Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A few rarities for a change

Well with Storm St Jude well and truly out of the way, it was back to normal today. Still a brisk wind blowing though, and gradually veering Northwest, and feeling much, much colder than of late. Pretty bright too, with no rain.
A victim of the storm had been a GREY PHALAROPE discovered by Steve Murray at HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS) late afternoon yesterday. Allan Stewart, Derek Turner and I gathered at the Watchpoint on the east side of the reservoir this morning and were rewarded with some reasonable views, down to about 150 yards (see images below). As expected, the bird was in first-winter plumage, and was highly mobile, keeping generally to the centre of the reservoir. Not much else to report there, other than 29 Great Crested Grebe and a flyover Redpoll.

 I then went over to WILSTONE RESERVOIR, where Ian Williams had located a juvenile LITTLE STINT that had first been reported yesterday. This was a belated first for the year in the county (and location), quite surprising considering it had been a good autumn for the species elsewhere. Anyhow, it was showing well on the generous offerings of mud visible from the 'new' overflow, allowing me to get quite a few distant images. This was the only 'new' bird on offer, although the female RING-NECKED DUCK was still showing well from the Drayton Bank Hide, swimming not far off the mud in shallow water.

 Everything else was much of a muchness - with the 5 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, the 2 RUFF, the 4 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, between 16 & 32 NORTHERN PINTAIL and the WATER PIPIT (hanging about between Cemetery Corner and the Jetty) - and with regular fare in the shape of 13 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret (including a metal-ringed bird), 17 Greylag Geese, 271 Wigeon, 31 Gadwall, 633 Common Teal, 107 Shoveler, 93 Tufted Duck, 117 Pochard, 3 Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, PEREGRINE, 422 Lapwing, 183 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 33 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Common Gull, the adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (again roosting on the spit), Common Kingfisher, 3 Grey Wagtail, 18 Redwing and a Common Chiffchaff.

I then met up with Graham Smith and Adam Bassett at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS) where eventually we tracked down all 3 JACK SNIPES on the main marsh, 1 showing well from one of the west shore hides and 2 feeding with 23 COMMON SNIPE from the main overlook hide. A male YELLOWHAMMER was my first there this year, whilst 6 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 13 Wigeon finished off the logcall.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


The juvenile OSPREY is still present today but in flight, the missing feathers on the right wing suggest it has been shot at locally sometime in the past two weeks.

Over in the east of the county, the first-year PINK-FOOTED GOOSE of unknown origin remains in Stevenage Town Centre

Monday, 21 October 2013

OSPREY still

Well with one month to go before the start of winter birding, one could be forgiven for still thinking it was summer today with the gale force SW wind blowing temperatures of 19 degrees C up from the Azores. It was very wet though, with pulses of heavy showers quickly passing through
I decided to visit WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) in the hope of locating Dave Hutchinson's Scandinavian Rock Pipit but despite an exhaustive search (both by myself and later Bill Pegrum, Ed & Dave H again), it was nowhere to be found.
Highlight was undoubted the 3 late juvenile EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS that swept through in seconds, whilst the EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flock now numbers 190.
Otherwise, all 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS surviving, 1 juvenile RUFF and the ringed GREEN SANDPIPER, with 11 Great Crested Grebe, 31 Greylag Geese, 312 Wigeon, 501 Teal, 20 PINTAIL and 59 Mute Swans all counted.
The spit between the jetty and Drayton Bank is becoming increasingly popular with roosting gulls and today 49 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present (both intermedius & graellsii), 3 Herring Gulls (including a sub-adult Argentatus) and an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.

At LATIMER'S GREAT WATER, just 4 Mute Swans, 20 Tufted Duck, 5 Mistle Thrush and 64 Jackdaw were encountered, whilst at a private site not that far away, a juvenile OSPREY was still performing incredibly well after successfully catching a small Perch; COMMON KINGFISHER too...

Today's OSPREY shots

Friday, 11 October 2013

Winter's Coming

Phil Ball had 7 adult WHOOPER SWANS land at Amwell NR for an hour this morning whilst an OSPREY still lingered there yesterday morning. At Tyttenhanger Scrape, the GREAT WHITE EGRET remains..

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

OSPREY at Maple Lodge

An OSPREY has been lingering at Maple Lodge NR, West Hyde, being observed roosting in dead trees from Teal Hide on occasions. Sadly, access is restricted to members only.

Monday, 7 October 2013

GREAT WHITE EGRET at Tyttenhanger GP for third day

Another dry day with above average temperatures (14 degrees C) and a light SW breeze
Went over to TYTTENHANGER GP first thing where the GREAT WHITE EGRET was showing extremely well on the scrape at the SE end of the complex, loosely in the company of Little Egrets and Grey Herons. It took a couple of large fish before taking to roosting in a tall Willow and during the two hours I was watching it, I obtained over 300 images - a selection of which are published below.....

I then drove over to WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) and undertook a complete inventory of birds present, most notably the presence of some 2,468 wildfowl of 12 species....

For images, browse my Birding Tring Reservoirs blog......
It was wildfowl that had increased dramatically on Wilstone, the water level of which had fallen much more since my last visit last week - the spit between the Drayton Bank and the Jetty now largely above surface.
Although Greylag Geese remained 31 in number, the arrival of a family party of 5 Mute Swans from the Dry Canal pushed that species' total to 52.
Mallard (184)
Eurasian Wigeon (718 - massive increase)
Gadwall (83 - again, massive increase)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (26 present, my largest count in years)
Shoveler (156)
Common Teal (940 - vast increase)
GARGANEY (1 still present)
Northern Pochard (206)
Tufted Duck (68)
In addition, 15 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Little Egret and 6 Grey Heron were present, along with 37 Cormorants.
Waders included 8 Common Snipe, 4 long-staying BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, 2 juvenile RUFF, 188 Lapwing, a juvenile RINGED PLOVER and 28 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, whilst the pre-roost gull flock yielded 553 Black-headed and 3 first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULLS. Also flighting east
 to roost were 78 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

Otherwise, 2 mobile SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS were moving between the mud in the old overflow corner and Cemetery Corner, 6 GREY WAGTAILS were present, 2 Pied Wagtails, COMMON KINGFISHER, 14 Long-tailed Tits (in the north hedgerow) and 72 REDWING over