Thursday, 29 August 2013


This afternoon, 3 Whinchats on Park Mead on the double fence line leading to River Lee.

Also, this morning, Garganey still on West pool but frequently hidden in the marginal vegetation.

Simon Knott

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

PIED FLYCATCHER briefly at Tyttenhanger 27/8

27/8: PIED FLYCATCHER, Garden Wood, Tyttenhanger; Whinchat Willows Farm car park (Steve Blake)


Two SANDWICH TERNS at Hilfield Park Reservoir on 26 August, whilst Simon Knott had a GARGANEY and 11 Yellow Wagtails at King's Meads, Hertford

Friday, 23 August 2013

TRING RESERVOIR'S looking good

A host of good birds, including both waders and passerines, have occurred at the reservoirs in recent days, full details being found on my Birding Tring Reservoirs blog.....

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Protecting the Monk Parakeets of Borehamwood

Dear Lee,

What follows is a potted history of our campaign to save the feral monk parakeet population in the UK from eradication by DEFRA and reasons why we would urge others not to report sightings to DEFRA.

Feral monk parakeets were first seen in Borehamwood in 1993, their release into the wild believed to be as a result of a house burglary. Following field trials commencing in 2008, in which birds were shot and maimed using experimental cartridges, DEFRA began a monk parakeet eradication programme in 2011.  This has been at great expense to the taxpayer, the programme so far having had a budget of £235,000, including the cost of the field trials. DEFRA has stated it will re-home trapped birds but nestlings and adult birds have been killed and eggs destroyed using the “most sensible approach to dispatch”.

DEFRA continues to apply for licenses to eradicate this small population (less than 77) of free flying monk parakeets in the UK but we will continue to campaign to save them. This is not for emotional reasons but because their eradication is senseless and unjustified. Although DEFRA claims that the birds could pose a danger to crops, electricity pylons and other species, their numbers have remained low and stable over many years; even a report by the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat admits that the threats posed by the birds are relatively minor.

This can be borne out through our research conducted for the campaign, from which we have discovered that here in the UK monk parakeets are slow to expand and are susceptible to winter mortality and predation by crows and magpies; they do not compete with other species for nesting sites and actually share their nests with other species including house sparrows, helping to support this species.  DEFRA states the birds present a health hazard yet there is no evidence their droppings pose more of a health hazard than those of any other animal.  Furthermore, they have not nested on electricity pylons in the UK nor do they pose a threat to agriculture. No agricultural damage by the monk parakeet in the UK has been reported – they prefer to feed from suburban bird tables and do not venture into the countryside.

The birds appear to be much loved by Borehamwood residents, who have campaigned vigorously to prevent their eradication. A similar campaign is being conducted in the Isle of Dogs to save the feral monk parakeets in that area. We presented a petition to Number 10 Downing Street in August 2011 signed by over 4,000 people, including 2,000 Borehamwood residents, collected over a period of only 10 weeks.

The hand-signed Borehamwood petition of 2,000 signatures was presented to Hertsmere Borough Council and on the 9th November 2011 at Hertsmere Borough Executive meeting we successfully presented our case for the council to ban DEFRA from removing these attractive birds from Council land.
Finally, it is still legal to import monk parakeets into this country and sell them via the pet trade yet the law hasn’t been changed to prohibit this, which makes the eradication programme particularly futile.

Kind regards,

Dr Christine Brock and Simon Richardson

Borehamwood Parakeet Protection Campaign

Monday, 12 August 2013

Response from Alan Gardiner when approached about HBC's policy towards Monk Parakeets

Since you are not a supporter of the HNHS or the Herts Bird Club any of its policies are none of your business. This reply is my own personal view (Alan Gardiner, spokesperson for HBC, and the man that continually denies me my say on the Hertsbirding email group by censoring my emails)

What a bloody cheek! I have input many thousands of bird records onto the HBC Website and he claims I am not a supporter of it and how they use my Monk Parakeet records is none of my business. What's this guy on? The attitude of the HBC never fails me. For years they refused to allow any information coming out of HPR and then what - devote several pages in the latest Bird Report highlighting the history of Black-necked Grebes there.

Monk Parakeets in Hertfordshire

Stan Ames recently had this pair of Monk Parakeets visit his garden feeder in Harpendon. The species' has recently been targetted by Defra, so much so that the population in Borehamwood is now down to a paltry 19 individuals. It has come to my attention that the Hertfordshire Bird Club actually supports this controversial cull so to ensure the continued survival of this species in the UK countryside, be careful not to submit any data nor provide the exact whereabouts of Monk Parakeets you are lucky to come across.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

COMMON SCOTER still at Tring Reservoirs

The first-summer female COMMON SCOTER remains on Startop's End Reservoir for a third day

At last a DUNLIN

Tuesday 5 August continued very warm (21 degrees C) but with extensive cloud. Late morning, with Steve Blake away in North Norfolk, Alan Gardiner discovered a summer-plumaged DUNLIN at Tyttenhanger Main Pit, the bird still being present when I visited from 1300-1400 hours. Incredibly, this represented my first of the year in Hertfordshire - that's how rare passage waders have become in the county. The spit also held 2 adult Common Gulls and an adult Argenteus Herring Gull, with 4 Mute Swans on the marsh (family party) and 27 Greylag Geese.

Monday, 5 August 2013

COMMON SCOTER present for second day at Startop's End Reservoir

First-summer female still present today and showing well - selection of my best shots below -:

COMMON SCOTER spends all day Sunday on Startop's End Reservoir

This first-summer female COMMON SCOTER spent all day on Startop's End Reservoir on Sunday, often showing down to 100 yards from the car park in the NE end. Ian Williams obtained these excellent shots.