Friday, 16 May 2014


Another glorious day with temperatures even higher than yesterday's - 23 degrees C at one point this afternoon
Following a call from Steve Blake, astounded to see a family party of COMMON GOLDENEYE at SPRINGWELL LAKE (situated adjacent to the Stockers Lake complex) with Geoff Lapworth, John Edwards and JT mid morning, the first-ever such occurrence I have witnessed in Southern England (Goldeneye primarily being a breeder on the Scottish lochs). At the time (0930 hours), the female was accompanying 7 small ducklings (see pix below) but sadly by midday, just 4 remained (survived), after 3 were observed being taken by Pike. An amazing record and one of less than five such occurrences away from Northern England and Scotland.

A reasonable selection of birds encountered at SPRINGWELL, with the Mute Swans with just 1 surviving cygnet, 8 Greylag Geese, 12 Tufted Duck, drake Pochard, Coots with young (6 nests), 2 Common Tern, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 singing Western Reed Warbler, 2 Common Chiffchaff and a single male Garden Warbler.

I then made a visit to TOTTERNHOE KNOLLS where the undoubted highlight was a purring male EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE - my first of the year. A total of 11 MAN ORCHID spikes was also apparent, while Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Whitethroat (3), Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Goldfinch and Greenfinch complemented the list.

Nearby, 2 CORN BUNTINGS were along WELLHEAD ROAD - one of the few reliable sites left for this declining species in the area.


At MILL FARM MEADOWS (CHESS VALLEY), 5 male Common Whitethroats were on territory, with another at neighbouring FROGMORE MEADOW, as well as 3 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Another Amwell TURNSTONE

Rain at first but then warm and sunny, with temperatures increasing to 18.5 degrees C. Short-lived though, as by mid-afternoon, gale force SW winds had set in, cooling things down and making birding rather unpleasant
Joined Darrel Bryant, Jay Ward and Barry Reed at AMWELL WATCHPOINT early afternoon, where a cracking summer-plumaged TURNSTONE was showing very well feeding amongst emergent vegetation on one of the closer islands, exactly the same location as one last year. A Common Sandpiper was in the same area too, as well as a migrant Ringed Plover and 3 displaying Little Ringed Plovers.

Plenty of other activity too, with Mute Swan (pair), Great Crested Grebe (2 pairs), Sinensis Cormorant (67+, with many young being fed in the nests), Grey Heron (12, again young being fed in the nest), Little Egret (3), Canada Geese, Mallard, Gadwall (4), Shoveler (two drakes & a female), Northern Pochard (5), Tufted Duck (31), Moorhen, Coot, Red Kite, HOBBY (2 over the distant wooded island), Common Tern (12), Black-headed Gull (55+, with several pairs on the rafts), Lesser Black-backed Gull (pair), Common Redshank (2), COMMON SWIFT (85+), House Martin (5), COMMON CUCKOO (1 calling), Sedge Warbler (singing male), Cetti's Warbler (1), GARDEN WARBLER (2 singing males), Common Whitethroat (singing male), Common Chiffchaff (singing male), Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit (pair), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Barn Swallow, and Reed Bunting (2).

At least 4 nests on one raft..

and at least 9 on the other - increasing breeding numbers of Black-headed Gulls in Herts

I then drove over to OXFORD, where in gale force winds, the first-year GLOSSY IBIS was feeding out on PORT MEADOW, on a small pool 250 yards north of the main flood. Also HOBBY and 45 Common Swifts seen, as well as 9 Mute Swans

At FARMOOR RESERVOIRS, there was no sign of the summer-plumaged Spotted Sandpiper seen earlier; it had presumably moved back to the river again after being flushed