluster of very heavily laden berry-bearing shrubs just north of the lane after 150 yards.
Elsewhere in Hertfordshire today, Waxwings were seen in Chiswell Green (70 - Alan Gardiner), Tanners Crescent, Hertford (32 - Graham Knight), Oxhey/Watford (200 or more - Joan Thompson/Geoff Young), Welwyn Garden City Council Offices (42 - Chris Beach), St Albans (60+) and Welham Green (30).
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD TOWN CENTRE (HERTS)
The adult female PEREGRINE was showing very well in her roosting location busily plucking a dead Feral Pigeon.
ALDENHAM RESERVOIR (HERTS)
There was no sign of the two recent redhead Smew but in the ice-free areas of the reservoir were some impressive number of GADWALL - 292 in total - 0.02% of the British wintering population of this species.
There were also 26 MANDARIN DUCKS standing on the ice (13 pairs) whilst other wildfowl noted included 36 Mute Swans (19 first-years), 3 Little Grebe, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 48 Mallard, 26 Eurasian Wigeon, 56 Tufted Duck and 8 Northern Pochard.
Four noisy Ring-necked Parakeets were also in the area