Tuesday, 14 January 2014


A beautiful morning with a slight overnight frost followed by clear, bright conditions. The wind increased from the west during the day, with temperatures recovering to about 7 degrees C, with rain arriving from late afternoon.
At CHENIES BOTTOM BRIDGE first thing, an adult Sinensis Cormorant flew up valley, with a Little Egret showing well, SISKIN over, Common Buzzard, Wren, Grey Heron, GREY WAGTAIL, Robin, Jackdaw and Goldcrest noted.
BOIS MILL POND held the 3 Mute Swans and a single Coot whilst the LATIMER FIELDS, flooded extensively from the recent heavy rain, held 53 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans and 23 Mallard. At LATIMER PLACE, 1-2 Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Robin, Great Tit, Wren, Common Magpie (3), Red Kite, Goldfinch (12), Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch were all recorded, whilst the main event on LATIMER GREAT WATER was the exceptional number of SINENSIS CORMORANT present - a record five birds (an adult and 4 immatures). Other waterbirds included 30 Coot, just 7 Mute Swans (two first-years), 1 Moorhen, 2 Grey Heron and 2 Mallard and a host of roosting gulls, including a single adult Argenteus Herring, 3 adult Common and 133 Black-headed. Other species encountered included Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Rook (2), Common Buzzard, Song Thrush (in full song) and Coal Tit. The section of the CHESS between NEPTUNES FALLS and LATIMER BRIDGE yielded an additional 3 adult Mute Swans, 4 Mallard, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Moorhen, 4 Coot and 2 Wren.
No luck again with Little Owl at STOCKERS FARM - in fact not much to be found at all - 2 Meadow Pipits, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, 8 House Sparrows, just 1 Redwing, 13 Woodpigeon and 53 Black-headed Gulls.

At TROY MILL GP, peripheral species in and around the brook included Song Thrush, Wren, Common Blackbird, 3 Common Magpie, KINGFISHER and GREY WAGTAIL, with the main pit producing 3 Grey Heron, 83 Coot, 142 Tufted Duck, 33 Pochard and 14 Great Crested Grebe. On the county border at the RIVER COLNE, immediately north of BROADWATER SAILING CLUB, 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS were performing well, as well as a single COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (found by Andrew Moon and seen shortly later by John Edwards and I).

Images of the two Siberian Chiffchaffs below -:

and this single Colybitta

Ring-necked Parakeet numbers continue to increase with 25 now visiting gardens on a regular basis.


At STAINES MOOR, a pair of COMMON STONECHAT, 4 Ring-necked Parakeet, 2 Goldfinch and 5 Carrion Crows were seen, whilst at STAINES RESERVOIRS, the South Basin held 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBE, 17 Great Crested Grebe, 25 Gadwall, 46 Shoveler, 96 Tufted Duck, 85 Pochard, 13 Goldeneye and 24 Coot, with Meadow Pipit and 47 Fieldfare feeding on the west bank. The North Basin held a further 8 Great Crested Grebe, a SLAVONIAN GREBE on the NE shore, 18 Teal, 32 Gadwall, 36 Shoveler, 184 Wigeon, another 72 Tufted Duck and 11 more Goldeneye.

Fieldfares feeding on the West Bank

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

TREE SPARROWS holding up well

Another day dominated by heavy rain, resulting in ever more flooding and sodden ground everywhere; drier interludes later and temperatures at around 9 degrees C.
More local birding today, concentrating mainly in Hertfordshire.......
Once the torrential downpours had ceased, I wandered down to BURNHAM BEECHES NNR (BUCKS) to photograph MANDARIN DUCKS, just 12 being present today (7 drakes). Also 18 mallard, 1 Moorhen, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, LESSER REDPOLL and some very confiding Carrion Crows, one partially albinistic.
My first Eurasian Sparrowhawk of the year dashed across the A412 near WEST HYDE where on LYNSTERS FIELD, the escaped Cackling Goose was still present with 70 Atlantic Canadas. At neighbouring STOCKERS LAKE, wandering the Colne on the northern flank failed to yield any of the wintering Chiffchaffs - just the Australian Black Swan still, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 6 Wrens of note.
Over at TYTTENHANGER, the TREE SPARROW population was holding up well, with 24 at one site and 8 at another, as well as 6 Reed Buntings, 2 Yellowhammers, 8 Red-legged Partridge, 5 Meadow Pipits, 10 Chaffinch, 8 House Sparrow, 4 BULLFINCH, 2 Common Blackbirds and 8+ Common Magpies.
The rest of the day was spent at GREAT HARDMEAD LAKE, AMWELL NR, where neither the Bittern or female Bearded Tit put in an appearance. Highlight was the juvenile drake SMEW, hiding beneath the undergrowth of the island opposite Gladwin Hide - one of only two birds seen in the county this January and one of the worst winters overall for the species.
Otherwise, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 28 Sinensis Cormorant, 7 Mute Swans, 26 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Greylag Geese, 15 Mallard, 66 Gadwall, 41 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 16 Shoveler, 22 Tufted Duck, 4 Common Goldeneye, 114 Coot, 82 Lapwing, Water Rail, 54 Great Black-backed Gulls (in roost), 2 Jay, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, 9 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Greenfinch and 5 Reed Bunting.


Today's Images