Monday, 30 May 2011

SANDERLINGS in Pitstone Quarry

Don Otter discovered these two SANDERLINGS in Pitstone Quarry today, both birds favouring the drained lagoon to the right and spending time in both the Bucks and Herts section of the pit. They were still present mid-afternoon (LGRE), Dave Bilcock obtaining the excellent images above.

The pair of Common Shelduck were still present, female Mandarin Duck with just 6 (of 9) surviving young, two Common Redshank and a displaying pair of Little Ringed Plovers.

Wilstone Reservoir was relatively quiet - the drake Wigeon still, female Teal, 2 Little Egrets, over 1,000 Common Swifts and Spotted Flycatcher (RH, DB, LGRE)

TURTLE DOVES in the east of the county

Two EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES this morning (28 May) in north Herts:

Singles in Bygrave, by turning to St Margaret's Church and between Bygrave & Ashwell in scrub opposite The Knoll

Also 1 little owl - Ashwell & 1 red kite - coombe rd Kelshall (Mike Ilett)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Local Mega - RING_NECKED DUCK on Wilstone


It's a long drive between Cley NWT Reserve and Wilstone Reservoir but when David Bilcock texted me at 0645 hours to say that he and Roy Hargreaves had just discovered a female RING-NECKED DUCK in front of the Drayton Hide at Tring, that's just what I had to do. Anyway, the male Great Snipe was not performing anyway......


I eventually made it to Wilstone Reservoir at 1057 hours and was very pleased to find the female RING-NECKED DUCK still showing - only the third-ever record at the reservoirs following a drake in the area from 2-30 April 1977 and a female at Wilstone from 8-13 November 1998. It was consorting with 3 of 58 Tufted Ducks present on Wilstone and was showing well moving back and forth along the central Drayton Bank (where it was visible from both the North Bank and the Drayton Hide).

Ironically, just two days previous, I had been asked to check out a drake Ring-necked Duck at Dunstable Sewage Farm. As it turned out, this bird was a hybrid Ring-necked Duck x Tufted Duck (see Lol Carman's photographs above). This Wilstone individual was the 'real deal' - with a high and rounded crown, typical long tail, long pointed bill and a spectacled face pattern. The bird overall was rather greyish-brown, with a predominantly grey bill and an extensive black nail. There was a hint of a pale subterminal band but it was not obvious. Furthermore, the grey flanks were clear but not the vertical whitish fore-flank line that you often get with adult female Ring-necked Ducks. Customary was the brown breast and neck collar, the striking white eye-ring forming a spectacled effect with the rear extension of the curving white eye-stripe. At the bill-base was a very prominent pale facial patch, with a white throat and a relatively dark iris. In all respects, it appeared to be a first-winter female. Size-wise, it was perhaps just a tad slimmer than the accompanying Tufted Ducks but was very similar overall.

Although I could not find the drake Eurasian Wigeon today, in addition to the 58 Tufted Ducks were 11 Northern Pochards (1 drake) and 12 Gadwalls.

Great Crested Grebes had their first young, with one pair nursing a single youngster and another mother carrying two stripy young on her back.

Otherwise, 1 HOBBY was hawking insects over the hide and Common Swifts numbered in excess of 540.


After the excitement of the weekend with 6 species of wader present back to normality. The 7 Mute Swans remained but virtually nothing else - and still no sign of a Little Grebe (the site hosted four breeding pairs in 2010). Nearby, 18 Barn Swallows were flying up and down the lane.

Monday, 16 May 2011

MARSH HARRIERS again in the east of the county

Bygrave - 1 EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE ( by waterworks at Ashwell end of village); also 4 corn bunting, 1 yellow wag, 2 grey partridge, 1 meadow pipit displaying

Coombe rd, Kelshall - 2 MARSH HARRIERS ( females ), 2 red kite, 4 buzzard, 2 meadow pipit displaying.

Mike Ilett

Friday, 13 May 2011

SPOONBILL over Amwell

EURASIAN SPOONBILL flew west past the view point at 10:07am (Simon Knott)

Amwell 05 May

1 Little Gull (sum ad), 1 whimbrel (flew through south), 1 yellow wag, 1 oystercatcher, 1 common sand, plus 1 black tern earlier ( per G. White) (Mike Ilett)

TURTLE DOVE at Ayot St Lawrence

This regular EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE is back again at Ayot St Lawrence. singing and displaying from trees at the back of the Old Rectory and Brocket Arms

Now 2 WOOD SANDPIPERS at King's Meads

2 WOOD SANDPIPERS present now; also 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Snipe (Graham White)

BAR-TAILED GODWIT still at Amwell

Single female BAR-TAILED GODWIT still at Amwell this morning

Also:1 Oystercatcher, 2 Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper and LRP (Mike Ilett)

WOOD SANDPIPER present for a third day

03 MAY: WOOD SANDPIPER still present at kings Mead as well as 2 Greenshanks, 4 Common Sandpipers, a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Common Snipe (Mike Ilett)

WHINCHAT at Hatfield Aerodrome

A female WHINCHAT present today near to the University Lakes (per Graham Knight)

WOOD SANDPIPER still present

The WOOD SANDPIPER is still present at King's Meads this morning (02 May) along with 4 Common Sandpipers and 2 Greenshanks (Simon Knott)


Made a dawn visit to Beech Farm on 2 May and was rewarded with the best view of a singing Grasshopper Warbler I have ever had. The bird was in full view on the edge of a Hawthorn bush at about 5 metres range close to the public footpath running across the area. When singing it was possible to see that the whole bird including the tail was vibrating from the effort put into the song.

Also heard singing were Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Willow Warbler but I failed to locate Lesser Whitethroat which have been seen in the area this year. At least two Cuckoos were around, one was well seen in flight calling and a drake Mandarin was on the small lake adjacent to Home Covert (Alan Gardiner)

3 BAR-WITS at Tyttenhanger early morning (02 May)

TYTTENHANGER. 05.30 - 3 BAR-TAILED GODWITS on main pit (per Ricky Flesher)

Single BAR-TAILED GODWIT at Amwell this evening (01 May)

1 BAR-TAILED GODWIT at Amwell plus 2 Oystercatcher - Mike Ilett

WOOD SANDPIPER and BAR-WIT at King's Meads (01 May)

01 May - Excellent morning on West pool at King's Meads:

BAR-TAILED GODWIT present until 8:05am then flew east

WOOD SANDPIPER present until at least 10:00am

4 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, LRP, Egyptian Goose and Common Swift

Simon Knott

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Female MARSH HARRIER through Amwell - 30 April

Female MARSH HARRIER flying north at 10:00am (Simon Knott)

An excellent passage of waders - Tyttenhanger GP on 30 April

Website records for Tyttenhanger are as follows:

13 WHIMBREL flew off east off the main pit.
3 RUFF only present for 10 minutes.
9 Greenshank, 6 early followed by three later.
1 Dunlin.