Wednesday, 28 September 2011


The male RING OUZEL was still present on Croxley Common Moor today (see Martin Parr's images above), still frequenting the footpath, grass and scrub about 50 yards along from the main bridge (per Joan Thompson et al).

A juvenile LITTLE STINT was today at Wilstone (along with 9 Pintail) whilst the PEREGRINE was roosting in Hemel Hempstead town centre (LGRE).

Monday, 26 September 2011


The male RING OUZEL was putting on a fine performance during my visit. Although it initially flew back to the thick scrub on the opposite side of the river at my arrival, it was soon flushed back by a passing jogger. It chacked several times before landing back on the footpath just 50 yards from the main entrance gate and bridge. Ducking down out of view, I was then able to observe the bird at close range for quite some time. It was an adult male in autumn plumage, still harbouring its bold white breast horseshoe, some of the breast scaling and the striking paleness in the wings. It fed out in the open for at least 15 minutes, gradually hopping further and further out on to the moor. A great bird and a welcome late addition to the County Year List.......

A GARDEN WARBLER also showed in an adjacent Elderberry bush, whilst 7 RING-NECKED PARAKEETS flew noisily over towards Croxley Green, a LITTLE EGRET was by the bridge and a Grey Wagtail.............

Sunday, 25 September 2011


Allan Stewart had 23 FIELDFARES this evening near Hilfield Park Reservoir - the first in the county this autumn

Long-staying RING OUZEL

This weekend, Geoff Lapworth saw Brendan Glynne's male RING OUZEL again, feeding in bushes across the river about 50 yards along from the stone bridge. A SHORT-EARED OWL was also flushed at the site (Dave & Gail Simms).

Elsewhere, Barry Reed watched a TREE PIPIT fly over Amwell and an OSPREY flew south over Warren's Green, near Stevenage, at 1045 hours (Ken Smith)

Wilstone Reservoir has really quietened down now - highlights over the weekend being the RUFF still and a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL briefly.

Simon Knott noted a COMMON STONECHAT and several WHINCHATS at King's Meads (Stockade Mead) on Saturday

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hemel PEREGRINE is back


After the shenanigans of yesterday in Sussex attempting to sort out a mega-rare stint at 600 yards range, today was at the opposite end of the spectrum...........

Although migrating House Martins were very much the order of the day, it was an extremely confiding LAPLAND BUNTING that stole the show


During the course of the morning, over 240 House Martins moved through south, often in large congregations. At the 'Magic Roundabout', the ringed adult female PEREGRINE was roosting on its favoured perch (its third winter at the site)

Isle of Man ringed ATLANTIC GREAT CORMORANT photographed at Piccott's End, Hemel

See link -

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Lilley PEREGRINE is back for third winter

For the third year running a PEREGRINE has appeared on the usual pylon, eight days later than the 2009 bird, and two days earlier than last years. Todays bird was a large female,and the pattern was the same - it appeared just before dusk, presumably to roost. Hopefully it will hang about all winter. I cant help wondering if this is the same bird which was doing the rounds in the Barton Springs/ Pegsdon area last year (per Paul Anness)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Recent Snippets

Brendan Glynne discovered an autumn male RING OUZEL on Croxley Green Common this afternoon, whilst Mike Ilett noted the juvenile MARSH HARRIER still at Deadman Hill.

Two juvenile LITTLE STINTS are on Wilstone today, whilst an OSPREY flew over Hilfield Park Reservoir yesterday (per Ian Bennell) and a COMMON REDSTART was by Norton Pond, Letchworth, that day.

Friday, 9 September 2011

PEC still present

The juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER remained on Wilstone this evening (see Ryan Clark's image above), as well as the 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, 18 Ringed Plovers (6 Tundras), a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, the juvenile male RUFF, the single Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpipers, the juvenile BLACK TERN and 3 Hobbies (one pictured above by Ryan).

Elsewhere, Darrel Bryant saw 2 WHINCHATS and a Northern Wheatear at Norton Green and Steve Carter two WHINCHATS at Woodoaks Farm, Maple Cross.

PEC SAND is still there

A set of outstanding images of our Wilstone juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER - taken by Simon West ( )

Thursday, 8 September 2011

PECTORAL SAND present for its second day


Another fine day - dry but still quite blustery. The wind was SSW and the temperatures have recovered - feeling quite warm this afternoon.


An evening visit in the company of Steve Rodwell, Mike Hirst, Darin Stanley and Darren Thomas..

The juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER was still present on the bund, feeding alongside the Ringed Plovers and other small waders present. Its yellowish legs were seen in much better light conditions today, as well as all of the other salient identification features - Roy confirming that it did indeed have some very light streaking on the sides, a variable feature so it seems. After a Sparrowhawk went on the prowl this afternoon, the Pec cowered and spooked for a while and went missing for nearly two hours. Simon West managed some excellent shots of the Pec during the morning after it approached to within 40 yards of the jetty (see above)

New in today was a juvenile DUNLIN on the bund (Warren Claydon et al), whilst the RINGED PLOVER flock this evening numbered 17 (including the 5 adult TUNDRAS). Both ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were on the Drayton Lagoon (adult and juvenile) as was the juvenile male RUFF whilst the juvenile LITTLE STINT, 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS, single COMMON GREENSHANK and 3 Common Sandpipers were still all present.

Two Common Terns remained, as did the juvenile BLACK TERN.

Two COMMON SWIFTS were with the 150 House Martins and 57 Sand Martins this evening, whilst the WHINCHAT and juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEAR were in the fields behind Rushy Meadow

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Steve Carter photographed this WHINCHAT on wires at Woodoaks Farm today, whilst others were seen at Tyttenhanger GP and Wilstone Reservoir.

Master Rodders strikes again - PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Wilstone


Although nothing of the strength of the previous two days, a strong westerly still bathed the Chilterns area today. It was also fine and dry for much of daylight hours and quite bright at times.

Like Dave and Roy, Steve Rodwell is a master of the trade and this evening proved his worth yet again. Despite a strong westerly, he braved the elements of the exposed jetty on the east bank and got well rewarded for his efforts. He found and identified the first PECTORAL SANDPIPER at the reservoirs since 1989..........


Having much the same idea as Steve and Dave, I rolled up at Wilstone this evening to see what new birds had dropped in during the day, particularly as the likes of two Sabine's Gulls and a Manx Shearwater had been seen elsewhere inland and Farmoor Reservoir was hosting a juvenile White-winged Black Tern. Noticing DB's Peugeot parked precariously on a notorious bend, I knew something must be up. Glancing over at the jetty from the car park, I noticed Steve, Dave, Mike Hirst and Paul East 'grilling' something and on contacting them, they declared ''We've got a Pec Sand''

Steve had apparently discovered it about ten minutes before I arrived, not long after 1815 hours. Within a couple of minutes I was with the four of them on the jetty and there it was - a very fresh-plumaged juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER. It was feeding along the southern edge of the main bund at the edge of a new shelf of algae and weed and was loosely associating with the 10 hiaticula Ringed Plovers and 5 TUNDRA RINGED PLOVERS. It had presumably only just arrived as after a short spell of feeding, it walked up the stony bund to the higher centre ground and hunched down to sleep. It was a very small bird - not much larger than a Dunlin - and was presumably a female. After a short rest, it resumed feeding in the shallows and algae and remained until the light faded at 1940 hours.

It was a particularly fresh and bright juvenile with conspicuous mantle 'V's' and white fringes to the scapulars. The crown was also quite richly coloured but not as rich rufous or capped as in the closely related Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. I was struck by how long-winged and tapered the bird appeared, much more so than in a typical adult Pec. The breast was finely streaked, crucially finishing abruptly in a line across the upper belly, with the bill slightly paler at the base. The rest of the underparts were gleaming white. Many of the upperpart feathers were rufous-fringed, particularly those of the scapulars and mantle. but there was little sign of the split supercilium usually associated with juvenile Pecs, most likely because of the distance the bird was being observed (190 yards). The legs also appeared dark in the fading light, most likely because of the mud and algae it was wading in. It was not heard to call and was not seen in flight.

The news of the Pec Sanf's arrival at Tring was immediately broadcast to RBA and consequently on the local network. Roy Hargreaves was quickly on the scene, followed shortly by Mike Campbell, Mic Wells and Rob Andrews. Budding photographer John Foster was also on site and as the light faded, JT, Ben Miller and Jack O'Neill arrived amongst others. By nightfall, 15 observers had connected.

Pectoral Sandpiper is a rare vagrant to Hertfordshire with just NINE previous records. Over half of these have been at Tring Reservoirs, where the last recorded was in September 1989........

1-2) The first record involved a juvenile at Marsworth Reservoir on 14 September 1949 followed by another some eight years later at Rye Meads on 9 September 1957;

3) A juvenile that arrived at Startop's End Reservoir on 19 October 1969 began an extended stay and commuted between there and Wilstone until 13 December 1969. This was my first ever in Britain;

4) Yet another juvenile arrived at Wilstone Reservoir on 3 September 1973 and again began a protracted stay - last being reported on 10 October 1973;

5) An adult spent four days at the infamous Royston Sewage Works from 28-31 August 1977;

6) One was seen feeding and flying with Common Snipe at Tring Sewage Farm on 11 October 1986;

7-8) A juvenile was feeding with other waders at Wilstone Reservoir on 29-30 September 1988, the same year that a juvenile visited Rye Meads on the afternoon of 14 October and at dawn the following day;

9) An adult female was seen daily at Startop's End Reservoir from 9-19 September 1989 and on Wilstone on 20-21 September 1989. Incredulously, this bird was ringed and studying intricately its plumage, it was considered to be a bird trapped and ringed on 29 August at Marston Sewage Farm in Lincolnshire.

This tenth bird's arrival was no doubt induced by the stream of gale force westerlies associated with a deep Atlantic depression - the remnants of Hurricane Irene that caused so much devastation along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. It was also one of ten juveniles to arrive in recent days, including four together at Drift Reservoir in West Cornwall.

Two BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (an adult and a juvenile) were present early morning only (RH, DB), as well as the juvenile male RUFF, whilst other waders this evening included two newly arrived GREEN SANDPIPERS, the long-staying juvenile LITTLE STINT, 3 Common Sandpipers and the one remaining COMMON GREENSHANK.

Yesterday's juvenile BLACK TERN was also still present, whilst COMMON TERNS had climbed back to 4 (3 adults). 21 Little Egrets remain.

Other migrants included 6 COMMON SWIFTS, 240+ House Martins and 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS.

YELLOW WAGTAILS at Redbournbury

Redbournbury 2:30pm

28 YELLOW WAGTAILS 200m S of Veolia road in with cattle viewable from A5183, as well as an additional 24 birds100 m N of Veolia in another herd of cattle. These were separate flocks and were not commuting between the two herds of cattle and comprised of both migrant adults and juveniles (per Ernest Leahy)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

WHITE WAGTAILS in the extreme east of the county

Firstly many thanks to Graeme Smith for giving me the heads up on the WHITE WAGTAIL near Thorley Church yesterday afternoon. I got there about 4pm and wandered south through the churchyard, past the industrial units to the open fields. I quickly scanned the field to the sou'west of the church and and barely 40 yards away were TWO White Wagtails, an adult male and a 1stW together. I then circled the whole field returning to the same spot, but did not locate any other individuals. Both birds were still present when I left at 6pm, at approx TL475187. Well it would seem the westerlies have produced for us. I cannot wait to see who will locate the inevitable Buff breast that must surely follow! (Mike Harris)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Tyttenhanger today

Simon West noted 2 juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS briefly at Tyttenhanger GP mid-morning (see his excellent shot above), as well as a WHINCHAT and 3 Northern Wheatears in the 'East Fields'

The GARGANEY remains at Rye Meads RSPB

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Several WHINCHATS were seen today including this juvenile superbly captured on film by Simon Knott at King's Meads, Hertford. One remained at Hatfield Aerodrome, with another at Cooper's Green GP and others at three further sites......

Birds of the day were a flock of 20 juvenile RED KNOT that spent just half an hour (1814-1844 hours) at Wilstone Reservoir this evening (see Dave Bilcock's images on my Tring Reservoirs blog site)

Saturday, 3 September 2011

WHINCHATS at King's Meads

2 WHINCHATS on the fence posts between Hollow & Stockade Meads this morning (per Simon Knott)

Elsewhere, little news received from about the county - still several juvenile MARSH HARRIERS lingering in the Reed and Sandon areas in the east of the county, both the juvenile GARGANEY and single RUFF at Rye Meads RSPB and the juvenile LITTLE STINT, juvenile RUFF and 1 Greenshank at Wilstone

Friday, 2 September 2011



Today was one of those great days to be out and about. The weather was excellent and very good for diurnal migration. The winds were light - ESE early on, then southerly, then switching right round to NW by evening. Glorious sunshine throughout but then clouding over somewhat by dusk with a few spots of rain.

Laurence Drummond sent me a text early on informing me of another Common Redstart he had found. Although having had a record year for this species in Buckinghamshire, I was still missing one from my annual Hertfordshire list, so I set off in hot pursuit........


I met up with Laurence mid-morning and he took me to where he had discovered the bird. After locating a juvenile Robin, the next bird to appear from the hedgerow was the COMMON REDSTART - a nice juvenile male. It was favouring a fruiting Elder some 50 yards east of the former gates and showed very well for a while, flitting in and out of the hedge and occasionally on to the ground. A great start!

The hedgerow was in fact alive with migrant birds, with two different LESSER WHITETHROATS, 3 Common Whitethroats, at least 4 Blackcaps and a single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER. Just SE of the hedgerow, in weedy vegetation by the 'new' earth mound, a party of 5 juvenile WHINCHATS were located.

As we both walked back to the cars at Notcutts, we got chatting to one of the council workers on site - responsible for maintaining and planting the trees about the recently landscaped site. At 1140 hours, I noticed a large raptor flying relatively low towards us over the fields - it was a juvenile MARSH HARRIER. It afforded some great views as it approached but then banked and then gained height. It then worked its way slowly SSE and eventually disappeared to a dot. Minutes later it was followed by tow more raptors - this time a Red Kite and yet another juvenile MARSH HARRIER. The two tussled mid-air for a while before parting ways and the harrier also drifting off high to the SE. Incredibly, just minutes later, a third juvenile MARSH HARRIER came through with 3 juvenile Common Buzzards - all four birds eventually following the same line of movement. I can only assume that all 3 juvenile Marsh Harriers were related and were migrating as one family group (interestingly, I had witnessed a similar event at Wilstone Reservoir just over a week ago - in similar weather conditions). A couple of Eurasian Sparrowhawks were also noted.

Spurned on by such a movement of raptors, I said my goodbyes to Laurence and headed for the nearest hill escarpment........


I wound up at Pegsdon Hills, where the wind had switched more to the south, and ended up walking the Icknield Way Path from Telegraph Hill to the Knocking Hoe valley. Raptor migration was in full swing but sadly consisted of just Common Buzzards - a total of 25 eventually being seen, almost exclusively fresh juveniles. One particular juvenile hanging around the Knocking Hoe valley was amazingly plumaged, having an all-white head, all white underparts and a Rough-legged Buzzard-patterned uppertail. A total of at least 6 Red Kites were also seen, as well as 2 Sparrowhawks.

Migrant passerines however were thin on the ground - particularly warblers. Three different COMMON REDSTARTS were located - a female in scrub at the extreme southern end of the main valley and a male and an immature in the small plantation lining the top of the valley along the Icknield Way. Three separate TREE PIPITS flew over south calling, whilst a solitary juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEAR was by the trig point at Deacon Hill. Just 3 Common Chiffchaffs were encountered, whilst the only other birds noted during the 1230-1500 hours stint were a pair of MARSH TITS.

At SANDY SMITH NATURE RESERVE east of Clophill, just 2 Stock Doves were seen, whilst ROOKERY PIT mid-afternoon held just a single COMMON GREENSHANK, LITTLE STINT and Little Egret. Much digging work was in progress inside the pit. Neighbouring STEWARTBY LAKE held 4 BLACK TERNS but nothing much else.


Joining Steve Rodwell, Mike Hirst, Ian Williams and others at Wilstone, we did the evening shift from 1700-1930 hours. By now, the wind had veered northwesterly and cloud cover had encroached from the east. It was frustratingly quiet.

Both Dave and Roy had seen 3 juvenile CURLEW SANDPIPERS briefly early morning but none had lingered. New in this evening were a single COMMON SNIPE and another new juvenile RUFF. One juvenile RUFF from earlier lingered, along with the juvenile LITTLE STINT on the main spit, whilst 8 RINGED PLOVERS (4 juveniles), 2 Common Sandpipers and a single COMMON GREENSHANK remained.

Otherwise, Great Crested Grebes numbered 17, Coot 386, Little Egret 19, Mute Swan 16, Common Teal 135, Shoveler 67, Northern Pochard 69 and Tufted Duck 26.

The family party of 3 HOBBIES were still in the area, whilst just 3 Common Terns remained. A single YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over, with 143 Barn Swallows in the area and at least 115 House Martins.

WORD OF CAUTION: the main road has been tarmacced today but is very slippery in places; there was one accident this evening just west of the car park