Friday, 3 January 2014

A day birding the COLNE VALLEY

Another deep low pressure system crossed most of the UK overnight and today bringing with it very strong winds and heavy rain interspersed with hail and thunder; temperatures hovered around 5 degrees C. Over 48 severe flood warnings were in operation.
I concentrated my efforts today in HERTFORDSHIRE, spending all day in the COLNE VALLEY. A total of 54 species was recorded...
First thing at CHAFFINCH HOUSE feeders, Coal Tit, 10 Blue Tits and 18 Common Starlings were noted, whilst in a very sodden CHESS VALLEY, 5 Little Egrets were in the vicinity of CHURCH COVERT but no Great White Egret again.
An initial visit to LYNSTER'S FARM, WEST HYDE, saw 70 Atlantic Canada Geese, 57 Greylag Geese, 36 Feral Pigeon and 8 Common Magpie.
With a respite from the heavy rain, I quickly relocated to the STOCKER'S LAKE COMPLEX, spending a lot of time studying the four wintering CHIFFCHAFFS on the Colne, ranging up to 150 yards west of the bench and lifebuoy, most often in the vicinity of fishing platform 24 (see pic). The tightly-knit group comprise of one very pale tristis (SIBERIAN), two pale abietinus (SCANDINAVIAN) and 1 colybitta (COMMON) - a selection of images following below, kind courtesy of Andrew Moon and Paul Lewis.

Scandinavian Chiffchaff 1 (Paul Lewis)

Scandinavian Chiffchaff 2 (Paul Lewis)

Siberian Chiffchaff (Paul Lewis)

Siberian Chiffchaff (Andrew Moon)

Scandinavian Chiffchaff 1 (Lee G R Evans)

The starting point at the bench..

....walk west from here for 80 yards to view the overhanging Willows opposite fishing platform 24

 This immediate area of the Colne produced 6 Wrens, Common Magpie, up to 10 Common Blackbird, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, several Woodpigeon, 6 Great Tit, 5 Blue Tit, 10 Long-tailed Tit, several Robin, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, a single LESSER REDPOLL, Moorhen, Coal Tit, 6 Redwing and COMMON KINGFISHER, whilst the Lake proper yielded 3 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 26 Mute Swan, a single Australian Black Swan, 1 Greylag Goose, 116 Atlantic Canada Geese, 37 Sinensis Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 124 Gadwall, 103 Shoveler, 58 Wigeon, 206 Tufted Duck, 86 Northern Pochard, 8 RED-CRESTED POCHARD (5 drakes), 2 Common Goldeneye, 216 Coot, 10 Moorhen, 116 lapwing and a number of Black-headed, Common, Argenteus Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

 BURY LAKE (part of the RICKMANSWORTH AQUADROME LNR complex) harboured 1 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Mute Swan, 8 Mallard, 6 Tufted Duck and 18 Coot whilst during a very heavy hailstorm, the STOCKERS FARM FLOOD held 32 Atlantic Canada Geese, 130 Black-headed Gulls, 40 Common Starlings, 26 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare.

 The House Sparrow population at the canal bridge numbered 19 whilst 6 Ring-necked Parakeets were in the general area. The walk along the southern side of STOCKERS LAKE added a NUTHATCH not far from the canal bridge, Green Woodpecker, 22 SISKIN and Common Treecreeper.
I then returned to LYNSTER'S FARM with Paul Lewis where the Cackling Goose was again present, a pair of Egyptian Geese, 2 Stock Dove and a GREEN SANDPIPER



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