Went into North Watford to get a haircut but the 2 barbers I use were both shut but I did see distantly a flock of around 50-60 birds near where a flock of Waxwings was reported at Bruce Grove/St.Albans Road junction. Had a quck drive by but saw nothing. Later I went to Tyttenhanger but on arrival the fog was so thick I gave up and turned around! The highlight of the day was a Sheep wandering down Coursers Road not knowing where to go and with 5 cars behind it!!
A visit to town for some extra food included a walk past the pond at the top of town. On the only ice free part on the pond there was an incredible 63 Mallards. This is 3 times as many as usual and they are probably there for the bread and assorted crap that people throw in there!!
During work today I spotted around 5 Waxwings in St.Johns road around 10am then just before noon around 40 flew SE over St.Alban's road by the Vauxhall garage. Later in Cassiobury Park at 3pm 7 Ring-Necked Parakeets again flew SE over the council yard.
Firstly after all the recent Waxwings I decided to change my main picture for my blog and I have to thank Andrew Moon for allowing me to use his superb image. Cheers Andrew.
Secondly over the last two days quite large flocks of Ring-Necked Parakeets have flown over the council yard in Cassiobury Park. Yesterday 2 groups of 9 and 6 flew over just after 3pm and today at 3pm 19 flew over. Both times they were flying SE possibly to roost somewhere?
I eventually decided to brave the snow and pop over to my mums in North Watford to drop off some prezzies and to have a look for the Waxwings my mate Bob had found the day before just round the corner. Unfortunately there were only 5 birds present and not the 80+ seen first thing in the morning. Ah well you can't win em all!
While walking round to the post office in the snow to post some Christmas cards I looked up at the top of a lampost and casually announced to my other half oh look theres 2 Waxwings sat up there!! Surely i'm not getting blase about seeing them or at the moment finding them?!!
I then had a call from my mate Bob Harris saying that he was watching around 85 Waxwings from his flat on the road around the corner from my mum!
Well grass cutting in the rain in December when you feel like death warmed up isn't exactly the best way to spend a day at work but today it was. At 9.30 this morning I arrived to cut the grass in St.John's road play area opposite the Escourt Arms pub and on exiting the van I was greeted with the chorus of trilling. Waxwings!! Thinking it'll probably be another 7 as that seems to be as big a number I find at the moment (not that i'm complaining!!) but I looked up and the tops of the 2 biggest trees were covered in birds. First thing to do was count them as best I could and I finished on 133 birds with others that flew off it was probably nearer 150! This was far and away the biggest flock of Waxwings i'd seen not just in Herts but the UK and i'd found them! I phoned some local birders to let them know and put the news out on the pager. I popped back just after 2pm and found yes you guessed it just 7 left!! Len Goodman from strictly come dancing would have a field day!! SEVEN!
On arriving back at Cassiobury Park I once again heard that distinctive trilling and 2 more Waxwings flew over!
Whilst walking from the mess room to the loo in the council yard in Cassiobury Park I heard the distinctive trilling of Waxwings overhead. I quickly looked up and saw 7 birds flying East towards the town centre. Also present were c.50 Siskins still around the new hide and 5 Great-Spotted Woodpeckers including 2 drumming. A Kingfisher was in a fallen Willow tree between the rustic bridge and the waterfall.
7 Waxwings in the nearby tree, a close up of 2 of the birds and the Rowan tree.
Today was spent in Cassiobury Park and what a first couple of hours it was bird wise. Whilst in the council yard at 7.50am looming out of the mist at just above tree top height was a Raven with a mouthfull of something, only the 2nd ever record for the park! 10 minutes later a trilling call was heard and just overhead flew a Waxwing. This was the first record for the park since the 59 I found in 2005. Later on a Little Egret was on the river, 80 Siskins were in the Alders next to the new hide and nearby 2 Water Rails squealed away. On the cress beds were 3 Teal and a male Tufted Duck. The tufty was possibly the same bird seen on the fishing lake earlier in the year which was only the 9th record for the park. 2 Little Owls called to each other near the football pitches and just before lunch a Great-Spotted Woodpecker started drumming.
After work I tried looking for more Waxwings in Diamond Road but he 5 fully laden Rowan trees were birdless. I then thought i'd try my luck just around the corner from where I live where on Saturday I failed to locate Bob Cripps 2 Waxwings in a small yellow berried Rowan on the junction of Louvain Way and Poplar Close but as luck would have it as I approached the tree up flew a single bird and joined another 6 in a nearby tree. I rang Bob to let him know and after he'd seen them I raced home and dragged the missus out to see them as she'd been wanting to see one for a while now!! Unfortunately the photos I took were in fading light and so pretty rubbish!!
After my last post saying that it was unlikely that a Waxwing would be found in Vicarage Road cemetery, low and behold at 9.40am this morning while sharpening the pole saw we were using I suddenly realised that I was hearing the trilling call of a Waxwing and it was flying overhead!! I caught sight of it as it was heading away from me heading NW and was lost to view after flying over some houses. Shame it didn't want to stop off and eat some Yew berries!! It was my first of this species (my favourite) since 25 in Great Yarmouth 4 years ago.
Well as you may have noticed theres not been an update for a while. Mainly due to the fact i've not been anywhere as it's either been dark once i've finished work or last weekend I had my son over and it was too cold to drag him anywhere!
This week i've been in Vicarage Road Cemetary every day clearing snow from paths and reducing the hedges at the front and back. With the weather as it's been the birds have flocked in to feed on the berries and numbers have been impressive (by cemetary standards anyway)!
4 species of thrush have been seen with at least 6 Mistle Thrushes and a couple of Fieldfares but Redwings are numbering in the 50's and Blackbirds into double figures. A few Goldfinch and Greenfinch drop in as do a few Jays. At least twice this week a Sparrowhawk has zoomed in and put everything up but then been mobbed by crows. But there have been no signs or sounds of any Waxwings and theres not likely to be as most of the berries have gone! Unless they eat Yew berries?!!
2 photos and a bit of video of the Pied-Billed Grebe.
After not going to Cornwall for the American Bittern for a variety of reasons I was just having lunch at work when the MEGA alert went off saying that another American species had been found in Greater Manchester. So Saturday morning myself and the missus set off for Hollingworth Lake NR near Rochdale. Only trouble was that the M1 was shut at junction 20 and the M6 was partially closed at junction 13!! So either way it was gonna take longer than expected. I chose the M6 and when we reached the accident we could see just why it was partially closed, an articulated lorry had left the road and ploughed through the hedge and into a tree and down an embankment. We arrived on site at 11.30 and walked around to the area where the bird was favouring and immediately got onto the bird. There sat out of the water was my first ever PIED-BILLED GREBE. Typically though it decided that an hour sat out of the water was enough and went off fishing no sooner as I was trying to get a photo hence why I managed just 2 slightly blurry photos!! It then showed well for the next 30 minutes before we headed off for the loo and a warm cuppa! Other birds of note were fly over Lesser Redpolls and Siskin and on the car park feeders 2 Coal Tits and a lovely male Bullfinch but a brief Marsh Tit was another year tick.
The only bird of note was a Little Egret that was forced down by a heavy shower at 2.30pm. The strange thing was though that it was about 1/4 mile from the river where they are usually seen. It was in the grass by the Stratford Road entrance but then flew off towards towards the river.
A pager message saying that 3 Bearded Tits were at Amwell NR had me panicking as I still need them for my Herts list. Unfortunately I couldn't go straight away and I eventually arrived at 12.45pm. At the viewpoint were Barry Reed, Graham White and another birder so I asked Graham if there was any news to which he replied 1 had flown off 5 minutes ago but your best bet is to go to the James hide and view from there. I only had around an hour before I had to be back home and in that time I didn't see or hear any sign of the other 2 birds.
4 Water Rail, Kingfisher, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Siskin, Cetti's Warbler, Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard were seen while waiting.
The 2 remaining beardies were seen the next day! Bugger!!
On arriving at work this morning I stepped out of the car and almost immediately heard the call of Pink-Footed Goose somewhere to the NW of the council yard. Unfortunately it was still dark and so I was unable to see how many there were and in what direction it/they were flying!! I've just checked the records for Cassiobury Park and this is the first ever record and becomes the 146th species recorded in the park and Whippendell Woods.
Part of the day was spent at the council depot in Oxhey picking up bedding plants for planting around the town. Whilst there around 9am a flock of 200+ Fieldfares zoomed overheard. In the afternoon 3 Lesser Redpolls flew over and there was at least 5 Ring-Necked Parakeets in the area but probably more.
After waking up later than I wanted at 9.50am we left our hotel and popped in for a cuppa at my dads and to wish him a happy birthday. We then went to Lowestoft for my first visit to Sparrows Nest Park. Prior to coming up a Red-Flanked Bluetail had spent a few days at Waxham but had gone on the Thursday. Thankfully on checking my pager just after waking up another had been found a few miles down the road! On arrival another birder said it had been seen 10 minutes ago and not long after I re-found it. A brief view and then nothing for 10 minutes until I re-found it again but for even less time. It eventually showed well for 20 seconds but that was enough for my 3rd in the UK and we headed off back to Great Yarmouth and a quick visit to the cemetary in the hope of finding a Yellow-Browed Warbler and Firecrest but some Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were all that were seen! A Lesser Redpoll flew over aswell.
Photos of the adult and adult with juv in bottom right hand corner.
As it was my dads 60th birthday on the sunday myself and the missus went up to Norfolk earlyish on Saturday and as we had a couple of hours to kill we went to my local Norfolk patch of Winterton-on-Sea. Barbara (my other half) sat in the car for some kip and I did an hours seawatching from the car park. Almost immediately 9 Dark Bellied Brent Geese flew North close in and these were followed by another 90 during the hour. Gannets were in good numbers but always distant. 8 Red-Throated Divers were on the sea, 20 Pintail, 29 Wigeon, 4 Guillemot, 3 Kittiwake and a drake Eider flew past but the highlights were my first Arctic Skua of the year and the best bird of the day which flew North albeit a bit distant at 1.40pm which was a juvenile Sabine's Gull. This was only my 2nd in the UK and so was a great find.
Afterwards we went to get some lunch at Poppylands cafe in Horsey and was informed of 3 Common Cranes in the field opposite. I went and got my bins out of the car and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was 2 adults and a juvenile (my first ever juv). After a cuppa I attempted to get a photo of the birds but an adult had walked out of view and the juv had sat down and only its head was showing. 3 Swallows also flew over.
If your wondering about the title of this post then let me explain! Later in the evening as a birthday surprise we all went to Yarmouth stadium for a night at the dogs. Race 5 dog number 2 was called Small Crane! Surely an omen? So £2 to win was placed and it romped home winning me £5.40!!
After being ill for most of my second weeks holiday I finally felt alive enough for a couple of hours birding. I chose Wilstone as I had to pick up my son from school in Kings Langley on the way home. On arrival a Little Egret flew over the car park as did a couple of Skylarks. At the top of the steps I bumped into Dave Bilcock who told me to look over the edge of the reservoir and I will see a Rock Pipit! So I did and I did!!
A scan of the water found 9 Pintail and 5 Golden Plover were on the exposed mud. I wandered round to the hide and had a couple of Siskins fly over and along the path to the hide a Goldcrest was in with a tit flock and a female Bullfinch flashed by and another was calling nearby.
From the hide a Snipe and a Green Sandpiper were feeding on the mud on Drayton Bank and the pair of feral Whooper Swans were still present. Whilst walking around the back of the reservoir a pair of Yellowhammer were near Rushy Meadow and a Cetti's Warbler burst into song nearby. A Buzzard was sat on the roof of a barn and 3 Redwing flew over. A field by the dry canal held at least 50 Meadow Pipits but the crop was just too high to see the birds properly! Just before getting back to the car park a flock of at least 72 Golden Plover flew in, landed for 2 minutes the nflew off again towards Startops Res. Once back in the car park a Swallow flew over.
On the way home we popped to Clarks outlet centre in Street to appease the missus!! But unfortunately i'd come down with a cold so couldn't really appreciate the shops!!!! Once we'd finished there we visited Meare Heath NR in the hope of seeing at least 1 of the 2 Great WhiteEgrets that were present. Eventually we found the car park and got the last parking space. We wandered up the track stopping to ask a couple of birders if they had seen them. They had seen an egret sp but not sure what one it was. I then found this bird and it was a Little Egret. Whilst waiting 2 Siskins flew over, at least 3 Cetti's Warblers were singing a Water Rail screeched from the reeds and a Bittern flew over the path a bit further along. At least 5 Buzzards were overhead giving great views. I said to the missus i'll give it till 1pm then we'll go. At 12.58pm right at the back of the reeds 2 large white birds took flight and flew towards us eventually being lost to view heading over the car park towards Ham Wall RSPB. Hooray it was the 2 Great White Egrets and just in the nick of time!! These were the first i'd seen in the UK for 2 years and were my 5th and 6th of the species.
Once back at home pager messages told me of a Common Crane that flew over the site at3pm and then 3 Cattle Egrets over at 5pm!!
With the possibility of seeing some good birds we travelled down to the lake. On the way a Raven flew over us near the village of Cross. We popped into Woodford Lodge for our permits and then first port of call was Herons Green Bay. There was a large number of birds to be seen from the layby starting off with another 2 Ravens overhead. Little and Great-Crested Grebes were in good numbers along with numerous ducks. All of a sudden while scanning through them I picked up 1 of the 3 male Ferruginous Ducks on the lake. I got my camera ready and just as I was about to take a photo it flew off and out of sight!! Across the road were 2 Snipe and 4 Green Sandpipers on the small pool.
Next stop was the hide at Stratford Bay. From here it was obvious that picking out any of the other Ferruginous Ducks would be tricky as there were many hundreds of ducks but I gave it a go and 15 minutes later I mangaed to pick one out on the far side though it was mainly spending its time asleep. The 4th Raven of the day flew over and 3 Black-Necked Grebes were also seen. 8 Little Egrets were dotted around the lake.
The 2 Fudge Ducks were the first i'd seen in the UK for 7 years and take my tally to 6 birds.
As i'm off for 2 weeks me and the missus decided to have a weekend away down in Somerset. Our base was East Brent in a lovely B&B. We had a quick wander around Weston-super-Mare and saw 3 Rock Pipits and a Sparrowhawk. Another Sparrowhawk was seen over the car as we arrived back at the B&B.
After purchasing some new walking boots and waterproof trousers I was up early and arrived at the reservoir at just gone 7.30am. Visible migration was very much the order of the day with some fairly impressive numbers (well for the Watford area anyway!!). A full list is below.
For those who read my blog I do apologise with the lack of updates. This is mainly because ive not seen much!
After waiting 6 days for my walking boots to finally dry out after the Blakeney monsoon I waterproofed them and went for a wander around Hilfield reservoir. Unfortunately after walking just 100ft or so through the long grass I realised my boots had given up the ghost and were leaking again!! Undeterred I walked all the way around and saw the following.
At least 48 Meadow Pipits flying south and they were the ones I saw as there were others only heard. A Ring-Necked Parakeet, 8 Chiffchaffs (including 2 in song), 40+ Swallow and a male Kestrel.
I spent the day in Vicarage Road cemetary digging 2 graves for next week and during the day spotted the following. 4 Cormorants flew over along with 10 Swallows flying SW infront of the rain. 2 Ring-Necked Parakeets were also noted and 2 juv Woodpigeons.
My first Redwings of the Autumn in Herts were 2 flying over Oxhey Grange bowls club this morning with a Sparrowhawk over aswell. A leucistic juvenile Woodpigeon was looking ill around the edge of the green aswell.
2 photos of the 'Alder' Flycatcher, large waves and a sunbathing Common Seal!!
Up at 4am, in the car and off to Norfolk at 5am along with Joan Thompson, Phil Busby and Chris Sharp (nice to meet you!) Arrived at Cley beach car park and was nearly blown off my feet by the gale force wind!! Joan decided to take the boat from Morston to Blakeney Point but the 3 of us decided to walk (must be mad). With the 3 miles of shingle and strong wind it took 90 minutes to reach the plantation (7 or so trees!). After a short wait the bird popped into view and did so on and off for the hour or so we were there but as you can see from the photos above it didn't always perch out in the open too long although the pro's managed some good pics. The bird in question is an American member of the Empidonax flycatcher family but are very difficult to seperate in the field. It's most likely an Alder Flycatcher which is the same as the only previous UK record, the Cornwall bird 2 years ago. After seeing this bird my first Redstart of the year was seen nearby and 2 Wheatears and some Gannets were seen on the way back.
Once poor Joan had struggled back to the car soaked to the skin like the rest of us I informed her of a Bonelli's Warbler at nearby Wells Woods. We arrived and wandered into the dell. An hour of chasing around and all i'd seen were 2 Pied Flycatchers (year tick) and 2 GardenWarblers and a few Redwings. But in the end I saw the warbler but only in flight for 2 seconds so couldn't count it! Just after that a Siskin flew over.
It was a day of Jays today with 20+ seen around the park including a flock of 12 that flew over. 2 Meadow Pipits, 18 Canada Geese and a Grey Wagtail also flew over and a male Sparrowhawk flew along the river. The warm weather made a Chiffchaff start singing briefly!
There was only 1 bird of note today and what a goody it was. Around 11.30am while driving down to the toilets a small passerine flew up from near the log benches and lone Cedar tree on the hill. It was a fem/juv Wheatear but no sooner had I seen it then a Yorkshire Terrier got a bit too close and the bird flew up up and away over towards Whippendell Woods and was lost to view. It was only the 4th Wheatear in the park since 1938!!
I woke up at 9.45am had a stretch and checked the pager only to find a Wryneck had been found at Tyttenhanger GP's. I'd managed to miss the last twitchable one in Herts at Norton Green by about an hour so I shot over only to find that the original finder had only had a few seconds view was that was the only sighting. A county tick gone a begging! The only birds of note were a flyover Yellow Wagtail, a Hobby over the main pit and a Meadow Pipit over head while walking back to the car.
And just now while getting the washing in 2 Swallows flew North and 3 Meadow Pipits flew West.
A day top dressing the cricket square was livened up when a Hobby flew NE through the park. 3 Meadow Pipits also headed South along with c.75 Swallows though 1 of them decided to head North! 8 House Martins were still present flying over the car park and neighbouring houses. 2 flocks of Woodpigeon flew South early on totalling 20 birds and a Sparrowhawk was seen distantly to the East end of the park.
A day out in Essex with the family mainly for fresh air and an ice cream (but on the look out for 'Rossi' the Ring-Billed Gull) but unfortunately he didn't want to be seen. Instead 5 Mediterranean Gulls (3 ad winter, 2nd winter and a juv) and another 12 Little Egrets were seen.
Before heading homeI thought I would try to catch up with 1 of the Ospreys that was hanging around Bowling Green Marsh RSPB in Topsham. On arrival in the hide another birder told me that it had been seen earlier flying off then another birder by the viewpoint said that 2 had flown off even earlier! Birds that were seen included 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Pintails, 2 Barnacle Geese, LRP and a Dunlin but it was the 34 LittleEgrets that were the highlight for me as it meant that i'd passed through the 1000 barrier of the species in the UK!! 3 more were seen nearby and finally a Red Kite over the M25 in Bucks on the final leg of the journey home.
A few hours walking around Torquay for a cream tea and to enjoy the sun also saw a Peregrine fly over Tor Bay. After reading of some migrants at Sharkham Point near Brixham the previous evening I was quite hopeful of seeing something good. Unfortunately the highlight was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth very briefly on some buddlea. Just 5 Chiffchaffs and a couple of Gannets offshore were noteworthy! On the way back to the b&b near Buckfastleigh I had a quick look on the river Dart for Dippers but just 5 Grey Wagtails were seen on the adjacent sewage works.
The male Cirl Bunting, adult and juv White Wagtail and a strange fly? Answers on a postcard!!
As it's my birthday today and the fact that a potential 1st for Britain was only just down the road the decision was made to try and see it. Finally after driving for what seemed forever through the tiny country lanes we made it to the lovely village of East Prawle. After asking one of the locals where the Old Cider House was I made my way down and waited by the gate for 20 minutes or so and then from above my head a bird flew out of one bush and into an Elderberry. There sat on top was the red male HOUSE FINCH. A potential first for Britain but some say that it's not normally known for long distance migration and it probably got a lift across the Atlantic on a boat and therefore can't be counted. It was a nice looking bird and is now an insurance tick and in the future hopefully an armchair tick!! There was also plenty of Swallows and HouseMartins flying around. Next stop was about a miles walk though with all the hills it felt longer. Prawle Point is owned by the National Trust and is home to the lovely looking Cirl Buntings. The field next to the small car park had around a dozen White Wagtails and 2 Yellow Wagtails in it. A walk east along the coast path saw nothing more than a Buzzard and a Kestrel but on the way back suddenly there was a male Cirl Bunting sat on some bracken. This was followed by a female and 3 juveniles. (photos to come). On the way back a pair of Stonechats were feeding a juv and my second Clouded Yellow butterfly in two days flew past. A quick loo stop in Kingsbridge produced a Little Egret on the estuary.
As yesterday was spent travelling down to Devon and then getting some sleep, today was spent in Dawlish. A half hour boat ride just offshore saw a lot of Shags with some Cormorants, a couple of Fulmars but a Peregrine on the cliff face was the highlight. Later a wander round Dawlish Warren produced 2 year ticks in the shape of a Greenshank and a few Bar-Tailed Godwits. A single Knot was seen with a few Sanderling and 22 Little Egrets were scattered over the estuary. A Clouded Yellow butterfly was seen on the walk back to the car park and was my first of the year.
Visiting a few sites around Watford today saw the following. A female Grey Wagtail was in the council depot at Wiggenhall Road. A juv Woodpigeon was seen at Paddock Road allotments along with 5 Ring-Necked Parakeets.
Just after i'd finished cutting the bowling green at Callowland Rec I looked up to the skies to see what sort of helicopter (i'm not a saddo plane spotter you know!!) was flying over when my eyes diverted to a Swift that was flying SW. Not my latest in Herts but nearly up there. Later a juv Woodpigeon was seen in vicarage road cemetary.
The Parakeet and the awful Buzzard photo (but as my boy was proud to find it i've included it for him!)
After deciding not to go to the bird fair as I knew i'd spend money I don't have myself and my son and mum had a couple of hours over my old local patch hoping to repeat last years Redstart find. Unfortunately the visit didn't produce anything quite so good and I didn't even find the best bird of the day as while trying to photograph the Ring-Necked Parakeet (see above) my 7 year old son Tom said "theres a big black bird up there" and into view loomed a Common Buzzard which is also photographed but is probably the worst picture you could ever see!! Other birds of note were a Great-Black Backed Gull, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, a dozen Swallows, Sparrowhawk which put up at leaset 300 Woodpigeons and on the Otterspool were 2 Gadwall, 9 Teal and 2 Tufted Ducks which were the 11th and 12th record for the site.
Spent the entire day at the far East end (top) of the park weeding and dead heading the flower beds. Birds seen/heard during the time up there were a flyover Grey Wagtail, a Sparrowhawk that got all the other birds upset and a Goldcrest.
5 year ticks were up for grabs but unfortunately only 1 of them was seen! 6 Garganey were seen from the viewing ramp ( the most i've seen at once) but there was at least another 7 that were hding in amongst the other all brown ducks and were most likely asleep! There was also a few Ruff, around 7 Green Sandpipers and a Little Egret. But like waiting for buses after yesterdays 2 Turtle Doves another 1 flew over while walking back to the car!
2 photos of 1 of the Whimbrel and a rushed record shot of the Riverside CP Turtle Dove.
As we were kid free for the weekend and the future mother-in-law was away me and the other half went and stayed in Kent. A quick scan of Otterham Quay saw around 100 Black-TailedGodwits and a fly over Turtle Dove which was a nice surprise. A couple of hours was then spent at nearby Riverside CP. After waiting for 20 minutes for it to stop raining we ventured out and some of the first birds I found were 7 Black Terns just offshore. These were closely followed by a juvenile Marsh Harrier that flew East. Also present were 4+ Whimbrel, 12 Little Egrets, 40+ Common Terns that flew South, Reed Warbler, Hobby and a Sparrowhawk that was annoying 50+ Swallows over the car park but another Turtle Dove that sat in view for 20-30 seconds was the highlight.
A few House Martins were over the river and a Chiffchaff was heard calling again. A Sparrowhawk was chased through the park by a Carrion Crow but yesterdays Common Gull was seen only briefly after lunch in with 49 Black-Headed Gulls and 1 LBB Gull.
5 Ring-Necked Parakeets were flying around the park and at least 3 Chiffchaffs were calling again aswell as 2+ Bullfinches in the meadow but the best bird of the day was the adult Common Gull that spent the morning feeding on left over food between the car park and paddling pools. It's the first returning bird of the autumn.
Only 4 Ring-Necked Parakeets were seen today this time over the meadow. At least 4 Bullfinches were calling in the same place and a brief bit of Blackcap song was heard. 4 calling Chiffchaffs were heard and 3 Treecreepers all on 1 Silver Birch near the paddling pools/picnic tables at 8am was a nice sight.
The council yard was the place to be first thing with 3 noisy Jays flying through followed 10 minutes later by 10 Ring-Necked Parakeets that landed briefly in the top of a conifer tree before 9 were flushed by 1 of the Jays. In the park 2 Little Owls started calling to each other and a Cormorant flew over. The best bird was a female Sparrowhawk that flew in and landed 15feet above my head looked at me for a few seconds then flew off!
Went back down to Hants to change a coat that was damaged (only 1 shop in the UK!!). Afterwards had a quick walk along the sea wall opposite Titchfield Haven (as there was nothing of note to see on the reserve) and the best I could find was a flock of 12 Common Scoter flying up the Solent. Next stop was Lee-on-the-Solent where 3 Mediterranean Gulls were the highlight.
Another day in the park and a few highlights were seen with c.20 Swifts, 7 House Martins, and 3 juvenile Black-Headed Gulls in with c.30 adults. The main highlights were non-avian with a Silver-WashedFritillary in Whippendell Woods and a Grass Snake attempting to eat a CommonToad!!
A singing Chiffchaff was near the Langley Way entrance and the Mistle Thrush flock is still present but they took flight mid count! 28 Black-Headed Gulls were sat on the cricket square in the afternoon and a couple of Stock Doves were near Cha cha cafe.
In Cassiobury Park this morning 2 Green Woodpeckers were on the grass by Cha cha cafe and the Mistle Thrush flock had increased to 16 birds. Later in the morning 18 Lapwings flew west over the lower high street which was unusual.
Myself and my partner decided on a night away from it all near Portsmouth so early Saturday morning off we went. Bird wise 3 Red Kites on the journey down including 1 in Chorleywood were nice aswell as 3 Buzzards. While in Portsmouth itself a few Common Terns were offshore being blown around in the strong wind.
My first full day back in the park in a while produced a few good birds but nothing you could call exciting. 7 Mistle Thrushes were opposite Cha cha cafe first thing along with 2 Stock Doves and 2 Great-Spotted Woodpecker. A Sparrowhawk flew over the concil yard and a Bullfinch was heard calling from the meadow.
After yesterdays excitement it was back to work and the birds of Watford! The highlight if you can call it that was the 1st juv LBB Gull of the year seen at KGV playing fields along with 2 singing Blackcaps and 4 Mistle Thrushes. At Cassiobury Park a Little Owl started calling briefly around 2pm.
2 photos of the White-Tailed Plover that I managed to take before it flew.
Well what a day! I finally had my car back from my girlfriend after 3 weeks of hersbeing in a garage and what good timing it was. At work I was using loud equipment and had missed a mega alert on my pager and it was 3 hours later I found out a WHITE-TAILED PLOVER had been found at Rainham Marshes RSPB in London. So after work I popped home for my optics and set off, unfortunately a crash in the Blackwall tunnel meant that everything was being diverted onto the road I wanted to use! Just like the twitch to Wales I walked up to the site and was told it was showing well. On arrival I was told it had flown out of view 3 minutes ago and so a nervous 50 minute wait ensued before it suddenly appeared and I had my 4th UK lifer of the year. It showed well for 4 minutes but then a Lapwing chased it off and it flew out of view showing its white tail.
During the wait 12 Little Egrets, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Wigeon were seen.
First thing today at work was finishing off cutting back the footpaths in Oxhey park. 65+ CarrionCrows were sat on the sports area waiting for the locals bringing them bread and a Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing still. Next stop was Riverside Park where a family of Whitethroats were busy looking for insects and another Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing. And finally a job near West Watford had another Blackcap before seeing that Mute Swans had bred around the cress beds in Cassiobury Park with at least 4 cygnets seen.
The number of Mallards had gone down but the number of young had increased to 8. The 2 young Moorhen chicks were seen with 1 adult and 2 fully grown young. An adult Herring Gull paid a quick visit to nick a piece of bread.
A poor photo of a Large Skipper feeding on Rosebay Willowherb.
Apologies for the lack of updates. The main reason is because i've not really seen much of note! The last couple of days though have seen a couple of interesting things. Whilst cutting back the weeds from the path in the nature reserve in Cassiobury Park a couple of Blackcaps were singing along with a Chiffchaff. Another Chiffchaff was singing in the meadow. But a calling Kingfisher was the highlight as it flew along the river. On the insect front my first Banded Demoiselle, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper were seen.
On the pond in Watford town centre at least 25 Mallards are present including 6 ducklings. At least 2 Moorhen chicks were also present occasionally showing on the Western most island. A Grey Heron flew NE over the town hall.
And in Oxhey what looked like a family party of 4 Ring-Necked Parakeets were present in the council yard.
The quickly taken photos of the Marmora's Warbler.
After last weekends dip in South Wales i'd promised to go back if it was still there on the Friday and luckily it was. This time though I left earlier (4.45am!!) and again set off down the M4. Just after 7am I arrived on site and again wastold it was still around. A nervous 20 minute wait was finally rewarded with cracking views of my first ever MARMORA'S WARBLER at it sang from a small Hawthorn bush. Unfortunately it was very mobile and getting a photo was proving tricky. After 40 minutes of on/off viewing it decided to sit in a small Gorse bush just 10ft away to sing and I managed to grab to 2 photos before it flew. They wont win any prizes though!!
While doing the cricket at KGV playing fields in West Watford this morning 2 Black-HeadedGulls flew over which are probably the earliest returning birds i've seen. A Skylark was singing somewhere between me and Hampermill Lake but the best bird was a Hobby that flew thru around 10am.
After driving back from Norfolk on the Saturday I could have done with a rest but unfortunately during the holiday a Marmora's Warbler had been found in Gwent so off I went and just under 3 hours later I was on site with people saying it's still there and showing. Unfortunately for me it had flown 4 minutes before I arrived at the viewing area and for the next 2 hours it went missing. 3pm arrived and I had to set off home but 30 minutes back on the road it returned but I couldn't turn round and go back.
If it's still there i'll be going back on Saturday!
Other birds seen were a couple of male Whinchats, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo and 4 Ravens that flew through.
A family holiday in Norfolk was rather devoid of time for birding due to small kids to occupy!!
3 Bar-Headed Geese were seen while just off the A47 on the journey up.
On the 2nd June we visited Walcott where a Lesser Whitethroat was heard and 3 SandwichTerns were fishing offshore. Another flying highlight was a Eurofighter that flew over as i'd never seen one before!
The day after I popped into my Norfolk local patch of Winterton Dunes. A Cuckoo was the first bird of the visit followed by 2 Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and a Yellowhammer. Offshore 2 Fulmars flew North and 20+ Little Terns were fishing. Later we went to Cromer for a few hours with more Fulmars being seen and on the way home a Common Crane flew over Waxham.
On the 4th I visited Breydon Water hoping to see a Little Stint that had been present for a few days but it wasn't seen. A Little Egret and 2 Avocet were seen though.
I started work at 7.30am as usual but 15 minutes later a message on my pager told me of a male Red-Footed Falcon at Wilstone Reservoir,Tring. Only trouble being I needed it to stick around for another 8 Hours! Thankfully it did and just after 4pm I was on site watching it perched in a tree albeit distant. Eventually it took flight and started hunting with a single Hobby.
When I got home I kicked off my shoes and sat on the sofa as usual but then a juvenile Blue Tit flew across the room and nearly hit me in the head!! It probably came from the brood in the wall of next door and flew in the day before when the back door was open.
I've been off work since Thursday with a dodgy neck so unfortunately theres been nothing done birding wise. Th eonly thing to report is the fledging of the Great Tits from the next box in the garden. At least 3 juvs made it.
It was a case of dead and living today as I found a dead juv Robin in one of the barns at the Oxhey depot followed by a dead adult LBB Gull on Cassio Road, Watford and then this afternoon while pulling out bedding on the Cassiobury estate I heard a loud thud on the van and turned round to see a juvenile Starling bounce into the flower bed and one of its parents attacking a Magpie that was obviously trying to attack the juv!
It sat in my hand for a minute or two then flew off into a nearby tree none the worse for its ordeal.
2 photos of the Oriental Pratincole, 6 of the 8 Whimbrel and 3 of the 4 Curlew Sandpipers.
I went up to Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve in Lincs this afternoon in the hope of adding only my 2nd lifer of the year. I arrived on site just before 2pm and walked round to the East hide of this good looking reserve. Thankfully within seconds of getting in place the ORIENTALPRATINCOLE was showing well although crouched down behind a weed out of the wind. Every now and then it would fly around catching insects showing of its reddish underwing and short tail but it would always land roughly in the same place near its favoured weed! Thats all 3 Pratincole species seen in 1 year to the week!
Also seen around the reserve were 4 Curlew Sandpipers, 8 Whimbrel, a few Avocets and Ruff, still around 200 Brent Geese, 4 Little Gulls and a Corn Bunting.
On the way home driving through Frampton village a Turtle Dove flew over the car which was a nice end to a good day.
After my juv Robin the other day I saw another in the council yard this afternoon! Also present were 2 Coal Tits busily collecting food, 5 Swifts overhead and the nesting Blackbirds are sitting on 5 eggs in their little cubby hole!
If it wasn't for the freezing cold weather myself and my good birding friend Bob Harris could have been mistaken that we were in Europe and not in Kent as the birds seen were a long way from home! First stop was Walderslade near Chatham for a singing male Iberian Chiffchaff. The bird was singing both it's song and Common Chiffchaff but showed very well allowing for the photo above.
Next stop was Denge Marsh near Dungeness where despite the strong wind and showers we eventually saw 2 cracking adult Purple Herons flying over the small reedbed they were inhabiting. Unfortunately they didn't come out to play and be photographed. A Cuckoo also flew over.
A walk around the RSPB reserve saw a Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 14 summer plumaged Dunlin and a Hobby and on the way out 2 Whimbrel were seen along the access track.
A quick visit down to the sea saw 1 Black Tern at the patch with lots of 'commic terns' and a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull, a few Gannets were very distant, 10 Common Scoters flew East and on the Nuclear power station a male Black Redstart was singing but wasn't seen.
The final stop was Lenham Heath where eventually an elusive Hoopoe put in an a good show if a tad distant. A Willow Warbler was singing nearby.
I woke up around 8.45am and checked my pager to find a Red-Rumped Swallow was at Wilstone Reservoir but thankfully i'd seen the bird at Hilfield Reservoir in May 2000 so didn't rush around panicking! I got myself and my son ready and drove up in the hope of seeing it. Unfortunately on arrival it was clear that it had gone. 2 Common Sandpipers were the only birds of note but with a cold wind and rain we retreated to the car and went home!
An afternoon of cutting back the grass along the cycle path saw and heard an array of warblers including my first Garden Warbler of the year singing away near the play area. Other notable birds were a Lesser Whitethroat, 3+ Whitethroats, Chiffchaff, a flyover Grey Wagtail and 5 Swifts.
The first House Martins turned up this morning with 2 birds flying above the trees near the fishing lake and this afternoon I heard a Swift overhead which was also the first record this year. A Holly Blue butterfly was in the council yard just after lunch.
Only 8 months to xmas!! News of some more year ticks saw me going back up to Tring but in the end with mixed results. 2 Black Terns were the highlight but the Sandwich Tern was a brief fly through and had gone before i'd arrived. The other bird I wanted to see was a Wood Warbler but had also gone quiet and wasn't seen. Annoyingly it was reported singing again at 6.30pm!
But to make up for these dips 10+ Swift, 2 Hobby and a lovely male Yellowhammer were new year additions.
Had a walk around the estate just after lunch in the hope of some migrants but only the usual suspects were seen. A calling Lesser Whitethroat was near the M1 footbridge and a Whitethroat was in the hedge that held the Redstart last year. Ring-Necked Parakeets were heard but not seen and a Lapwing was sat in a field possibly sat on a nest.
Record shot of the Cuckoo. Usual excuses such as distance, heat haze and crappy photographer!!And the male Whinchat at Croxley Moor.
I popped to Tring and saw the following. Reed and Sedge Warblers were at Marsworth Res along with 2 singing Cetti's Warblers. At Startops End Res there were 7 Common Terns, 6 Swallows and 2 Buzzards. A Red Kite flew over Tringford Res and then finally at Wilstone Res 2 more yearticks were added with 4 Common Sandpipers feeding on the barley straw bunds and a Cuckoo near rushy meadow. Another Cetti's was singing along with 2 Whitethroats and the final bird of the day was a Wheatear sat on top of a fencepost along the track from cemetary corner.
Just after i'd finished typing this up and packed mycomputer away I received a phone call from JoanThompson to say there was a male Whinchat on Croxley Moor. Thankfully the traffic was good and within 20 minutes I was watching this little beauty as it flew around catching insects. 2 more Common Terns flew over and Whitethroats were singing aswell.
The air ambulance this afternoon with 3 of my colleagues going for a closer look!
A lovely male Sparrowhawk catching the sun as it flew over the meadow was a nice sight to see but the main highlight of flying things wasn't a bird but the Herts air ambulance that landed in the park around 2pm!!
A quick walk round with my son Tom mainly looking for Lesser Whitethroat was sucessful within 3 minutes of arrival with a singing male. The best bird though was just as we were walking back to the car when a female Wheatear flew up from infront of us. Another year tick. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were also singing but no Whitethroats were seen or heard.
Rubbish photos of the Ringed Plover, Willow Warbler, White Wagtail, Lapwing and Shelduck at Amwell NR!!
Making the most of the good weather I went to Amwell NR in the hope of some year ticks. Thankfully at least 2 were forth coming with 3+ Willow Warblers singing away and 2 HouseMartins that flew over the viewpoint. Other goodies were a Little Egret, 5 Goldeneyes, 4+ Chiffchaffs, Ringed Plover, Shelduck, at least 3 Buzzards and a couple of singing Cetti's Warblers.
After a quick bite to eat I went to Rye Meads RSPB reserve for the first time in ages. A LittleEgret was on view from the Lapwing hide and my first Sedge Warbler was scratchily singing.
Another day in vicarage Road cemetary but with the better weather it was a morning of raptors. Firstly a Sparrowhawk flew over mobbed by a Carrion Crow then later a Buzzard flew over also being mobbed but by Lesser Black-Backed and Herring Gulls. Yesterdays Redwing was still present.
After work I popped into Hilfield Reservoir but was rewarded with only a Little-Ringed Plover (same bird as last week?), a Grey Wagtail, another Buzzard and 8 Swallows.
A day cutting the sports areas was interspersed with 3 Pied Wagtails on the tennis courts, a possible but distant Swallow over the cricket square and my first Peacock butterfly of the year in the afternoon.
After staying the night in Gorleston-on-Sea and then popping in for a cuppa at my dads house we left and headed for home with a planned hour or so in Southwold. But as we were passing Lowestoft I thought it'd be rude not to pop to Ness Point where after a quick wait I managed to pick out 6 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks along with 12+ Turnstone. 2 other birders joined me and told me they had just had a Slavonian Grebe in Lowestoft Harbour so I had a quick look and was surprised to see it was nearly in summer plumage. Unfortunately i'd left my camera in the car for the sandpipers and so got a pic on my camera phone and the grebe wouldn't stop diving for long enough to get a pic!
A Little Egret was seen on Town Marshes in Southwold.
The site of the Pallid Swift and the record shot of the White Wagtail.
I finally managed a trip up to Suffolk today. I dropped my boy off with his mum and went home packed up a few things and was on my way just after 11am. nearly 3 hours later and i'd arrived at Kessingland just South of Lowestoft. I parked up and walked down Marsh Lane past the sewage works and down to the private fishing lakes. Thankfully within a few minutes the PALLID SWIFT flew into view and I managed to watch it in my scope for nearly 15 minutes. Unfortunately being a swift there was no way I could manage to get a photo of it! Before getting back to the car I had a quick look over the sewage works and managed to pick out 2 WhiteWagtails amongst the Pied's. I tried to get a picture of them but they were constantly moving to avoid the arms that were spraying water so I just got a crappy record shot!! 2 Chiffchaffs were singing along the road and 2 Meadow Pipit's and a male Reed Bunting were also on the sewage beds.
The Yellow Wagtail, Ruddy Shelduck, a Shoveler at Wilstone, Oystercatcher, Red-Crested Pochard and the LRP.
I'd booked the day off in preperation of visiting Suffolk for the Lesser Kestrel, Pallid Swift and Alpine Swifts but when news late afternoon on the Monday was negative of the first 2 I decided not to go and go to work instead. Tuesday morning and my alarm went off at 6.15am and I thought sod it im not going to work today! 8.30am the LK was still there but had gone by 9am so I went to Hilfield Reservoir instead and added 3 year ticks in doing so. A Little-Ringed Plover was on the dam and Sand Martins and Swallows were evident in small numbers. 8 singing Chiffchaffs were dotted around the reservoir.
I then went to Tring Reservoirs where a Buzzard flew over the A41 near Chesham and a RedKite was over the leisure centre on Cow Lane. Startops End was the first port of call. The male Red-Crested Pochard was still there with a Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaffs singing. On Marsworth 2 Cetti's Warblers were singing from the reed bed.
Wilstone held a few hirundines and another Cetti's Warbler was heard from the hide. A Red Kite and a Buzzard flew over and an Oystercatcher was forced down by the heavy rain showers. Another Red Kite was over the sewage wworks on the way home .
Another Buzzard was circling over junction 21a of the M25.
The final stop was to the puddle at Willow's Farm near Tyttenhanger. For such a small body of water there was an amazing selection of birds around it with a cracking male Yellow Wagtail being the highlight. Also present was the Ruddy Shelduck, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Redshank, 2 Lapwing and a probable White Wagtail!
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.