Saturday, 25 June 2011


A BLACK-TAILED GODWIT on the scrape at Rye Meads today. At Amwell, broods of Oystercatcher, Redshank and Lapwing, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Hobby (Graham White)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Could this be our bird?

Will Bowell photographed this 'immature' Black-crowned Night Heron in Cambridgeshire on 12 June - almost certainly the bird present at Stockers yesterday........

.......And a few more NIGHT HERON images from yesterday - IAN WILLIAMS

No sign of Night Heron today

Unfortunately, still no sign of yesterday's immature Night Heron at Stockers Lake (per JT, Steve Blake, et al) - up until 1300 hours at least.

Interestingly, 5 LITTLE EGRETS roosted on the islands at Stockers last night (per Allan Stewart/Darrel Bryant)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

NIGHT HERON still present at dusk

Can confirm that the NIGHT HERON was still showing from 9.30 until 9.45pm at least, after having not been seen for approximately 3.5 hours (per Darrel Bryant)

........And Mike Ilett's digiscoped NIGHT HERON images

Today's NIGHT HERON at Stockers - Andrew Moon's images

Belated Saturday News - COMMON CROSSBILLS

At least 15 in the Derrys area of Wormley Wood, Broxbourne(per Lawrence D) and 6 at Ringshall, Ashridge Forest

LOCAL MEGA - BLACK-CROWNED HIGHT HERON at Stockers Lake - 0900 hours to at least 1800 hours

Yes. the odd-plumaged immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was showing well from 1600-1800 hours at least when I and 35 other local observers connected with it. It was sleeping for a lot of the time at the front of one of the islands but was in good view - and was best observed from one of the fishermen jetties at the north side of the causeway.

The bird is in a very odd state of plumage, being very juvenile on the underparts and upperwings but darker in the crown and rather grey-toned and unstreaked on the back. The bill is black-tipped and blue-grey along the length. Certainly an immature bird but either a juvenile born very early this year or a first-summer retaining a lot of juvenile feathers.

This is only my second ever Night Heron in the county, following an immature I saw in the very early stages of my career - in fact, Night Heron was my second-ever rarity - after a Tring Pectoral Sandpiper.

The bird I relate to was a juvenile at Lemsford Springs. There are just four county records -:

1) An adult present at Stocker's Lake on 6 September 1970;

2) A juvenile at Lemsford Springs from 28 November 1971 until 19 February 1972;

3) An immature in the River Mimram Valley seen on 3, 5 and 19 January 1972;

4) A juvenile spent four hours perched in a tree in a Stevenage garden on 12 August 1994

Friday, 17 June 2011

QUAIL back at Sandon

A trip around the Sandon, Kelshall, Aswell, Bygrave area this morning produced the following :

Common Quail - 1 persistently calling bird from 12am in wheat field W of Claybush Lane opposite the first lay-by on the left travelling S from Ashwell to Bygrave.

European Turtle Dove - 2 flew E to W over the same road near The Knoll

Yellow Wagtail - pair feeding by the roadside on the Slip End to Ashwell road.

Meadow Pipit - 1 carrying food on Coombe Hill.

Lesser Whitethroat singing near Kelshall/Coombe Hill.

Only 1 singing Corn Bunting, but good numbers of Yellowhammer, Skylark and Whitethroat singing, plus the usual Red Kites, Buzzard, Kestrel, Goldfinch Chaffinch, Greenfinch etc.

Also a glorious display of poppies from the Coombe Hill Road !

Pete Waldron

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I took a short walk around the pit at of East End Green (SW of Hertford) late afternoon. Although relatively quiet, a NORTHERN WHEATEAR was a an unexpected find, perhaps an early returning migrant or late spring bird? Also a couple of fluffyLapwing chicks and several Sand Martins present (Graham Knight)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011



A breezy day with the wind coming from the Southwest, with some heavy rain showers in between some long spells of warm sunshine.

Common Quail was the target of the day, along with Common Crossbill, whilst I took the opportunity to do some Corn Bunting surveying whilst over that way.........


After Chris Beach and his wife scored with COMMON QUAIL yesterday evening, I started at that site first today. I was not disappointed as one male was repeatedly calling from a barley field SW of the Icknield Way Path at TL 171 314......

This area was also very good for CORN BUNTINGS, with 8 individuals being noted in the greener less advanced crop fields (two nesting pairs and 4 additional jangling males) (see locations on Google Earth maps above), whilst Pound Farm outbuildings themselves had both nesting Common Kestrel and Jackdaw and the fields either side of the path held at least 7 pairs of Eurasian Skylark.

The farmland transect also yielded Stock Dove and numerous Barn Swallows whilst the gardens opposite adjoining the A600 held Dunnock, Wren and House Sparrow.


Jim Gurney and I spent several hours wandering the new heath and reserve but failed in our quest to locate any Common Crossbills. The main highlight were the nesting SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS by the Gatehouse. The RSPB have established a watchpoint from where the pair can be watched, a few yards from the toilet block behind the shop. The sitting birds can be easily seen.


Pleased with my success at Pound Farm, I decided to check the farmland between the A600 and Shillington for Corn Bunting and carefully surveyed the countryside.

Holwell village was a new site for me and I was very pleased with the number of House Sparrows present - 6 at Holwell House along Holwell Road and another colony of identical number in Colindale garden on Pirton Road. A free-roaming Common Peafowl was at Burnden House, whilst Common Blackbird (9 pairs), Chaffinch (singing male) and Goldfinch (pair) were noted.

Just west of the village at New Wrights Farm Kennels (TL 155 327), two pairs of Barn Swallow were nesting and a male CORN BUNTING was singing. A family party of 5 Linnets was also noteworthy.


Next off was Pirton, where again breeding House Sparrows were significant - 1 pair at Rose Cottage, 3 pairs in Little Lane and a further 7 pairs along the High Street. Further proven breeding species included Collared Dove, Common Starling, Common Blackbird, Song Thrush and Goldfinch.

Between Pirton and Apsley End, the roadside hedgerow produced 3 singing male Common Whitethroats, whilst the horse paddocks at Rectory Farm held 35 post-breeding Rooks.


So, despite having high hopes, all I found was 1 additional singing male CORN BUNTING on my slow drive through perfect countryside. Streatley of course is another stronghold for this rapidly declining species and at the far west end of the road (see map above), a cluster of 5 or so birds was located within a small area. At least 8 Common Whitethroats were in the same area and a male Yellowhammer was in song to the east of Barton Hill Farm. On the road, I had a brief incursion with a family of Weasels.


In Sharpenhoe (at TL 064 305), a pair of House Sparrows was nesting in the roof of the Lynmore Country Pub, whilst in Barton-le-Clay, a very healthy population of 30 or more pairs of House Sparrow was recorded. In St Nicholas' Churchyard, two GOLDCRESTS were in song from the Junipers and Coal Tits had successfully bred but there was no sign of the nesting pair of Spotted Flycatchers.


Totternhoe is another traditional area for CORN BUNTINGS and I was very pleased to locate 5 different males in the Wellhead Road area (at least two males being paired up and breeding)


In rather blustery conditions, I failed in my attempt to locate the family of 4 Tree Sparrows that have bred successfully at Boarscroft (SP 879 174). However, at neighbouring Whitwell Farm (SP 882 171), at least 25 House Sparrows were to be found, as well as 2 Brown Hares in the field opposite.


Puttenham was very quiet, two male Greenfinches being the highlight - no nesting Spotted Flycatchers or House Martins that I could find.


The big news here was the successful breeding of GADWALL - a female accompanying 8 tiny ducklings.

2011 has been exceptionally early in terms of fledging and other breeding activity proven was of two very early juvenile Pied Wagtails.

Three adult Great Crested Grebes were present on the lake but with one female was two chicks, one considerably larger than the other. Of 22 Coots present, one pair were attending 3 small chicks and four birds were still sitting.

Also noted were Atlantic Canada Geese (8), a female MANDARIN DUCK flying towards the wooded island (so hopefully nesting), 7 Tufted Duck, an additional pair of GADWALL, female Grey Wagtail, House Martin, both Robin and 4 pairs of Common Blackbird feeding young, two very competitive singing male Song Thrushes and a singing male Blackcap.

There was no sign of any Mute Swans, which incidentally have bred on Chesham Pow Wow, raising three cygnets

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

QUAILS at Ickleford

I received a telephone call from my wife at lunchtime to say that she had found 2 calling COMMON QUAILS in a barley field at Ickleford. Unfortunately I have not been near to a computer until now so hence the late report. I visited the location this evening and managed to hear 1 in slightly windy conditions. They are in the barley fields just south of Pound Farm, Ickleford. I walked the bridleway just south of the farm, which is off the A600. Last heard in the 2nd field on the left of the bridleway at TL17131 31426 (Chris Beach)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

SPOONBILL over Hilfield Park Reservoir

An adult SPOONBILL flew across the reservoir from east to west at 0645hrs (Matthew Rossor/Richard Melzack/Jack Fearnside)

Exceptionally early juvenile BLACK-HEADED GULL


Another gorgeous day, with temperatures in the high 70's, blue skies and long spells of sunshine. The only change was an increasing Northeasterly wind, freshening up as the afternoon went on......

With a few Black Terns appearing with the change in wind, it was not too surprising when I heard that Roy Hargreaves had discovered a LITTLE TERN at Wilstone early afternoon. What was surprising though, particularly after this spring's local Sandwich Terns, just how long it lingered......


Frustratingly, it took me the best part of two hours to respond to Dave Bilcock's message. However, at 1445 hours, I was able to join the Brothers Young, Lawrence and DB at the top of the Wilstone steps - and yes, the LITTLE TERN was still performing.......

The bird, a typical adult, was flying back and forth in front of the Drayton Bank - seemingly fishing (although I never saw it dive). It was highly mobile and moving as far east as the jetty on occasions. It could be easily picked out by its small size and odd flight pattern, with a well-defined white forehead, distinctive black bill with a yellow tip and prominent dark narrow primary wedge on the outer wings.

The freshening wind seemed to deter it from moving on and although I departed the site at 1600 hours, the bird was still there when DB revisited at 2020 hours - a long stay indeed.

Another very intriguing sighting was of a juvenile Black-headed Gull feeding in front of the Drayton Bank hide - exceptionally early - and from which colony? There were also two further Black-headed Gulls present - a first-summer and an adult.

Otherwise, 16 Mute Swans were an increase, 16 Great Crested Grebes, the summering drake EURASIAN WIGEON (still in good plumage), 56 Greylag Geese, 2 Little Egrets,, 46 Common Terns and a small scattering of Common Swifts, Sand Martins and House Martins.

LITTLE TERN spends most of Saturday at Wilstone

Roy Hargreaves discovered a LITTLE TERN on Wilstone Reservoir early afternoon and with the wind freshening from the Northeast, the bird remained on site for the rest of the day.

Friday, 3 June 2011



Another gorgeous day, high pressure firmly in charge - wall-to-wall sunshine, clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70's

(1100-1200 hours)

Following Steve Blake's call, I met up with him and Terry Wood at Tyttenhanger Farm. Two COMMON GREENSHANKS were present on the sand - presumably late northbound migrants. Both birds were together and feeding very voraciously.

My attention then turned to the more regular birds present, with 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 21 Lapwing, 2 Ringed Plovers, 1 adult Argenteus Herring Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 11 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Common Terns, Red-legged Partridge pair, 2 Stock Dove, 24 Sand Martins, 2 Reed Buntings and 2 singing male Western Reed Warblers. A total of 6 Common Whitethroats was noted and just one nesting pair of TREE SPARROWS but Terry and I were unable to locate the resident Little Owl, despite the warm sunshine.

Odonata were well represented with Emperor Dragonfly (5+), Common Blue, Blue-tailed and Azure Damselflies, Black-tailed Skimmer and Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers being noted at the 'Cut-off' Marsh, with Common Blue and Small Heath butterflies in the farmland adjacent.