Thursday, 31 March 2011


A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew over the causeway of the main pit and into Garden Wood this morning (Simon West).

WAXWINGS on the move

At least 33 Waxwings currently in berry trees surrounding the ornamental ponds outside the Fowden conference centre on the Rothamsted estate, in Harpenden.

Jason Chapman

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A further wave of LITTLE GULLS


It rained overnight for the first time in over two weeks, with the cloudy conditions prevailing for much of the day. A westerly wind picked up strength during the afternoon, pegging back temperatures to around 10 degrees C.

Although there was not as many migrants grounded as I was expecting, the local area was blessed with a small passage of LITTLE GULLS and the first real thrust of hirundines - the Ivinghoe RING OUZEL continued to show well......

An adult Common Gull was feeding on St Clement Danes School Playing Fields at Chorleywood early morning


Roy Hargreaves and Mike Campbell had seen 6 LITTLE GULLS at Wilstone Reservoir late afternoon but as a boat went out on to the water, all 6 flew off east after just half an hour of feeding. Local biking birder Paul had seen the first of this species for the year over Wilstone yesterday afternoon but that bird too flew off after only a brief stay - at 1600 hours.

Anyway, Mike Campbell managed to intercept one of today's winter-plumaged adults over Startop's, allowing Francis Buckle, Jeff Bailey and myself an opportunity to connect five minutes later. The bird was showing extremely well, flighting back and forth over the reservoir, crossing frequently the controversial water-borne county border


(1640 hours) The rain and cloud which had produced the wave of Little Gulls had also produced a healthy arrival of hirundines over Wilstone, including a single HOUSE MARTIN (my first of the year), at least 17 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS and 53 SAND MARTINS


At around 1700 hours, the stunning adult male RING OUZEL present for its 5th day was performing admirably in the far corner of the sheep field immediately SSE of the beacon and trig point, feeding alongside a male Common Blackbird. It was extracting numerous earthworms from the chalky soil and represented my first of the year. It was best observed from the ridge just beyond the gate to the sheep field, 45 yards down from the S-bend.


The small coppice at SP 941 193 held 22 active Rook nests, whilst just NW of here, 3 Mute Swans were feeding in a field. Most pleasing and in some way thanks to Rob Andrews was a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE at SP 935 200 just east of Slapton - another first for me this year in Bucks.


I was half expecting the Tring Little Gulls to have moved here but they were nowhere to be found - just 56 Lesser Black-backed and 29 Common Gulls roosting on the pontoons. In fact, Grovebury was largely devoid of migrants and only 8 Great Crested Grebes (4 pairs), 2 Common Shelduck (pair) and 6 Tufted Duck were seen. Whilst searching for the Curlew, I stumbled on yet another male GREY PARTRIDGE being somewhat alarmed and pestered by 4 Carrion Crows.


Near Cheddington Station in the stand of trees lining the entrance to Glebe House and The Old Rectory (SP 922 183), 37 active Rook nests were counted (including the 8 nests in the trees on the Horton Road), with 12 further nests at Gubblecote (SP 905 152)


I returned to Wilstone late evening, joining Steve Rodwell on the east bank....

Great Crested Grebes had now increased to 32 birds, the long-staying LITTLE EGRET was roosting on its usual branch, Gadwall numbered 14, Shoveler 22, with Tufted Ducks at an outstanding 282 - a typical peak at this time of year. Just 1 single Black-headed Gull was lingering, a Green Woodpecker was yaffling and a Common Chiffchaff was singing from the Poplar wood on the east bank.

Lee Evans

Monday, 28 March 2011

Reported sightings from HBC

One Hawfinch at Waterford Heath GP and a Ring Ouzel at Norton Green, Stevenage, more details on Herts bird club website. Also a Little Gull at Maple Lodge briefly so presumably no longer there (per Alan Gardiner)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

CURLEWS at Amwell

1 Curlew (there were 2 earlier) on the mud right of the viewpoint, 2 LRP's, 4 Goldeneye, 20+ Sand Martin (Mike Ilett)

LITTLE GULLS in Stevenage

This afternoon, 3 LITTLE GULLS were discovered in Fairlands Park, Stevenage - the first to be recorded in the county this year (David Beer)

BLACK REDSTART in Berkhamsted

There is a 1st-summer male BLACK REDSTART singing in my Berkhamsted close this afternoon - even from my chimney! (Ben Miller). The bird showed well up until mida fternoon but then disappeared

Friday, 25 March 2011

HAWFINCH showing well at Bramfield still

Female HAWFINCH on ground below Yew trees to N of church and then half-way up avenue tree - excellent views if anyone missed out earlier and/or is already bored with Chiffchaffs!(Clifford Smout)

And more migrants at King's Meads

This morning at Kings Meads:

2 Little Ringed Plovers & 3 Redshank on West pool
5 Sand Martins over Park Mead
Cetti's Warbler on Hertford Cut

Simon Knott

Second SWALLOW of year and WHEATEARS arrive in numbers

A stroll around the ex Cole Green Landfill site this morning produced several singing chiffchaffs & a superb male BARN SWALLOW. Yellowhammers and linnets are returning back in good numbers with several singing males. Still a taste of winter with a nice mixed group of redwing & fieldfare with some birds singing, there songs are peculiar but nice to hear. Also had a couple of lesser redpoll feeding amongst some alders, don't get many here so a welcome reward. Lots of breeding activity amongst the commoner species, highlight being buzzard holding territory & chasing off competitors (Chris Beach).

Meanwhile, several NORTHERN WHEATEARS arrived today, with 2 at Barford (Darin Stanley) and another at Tyttenhanger Sheep Fields (Steve Blake)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Another gorgeous day and the warmest of the year so far - LGRE Diary Notes 23 March 2011

Today's Avocets and Ruff at College (Dave Bilcock)


Another glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine, light winds and temperatures reaching 16 degrees C - the warmest day of the year thus far.

As a consequence, migrants are starting to arrive in good numbers, with several Hoopoes, numerous Garganey, many more Wheatears, Black Redstarts and White Wagtails and the first Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails and Ospreys.

Frustrated at dipping last night's Ruff at College after being called away on emergency when an 88-year old driver collided with a parked Mini close to Tring Station and blocked the entire road for over two hours during the rush-hour, I returned there first after being updated early morning by DB.........


The WATER PIPIT was still present today, feeding along the east shoreline (Mike Nott) - 3 Common Buzzards thermalling just west of the reservoir as I drove past


Acting upon Dave Bilcock's early morning update, I arrived at College Lake shortly after 0940 hours. Within minutes of setting up my 'scope overlooking the main marsh, my attention was directed to two waders approaching from the west (from the Grand Union Canal direction) and I was astonished to find that they were two PIED AVOCETS ! The two black-and-white birds continued towards me and landed on the main marsh in front of the information centre and showed superbly for about ten minutes before they were rudely interrupted by territorial Lapwings and were spooked up. They had been interacting closely during the brief spell of time they were on the ground and were obviously a pair, perhaps on route to breeding grounds in East Anglia or further north in the UK or in the Netherlands. I immediately contacted DB, SN and Ben Miller to inform them of my find, and RBA.

Both birds circled up above the marsh and called to each other and then flew north towards the deep lake. They found the 'Oystercatcher Island' to their liking and dropped down in height, eventually landing on the shore (and where, incidentally, they remained until dusk - DB, SR & WC). They fed in the shallow water and appeared relatively content (although flew a few times in the hour or so I was present). As Wednesday is volunteer day at College, I spent some time pointing out and showing the two birds to many of the staff and helpers, as well as to an impressive number of visitors (this reserve really is now the flagship of BBOWT). All were delighted in seeing such a rare local bird. Mike Campbell was the only local birder that arrived before I departed, but I was pleased to see that both Dave B and Mike Nott managed a few record shots of the birds (see above).

After all of the excitement relating to the Avocets, I concentrated my efforts on finding the RUFF - the main purpose of my visit. It was consorting with a Common Redshank and was showing well - walking back and forth along the bund - my first of the year in the county and a very rare bird at College. I initially believed the bird to be a female on size and plumage but the fact that it's bill was distinctly orange at the base perhaps indicates that it is actually a male just beginning to acquire breeding plumage.

Other waders present included 7 Common Redshanks and 4 pairs of nesting Lapwing, along with 7 COMMON SNIPE, whilst wildfowl included 3 Mute Swans, 8 lingering Eurasian Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck and a drake Northern Pochard; 6 Pied Wagtails on the marsh islands were presumably migrants.


Lynster's Farm Field held 12 Gadwall, 8 Greylag Geese and a pair of Egyptian Geese but no sign of Steve Carter's pair of Oystercatchers of a few days back.

Nearby, at Woodoaks Farm, the orchard failed to produce the hoped-for Little Owl just a single flyover Ring-necked Parakeet.


Bury Lake held 48 Mute Swans and two pairs of Red-crested Pochards whilst the Stocker's Farm Water Meadows yielded 28 Wigeon, 8 Common Teal and 7 migrant Pied Wagtails. Highlight was at long last a LITTLE OWL - roosting in one of the stunted trees at the back of the pools. Four House Sparrows were in the hedgerow by the farm, with a male Goldcrest singing from a tall fir by the canal bridge and a pair of Egyptian Geese in the horse paddocks. Five noisy Ring-necked Parakeets flew over.


At the causeway separating the two fishing pits, a very confiding escaped White-cheeked Pintail was performing and the summering pair of OYSTERCATCHERS - my first in Herts this year.

Great Crested Grebes were very much in evidence, with 10 on the main fishing pit, a pair on the smaller pit at the east end of the complex and 9 on the main birding pit. There were also 2 Little Grebes on the westernmost fishing pit, 38 Tufted Ducks, 4 Gadwall, a drake Shoveler and a pair of Pochard on the main pit, 6 Common Redshanks on the sand spit and 4 SAND MARTINS over the pit towards dusk. A total of 85 Common Starlings roosted in the solitary evergreen tree in the horse paddock at Tyttenhanger Farm.

A very productive day

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Postponing my photography trip to London today due to cloud wasn't so bad when on my way to the office 20 odd WAXWINGS were feeding on Cotoneasters between A414 St.Albans Road (dual carriageway) and St.Albans Road with the houses on (road runs parallel). Next to underpass entrance. Also sitting on house aerials & commuting to a Birch tree behind number 42.

of note from Sunday...

Piccotts End Pools:

GREEN SANDPIPER on empty pool near fence,
male REED BUNTING singing (my first here),
2 to 3 SISKINS one or two singing,
TREECREEPER singing in flight,
KESTREL displaying & calling,
1 Drake 1 Female TEAL,
2 Drake 1 Female TUFTED DUCK,

Water End (up to Great Gaddesden):

3 KINGFISHERS together displaying & chasing around private fishing areas,
C2 REED BUNTING atleast 1 Male,
2 Drake 1 Female GADWALL between Red Lion & 'S-bend',
also LITTLE EGRET here,
5 HARES from Nettleden Road,
a lone LAPWING,
80+ FIELDFARE high heading Northish,
2+ BUZZARDS one of which was carrying stick in air whilst hanging then dropped & caught it,
3 Drake 2 Female TEAL,
3 Drake 2 Female GADWALL,

Great Gaddesden:

19 TEAL I'd say just over half were Drakes,
10 BUZZARDS circling & tusseling together + poss. 1 more individual sat across valley,
1 Male 1 Female BULLFINCH,

SKYLARKS singing everywhere the whole time, lots of REDWINGS singing too.

Dan Forder

WAXWINGS in Garston

Delighted to see that Waxwings were again with us on theKingswood Estate - approximately 50 arrived around 8.15in Meadow Road (Perivale Gardens end). Sadly took flight at 8.40 when disturbed by traffic (Steve Kitchen).

Friday, 18 March 2011

Despite Merganser being an unfortunate mix-up, Wilstone came up trumps...


Following a few days of SE winds and rather cold conditions, today followed in the a similar vein but with rain. In fact the rain eventually fizzled out late morning and was replaced by clear, bright conditions as the day came to a close.

I spent the day locally, connecting with yesterday's PIED AVOCET in North Bucks as well as a newly arrived GREY PLOVER and found one migrant SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT and then later saw another. Spring really is well and truly under way now..........

(0830-1000 hours; joined by Francis Buckle and Chris King)

Out early at Wilstone, due to the report of a drake Red-breasted Merganser by Jeff Bailey and others yesterday afternoon. No sign of it of course and then later heard from Jeff that there had been a mix-up - the report actually related to a drake Red-crested Pochard !!

Early migrants were-a-plenty with my first EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW of the year sortying over the jetty and east end of the reservoir with 12 SAND MARTINS (the Swallow had initially arrived yesterday - RH), whilst two adult male Pied Wagtails were on the North Bank and a male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing from the North Hedgerow just east of the new overflow. A single adult intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull flew east.

The adult female GOOSANDER remained, whilst an inventory revealed the presence of 21 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Grey Heron nests, 5 Mute Swans (including 2 first-summers), 65 Greylag Geese, 4 Gadwall, 12 Common Teal, 44 Shoveler, 41 Northern Pochard, 87 Tufted Duck and 3 female Common Goldeneyes.

Two Mistle Thrushes were busily gathering food on the north bank, with 2 Dunnocks and a male Common Chaffinch also feeding there; a male Song Thrush was singing from the Poplar Wood and 4 Long-tailed Tits were unusual in feeding in the bankside Willows.

Just as I was about to leave and was saying goodbye to Chris and Francis by the steps, I noticed two pipits flying in, one of which landed on the top bank. In the quick view I had of it before it flew, I was sure it was a Rock Pipit. All three of us then made slow approach to where both birds had dropped in over the bank but were overtaken by a woman walking her dog on a long lead. I tried to keep ahead of her but in doing so, watched both pipits fly up - one of which continued from the north to the east bank. The bird which remained became very vocal and was the usual wintering WATER PIPIT, now gradually losing its breast streaking and becoming whiter on the underparts but retaining its striking white supercilium. This bird was then flushed.

We watched the woman continue and were fortunate in that she flushed both pipits back towards us, the WATER PIPIT resettling on the east bank and the other bird landing back near the car park steps. We carefully crept back and checked the shoreline, Francis catching a movement. It was the bird and in getting it in the 'scope, I was quickly able to confirm that it was a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT. It was partially in spring plumage, with much grey in the head and a dark malar stripe, but with just a pale eye-ring (no stripe), heavily streaked underparts (on a buffish basal background), dark brownish-red legs, brown upperparts and white undertail-coverts. The bird showed very well indeed and was still present when we all departed. My first of the year.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

DUNLIN at East Hyde

Darin Stanley located a single DUNLIN in the stream south of the brifge at East Hyde at dusk last night and the bird is still present and showing well this morning

Monday, 14 March 2011


One of four birds (female and three males) present at Amwell NR on Sunday (Barry Reed)

First OSPREY of year

An OSPREY was seen over the South Mimms Service area today (per HBC)

Sunday, 13 March 2011


A nice day at Amwell (although that depended on time of arrival!), with four BEARDED TITS (three males) early in the morning, and again (as I just heard) in the afternoon.

I also had:- 1 Pink-footed Goose (flew off before 6:50) 1 Smew, 1 Red Kite, 2 Common Redshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Kingfisher; Also seen were 80 Golden Plover and a Bittern (Jan Hein)

King's Meads 12/3

This morning at Kings Meads:

Male Common Stonechat on Park Mead, Common Redshank over West pool, Common Chiffchaff singing on the causeway, Cetti's Warbler & Water Rail on Hertford Cut and Meadow Pipit "parachuting" on Stockade Mead (Simon Knott)

Friday, 11 March 2011


Tony Cobb reports at least two NORTHERN WHEATEARS at the top end of the rifle range this afternoon at Therfield Heath

Bishops Stortford BEARDED TITS still being seen

Just in case anyone missed the pair of BEARDED TITS in the reedbed in January - i have just had very good close up views of the pair again at the same location - happily "pinging" away (John Ross)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

JACK SNIPE at East Hyde

Still 1 JACK SNIPE in the slip stream, seen from the bridge. Also with a supporting cast of 1 COMMON SNIPE & 1 GREEN SANDPIPER (Darin Stanley)

07 March - PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger - images

Simon West captured on film all 8 PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger Main Pit shortly after he and Steve Blake discovered them

07 March - PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger

A party of 8 PIED AVOCETS was on the sandspit at Tyttenhanger Main Pit early morning along with several Waxwings by Garden Wood in trees near the conveyor belt (per Steve Blake)

Amwell news - 06 March

The two Common Ravens are still about — leaving Easneye Wood at 7:15 in westerly direction (they may have returned at about 5 pm). Quite probably the ones seen over Cowheath Wood yesterday were this pair.

Otherwise, a pair of Peregrines flew over and a few Smew were present. One Great Black-backed Gull is still visiting the pit by day — the gull roost has dropped to zero.

I had a flock of 20 Meadow Pipits at Hunsdon Meads - Jan Hein Steenis

BEARDED TIT at Rye Meads - 05 March

At Rye Meads today (05 March) - 1 Bearded Tit, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 8 Waxwings over, 24 Shoveler, 30 Teal, 2 Common Shelduck - Graham White

COMMON STONECHAT at Willows Farm, Tyttenhanger - 05 March

WILLOWS FARM - COMMON STONECHAT, amazing maize field. 0835 at least (Steve Blake)