Friday, 31 August 2012

WHITE PELICAN in Stevenage

Photo insert - Martin Hanson

News came through of a European White Pelican at Fairlands Valley Park, Stevenage, last night and I made my way over today, once it was confirmed to be still present. It was ringed on one leg (red ring with white letters 'CSF') and this quickly enabled me to trace it to Blackbrook Zoological Park in Staffordshire. According to the Zoo, it and another Pelican had escaped a week ago and had been present at a moorland site until Wednesday. One was recaptured but the other went awol. It was some scene today, with this starving bird turning to resident birds for food - devouring 2 baby Moorhens and 2 young Mallards whilst I was there. Two keepers have been despatched from the Zoo and it is hoped to recapture it either later this evening or tomorrow.

Other news around the county today includes a number of migrant COMMON REDSTARTS and numerous WHINCHATS and an OSPREY seen twice again at Panshanger Park (between 1200 and 1330 hours)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Willows Farm migrants

Some great shots taken by Terry Wood at Tyttenhanger yesterday afternoon - one of the YELLOW WAGTAILS and the beautiful WHINCHAT

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lots of birds for the Bank Holiday watchers


Having been away seawatching in Cornwall when all of the local action was going on, I was keen to get back in the swing of things today. It was still very warm for the time of year (75 degrees F), dry, mostly sunny but with a fresh SW wind. The Bank Holiday Weekend had seen a juvenile Montagu's Harrier at Deadman's Hill, along with 4 juvenile Marsh Harriers and 2 Common Quail, with a juvenile Common Redstart at Amwell and lots of passage Whinchats. The Tring Reservoirs had yielded Black-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Little Gull and 2 Ospreys and it was the latter that I was concentrating on today - but without success......

Following a report of 2 Ospreys at PANSHANGER PARK yesterday, Alan Reynold's very kindly advised on my plan of attack and for several hours during the morning, I overlooked the lake from the new public footpath running alongside it. Needless to day there was no sign of any Ospreys but a migrant YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over and the lake itself held a female Tufted Duck with 3 small young and 8 Little Grebes; 4 Blackcaps, 3 Nuthatches and 2 Common Treecreepers were also seen.

Having not seen (only heard) the juvenile Redstart at Hollycross Lake, Amwell, yesterday afternoon, I gave the site a wide berth today - other species of note there yesterday being 6 Common Sandpipers and a family party of at least 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. Alan did not seem to be faring well at Deadman's Hill either so I gave that site a miss too.


Making a speedy rendezvous with Steve Blake at Tyttenhanger (where, incidentally, Steve Murray had seen an adult and two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls yesterday afternoon), we both enjoyed some splendid views of a WHINCHAT on the fenceline of Willows Farm car park - the first I have ever seen at this specific location. The fencing also held 21 tired Barn Swallows, with 4 YELLOW WAGTAILS (2 adult males and 2 juveniles) on the field edge.


I then decided to put in an hour or more at Wilstone Reservoir, skygazing with Steve Rodwell from the East Bank from 1530-1700 hours. I was hoping for another migrant Osprey, following Steve's two on Saturday but it was not to be. SR really is amazing and deserves every bird he gets - spending eight hours on that bank most days truly deserves a medal. We did see a nice adult HOBBY, plenty of Red Kites and Common Buzzards and 43 Mute Swans, whilst the ploughed field in Cemetery Corner yielded 98 Lapwings and 122 Black-headed Gulls. SR had earlier seen 4 Yellow Wagtails fly west.


Still 'needing' Marsh Harrier for the Bucks Year, I headed west through a 'police-ful' Aylesbury (the Queen and other Royals were in town apparently for the launch of the Paralympics) and up the A41 to Gallows Bridge. The reserve was looking fabulous with two 'new' marshy pools in the left hand field as you walk down to the hides. A juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER was a real surprise and bonus, bobbing its head nervously as I tried to walk past it as it fed on the second marshy section. It called loudly and then flew overhead and landed in front of the second hide, favouring an obvious spit on one of the overgrown islands. It was a very fresh juvenile and was alert and mobile. It repeatedly flew back and forth between the two sites but clearly favoured the sedge-filled pool behind the hide and fence. Warren Claydon and others saw it too.

Three Little Egrets were also present on the main scrape, as well as YELLOW WAGTAIL and 5 SEDGE WARBLERS, but there was no sign of the recent Whinchats nor any passage Marsh Harriers. Maybe tomorrow !

Monday, 20 August 2012


Steve Rodwell had 8 WHIMBRELS fly west through Wilstone last night whilst I had another fly through Marsworth and Startop's at 1230 hours today. Stuart Wilson has also had a single fly through Greenshank recently whilst the two juvenile BLACK TERNS remain from Friday on Startop's.

Darin Stanley had a WHINCHAT at Batford today with a GARGANEY remaining at Rye Meads RSPB.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

MARSH HARRIERS nest again but only one juvenile

In the Sandon area, the pair of nesting MARSH HARRIERS have managed to pull off a single youngster. Elsewhere, a single juvenile RUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE was seen on the road near Bygrave.



An unseasonal fast-moving depression tracked east across the country today bringing quite strong S/SE winds. It was also accompanied by a few short sharp showers. Clearly associated with this front were large numbers of terns, including Sandwich, Arctic, Black and Little - the latter appearing in an unprecedented number in Buckinghamshire..........


Not long after 1315 hours, Adam Bassett phoned me to say that a 'flock' of LITTLE TERNS had flown in, numbering at least 15 birds. Within minutes I was in the car and on the way. By the time I arrived some 17 minutes later, the figure had been revised to 19 (nineteen) - the largest single flock ever recorded in the county and certainly the largest inland flock that I have ever witnessed. The flock were showing very well and roosting on the spit - David Ferguson managing to photograph the entire group. It consisted of two very fresh juveniles, 13 yellow-billed adults and 4 wholly black-billed individuals which I couldn't decide whether they were adult winters or first-summers). They afforded superb views from the vegetated spit on the west bank and remained present until at least 1400 hours, often hunting in a pack at the east end.

I also discovered two very fresh juvenile LITTLE GULLS surface-feeding at the east end, whilst 17 Common Terns were present and a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL amongst the spit-roosting Black-headed Gulls. Although the number of larger gulls on site was small, the roost did include 5 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

A COMMON GREENSHANK was also present, along with the female Egyptian Goose and surviving young and 5 Shoveler. Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 3 Nuthatches were also encountered.


Acting upon a call from Jeff Bailey, I headed north to Tring Reservoirs to check a windswept Startop's End Reservoir. Along with David Bilcock, we all logged 5 BLACK TERNS and a juvenile ARCTIC TERN. One of the adult BLACKS was still in very good 'nick' whilst two were fresh juveniles. No less than 15 Common Terns were present too - along with 8 COMMON SWIFTS. All 3 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were still surviving and being fed.

On neighbouring MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, another pair of Great Crested Grebes were attending a single youngster, with a juvenile Sparrowhawk seen and Mute Swan orange 681 remaining present with his partner.


All 4 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were alive, well and growing although there was no sign of either father. A single Little Grebe was also noted, whilst baby/juvenile Coots numbered 17. Green Woodpecker and juvenile Common Buzzard were also noted whilst migrants included 21 COMMON SWIFTS, 1 House Martin, 8 Common Chiffchaffs and the 9 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS.

Elsewhere in the county, Rob Norris had a single juvenile BLACK TERN at Willen Lake South Basin

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Hemel MUTES

Orange 121 and family still doing well in Hemel town centre today. Both adults looking after all 5 surviving cygnets