Wednesday, 22 May 2013

More shots taken today at Amwell

The four Little Ringed Plovers and lingering drake Eurasian Wigeons



A moderate NE wind blowing, with fairly cool temperatures and a lot of cloud cover

Failing to locate any local Spotted Flycatchers again and dipping on CDRH's Roseate Tern pair at QMR which disappeared after 22 minutes, I made my way over to AMWELL NATURE RESERVE (HERTS) where Bill Last had located a transitional plumaged TURNSTONE on the increasing mud in front of the Watchpoint there.

Unlike Jay Ward's Wood Sandpiper (who incidentally arrived at Amwell the same time as me), this passage wader was still there and showing extremely well. I managed to get at least 30 decent images of it (see below), the bird staying until at least early afternoon when I departed (in fact it was still there at 1600 hours per Simon Knott). Four displaying LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were also on the mud, as well as a pair of Common Redshank and a COMMON SANDPIPER, whilst two Eurasian Wigeon were still lingering as well as a pair of Shoveler. Also present were 15 Common Terns, COMMON CUCKOO, 2 male Blackcaps and the GARDEN WARBLER.

I then moved north into BEDFORDSHIRE and GYPSY LANE EAST, BROOM, where belatedly I connected with my first county WOOD SANDPIPER of the year (see pix below). It was furtively feeding along the southern edge of the main scrape. The transitional plumaged CURLEW SANDPIPER was also still present (fourth day), creeping through emergent vegetation on the east shore. Eight Little Ringed Plovers were noted, whilst 400+ Common Swifts were in the general area. Still no Hobby.

Record shots of both the Wood Sandpiper (top two) and Curlew Sandpiper

Events then unfolded in Woolwich curtailing my days birding abruptly....

Water End OSPREY

Hugh Insley and Mike Hounsome have kindly informed me of details of the colour-ringed OSPREY at Water End that Darin, Joan, Anna and I observed; She was ringed on 24 June 2011 as a brood of two in a nest near Loch Ness (Highland Region) and was resighted on 24 January of this year in SENEGAL at Somone Lagoon (Tim Mackrill)

Monday, 20 May 2013

SANDERLING briefly at Tyttenhanger

Steve Blake found this breeding-plumaged SANDERLING at 10am this morning at Tyttenhanger GP but its stay was less than a few minutes

Saturday, 18 May 2013

WOOD SAND at Amwell briefly


You just cannot afford to get any sleep with this game. After losing two night's sleep in succession, today due to a certain DUSKY THRUSH in Margate Cemetery, I returned home at 0900 hours to get some sleep. No sooner had I got under the sheets than Jason Ward texted with news of a Wood Sandpiper at Amwell Nature Reservoir, a species I still had not seen in Hertfordshire this year..

I jumped up, got dressed and drove over there, but after just half an hour, the Wood Sandpiper had departed and I dipped - solace being achieved in a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and a single male LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (other species on tap being 3 Common Redshanks, 40+ Black-headed Gulls on rafts, 8+ Common Terns, 100+ Common Swifts, Sedge Warbler and calling COMMON CUCKOO and CETTI'S WARBLER)

Feeling terribly knackered by this time, I again returned home to get some sleep. This time I recharged the phone downstairs which was a grave mistake. By 4pm, a succession of local birders had been frantically trying to contact me after Alan Stephens had discovered two TEMMINCK'S STINTS at Spade Oak Gravel Pits. My own fault of course.

Anyway, waking at 1830 hours, I checked the mobile and learnt of my mistakes. Graham Smith kindly filled me in. I was at SPADE OAK within 17 minutes and to my horror, the gathered crowd had just lost the two birds. Nightmare! I continued on to the east side of the pit and by a miracle, relocated both birds after they had been disturbed by a Red Fox. They then flew back towards the spit and continued to show reasonably well until at least 1930 hours, enabling me to get a series of record shots of the two birds. Both were in full breeding plumage and were accompanying a single TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER. Also noted were 6 Common Shelducks, 27 Egyptian Geese, 73 Argenteus Herring Gulls and 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

On the way home, driving through BEACONSFIELD (on the A355), I was saddened to see a dead Badger by the entrance to ROSECOPSE BARN.

Friday, 17 May 2013

OSPREY roosting in tree

Whilst Joan, Anna and I were birding on the Berkshire Downs, JT took a call from an excited Clifford Smout. He had just found an OSPREY at Waterend, Wheathamstead, and it was roosting in a tree above the footpath. Knowing that Darin Stanley was working nearby, I phoned him and sent him down, with he quickly relocating it at around 1730 hours. Darin then very kindly kept on it until we arrived, the bird roosting happily until at least 1915 hours. I noticed that it was bearing a black or navy blue ring with the inscription 'FW' but because of very poor light, I only obtained the following record shots.......

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bygrave: no Turtle Doves

Had a good look around Bygrave this afternoon but failed in my quest to find any Turtle Doves; highlights were 5 CORN BUNTINGS, several pairs of YELLOW WAGTAILS, a pair of Linnets and Brown Hares

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


A female MONTAGU'S HARRIER flew SE at Trims Green at 17:23 today. The bird was low, quartering, but lifted over Tharbie's and despite some rather swift motoring, was not intersected at the predicted destination (Mike Harris)

HOUSE MARTINS suffering in the inclement weather conditions


Lots of rain overnight leading to some localised flooding with showers persisting throughout the morning and into early afternoon. During this period, the temperature struggled to get higher than 4 degrees C, incredibly unusual for this late in May. The sun started shining at 1500 hours and temperatures did then recover to 12 degrees C.

My first port of call was WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS) where a Sanderling had been seen flying around early morning (per Paul Reed). There was no sign of it when I arrived at 0800 hours, in fact there was very little of anything other than EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS........

I carefully checked through them for a Red-rumped but there was no immediate sign and a click-count from the jetty revealed the presence of no less than 433 hawking back and forth over the reservoir, an exceptional number so late in the spring. There was a surprisingly low number of Common Swifts - just 55 - whilst House Martins peaked at 32 - whilst other migrants included a male YELLOW WAGTAIL on the east bank and 5 Pied Wagtails near the car park.

At nearby MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, another 80 BARN SWALLOWS were logged, many taking to sheltering in the reeds due to the cold and wet. A drake Gadwall was also present, as well as 6 Great Crested Grebes, with 15 or so Western Reed Warblers singing from the reeds.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR held even more incredible numbers of BARN SWALLOWS - a bare minimum of 713 birds - as well as 168 HOUSE MARTINS. The latter were in a terrible state, taking refuge on the bank (see photographs below) and I worried for their welfare.

On the water, 2 drake Gadwall, a Mute Swan, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Coot, a drake Northern Pochard and two pairs of RED-CRESTED POCHARD were present, with both Greylag Geese and Atlantic Canada Geese pairs accompanying 3 goslings a piece. In the car park, the Carrion Crow was still incubating and a pair of Greenfinch were prospecting, with a Grey Wagtail on the west shore and 4 migrant YELLOW WAGTAILS in the horsefield at STARTOP FARM.

Replacing Francis Buckle in the main hide at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT gave me the opportunity to photograph the 6 summer-plumaged DUNLIN that had arrived early morning but both Paul and Francis confirmed that the Wilstone Sanderling had not relocated here. Other waders present included singles of both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, the Oystercatcher pair and 5 Common Redshank, whilst Common Terns had increased to 27 and showed signs of real interest in nesting. The two COMMON SHELDUCKS were both present, with Mute Swans down to 12.

Stuart Warren then found another SANDERLING and this one was sticking and part of a major arrival of passage waders at BROOM GYPSY LANE EAST PITS in Bedfordshire. I decided to make a move that way, arriving just as Lol Carman and John Temple were leaving. The wader flock were still in situ and comprised of 3 summer-plumaged TURNSTONES, a winter-plumaged SANDERLING, 23 Ringed Plover (including several considered to be of the Arctic form tundrae), 6 Dunlin and 4 Little Ringed Plover. I took over 100 photographs of the Turnstone and Sanderling (see selection below). Not much else present though, with the Mute Swan nest still active, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an impressive 10 Common Shelducks.

In AMPTHILL at the BOWLING GREEN, the male COMMON NIGHTINGALE was singing away from at least 1400-1415 hours, whilst in WOBURN PARK, two drake MANDARIN DUCKS were on the lake by the gatehouse.

Half an hour later, the sun came out and temperatures recovered to 12 degrees C. I joined Jeff Bailey at STARTOPSEND RESERVOIR and we did a sweep of the site. This time, with large numbers of insects on the wing, COMMON SWIFTS were dominating, with perhaps 1,000 birds in all. A Common Redshank was also present, whilst 5 HOBBIES appeared from nowhere and began hunting the Buckinghamshire stretch of the bank. On neighbouring MARSWORTH, the CETTI'S WARBLER sang from the reedbed.

BOVINGDON BRICKPITS (HERTS) this evening yielded both BULLFINCH and COMMON WHITETHROAT, with 3 Common Buzzards and a Red Kite overhead and two Common Chiffchaffs singing