2 photos of the twitch. Getting a shot of the bird was a bit beyond my camera skills!!
Unfortunately not in Herts but 260 miles away in Co.Durham. I went to bed at 10.30pm on Friday and woke up at 2am Saturday morning picked up Brendan Glynn from just down the road and drove for just over 4 hours in showery rain (made worse by a noisy wiper!). We arrived at Trow Quarry near South Shields just as dawn was breaking and thankfully it remained virtually dry during our visit.
We joined 3-400 other birders in an anxious wait to see if the bird had stayed overnight. Thankfully at around 8.30 it was refound and on and off for the next hour we all watched the UK's first EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER as it flitted around the few trees and bushes occasionaly chased around by a Yellow-Browed Warbler. We left happy but had a quick seawatch and noted a Redshank flying North, 5 Turnstones and a Red-Throated Diver close in shore.
On the journey back we hit the main lot of rain which had been predicted in Durham earlier but thankfully was late. The rain was so hard the noisy wiper was on full a couple of times. I was just too knackered to go for a Red-Flanked Bluetail at Bempton and I sat down back at home with a cuppa at 4pm after 11 hours and 560 miles!
Another day in the park saw a few good birds. A group of 6 Lesser Redpolls flew over near Cha Cha cafe mid morning aswell as 3 Siskins dotted around. 3 Cormorants also flew low over the paddling pools possibly even thinking about landing! 3 Grey Wagtails and 5 Ring-NeckedParakeets were noted aswell.
I spent the morning helping cleaning out the pond at the top of the high street. A mucky job was interspersed with a Grey Wagtail flitting around the rooftops, 18 Mallards and 4 Moorhens on the pond and 3 Skylarks and a Meadow Pipit flying over.
It was a day of Grey Wagtails as 1 flew over Watford Fields, 1 over Oxhey Village and 3 over Langley Way towards Cassiobury Park with a 4th landing on the roof of Martin's convenience store. Also a Siskin over towards the park.
A day in the park had a few highlights. A Brambling flew out over my head from the Meadow area which also held a Lesser Redpoll in with a small flock of Goldfinch and Siskin. A flock of 20 RN Parakeets was the biggest i'd seen in Herts. 2 Sparrowhawks, 3 Grey Herons, 3 Grey Wagtails a fly over Cormorant, 37 Redwings, 24 Meadow Pipits and a pair of Teal on the cress beds were also seen.
A couple of hours this morning saw a Siskin fly over the car park and 4 Lesser Redpolls both the first of the Autumn period. Probably the strangest site was of 10 Song Thrushes all flying out of 1 small bush in the NE corner! Also of note were a Muntjac,Small Copper and an EmporerDragonfly.
After finding out that the Hooded Merganser I saw at Chilham in Kent in December 2005 has been accepted to catergory A of the British list (nice armchair tick) the Surrey Brown Shrike becomes my 400th BOU tick!
Nothing much to shout about today with just a Sparrowhawk over the Dome roundabout heading towards Garston, 4+ Jays on the green outside my house screeching away at each other and a RN Parakeet heard flying past my living room window!
An early morning stroll around the reservoir was quite productive with 133 Redwings and 7 Fieldfares flying overhead with a Snipe flushed from just left of the hide, a male Blackcap and 5 Swallows giving a slight summery feel to the chilly morning. A couple of Reed Buntings and a Bullfinch were also seen.
The same photo of the 1st Winter Brown Shrike just zoomed up a little and a sunset over the moor!
Well where do I start. A Red-Backed Shrike at Staines Moor in Surrey came onto my pager and as I'm off for the week I was tempted to go and see it but other things cropped up and I couldn't get down. I then had to go food shopping at Asda and as I don't get any signal on my pager I decided to leave it in the car. When I got in the car I realised I get no signal in there either! It was only when I got home and had started cooking dinner that I got the message - Surrey repeat: BROWN SHRIKE still Staines Moor! It wasn't a Red-Backed and i'd missed the MEGA alert. I started my dinner but didn't finish it as it was late and I had the M25 to drive at rush hour.
5.45pm and I was on site and managed 1 photo before it flew to another bush. As I was going round to get another look I suddenly realised i'd dropped my camera somewhere! As everyone else was watching the bird I was looking for my camera! Thankfully Joan Thompson had picked it up. Phew!
Then to add insult to injury I got back to my car and shut my keys in the boot! Thankfully I had unlocked it first and got in via the back seat. What a nightmare!
Just one of the Red Kites in and around the field and 5 photos of the Azorean Gull showing different bits of plumage and the dark head and strange bill.
The journey home took at while longer than usual as I took a detour to the village of Appleford in Oxfordshire in the hopes of adding another lifer to the list. Once I found somewhere to park and once the slowest level crossing in the world had lifted I ran to a small pool next to the local tip and almost immediately got onto the bird. There infront of me was an adult AZOREANYELLOW-LEGGED GULL. Its dark heavily flecked head, strange shaped and coloured bill and pale eye giving it a quite evil look about it. But just as I was about to get a photo of it it took off and flew to a nearby field. 5 minutes later and I was watching it again from a footpath next to the field. It was with large flock of other gulls but was quite easily picked out while it preened. I managed a few photos but as usual with ditance and heat haze they aren't great!
The last day was spent doing a mixture of relaxing and packing. But I still managed to do 15 minutes birding in the garden viewed from the back door. The highlight of the day and the week was a cracking Firecrest that appeared in the Elder tree but unfortunately it soon moved on. The Marsh Tit popped back again but was equally as brief.
The afternoon was spent in glorious sunshine at the village of Clovelly. The steep cobbled street was a bit tough on the knees but the views were well worth it. After seeing the village we walked the Hobby walk for 1.5 miles to the viewpoint to look over the village quay and beach. The following was seen along the walk.
4 Ravens, 4 Buzzards including a very white pale morph which got the pulses racing for a second! A female Kestrel and a female Bullfinch.
Another scan of the garden added Goldcrest, Treecreeper and a Marsh Tit before we went shopping in Barnstaple. After shopping we went to Fremington to walk along the Tarka Trail to Isley Marsh in the hope of seeing the 3 Spoonbills that frequented the area. Unfortunately it was low tide when we arrived and they weren't there! 10 Little Egrets were though along with a fly-by Kingfisher and a screeching Water Rail.
A day trip up to Hartland Point was very nice and even quite hot with the sunny weather. Unfortunately I didn't find the Indigo Bunting i'd dreamt about but lots of Meadow Pipits and a Stonechat were seen as were a few Gannets between the point and Lundy Island. A Shag on the rocks below was a year tick. 4 Bullfinches flushed on the way home down the narrow lanes were nice.
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.