Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Drew a blank on Caspian Gulls but productive afternoon nevertheless


I reserved today for some Hertfordshire birding, with a number of target birds on my list. With only 1 Caspian Gull on my county list, I decided a trip to Amwell was in order, particularly following the two birds seen last night by Graham White and Barry Reed......


The day started well with a female GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER feeding on my peanut feeders mid morning, the first record in 2012


Birded with Jeff Bailey for a while, concentrating our efforts on the feeding station behind the woodyard. Feeding was frenzied and included the presence of at least 11 TREE SPARROWS, my first in the county this year. After dropping down to just one visiting bird in the mild period in early January, numbers of this declining species have now picked up and Steve Blake has recently counted as many as 13.

Also visiting were up to 8 Yellowhammers, 7 Reed Buntings, Chaffinch, 10 Great Tits and 12 Blue Tits, as well as 2 Red-legged Partridges. A Common Kestrel was hovering nearby.

On the main pit, the COMMON SHELDUCK was still present, roosting on the spit at the west end. Also 4 Great Crested Grebes (including a pair in courtship display), 8 Cormorants, 4 Mute Swans (3 first-years), 8 Mallard, 16 Tufted Duck, 24 Coot, 82 Lapwing, 108 Black-headed Gulls, 28 Common Gulls, a juvenile Argenteus Herring Gull and 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls


Spent from 1400-1706 hours at Amwell with mixed results. Also carried out a full inventory of the lakes. A total of 51 species was recorded -:

Great Crested Grebe (3 on Great Hardmead Lake and 1 in Tumbling Bay)
Little Grebe (2 in Tumbling Bay)
Cormorant (34 on Great Hardmead Lake)
**EURASIAN BITTERN (the wintering bird came out of the reedbed at 1710 hours and showed well at the edge of the reeds into darkness)
Little Egret (3 came into roost this evening)
Grey Heron
Mute Swan (9 present on Great Hardmead Lake, with an additional pair on Tumbling Bay Pit)
Mallard (55)
Gadwall (76 on Great Hardmead Lake and a further 5 just beyond the Reedbed Hide)
Shoveler (just 3 on Hardmead Lake, with a further 8 on Tumbling Bay Pit)
Eurasian Wigeon (26 on Hardmead Lake)
Common Teal (12 on Hardmead Lake)
Northern Pochard (8 on Hardmead Lake, 9 on Hollycross Lake, with a further 7 on Tumbling Bay)
Tufted Duck (46 on Hardmead, 12 on Hollycross and 28 on Tumbling Bay)
Common Goldeneye (6 on Hardmead including 2 adult drakes)
**SMEW (2 cracking adult drakes on the west shore of the north end of Tumbling Bay Pit)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (one made a swoop at a Green Woodpecker, freaking the yaffler out)
Common Kestrel (1)
Common Pheasant (2 in the reedbed)
Moorhen (25 in all)
Coot (impressive numbers for such a small site with 402 on Great Hardmead, 8 more by the Reedbed Hide, 8 on Hollycross and a further 86 on Tumbling Bay - 504 in total)
Lapwing (68 on Hardmead Lake)

Gulls: a total of about 600 roosted prior to 1700 hours but no Caspians unfortunately - about 250 Black-headed, 75 Common, 170 Herring, 59 Lesser Black-backed and 46 Great Black-backed

Woodpigeon and Collared Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin

Redwing (17)
Fieldfare (8)
Common Blackbird (15)
**CETTI'S WARBLER (at least 3 different birds present in the reedbed, with 2 in song)
Great, Blue & Long-tailed Tit
MARSH TIT (1 scolding from the wood on the west side of the canal)
Jay (2)
Jackdaw (several thousand flying south down the valley at dusk to roost)
Carrion Crow (3)
**COMMON RAVEN (vocal pair courtship dancing over Easneye Wood)
Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch

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