Wednesday, 30 November 2011


In the east of the county, up to 6 SHORT-EARED OWLS and a ringtail HEN HARRIER were today in fields between Kelshall/Therfield Heath and Sandon's Deadman's Hill

Today's Sightings

The single first-winter TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE remains at Tyttenhanger GP, along with the 2 WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and 4 Greylag Geese (per Steve Blake)

Also, the first-winter LITTLE GULL is reportedly still at Hilfield Park Reservoir (per RBA)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

LITTLE GULL at Hilfield Park Reservoir

There is an unconfirmed report of a first-winter LITTLE GULL at Hilfield Park Reservoir this afternoon.........

TUNDRA BEAN still there

The first-winter Tundra Bean Goose and 2 Eurasian White-fronted Goose were still on the sand spit this morning, although while I was there the Bean Goose took flight twice. The first time it flew southward at 9:25 and returned at 9:45, and again at 10:50. When I left at 11:30 it did not appear to have returned and on a last scan of the sand, the White-fronts and Greylags could not be seen.

This does not necessarily mean that they have moved on, as they have been seen feeding in the 'cow' fields at the back of Willows Farm car park. Also seen today - Dunlin, Snipe, 26 flyover Golden Plover and a Peregrine Falcon scattering everything (Steve Blake).

Sunday, 27 November 2011

More from Tyttenhanger

A circuit of Tyttenhanger GP today produced 10 Lesser Redpoll in Garden Wood behind the hide, and the Tundra Bean Goose and two Eurasian White-fronts out on the silt. Some photos attached above (Alan Reynolds).


The first-winter TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE remained with the two WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at Tyttenhanger today

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Today's first-winter TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE at Tyttenhanger - some superb images from Mike Ilett

TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE at Tyttenhanger


A very blustery morning with a strong SW wind blowing. Temperatures were pegged back to 11 degrees C, with cloudy conditions prevailing......


At around 1050 hours, I received a phone call from Steve Blake informing me of a 'Bean Goose' at Tyttenhanger. It had just arrived and was 'jittery'

Being an excellent county bird, I jumped in the car and just as I was arriving on site some 23 minutes later, Steve phoned again to say that the bird had just that minute flown off high south (at 1115 hours). I was mightily cheesed off, as the section of M25 between Junctions 21 and 22 inevitably and repeatedly cost me valuable minutes with the continuing roadworks. As it was, I decided to drive around to the northern entrance to the pits and as I was doing so, Steve phones again with the news that the bird has flown back on to the pit !

I was particularly pleased therefore to see it still present as I 'scoped from the first 'bridge'. I then walked around to the farm to get better views. I joined the finders (Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher and Steve Pearce) as well as Graham Knight and Phil Rhodes (and later to be joined by Mike Ilett and Robin Pearson). The bird was loosely associating with the other geese present on the pit - 40 Atlantic Canada Geese and the two - an adult and juvenile - EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE - and after swimming on the water for 20 minutes or more eventually climbed out on to the sand spit and started preening and then sleeping. The views were excellent and both Steve Blake and Mike Ilett obtained some excellent photographs and video footage (to be published later).

The bird with its thick, dark, short neck and relatively short, stumpy bill was an obvious TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE. This bird, unlike the family party I saw at Cainhoe last weekend, had only a limited amount of orange on the bill, restricted to a thin line towards the tip of the bill. The legs and feet were dull orange whilst the flanks were uniform and upperwings boldly fringed with thite. The most distinct white edges were on the tips of the secondaries and the greater coverts whilst the others were more subdued and less white in appearance. The bird was a first-winter.

It roosted on the sand for some time, occasionally taking on a more alert posture, before returning to the water but for no apparent reason, flew off again south at 1237 hours. I watched it fly over the wood and then drop down, seemingly on the farm reservoir south of Coursers Lane. Allan Stewart and I later went over there but just as we did, a shooting party arrived, and consequently Ian Williams picked it up returning once more to the main pit at 1340 hours. It was still on the main pit when I departed the site some 15 minutes later.

Bean Geese are rare vagrants to Hertfordshire with just nine previous records involving 40 individuals. At least one of these was believed to be an escape -:

1) A party of 15 were seen near Royston on 15 January 1881;
2) One was shot in Munden Park, Watford, during the winter of 1890/91;
3) Two were noted in the Colne Valley at Maple Cross on 16 February 1979;
4) A bird of somewhat suspect origin was at Hooks Marsh, Cheshunt, from 31 March and 2 May 1981; what was presumably the same bird was seen at Rye Meads on 9 May 1983 and again in the Lee Valley during February to April 1986 before returning to Amwell from 10 March to 20 May 1991 and 5 January to 17 May 1992;
5) Two were reported at Maple Cross on 24 February 1984 but were considered by the observer to be feral birds;
6) One remained with Canada Geese at Wilstone Reservoir from 9 February to 23 March 1985;
7) Two Tundra Bean Geese were at Wilstone Reservoir on 4-5 January 1997;
8) Two adult Tundra Bean Geese visited the HMWT Meadows at Rye Meads RSPB on 2 December 2004
9) A party of 14 Tundra Bean Geese visited Wilstone Reservoir on 26 January and 7 February 2006 but remained in the interim period at neighbouring College Lake BBOWT and surrounding farmland.

In addition to the geese, the pit held 4 Great Crested Grebes and 133 Lapwings, whilst 2 Red Kites and 8 European Golden Plovers flew over; Allan Stewart and I had 12 TREE SPARROWS at the Tyttenhanger Farm Feeding Station

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Male HEN HARRIER lingering at Hatfield Aerodrome

Here is some more information about this bird. I had met Alan Reynolds in the area as he has kindly agreed to produce a site guide and wished to walk around the area with someone who knows it reasonably well.We followed the public footpath from the Hatfield Road to a point near where there used to be double gates into the airfield from the footpath. When looking around we saw a large raptor about 10m above the ground not far from the fence with the former BT compound along with a substantial number of startled Fieldfares. It was immediately obvious that the bird was a male HEN HARRIER which flew across onto the old airfield at low level and flew towards Hatfield. We watched it for about 10 minutes and then lost it from view. About 30 minutes later it appeared again a little to the north of its original position and the bird flew over the old BT site and climbed to some height before dropping over the hedge onto the airfield again. It must have been within 100m of us at times but unfortunately nether of us had a suitable camera with us to take a record shot.This bird could still be there now as it was clearly hunting over the rougher areas of vegetation. It was easy to see from the public footpath so there is no need move away from this track to see the bird if it is still there (Alan Gardiner)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Kelshall GREAT GREY SHRIKE still in situ

GREAT GREY SHRIKE showing well at 14.30 in row of large trees at the bottom of the field opposite the junction at the top of Coombe Road, TL324366 (Roger Millard)

Permissible Footpaths - Beech Farm

I have marked in red the permissible footpaths at Beech Farm. Park at Notcutts or thereabouts and follow the trail - the Short-eared Owls being best viewed from the main central track. There is no need nor justification to leave this clearly marked trail. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, HARASS THE OWLS OR DISTURB THEM. They will remain all winter if not disturbed

Beech Farm - unacceptable behaviour

Up to 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS are currently wintering at Beech Farm - at the site of the former Hatfield Aerodrome. They are part of a nationwide influx of the species in Britain following an exceptional breeding season due to an explosion of Field Voles. It has come to my attention that these particular owls are being unnecessary hounded, mainly by photographers. This is totally unnecessary and unacceptable. The birds can be perfectly viewed from the maze of public footpaths criss-crossing the common and there is absolutely no need to leave these footpaths. Approaching the birds when they are roosting on the fenceposts is intolerable and unnecessary hounding. We want these birds to remain all winter so please adhere to viewing instructions.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

And more wintering SHORT-EARED OWLS.....

Two or probably 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS around Deadman's Hill, Sandon, from the green gate about 15:45 this afternoon. Two were distant and flying high - almost soaring, one was down on the feeder on the set-aside. After, I had some cracking views of one near the gate of the first house on the right as it got dark. The owl then flew along the road and back past me at about 3m distance. I was standing out of the car, but it appeared unconcerned (Rob Davies)

Friday, 18 November 2011

SHORT-EARED OWL evening spectacular


A much cooler day than of late with SSE winds pegging temperatures back. A dry day though, and fairly bright......


The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still showing very well today, frequenting the extreme NE corner of Caldecotte North Lake. It was diving almost continuously and also ventured out on to the main lake. As both Simon and Ben have already expressed, the bird is particularly photogenic, and swims within 30 feet of the boardwalk.

DIRECTIONS: From the A5, take the H10 Bletcham Way eastwards. Just after the Brewer's Fayre pub, take first right on to Monellan Grove. Within a few yards, turn left on to Caldecotte Lane and then left again on to Wadesmill Lane. This road takes you under the Walton Park underpass and after about 150 yards turn left in to Chase Avenue. Continue on until Redcote Manor cul-de-sac appears on your left and park sensibly as you come across the bay.

This was the first time I had ever visited this particular part of the lake and I was impressed by the number of waterbirds present - 6 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Mute Swans (2 first-winters), 38 Mallard, 5 Gadwall, 13 Tufted Duck, 28 Coot, 1 Grey Heron and a COMMON KINGFISHER.....

Allan Stewart and I then checked Caldecotte South Lake where a further 8 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Mute Swans (including family party of 6) and 83 Coot were noted.


Following up on a report, Allan and I visited the Woodland Hide at Linford Reserve. In the 45 minutes that we were present, a procession of Great and Blue Tits visited the two feeders consistently. There were also 3 black-capped tits visiting throughout, including two pale cutting-edged MARSH TITS and what appeared to be a WILLOW TIT. All three birds were typically vocal, the apparent Willow Tit making the nasal call most frequently associated with that species. It was also very bull-necked in appearance, with the black extending slightly further back on to the hindneck, the white cheeks contrasting with the warmth of the head and the sides and flanks very richly coloured. The black bib was more extensive and patchy and the crown colour more drab and plain. The wing panel however was very ill-defined and difficult to see.

The Woodland Hide also yielded 4 Bullfinches, 30 Fieldfares, 28 Redwings and 2 Song Thrushes, whilst Black Horse Lake held 9 Great Crested Grebes and Linford Lake 14 Little Grebe (all in one flock), 54 Mute Swans and 62 Common Teal on the pool by the Swans Way.


We had a good look round for Tree Sparrows but failed to locate any and likewise failed in our quest to locate the Great White Egret......

However, driving down the track towards Gayhurst Manor, we were surprised to find a COMMON RAVEN 'guarding' the road and gathering horse hair in its beak. Surely it was not nesting already. Anyway, as we approached, it cronked a couple of times and then flew off in the direction of this spring's nest. The same pony fields yielded 40 Meadow Pipits and 15 Pied Wagtails.

Little Linford Wood was devoid of any maize crop and consequently any Tree Sparrows or farmland birds but 5 Fieldfare were noted.

At SP 850 440, the large lake to the west of the M1 held 42 Mute Swans.


Nothing new had arrived - in fact the adult Eurasian White-front had departed.

The juvenile DARK-BELLIED BRENT was still in the usual field adjacent to Rushy Meadow, the family party of 4 BEWICK'S SWANS in the isolated pool in the NW corner by the Black Poplars and 3 Little Grebes, 65 Greylag Geese, 2 drake PINTAIL, the female RED-CRESTED POCHARD and 5 COMMON GOLDENEYE on the main reservoir.


A splendid performance by up to 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS at dusk, including 3 typically pale individuals and a single darker bird. Also no less than 6,500 Jackdaws flew noisily in to roost - this being one of the largest roosts of this species in Britain

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Swooping down after prey, Alan Reynolds captures one of the 2 Beech Farm SHORT-EARED OWLS on film

WHITE-FRONT at Tyttenhanger - and SHORT-EARED OWLS still present nearby

At 2 pm I visited Tyttenhanger to try and see the Tree Sparrows but unfortunately there was no sign of them in the hedge by the maize strip, just 1 Yellowhammer and 1 Reed Bunting of note (but 25 Red-legs in the neighbouring field). I decided to scope the pit from the high vantage point here, and quickly found 5 grey geese in the marshy area on the right. 4 of these were Greylags, but I was delighted to find that one of them was a White-fronted Goose. The sun was already quite low and was giving the birds a rather soft/colourful tint, but I must admit that I thought the bill of the White-front was rather orange (and not pinkish like the bird I saw yesterday at Wilstone), and it also had quite heavy stomach barring. This made me think it might possibly have been a Greenland... but on speaking to Lee by phone and realising how exceptionally rare a Greenland Wh-fr would be in Herts, I'm sure in retrospect it will prove to be a European White-front and the low light was playing tricks, making the bill appear more orange-ish than it really was. But a great bird all the same, and I was really pleased to see it.

I then moved on to Beech Farm / Hatfield Aerodrome area, where from 2.55 onwards, I had great (if brief) views of hunting Short-eared Owls, with about 9 or 10 connections in the next 30 minutes. There were clearly at least 2 birds (1 paler and 1 darker), but I thought there might possibly be three hunting (although I never saw more than 1 at a time). A real pleasure to see these beautiful birds (Jason Chapman).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Other Highlights from Sunday

The 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS remain at Beech Farm and the GREAT GREY SHRIKE at Kelshall



Continuing very unseasonally mild (17 degrees C) with long bright periods and light SE winds......


Undoubted highlight today were a herd of 10 BEWICK'S SWANS (7 adults, 3 juveniles) which arrived from the east over College Lake (Paul Reed) before eventually settling close to the Drayton Bank on Wilstone at 0945 hours (Steve Rodwell et al). Dave Bilcock and I managed to see them shortly later, all 10 still present at 1015 hours. In fact, Ian Bennell and Dave Hutchinson saw them much later, DH obtaining the nice images above....

Otherwise, it was the same as yesterday, with the juvenile DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE still feeding in the grass field just west of Rushy Meadow

Saturday, 12 November 2011

........And finally a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE


At first thing this morning, the Chiltern area was bathed in a blanket of dense fog. This has followed some intense rain overnight. Winds were once again in the SE, fairly light and warm. At around 0930 hours, the fog started to lift and giving way to bright periods.

It was another eventful day on the local birding front with some excellent birds being found. Before I had even left the house, Steve Heath had watched 4 Common Cranes fly NE over Southill, and whilst mapping out my route for the day, Roy Hargreaves did it for me by finding a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE.......


A single LITTLE EGRET was present as I drove past

(0945-1300 hours)

I parked up at Drayton Beauchamp bridge at 0945 hours and walked eastwards along the canal towpath. I could see the Brent almost immediately but obtained the best views after walking 250 yards along. The bird, a rather tired-looking juvenile DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE, was feeding on the grass in the large field adjacent to Rushy Meadow, two fields north of the Dry Canal. It was less than 40 yards from Buckinghamshire! For some of the time, it stood up and fed, but in the main, sat down and munched voraciously on the blades of grass. It was very alert though, always keeping an eye on people, dogwalkers and the odd Common Buzzard flying over. It also got quite spooked when a Black-headed Gull landed next to it and snatched some grubs from the ground. With its indistinct off-white neckring, pale mantle and clear-cut wing-bars, it could easily be aged as a juvenile.

In the 90 minutes that I stood there watching it from the canal (and beckoning it over the border), just 6 birders came and went - RH, Chaz Jackson, Mike Campbell, Francis Buckle, Ian Williams and David Bilcock - Dave of course obtaining the two images published above. A welcome Herts Yeartick considering how many have passed through the London Area this past week.

The fields either side of the Dry Canal were surprisingly plentiful in farmland species, with a flock of 60 Fieldfare noted, 3 Mistle Thrush, 4 Bullfinch, 8 Yellowhammer, 25 Meadow Pipit, 9 Linnet, 30 Goldfinch and 27 Skylark. A Sparrowhawk also whizzed through.

A comprehensive check of WILSTONE RESERVOIR failed once again to yield any sign of Steve Blake's Thursday Twite. The rollcall included 30 Mute Swans, the 2 adult Whooper Swans, 65 Greylag Geese, 4 Gadwall, 238 Eurasian Wigeon, 90 Common Teal, 65 Shoveler and 92 Northern Pochard and highlighted in 5 NORTHERN PINTAILS (2 adult drakes, a first-winter drake and 2 females), a RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 5 female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 411 European Golden Plovers, a single DUNLIN, 2 Common Snipe and the wintering WATER PIPIT.

The neighbouring reservoirs were at the lowest water levels in decades, with Marsworth even now falling dramatically. TRINGFORD RESERVOIR held 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, several Teal and Shoveler and 28 Tufted Duck, whilst STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR produced 14 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, 14 Canada Geese, 5 Gadwall, 65 Teal, 15 Pochard, 11 Shoveler and 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (1 adult drake, 1 adult female and a first-winter female).

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR added 4 Great Crested Grebes, a single Mute Swan, 27 Shoveler and 4 WATER RAILS feeding in the open on the mud; a Wren was in full song.


Although frustratingly unbeknown to me I drove past a flock of 15 Pintail at Grovebury Pit (perhaps the largest county flock in over two decades), Brogborough Lake did not disappoint. Joining Bob Chalkley on the bank in front of the windsurfing centre at the east end, the two of us very quickly latched on to the 3 BLACK-NECKED GREBES found earlier by Neil Wright. They were in amongst a large raft of Coot. Somewhat surprisingly, they constituted the first in the county this year and represented my 188th county species of 2011. Initially, they were visible about half way down the lake but as a shooting party arrived on the north shore and started blasting Mallards on the water to death, virtually every bird on the lake became unsettled.

Minutes earlier, as I started to count the Coot flock, I was somewhat surprised to see a juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER surface in my 'scope view - another first for the year. This bird proceeded to swim towards the east end of the pit, affording both Bob and I some excellent views. Unlike some individuals, it dived and surfaced after a relatively short space of time and was initially easy to keep on. Literally seconds before the shooting began, Lol Carman waltzed up and managed a couple of views in my 'scope but then we lost it for some time, BC eventually relocating it down the southern flank of the lake. It was then seen on and off throughout the afternoon and was still there when I left the site at 1445 hours.

After eventually finishing the Coot count (256 birds incidentally), I concentrated on counting the other wildfowl present on the lake, including 13 Great Crested Grebes, 117 Tufted Duck, 198 Northern Pochard, a pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARD and 9 COMMON GOLDENEYE (including 3 drakes).


Gypsy Lane Pits yielded 230 Greylag Geese and a single Barnacle Goose but it wasn't until I spoke with SCB that I realised that the geese I had driven over to see were not with them. In fact, the party of 10 EUROPEAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were sitting in the large grassy field immediately east of the G & M Growers site to the north of the main road. They comprised a family party of 2 adults and 8 juveniles - the largest single brood of White-fronts I have ever seen in the UK. The same field also harboured a covey of 10 GREY PARTRIDGES

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Local Mega - TWITE at Wilstone


It was another mild day today with the wind still blowing from the south. It was also fairly misty first thing before the sun shone through, giving way to clearer skies


With CDRH phoning me on a daily basis with 'another' batch of Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Queen Mother Reservoir, I visited Wilstone in the hope that one may have made landfall there, particularly as Herts has been largely devoid of this species in 2011. As suspected, there were none, and in fact virtually nothing different from what has been there on recent days.....

The WATER PIPIT was still present in the bay just to the north of the jetty, as well as the party of 10 Meadow Pipits - and with them was what I assumed to be the single Linnet noted on previous occasions and first recorded on 24 October. I had heard it fly around with the pipits and casually glanced at it with the naked eye but had not actually looked at it in the bins' or 'scope. I was therefore mightily annoyed when Steve Blake rang not long after I had departed to say that he was watching a single TWITE ! If only I had not assumed that it was the long-staying Linnet and actually followed it up.

Frustratingly, the most frequently uttered call-notes of Twite are those most readily confused with Linnet and those sweet sounds uttered which actually gave this species its name are in the minority, especially outside of summer and the breeding grounds - and hence why I never picked up on its significance. A lesson truly learned

Steve kept on the Twite for several minutes, as it loosely associated with the Meadow Pipit flock close to the jetty on the east bank. On the deck, it kept largely to itself - preferring to feed on the emergent weedy vegetation higher up the 'beach' whilst the pipits mainly kept to the mud. As I was talking Steve through various pointers, the bird suddenly took flight. It called several times again and was then lost from view - the entire flock disappearing out into the fields of Cemetery Corner. Despite a long vigil, it was not seen again, nor the Meadow Pipit flock.

An excellent record Steve but I am hugely frustrated at overlooking it. Just goes to show that single birds can be replaced in exactly the same location and in exactly the same circumstances.....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

COMMON SCOTER at last-knockings


Yet another unseasonally mild day, with temperatures reaching 13 degrees C. Although very grey and misty throughout much of the morning, the freshening southerly winds cleared the skies during the afternoon, allowing blue sky and sunny periods to prevail......

November has proved to be particularly exciting in the Home Counties with new birds turning up almost daily. Today was no exception......


The adult female PEREGRINE was roosting on the BT building this morning, whilst the Feral Pigeon population numbered at least 370 birds


Barry Nightingale discovered a first-year RED-BREASTED MERGANSER late morning on the Pillinge Pit and within the hour, MJP, Lol, Bob Chalkley and others had connected. Due to commitments, I was not able to get to the site until 1400 hours, but thankfully it was still present - and showing well roughly about half way down the pit. It was diving continuously and with its spiky crest and relatively dull bare part colouration was most likely a bird of the year (the upperwing pattern was not seen to be sure of its ageing).. The bird was still present at 1500 hours.

Large numbers of roosting gulls were present on the pit, including several Common and Great Black-backed Gulls, whilst other species noted included Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 6 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 7 Wigeon and 11 Tufted Ducks.


Again, thanks to Roy Nye, I 'gripped back' SLAVONIAN GREBE, after being away in spring when the dapper summer-plumaged adult visited Priory Country Park. The bird was showing very well at the SE end of the lake and could easily be viewed from the Windsurfing Centre and represented my 187th species in the county this year - far and away my best personal year.

Also present at 1540 hours were 4 Little Grebes, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 222 Tufted Ducks, 74 Northern Pochards and the two female COMMON GOLDENEYES


Making a hasty retreat from Brogborough, I retraced my steps back down the roadwork-ridden M1 and made my way down to Hilfield Park Reservoir, where another county Year-Tick was lying in wait. Thankfully, it was a well-lit and clear evening, and dodging both JT and Derek Turner on the dam, I was able to enjoy great views of the female-type COMMON SCOTER at the aerodrome end of the reservoir. It remained until dusk and represented my 165th species in the county this year. There has been just one brief record at Wilstone Reservoir this year.

It is interesting to compare the fortunes of the Home Counties in 2011 - Bedfordshire is leagues ahead on 200 species, with Buckinghamshire on 189 and Hertfordshire just 1 behind on 188.

An influx of SHORT-EARED OWLS.........and a COMMON SCOTER

Three SHORT-EARED OWLS were discovered this evening - two at Beech Farm and another at Elstree Aerodrome

Meanwhile, a COMMON SCOTER was present until dusk at Hilfield Park Reservoir

The GREAT GREY SHRIKE remains at Kelshall at the top of Coombe Road

Monday, 7 November 2011

Alan Reynold's sees the SNOW BUNTING in Herts!

Sunday: I stated that the Snow Bunting had flown towards the silos. In fact it had flown over the silos at which point I lost interest because, as far as I was concerned, it had gone.

Since then I have checked and the silos are in Hertfordshire. This has now been confirmed by Mike Harris who has local knowledge. So it is now a Herts tick. I won't be sending in a description, just a photograph (see above). It certainly was very confiding

John Slee, the doughnuts are on me!! (Alan Reynolds)

Just 200 yards out of county - Stortford SNOW BUNTING

A SNOW BUNTING is present for a third day near Bishop's Stortford, just 200 yards over the county border in Essex.

DIRECTIONS: .On the Stortford bypass, head w along the A120 toward Hadhams and then take your first right, a farm track that leads down to an underpass where you can park. Walk North along Hadham Lodge footpath, following the east edge of the wood until you reach the NE corner where you can set off east along an exposed path to Wickam Hall where the bird is feeding 60 yards before you hit the hedgerow (Graeme Smith)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Today's Highlights

The Kelshall Coombe Road GREAT GREY SHRIKE was still present today (Ray Hooper, Mike Ilett, Brendan Glynn, et al), with a GREY PLOVER briefly in flight over Wilstone Reservoir (Dave Bilcock).

There were no reports of the Eastern Crowned Warbler today in the scrub and trees in the SE corner (200m from the hide) so I am assuming it may now have at last gone

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

GGS still present

The GREAT GREY SHRIKE was still present east of the Coombe Road this morning (several observers) whilst the adult female PEREGRINE pictured above (Dan Forder) was roosting this afternoon on its usual perch in Hemel Hempstead town centre (LGRE)

Meanwhile, Barry Reed saw a WATER PIPIT at Amwell NR yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Frustrating warbler


Spent a lot of time at Hilfield Park Reservoir today but difficult viewing and with putative CCTV on site, one has to be careful at which point you enter. There was the odd person inside, mainly looking in just one area, but the bird is mobile and seemingly, often on its own. At one stage it would have been viewable from the perimeter fence, about 75 yards along from the main airport hangar and 50 yards from the white airport buildings. There is still so much foliage on the trees that getting full views of any of the smaller birds in there is extremely difficult. Its favoured place does seem to be a line of coniferous trees not that far from the viewing platform.

Apparently Joan Thompson is in charge of proceedings and allowing access when she is in there; contact her on 07773 910 384. She was certainly in there today and yesterday but I don't know if she has actually seen the bird.


This Kelshall GREAT GREY SHRIKE was still present today, showing intermittently about 300 yards east of the top of Coombe Road. Simon West managed this series of distant images as we stood together yesterday morning..........


The EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER remains for a third day at Hilfield Park Reservoir, frequenting tall conifers at the eastern (airfield) side of the reservoir. Access is for HMWT members only or by special invitation.

Despite my dip yesterday, Darrel connects with the MERLIN

Along with Dave Beer and Steve Lane, went searching for the Great Grey Shrike this morning.We spent 2 hours on site but to no avail.We did however have 2 Common Crossbills flyover calling , followed shortly by 12 Lesser Redpolls. Also a nice Red Kite seen from Coombe Road.

We then drove the short distance to Wallington and parked up by the gates , from where the Quail were viewed a couple of years ago. As soon as we got out of the car we noticed a small raptor at around 100 yards range in the bare field on the opposite side of the road. Indeed it was the MERLIN that has been in the area for the past couple of weeks. It gave great scope views for approx 5 minutes at around 12.30 when it flew to the opposite side of the road. The bird stayed grounded for a further 5 minutes and also clashed with a Kestrel, before returning to settle. The bird eventually flew over towards the radio masts until lost out of view (Darrel Bryant)