Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Curlew Flock

Summer seems to have returned with temperatures this afternoon reaching a balmy 24 degrees C. Light winds throughout and clear skies but thick fog over part of the area until mid morning....
At home in the garden, 4 BULLFINCH visited the Sunflower Heart feeder for about 20 minutes around 0900 hours whilst over at WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING), a full inventory went like this........
Highlight was a party of 4 EURASIAN CURLEW and single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT that arrived noisily from the east at 1209, not that long after the fog had cleared. After a few flyarounds, they eventually came down on the Drayton bank and were still present after I had walked round to the hide from the jetty. I was able to take a large number of images (see immediately below) before they finally flew off strongly SSW at 1316. Bill Pegram, JT and Ken Simmons all connected.

Great Crested Grebe (15 - including the 2 juveniles)
Little Egret (10)
Grey Heron (3)
Mute Swan (45)
Greylag Geese (78)
Mallard (260)
Common Teal (535 - large increase)
Eurasian Wigeon (135 - increase)
Gadwall (29)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (4 present - 3 drakes and a female - my first of the autumn)
Northern Pochard (146)
Tufted Duck (not counted)
Red-crested Pochard (2, with both juveniles still surviving on Tringford too)
Red Kite (5)
Common Buzzard (6)
HOBBY (at least 3 still present)
WATER RAILS (8 along SE shore and another by the hide)
Coot (down to 501 birds)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (still 4 juveniles present whilst an additional bird arrived with the Curlew)
COMMON GREENSHANK (long-stayer still present in Cemetery Corner)
Common Kingfisher (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Meadow Pipit (slight passage - 4 birds)
Grey Wagtail (4)
Mistle Thrush (2)
LESSER WHITETHROAT (3 - 2 in the East Hedgerow and another in the orchard)
Blackcap (male in the orchard)
Long-tailed Tit (roving flock of 16 in wood behind hide)
Chaffinch (light passage - 5 birds noted)
Bullfinch (pair in the orchard)

Just in the nick of time, HOBBY was added to my Recording Area Yearlist, with a family party of 4 birds hunting over the wood (Don Stone had 5); also Sparrowhawk, 11 Common Buzzard, 15 Red Kite and 28 Stock Doves, with 6 Barn Swallows through.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

King's Mead sightings

Male COMMON STONECHAT on ditch between Hollow Mead and Stockade Mead together with WHINCHAT (up to 3 recently). Also 6 Yellow Wagtail feeding amongst cattle on Park Mead (Simon Knott)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

EGYPTIAN GEESE in Hemel - Local Rarity

Here's some pics of the Egyptian Geese pair at Piccotts End Pools this morning before they headed towards Gadebridge Park & Hemel Town Centre...

Dan Forder

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

WHINCHAT at last


For Today's Images, see both my Birding Tring Reservoirs and Birding Amersham blogs
The unsettled nature of the weather continued today with long spells of rain at times and a lot of heavy cloud. Temperatures struggled to reach 13 degrees C whilst the wind direction was a brisk Northwesterly. The theme today was of more passage waders...........
The pair of BULLFINCH visited one of the birdtables in my LITTLE CHALFONT garden early morning, the first visit in a while.
My first visit to WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) today was from 0930-1230 hours - the highlight being the arrival of 3 'new' juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and a splendid performance by up to 5 HOBBIES. Despite a long vigil, there was no confirmed sightings of the Spotted Crake all day - just 4 WATER RAILS causing identification problems, particularly the juveniles.
The roll call was thus -:
Great Crested Grebe (16 counted, including an adult feeding two stripy juveniles)
Little Grebe (first-winter still present by hide)
Sinensis Cormorant (37, including 1-2 juveniles in a late Drayton Bank nest)
Grey Heron (8 including one with a small Pike - see images below)
Little Egret (10)
Mute Swan (41)
Greylag Goose (68+)
Mallard (116)
Gadwall (increase to 21)
Shoveler (75)
Eurasian Wigeon (58)
Common Teal (370) (but no sign of 2 Garganey nor of any Pintail yet)
Northern Pochard (38)
Tufted Duck (121)
Red Kite (1)
Common Buzzard (4)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)
HOBBY (5 mobbing a Common Buzzard at one instance, with a lot of practising from the two juveniles)
WATER RAIL (4 - 3 juveniles - all along SE shoreline)
Moorhen (51)
Coot (772)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (juvenile still present)
Lapwing (215)
COMMON GREENSHANK (still present and favouring 'crake' shore)
Common Snipe (5)
Black-headed Gull (300)
Common Tern (7)
Woodpigeon (75)
Stock Dove (1)
House Martin (15)
Pied Wagtail (13)
Wren (1)
Robin (1)
Goldcrest (1 behind hide)
Great Tit (2)
Having still not seen a Whinchat in Hertfordshire this year, I then set off for BEECH FARM/ELLENBROOK FIELDS, where I carried out a thorough search. Acres of suitable habitat but just no birds to be found - no redstarts, warblers or chats. All that was of note were 3 Green Woodpeckers, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch and 2 Common Chiffchaffs.
After just conversing with Alan Reynolds re: King's Mead Whinchats, Steve Blake came up with a better option - Paul Lewis had just found 2 near HERONSGATE - just within my immediate Recording Area. A quick call to Paul revealed their exact location and after a swift walk, I eventually located both birds (juveniles) along the fenceline at TQ 026 947, just under a mile NW of Junction 17 of the M25. On the opposite side of the footpath (at TQ 031 946), 3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS were together in the ploughed field. I successfully photographed all 5 birds (see below). Three Meadow Pipits were also in one of the meadows.
I then returned to WILSTONE RESERVOIR from 1800-1930 hours where just 2 of the 4 juvenile RUFF discovered by JT and Jeff Bailey mid afternoon were still present left of the Drayton Bank Hide. This makes this autumn's total 9 individuals - the largest influx in over 20 years. I photographed both birds (below). A 5th juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT had also arrived, all 5 birds wading in shallow water in the NW corner. A YELLOW WAGTAIL was to the right of the hide, with 3 GREY WAGTAILS along the North Shore, whilst 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew east at dusk.

Exciting times currently at the reservoirs. What will tomorrow bring?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

First Tring SPOTTED CRAKE in 17 years

It was late morning and whilst watching a Keyhaven Marshes vagrant Semipalmated Sandpiper at just a few yards that I receive a call informing me of a SPOTTED CRAKE at WILSTONE RESERVOIR. Typical - only yesterday Mike Campbell and I had commented at how good the reservoir looks for this species at the moment. But hey-ho, local Super-hero Steve Rodwell was in town and in usual top form, espying the bird as it made a fleeting attempt at stardom as he was 'scoping the reed fringe from the jetty. Steve was pretty convinced from his initial brief view but waited until he got better views before informing others and setting off a twitch - after all, it was some 17 years since the last Spotted Crake had graced the reservoirs.
Once confirmed, Steve had immediately got the news out to Dave Bilcock and within the hour, Dave, Mike C, Francis and other immediate locals had connected. The bird continued to show intermittently on about half a dozen occasions until 1330 hours but then disappeared. I arrived on site just after 1400 hours, the crowd by then swollen to at least 24 individuals. Despite a number of claims, the only birds at the reed fringe were 4 Water Rails (including 3 juveniles), a Common Snipe and some 17 Moorhens, as well as 3 different COMMON KINGFISHERS, 14 Western Reed Warblers and 6 Sedge Warblers.
I sat down on the East Bank expecting a long vigil, after all most crakes are semi-crepuscular and show best as the light begins to fade. An hour went by and nothing but just as the second was about to pass, Graham Smith got on to a small bird in the reeds and it was it. It came out of the reeds and on to the margin and showed well then on and off until at least 1730 hours, sadly at great distance from the bank - at 227 yards. I tried numerous times to get a record shot but it was impossible, the bird being just too small and far away. Throughout it favoured a narrow muddy fringe, about half way along the reeds as you view from the bank or jetty. Although quite a few observers departed without seeing it, perhaps 45 did connect, including some as far afield as Oxfordshire and East Hertfordshire.

Whilst waiting for the crake to appear, other species encountered included 2 Chinese Water Deer (munching emergent vegetation along the margin) and the 2 long-staying GARGANEYS (both together again), as well as the family party of 4 HOBBIES. A juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT commuted between the Drayton Bank and the mud by the overflow in the NW corner, some 12 Little Egrets were about, 5 Common Snipes and a migrant Lesser Whitethroat in the north hedgerow. Most unexpected was a fine and very fresh-plumaged juvenile OSPREY that flew quickly SSE fairly low across the reservoir.

Friday, 6 September 2013

My WRYNECK shots

Here is a selection of WRYNECK shots I obtained last week at Stapleford.....

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Celebrity WRYNECK

Wryneck, Stonyhills disused airfield, 2 September, Alan Reynolds

A lot of us gathered at Stonyhills yesterday morning (including Ron Cousins, Jeff Bailey, Alan Reynolds, Ernest Leahy) and after a lot of grafting, eventually located the WRYNECK in the short scrub. Once located, we managed to keep on it for some time, both Alan, Ron and I firing off a lot of shots. Otherwise, the bird is very skulking and difficult to find.

DETAILED DIRECTIONS: From Stapleford village, take Church Lane towards Stonyhills and after less than a mile park sensibly at the entrance track to Southend Farm. Walk back down the narrow lane to the first sharp bend, crossing the stile into the field and walking just 50 yards to the scrub to view.

Monday, 2 September 2013

WRYNECK in Hertfordshire

31 August: The WRYNECK appeared to go to roost at about 7.15.  Location is approx. TL317169. Limited parking for about 3 cars at end of farm track. Follow farm track N to footpath in  corner of field and follow track SW to main area of hawthorn scrub (Ian Williams). It had apparently been found by Barry Reed much earlier in the day and seen by many East Herts birders during the afternoon. Frustratingly, first I knew of it was when Darryl Bryant phoned late in the evening - far too late to act upon news (LGRE)


31 August: Started with Peregrine at Norton green (also 1 Wheatear) and then over to Kelshall for 4 Marsh Harrier, 6 Red Kite and 3 Buzzard. At one point I had all three species in the scope at once. An excellent couple of hrs (Ray Hooper)