A couple of hours in Watford Town centre at St.Mary's church pulling out the old bedding plants produced quitea good list for the location. A Coal Tit in with Blue and Great Tits, 2 Great-Spotted Woodpeckers, Grey Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit.
Went to the new attraction in Chiswell Green today and immediately found a Clouded Yellow butterfly! My first this year. A few Painted Ladies and a Peacock were noted and as for the birds a mixed flock (40+) of Goldfinches and Linnets were feeding on the seed heads. A couple of Meadow Pipits overhead and 1 Grey Heron and 2 Buzzards were the other avian highlights. And lastly another Clouded Yellow.
2 RAF planes overhead, 2 photos of the Redstart. Bit blurry as they were digi-binned using my girlfriends head as a rest!!
My first visit to my old local patch in nearly 2 years was very much worth it with the discovery of a fem/juv Redstart. It was frequenting a hedge just left of the 2nd cattle grid along the main path just before the path becomes private and you have to turn right towards Aldenham. Looking at my old records for the estate its only the 2nd record with the last being a male reported to me in May 1990!
Other highlights were a female Shoveler on the small pool by the pumping station. Again Looking back at the records it becomes only the 8th record following a male from Jan 95- Mar 96, 3 male and a female in Nov 2001 and a pair in Jun 2001.
16 Teal on the same pool, 5 Chiffchaffs and a female Kestrel around the pumping station and at least 12 RN Parakeets ,10 of which were around where the Redstart was. It was trying to show my girlfriend these that I found the Redstart.
Whilst preparing a cricket wicket at KGV Playing Fileds in West Watford I heard my 2nd singing Chiffchaff in 2 days. It was singing from adjacent gardens. 6 RN Parakeets flew over and that was about it!
1 of loads of Grey Plovers, 2 Oystercatchers, Red Admiral Butterfly and a Cormorant.
Headed back down to the future in-laws on friday afternoon with the hope of making a visit to Dungeness at some point. But unfortunately I never made it due to the fact I couldn't be arsed to get out of bed early enough!! I had to make do with a few hours at nearby Riverside CP which in the end didn't really produce anything of note, the highlight being a Hobby putting up the waders on the Medway.
Worse was still to come as I checked my pager once I was back at the future mother-in-laws house and saw that an Alpine Swift was at Aldenham Reservoir which is less than 10 minutes from home! I recieved a frantic call from Joan Thompson telling me to get down there but I replied i'm in Kent!
Thankfully it's already on my Herts list with a flyover bird I self-found at my old local patch of the Mundens Estate on 7th May 1992, which is probably around a mile from Aldenham Res as the crow flies. Unfortunately it wasn't accepted by the rarity panel but I know what I saw!!
The day before my Norfolk break a juvenile Black Tern appeared at Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire, nothing amazing there I hear you say but it was then reported as possibly being a bird of the American race. A short while later it was confirmed that it was indeed an AMERICANBLACK TERN only the 3rd for GB. What was more amazing was that it was present with a juv White-Winged Black Tern and a juv Black Tern! Unfortunately I had no time to get there before dark and was off to Norfolk in the morning. The chances of it staying were remote so I resigned myself to dipping them.
Some how though they were all still present on Thursday morning and so I decided to go for them.
On arrival it was clear that it was a tad windy (near gale force!) and as usual they were at the far end of the causeway and the far side of the reservoir! However I walked up and sat on the slope of the reservoir and was rewarded with amazing once in a lifetime views of 3 species of black tern in 1 scope view! I somehow managed to get some photos of the birds though with the wind and distance they aren't exactly amazing!
Also present with them was a juv Arctic Tern and when walking back to the car I looked overhead for a migrating Osprey but to no avail. That flew over about 2 hours after i'd left! And the journey there and back was enlightened by numerous Red Kites.
News this morning is that all 3 terns have finally left so I was very jammy indeed.
This was my 4th lifer in 4 visits to Farmoor the others being Franklin's Gull, Sabine's Gull and Buff-Bellied Pipit. Any of those in Herts would be nice!
Gulls on Yarmouth beach, Woodpigeon and Linnet at Winterton, storm clouds over Hemsby and a Herring Gull at Caister.
An early morning start was brightened up with a garden tick in the form of a Ring-NeckedParakeet (heard) at 7am. Then c.3 hours later we'd arrived in Norfolk and immediately over the caravan we were staying in in Hemsby were 10+ Swallows and half a dozen Swifts.
Sunday arrived and being my birthday I decided to relax and do a bit of birding. While sitting on the steps of the caravan my first Tree Pipit of the year flew South then West inland calling as it went. This was followed later by a Sparrowhawk hunting the local Starlings.
An early evening visit to Winterton Dunes provided 2 more year ticks. 4 dark morph ArcticSkuas offshore harrassing the terns and 1+ Crossbill that flew South along the dunes and then evaded me in the dunes themselves. Also noted were 1 Swift, an adult Great Black-Backed Gull on the beach, a manky looking Yellowhammer, 2 Wheatears , a few Gannets at sea and a Grey Seal a few feet offshore.
On Monday a beach cricket game at Caister-on-Sea with my son saw 2 Ringed Plovers interrupt the game briefly as they flew South! While later in the day a wander around Horsey Gap saw 1+ Stonechat, 3 Kestrels and 4 Whitethroats.
Tuesday morning and another visit to Winterton Dunes unfortunately didn't produce any hoped for Spotted/Pied Flycatchers or Whinchats but a Lesser Whitethroat did show very well in the brambles until a dog walker flushed it just as I was trying to photograph it with my new digital camera. A birthday present to myself!
Finally 7 adult winter Mediterranean Gulls were on the beach in Great Yarmouth, again nearly photographed until 2 kids flushed them! Another Ringed Plover over the swimming pool and a Swift over.
Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! I keep 2 main lists which can be seen above.