Thursday, 29 December 2011

Welney WWT - 29.12.11

The Peregrine and the Greenland Goose.

As i'm not back at work untill the 3rd Jan I decided to make the most of my free time and head of to Welney in the hope of adding another species to my UK list (sub-species anyway). On arrival it was clear to see it was going to be a windy day! I had a look from the hides and one of the first birds I came across was a Peregrine sat on the grass. Eventually I managed to pick out the flock of geese which included Canada, Greylag, 4 Barnacle, 1 Pink-Footed and 7 Eurasian White-Fronted Geese and there in with them was my first ever GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. As you can see from my photo it was annoyingly distant and with the wind blowing it wasn't exactly perfect for a good pic!

Catch Up

Well its been 16 days since my last update for which I apologise. The only birds of note before I broke up from work were a Lesser Redpoll and 3 Skylarks that were forced down by a snow shower.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Xmas Comes Early - 13.12.11

The cracking little Snow Bunting.

I've not updated this blog for a while as the park was only throwing up the same old stuff with 2 Little Egrets, Kingfisher and Siskins being of any note. Though the first 3 days of last week did produce large numbers of Woodpigeons in the mornings all flying North with a couple of groups number around 100 birds.

But yesterday news came onto my pager of a potential Herts tick up at Tring. With this news I luckily got a half day and left work! I arrived at Startops End Reservoir and it started to rain. I climbed the steps from the lay by and met Steve Blake and his dog. He told me the bird was just down infront of us but could we find it? No! Had I missed it by 2 minutes? No! hankfully I found the bird again and thee feeding amongst the rocky shoreline was my first Herts Snow Bunting. A lovely 1st winter male ignored the strong cold wind and rain and at times showed down to 20-30 feet. I managed the 3 shots above but then my camera battery died! I was soaking wet by this stage so left happily around 12.15pm. Also present were a pair of Red-Crested Pochard and a Red Kite.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Cassiobury Park - 5.12.11

A very cold and windy day only produced 7 Fieldfare, a few Siskin and at least 1 Lesser Redpoll.

Rainham Marshes - 3.12.11

A few hours spent walking around the reserve produced lots of Wigeon and Teal, at least 1 Little Egret and 2 Peregrines over the car park as we arrived. It was a tad too windy for the Bearded Tits to show but it was a good day all round.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Cassiobury Park - 1.12.11

Well December is here at last and it produced some white stuff already. Not snow but 2 Little Egrets over the meadow at 8.45am! A Kingfisher was on the river by the Gade Avenue entrance just before 11am. A Meadow Pipit was a surprise as it flew over the toilet block.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Strike It Lucky - 30.11.11

As I was off work today due to the national strike I made the most of the day by doing 95% of my Christmas shopping in the morning then in the afternoon I paid a visit to Tyttenhanger GP's. On arrival 3 kids were busy riding their motorbike up and down the footpath from the entrance by the mound so my hopes weren't exactly high of connecting but I had a scan and picked up the 2 Eurasian White-Fronted Geese swimming left so I wandered up that way and eventually found all the geese tucked into the vegetation either asleep or feeding. I then found the Tundra Bean Goose but after 5 minutes of viewing all the birds on the pit became jittery and suddenly all the geese flew off towards Willow's Farm. Both species being year ticks.

Cassiobury Park - 29.11.11

At least 20 Redwings were dotted around the park and the Grey Wagtail was heard again by the paddling pools. Also heard was the male Pheasant still in the old cress beds.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 28.11.11

The first good bird of the day was the Little Egret on the ever decreasing river before flying off towards the waterfall. A Grey Wagtail was heard briefly and 3 Lesser Redpolls were in with a small flock of Goldfinch. And just before I went home a Sparrowhawk flew through the council yard.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Kent - 26.11.11

Today we went to North Kent to visit Barbara's mum for her birthday but even before we'd left the neighbourhood a Raven flew over St.Michael's school in Garston. A Little Egret was at Otterham Quay next to the static caravan park where Barbara's mum lives and a visit to Riverside CP saw lots of waders of varying species and another Little Egret.

Cassiobury Park - 25.11.11

1 month to Christmas! Where has this year gone?! Another quiet day in the park with a Lesser Redpoll over the yard first thing then 4 Fieldfare over a bit later.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 24.11.11

Well the day started off with a bang. I was stood by the door of our messroom chatting to my boss when I suddenly heard the call of Greylag Geese. I opened the door and from behind the trees 3 flew North closely followed by another 12! This is the 3rd record for the park and amazingly they have all been this year totalling 17 birds now! About 30 minutes later a Fieldfare flew East and then this afternoon whilst marking out the football pitches 3 Lesser Redpolls and a Cormorant also flew over.

And before I forget I must say a big hello to the Central London RSPB group who paid a visit today. The managed to add the Little Egret and a few Siskins to the days list. Hope to see you again soon?!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Not bird related but the photo above is of a tree planted today in the park then fitted with a CAGE for it's own protection. The tree was planted on behalf of the Watford branch of Amnesty International!!!!

Cassiobury Park - 23.11.11

It was a quiet start and a quiet finish but a 20 minute spell mid morning was pretty good. The highlight was a male Pheasant that I originally heard call then saw in the old cress beds. This is only the 5th modern day record and comes hot on the heals of a female seen by one of my workmates a couple of weeks ago by the toilet block. Behind the Pheasant were 4+ Bullfinches feeding in the long hedge and small weeds. There were probably more but it was still a tad too foggy to see properly! On the river the Little Egret was perched in a tree and a Kingfisher was sat in a willow looking for fish.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 22.11.11

Early morning saw 15 Redwing fly over. Then just before lunch 3 Cormorants flew West followed by my biggest ever single flock in Herts of 25 RN Parakeets.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 21.11.11

The Little Egret was on the river viewed from the green bridge just up from the fishing lake. A handfull of Siskins were heard but not seen in the fog and a Goldcrest was in the cafe gardens first thing.

Quick Roundup

Thursday through to Sunday passed like a blur with barely anything of note. A Sparrowhawk paid a visit to the park on Thursday and Friday and Saturday saw nothing. Sunday I was hoping to pop to Tunbridge Wells to see a Blackpoll Warbler but it didn't show.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 16.11.11

First bird of the day was a Sparrowhawk that flew through the council yard. The rest of the action was down the bottom of the park (Western end) with 7 Mistle Thrushes (2 singing males), 2 Song Thrush, 2 Treecreeper, 18 Goldfinch, 4 Fieldfare and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker all by the meadow. On the canal 3 Mute Swans had joined the 2 Canada Geese these being the first swan sighted other than a single flyover for quite a while.

600th Post! - 15.11.11

Back to being quiet again with a few each of Redwing, Fieldfare and Siskin and one each of Meadow Pipit and Skylark. A Mistle Thrush was singing again.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 14.11.11

Within 10 minutes of starting work 8 Fieldfare flew out of a tree adjacent to the tennis courts and over the yard followed by 14 Redwing a little while later. 10 RN Parakeets came in from the South and started being their noisy selves! Then just before lunch I heard the call of Fieldfare and looked up to see 45 flying over. This was the 3rd largest flock for the park. A Treecreeper was again near the paddling pools in the afternoon.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wilstone Reservoir - 13.11.11

Some of the Golden Plover and some of the Bewick's Swans.

I was planning on going to Margate today to see an Eastern Black Redstart but I didn't crawl out of bed until gone 10am and the fact that i'd have had to be back by early afternoon meant that was out the window so when 10 Bewick's Swans were reported at Wilstone Reservoir I decided to head off there for a couple of hours instead. I nabbed the last parking space and walked up the steps to be greeted by Steve Rodwell who informed me the swans were still present but viewing was better nearer the new overflow due to the sun. I wandered up and started scanning when the wonderfully named Lucy Flower (nice to meet you!) asked if i'd seen any Goldeneyes to which I replied no but there are 10 Bewick's Swans here. I picked them up (7 adults and 3 juvs) feeding close to the centre of the res and showed her through my scope. I was then going to go and see the Brent Goose but decided to try for the Water Pipit instead by the jetty. A male Pintail and hundreds of Golden Plover were seen but no luck with the pipit so I headed back to the car where I bumped into Matthew Rosser who'd just been ringing nearby and with him was Mike Collard (nice to meet you aswell!) so I told them where to view from and all 10 birds were still present. 4 Buzzards on the way home on the A41 were seen aswell.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 11.11.11

Highlights today included a Lesser Redpoll, 2 Skylarks and 6 Canada Geese flying over aswell as the Little Egret again on the river, a Song Thrush singing by the croquet lawns and at least 5 Goldcrests by the waterfall/rustic bridge area.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 10.11.11

A Cormorant flying over in the mist was the first bird of the day. Other fly overs included a Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, Sparrowhawk and a Siskin. A Mistle Thrush was singing early afternoon.

Cassiobury Park - 9.11.11

A Treecreeper was by the paddling pools and the Pied Wagtails had risen to 10 on the footy pitches. 2 Grey Wagtails were seen and a Meadow Pipit and Lesser Redpoll flew over. The Little Egret was again on the river. Late news from a couple of weekends ago from one of my work colleagues was of a female Pheasant that he flushed from the grass by the toilet block. This is only the 4th modern day record just a shame I didn't see it!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 7.11.11

Well it looks as if Autumnal migration has finished as it was another day of not a lot. A few Siskins were around and the Little Egret flew along the river towards the waterfall.

The Weekend - 5-6.11.11

After a bit of a lie in on Saturday I spent 2 hours at Hilfield Reservoir (dreaming of re-finding the EC Warbler!). As it turned out a Treecreeper and 5+ Goldcrests was as good as it got!

Sunday dawned while I was at work! start in Cassiobury Park tidying up after the fireworks display. Very few birding highlights in the 8 hours I was there with flyover Siskins and RN Parakeets. But on the plus side I did manage to find £10.17p that people had dropped in the dark!! That and being on double time too!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 4.11.11

The Male GS Woodpecker just before release.

An exciting day started with a Lesser Redpoll over the yard followed by a great flock of 10 Bullfinches just North of the cafe. But after lunch it all kicked off with 2 RN Parakeets making more noise than usual. I went to investigate and flushed out a Fox from behind the garages. I thought that was what was causing the commotion but the noise was still going so I looked over the fence and found a Sparrowhawk pinning down a Great-Spotted Woodpecker! It flew off with its prey once it saw me so I went round the back and the hawk flew off leaving the woody breathing heavily. So I picked it up and noted it only had a small puncture wound on its back. I placed it in a box to calm down and dry off and then released it at around 2pm when it flew off without so much as a thank you!! Another noteworthy bird was a possible Woodpigeon x Feral Pigeon hybrid. The bird was smaller than the woodies it was with and superficially resembled a feral but when it took flight it had the wing and tail pattern of a Woodpigeon.

Cassiobury Park - 3.11.11

Firstly a late bit of news from yesterday when the Pinner RSPB group saw a female Crossbill at the top of a tree the other side of the river for a couple of minutes before it flew off. Back to today and a Treecreeper by the toilet block was as good as it got.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cassiobury Park - 2.11.11

The highlight of the day was the record breaking flock of Skylark that flew East this morning. The previous highest count was of 5 birds 2 years ago but today a single flew over followed by an incredible 12 birds in a loose group. The first Mute Swan for a while flew South over the car park and a Sparrowhawk, Meadow Pipit and 4 Siskin went over the yard.

Cassiobury Park - 1.11.11

A mixed bag of birds today with single Meadow Pipit and Lesser Redpoll over and 4 Siskin in the council yard. 2 Sparrowhawks were also seen as was a Buzzard being mobbed by 7 Herring Gulls over the top of the park while I was planting the flower beds. A juv Common Gull was seen first thing but not again by home time.

Cassiobury Park - 31.10.11

Only 2 noteworth sightings today with 3 Cormorant and 2 Skylark going over. After work I went over to Hilfield again in hope of cathcing up with the MEGA bird but again there was no sign. And due to lack of light once i've finished work now it'll be Saturday before I can get back.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Eastern Crowned Warbler - 30.10.11

Well it looks like it's all kicking off on Birdforum about the access to Hilfield Reservoir and to be honest I can't even be bothered to go into it again.

Anyway, I recieved a call telling me that the ringers had trapped a Yellow-Browed Warbler which would have been the 5th for the county, but it's my weekend with my "birds are boring" 8 year old son and the in-laws had arrived from Kent so I had no chance to go straight away. Then just after noon the MEGA alert went off and to my amazement it read Mega - Herts - Eastern Crowned Warbler at Hilfield Res!! I eventually arrived on site at 3.30pm and wandered up the West side of the res. But the bird (as yet) wasn't seen again. All I noted in the hour I was there was 3 Goldcrest, Fieldfare and a single phyllosc warbler that flew past but wasn't seen again before dark. Fingers crossed it's still there tomorrow.

Autumnwatch - 28.10.11

On last years BBC Autumnwatch programme Nick Baker was ridiculed by Chris Packham over his failure to see a Waxwing. So after the massive influx last winter and the fact that Mr.Baker was on this Fridays episode I sent a message via Facebook asking whether Nick had finally seen a Waxwing. Martin Hughes-Games read out my name but was rudely interupted by Micheala Strachan before Chris read out my question and got the answer yes from Nick! My 15 minutes of fame perhaps? Or 15 seconds more like it!

Cassiobury Park - 28.10.11

Just 4 species of note today with singles of Meadow Pipit and Lesser Redpoll, 3 Skylark and 19 Canada Geese.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 27.10.11

A very quiet day with just a Lesser Redpoll and a handfull if Siskins being of note.

Cassiobury Park - 26.10.11

Pretty much the same today as recent days. 2 Meadow Pipits flew over along with a Skylark and 7 Siskin and 2 Grey Wagtails, Kingfisher and a Little Egret were on the river.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 25.10.11

The day started with a Bullfinch in trees in the council yard but annoyingly I only heard it. 9 Siskin, 11 Redwing, 2 Skylark, 2 Lesser Redpoll and a flock of 30+ RN Parakeets were also seen and 2 Goldcrest were in the Whippendell Woods car park.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 24.10.11

A hectic first hour in the park saw 4 Skylarks, 14 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, 15 Siskin and c.30 RN Parakeets over. Another 19 Redwings flew over just after 9am but the star bird flew North around 9.30am when a Red Kite flew over the cafe being mobbed by Starlings and Carrion Crows.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 20.10.11

A rather quiet day to start with 16+ Siskin, 30+ Goldfinch in a flock by the paddling pools and about 3 Pied Wagtails around the park but at 2.30pm I looked up to see 1 then 2 Buzzards soaring over the park towards the town centre.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 19.10.11

As soon as I got to work this morning 8 Cormorants flew over and other flyovers through the day were 2 Fieldfare, 14 Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark, 7 Redwing, 30 Goldfinch and a Little Egret (over the meadow). Also around the meadow was a Water Rail squealing and on the paddling pools 2 juv LBB Gulls and a Common Gull.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cassiobury Park - 18.10.11

The Little Egret was back on the river though i'd had a report of it from when I was on holiday. In the nature reserve a female Bullfinch showed briefly and 2 Skylarks flew over. 25 RN Parakeets flew in this morning aswell as 2 Sparrowhawks. A Mistle Thrush was heard singing briefly by the canal which is about 2 weeks earlier than has been the last few years.

Cassiobury Park - 17.10.11

Well it was back to work after my 2 week holiday and back to the usual birdlife of the park. 4 Lesser Redpoll, a dozen Siskin and 7 Redwing were flyovers as was a Sparrowhawk. There were 7 Mistle Thrushes around the park and the river saw a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails with another on the paddling pools.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Getting The Boot In - 16.10.11

The 1st Winter Booted? Warbler.

The last day of my 2 week holiday and I was looking to get another tick down in E.Sussex with another bite at an Isabelline Wheatear but like so many of the good birds lately it had flown off never to be seen again. Instead news of a Booted/Syke's Warbler at Languard saw myself my mum and my boy head off to Felixstowe. On arrival I found out that the bird had flown to a small clump of bushes South of the compound where a fairly large crowd was present. I got onto the bird straight away flitting around in a Tamarisk and occasionally on the floor. I managed a couple of record shots and my boy even took an interest (for 5 minutes!). As I was about to go and drink the hot chocolate that my mum had bought near the fort the bird flew into a mist net that had been erected. Whilst the bird was being processed a pipit sp had been seen flying into some brambles. Eventually after a few minutes it flew out and over our heads calling before being lost to view. The call was of a Tree Pipit but a few minutes later it came on the pager as an Olive-Backed Pipit! No one admitted calling it in though! After 20 minutes the ringers brought the warbler back out and told us that the measurements were inconclusive but it was most likely a Booted Warbler but more research was needed. 3 Mediterranean Gulls (2 adults and a 2nd winter) flew past the car park and then we set off for home.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Back Garden Vismigging - 14.10.11

I was up early this morning with plans to go to Lowestoft for a reported Isabelline Wheatear. As is typical it done a bunk overnight though from photos it may well have been just a pale Northern type. My next plan was to go to Cassiobury Park to do some vismigging but by the time i'd got my act together i'd have spent ages in traffic trying to get there so instead I stood on the back doorstep and decided to look to the skies over my garden. From 7.45-8.30am I saw the following.

351 Redwing
7 Mistle Thrush
2 Siskin
2 Lesser Redpoll
32 Greenfinch
21 Goldfinch
2 Linnet
Coal Tit

Then I went back out at 9am to hang the washing out and in the time it took me to do that I noted-

1 Fieldfare
18 Redwing
1 Linnet
1 Lesser Redpoll
2 Skylark

So not too bad and I probably missed other stuff before I got outside.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Back To Reality - 13.10.11

1 of todays 3 Kingfishers.

After last weeks excellent week on the Scillies, this week is back to normality bird wise even though i'm still off work. A Lesser Redpoll flew over the garden yesterday evening as I was getting the washing in and then at the Watford RSPB group monthly meeting I was totally gripped off with the news that on the 21st Sep whilst on a wander around Cassiobury Park they had found not 1 but 2 juv Garganey on the cress beds next to the fishing pit!! Only a 1st for the park and I found out about it 3 weeks later. So this morning I went to my place of work even though i'm on holiday and checked out the cress beds. As I was rather expecting there was no sign of the Garganeys but in the hour I spent in the park I noted 3 Kingfishers, 26 Redwing (first of the Autumn), Grey Wagtail, 5 Teal, 6 Siskin, Little Owl calling by the car park, Little Grebe and a flyover Bullfinch so it wasn't all bad! I might even be more sad and go again at dawn tomorrow to see whats about!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Scillies + Cornwall - 8.10.11

Our last day on the islands but no time for birding. A Skylark on the airfield was new for the week and then we were off. We left the Heliport having had an excellent week of birding and walking and supposed relaxing! But the birding wasn't quite done as we set of towards Drift reservoir. A Little Egret was seen in Penzance and just before the village of Catchall we parked up in a layby and immediately got onto another Black Kite! There were 3 present but in the time I had I only saw the 1 bird. A Buzzard flew past and a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull took off from the neighbouring field.

Hopefully you won't fall asleep reading my weeks worth of sightings and it's probably best to scroll down to the 1st entry so you can read it in order! The only downers of the week were the news of the Sandhill Crane in Suffolk flying off 2 days before we left and the Upland Sandpiper being found when we were 1 hour from home!

Scillies 7.10.11

The Snow Bunting, the funny Blackbird and the Grey Heron.

News over the radio before we'd left the hotel room told of a Spoonbill on Green Island near Samson. I though the best place to view it would be from Star Castle. The Black Kite was seen again viewed distantly over the airport. We sat on a bench and I scanned towards Samson and eventually found the Spoonbill sat on a small rocky island where it was getting blasted by sea spray and wind. More news came over the radio of a Snow Bunting near the camp site so we wandered through the sports area and down the path to the camp. A male Blackcap was in the bushes along the path and eventually we located the female Snow Bunting on the grass path. We carried on along the path and were alerted to a strange bird near Morning Point. I got it in my scope and saw it was a partial albino Blackbird! A Spotted Flycatcher was seen high in the trees at the start of the Lower Broome platform. After a drink in the Old Town cafe we walked around to Porth Minnick where my 5th Wryneck of the week flew towards the allotments and a Merlin flew through upsetting the Meadow Pipits. Another Clouded Yellow was also seen. We were goning to carry on to the Airport windsock to see the American Golden Plover but that had flown off so instead we turned back and went through Lower Moors where again we saw the Snipe sp but this time asleep. 3 Grey Herons were in a tree behind the pools so I took a pic of one of them for Barbara! We left Lower Moors and started walking back towards Hugh Town when that lovely sound of the MEGA alert went off again. This time though it was even better news as the Snipe sp we'd just been watching had been confirmed from photos as my first ever WILSON'S SNIPE. I turned round to tell the birder behind us the good news only for him to tell us he'd taken the crucial photo of the bird's spread tail which confirmed 16 feathers and clinching the ID!

Scillies - 6.10.11

4 of the Med Gulls, the Whinchat and the juv Cuckoo.

Today we went for a walk around the North of St.Mary's but with a strong wind it made it hard work especially as we had by now 5 blistered toes between us! Just beyond Juliet's Garden restaurant I scanned Taylor's Island and found 12 Mediterranean Gulls (1 ad and 11 1st winters) along with 3 Sandwich Terns. The next bird of note was found at Halangy with yet another Whinchat in some brambles. Soon after at Bar Point I heard a "chack" call which made me spin around to find a 1st winter Ring Ouzel sat on top of a bramble bush 10 feet away but before I could lift my bins to have a better look it dropped down into the bracken and despite 10 minutes looking for it it wasn't seen again. A Chiffchaff was at Watermill Cove and then we arrived at Newford Duckpond hoping to see the Yellow-Browed Warbler that had been there for a few days. 4+ Chiffchaff and a Sedge Warbler that was feeding in the leaf litter were seen but the YBW showed 2 hours after we left! While at the duckpond another birder told me he'd seen a Cuckoo in Holy Vale and showed me 2 photos of it and to keep an eye out for it. The Black Kite was seen again over Holy Vale and then we stopped off at the German eaterie on High Lane for a cuppa. After our tea we walked around the corner into Town Lane and what should fly into view but the Cuckoo!! It perched in a dead tree then flew into a field of vines where it sat on top of a post. I put the news out over the radio and managed a couple of photos but I was looking into the sun and through a bramble bush! It then flew off South after a few minutes just before the first birders arrived. At the log I showed Will Wagstaff the photo and he said the last sighting of Cuckoo was at the start of July so a late record indeed! A male Blackcap was near Trewince and at the start of Lower Moors I left Barbara to go back to the hotel and I wandered down to the ISBG hide to have another look at the Snipe sp. This time it was next to a Common Snipe and the colour difference was even more obvious. A male Gadwall was seen from the viewing screen and that was another day over.

Scillies - 5.10.11

The Solitary Sandpiper and the Snipe sp.

The previous nights log had mentioned an interesting Snipe down at Porthellick Pool that could well be a Wilson's Snipe from America. With that in mind we headed off in that general direction. A walk around Penninis head, Old Town and round the end of the airport runway produced nothing of note other than 1 Swallow! I decided to have a quick check of a field next to Porthellick Beach where I found 2 more Whinchats and a Stonechat. Thankfully I managed to remember where the 2 hides next to the pool were and upon entering I was shown the odd Snipe just to the left. It certainly did look different with very little brown tones to it. It looked more black and white. I managed 1 good shot before it walked out of view. More walking followed around Normandy then towards Newford. 2 Ravens flew over the riding stables and the Black Kite was seen again and 2 Kestrels were near Lower Newford. We then popped into Carreg Dhu garden for a sit down and a look for the Firecrest that had been present. There was only 2 Goldcrests and a House Martin to be seen so we decided to carry on back to the hotel but just as we approached the exit the Firecrest popped out into view. We reached the hotel but I left Barbara there to chill out and read her book while I returned to Higgo's Pool in the hope of another yankee wader. I met up with Dave Hall and together we walked down to find nobody there so we grabbed the best vantage point and waited. Thats when it started to drizzle. The drizzle then turned into heavy rain but i'd got wet enough to think i'll stay and thankfully I did as the Lesser Yellowlegs flew in followed 5 minutes later by my 2nd Solitary Sandpiper in the UK. I watched as these to American waders fed side by side on a small pool in the rain and managed 1 half decent photo whilst trying to cover my camera and scope from the rain! No sooner had I started to walk back to the hotel it stopped raining!

Scillies - 4.10.11

The Least Sandpiper and 1 of the Wrynecks.

A mixed day of weather today with glorious sunshine first thing followed by fog then rain then cloud! Today we went to Tresco to hopefully add some more good birds to the list and also visit the Abbey gardens. The boat went to Bryher first and dropped of some people then it was on to our destination. We were about 1 minute from docking when my pager burst into life, it was a MEGA alert! I looked down expecting it to be for Shetland or worse still Herts but I was amazed to read the following - MEGA Scilly - Least Sand on Tresco!! What timing! The plan to go straight to the abbey was put on hold and a brisk walk to the abbey pool was had instead. But even before reaching the pool a juv dark morph Honey Buzzard flew into view and 10 Little Egrets were on an island in the channel! We arrived and were ushered into place where just beyond some bracken on the muddy edge of the pool just 20ft away was my 2nd ever Least Sandpiper. My first had been in the scorching summer of 2003 at Startops Reservoir in Tring. That one was an adult but this one was a juvenile. It even called a few times before flying off onto the big pool where we left it for a look around the gardens. After a disappointing 45 minutes we started exploring the rest of the island where we bumped into 20 White Wagtails on the heliport grass and another Whinchat and 3 Stonechats on the fence. 2 more Wrynecks put in an appearence 1 flying over and 1 perched in a bush. The final stop was at the NE end of the great pool where from the Swarovski hide another Lesser Yellowlegs was feeding side by side with 3 Pectoral Sandpipers!

We got back to the room and collapsed on the bed only to be brought back to life with news of a Subalpine Warbler on the Garrison! I put my boots back on and made my way up there only to miss it by 5 minutes. It wasn't all bad as my 3rd Wryneck of the day posed in a dead Elder bush about 15 feet away though i'd not bothered to bring my scope or camera with me!

Scillies - 3.10.11

The fog bound Whinchat.

As the weather was forecast to get windier during the week I made the decision to go to St.Agnes for the day as it's the most likely boat journey to get wet on if it's choppy! It was just a shame that the fog had returned and so the true beauty of the island couldn't be appreciated. In birding terms it was a struggle to find anything of notewith 12 Curlew, 2 Redshank and 20+ Wheatear being as good as it got. However things picked up in the last field before the quay when I picked up small bird in flight and managed to get on it perched up on top of a hedge. It was my first Whinchat of the year! We still had time to spare before the boat returned so we had a spot of lunch in the coastguards cafe (a lovely cheese and ham toasty!) and then popped down to the famous parsonage. A Chiffchaff showed straight away followed by another Pied Flycatcher! So it wasn't all gloom and gloom!!!

Scillies - 1+2.10.11

The Northern Waterthrush, Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, Black Kite (about a mile away!) amd my Pied Flycatcher.

At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was about to have a week on the Isles of Scilly and if I had internet connection i'd update my blog as much as I could. That never happened as I was just too busy birding!

Saturday the 1st arrived and myself and my missus Barbara packed up the car and set off for Penzance. We left at 5.10am as we had to be at the heliport for 11.15am to check in for our 12.05pm flight. As it was we arrived at 9.50am so we had a wait to check in. The wait in the end turned out to be horrendous as even though we were basking in sunshine the islands were shrouded in fog with visibility down to 50 yards! Our 12.05 flight finally left at 5.20pm!! We arrived at our hotel, dumped the bags in the room then went down to "Higgo's Pool" near the dump clump. Here along with a handful of other birders we waited for potentially my first lifer of the trip but the bird didn't play ball although my first Lesser Yellowlegs of the year did show very well so not too bad a start. It was only when we got back to the room that we realised we had been bitten by mozzies! I'd received 4 bites but Barbara beat me with 17 to her legs!

Sunday morning and I was up at 6am for another crack down at the pool. I got there just before 7am and joined around 6 other birders and waited. A fly over Raven and the Lesser Yellowlegs kept boredom away. The birds favoured appearance time was around 7.30am but that came and went and just before 8am I was about to pick up my scope and leave when a small bird dropped in at the back of the pool. It was it! For the next 20 minutes or so I was totally engrossed in watching my first ever North American warbler. A cracking NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. After managing to grab a record shot of the bird I headed off for breakfast.

After breakfast I showed Barbara around the island starting off at Porthcressa where 3 Wheatears and a Clouded Yellow butterfly were seen. Next stop was the airport where I joined other birders on the airfield itself. The next 20 minutes showed why Scilly can be amazing. In those 20 minutes I managed to see 4 juv Buff-Breasted Sandpipers (my 2nd-5th) and also my 200th species for the year, a Little Bunting (my 3rd), a Short-Toed Lark (my 2nd) and my first ever proper BLACK KITE (i'd seen the Black-Eared Kite in Lincs a few years ago). 2 more Clouded Yellows flew through and 4 White Wagtails were also seen.

After a long wander going past Lower Moors we stopped off at Porthloo beach where eventually we saw the Common Rosefinch but only as it flew off! While waiting in the hope it'd return someone shouted Wryneck! No sooner as i'd got on it it flew off to the far end of the beach but then showed well on the rocks and cliff face.

Even though it was stupidly hot for October we then walked all the way around the garrison! Pretty much nothing was found apart form my 4th Clouded Yellow of the day but as we approached the pine belt I noticed a bird behaving like a flycatcher. I got the scope on it and it was indeed a flycatcher but not spotted as i'd expected but my first Pied Flycatcher of the year! A 1st winter Mediterranean Gull flew past the Star Castle hotel at the end of the walk. We got back to the room and took off our boots and both sighed with relief!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Cassiobuiry Park - 30.9.11

5 Teal on the cress beds were the best birds today. The single Coot also remaining there. 2 Chifchaffs were singing still and 3 Meadow Pipit and 7 Siskin flew over. Yesterdays juv Collared Dove had gone so it either made it safe somewhere or was being digested in a Fox's stomach!

I'm off to the Isles of Scilly tomorrow for a week so unless I can get good internet connection down there there will be no update until I get home when hopefully i'll be telling you all about the MEGA birds that i've seen (unlikely tho!)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 29.9.11

I was just about to walk out of the mess room when a flock of around 30 Siskin flew over then circled around before disappearing. An unusual count so early in the Autumn (though at 28 degrees it hardly felt like it!). Probably the same 2 Chiffchaffs were singing again and a couple of Skylarks flew over. On approaching the paddling pools I noted a Magpie attacking something in a small pool of left over water. I walked in to find a juv Collared Dove totally waterlogged and with blood over the crown of its head. I picked it up and left it on the back of the parks buggy vehicle to dry out. I left in in the yard when I went home and it had perked up and had drunk out of a bottle of water I got for it! Lets hope it survives the night? The funniest sight was a Budgerigar that was flying over the pools after lunch!

Cassiobury Park - 28.9.11

Early morning migration saw 18 Meadow Pipit and 6 Siskin flying over. The warm weather fooled 2 Chiffchaffs into singing for quite a while. 2 Sparrowhawks were around along with 15+ RN Parakeet. A Grey Wagtail was heard near the river and on the cress beds 2 Teal and a Coot were present.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Back Garden - 24.9.11

Whilst hanging out the washing this mornming a group of 5 Meadow Pipits flew over as did a Grey Wagtail.

Cassiobury Park - 23.9.11

A great count of 32 Meadow Pipits going over throughout the day could well be the largest day count but i'll have to check. 6 Siskin, 2 more Skylark and 2 Swallow also headed overand somewhere between 30-50 RN Parakeets were seen including 25+ in 1 tree next to the toilet block. 2 Chiffchaffs were still singing and 2 Bullfinches were heard by the meadow.

Cassiobury Park - 22.9.11

A good selection of birds was to be had today with the highlight being a Linnet flying South quickly followed by 3 Skylarks that flew West. 6 Meadow Pipits, 40+ Swallow and a Siskin also flew over and 2 Chiffchaffs were singing in the morning sun. A funny sight was 2 juv Grey Herons standing on the fountains of the paddling pools! A mixed flock of birds were in the trees opposite the cafe, with 4 species of tit, Goldcrest and Nuthatch.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cassiobury park - 21.9.11

Highlights in 15 minutes this morning before a day spent in a meeting were a Grey Wagtail, 5 Meadow Pipits, Chiffchaff and a Siskin, all from the car park.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 20.9.11

Birds seen/heard first thing were a Sparrowhawk upsetting the tit flock by flying over the yard, a Meadow Pipit over aswell and the GS Woodpecker drumming again but only twice this morning (maybe it read the front cover of one of the national newspapers this morning which said we'd have snow next month!) 4 Swallows flew East mid morning and a total of 33 RN Parakeets during the morning.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 19.9.11

A noisy start to the day was had this morning with at least 45 RN Parakeets all over the park and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming around 7.40am near the yard. It surely must be one of the earliest drumming i've heard in the park as they usually dont start up again until December. 2 Canada Geese flew over the tennis courts and over head were 11 Meadow Pipits and 4 Siskins. A family party of Woodpigeons was seen just after lunch with 2 adults and 2 juvs.

Meanwhile i'm counting down the days until i'm on holiday and a week in the Isles of Scilly where currently there are 3 Yankee lifers! Will they still be there? Probably not :(

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Armchair Tick - 18.9.11

The BOURC have been busy and split a few species and changed family groups around which for me meant that the 1st Winter SIBERIAN STONECHAT that I saw at St.Margarets at Cliffe in Kent becomes a new species for me and number 414 in the UK.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Vismigging - 16.9.11

I woke at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep properly so I left for work and sat in my car in the bottom car park hoping for some early rising migrants flying over. 7 Meadow Pipits and a flock of 89 House Martins flew over along with a Cormorant so it wasn't all bad! 10 Swallows flew South during the day and c.20 RN Parakeets were again around the park.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 15.9.11

First thing this morning a Siskin and a Meadow Pipit flew over the yard with another 3 Meadow Pipits later in the day. Down near the river the BBC's kids programme Horrible Histories was being filmed with a scene from the Roman era. Only trouble was that 11 RN Parakeets thought it looked interesting and decided to sit on top of the large Oak tree next to where they were filming and made quite a din! I don't think they were around at the time of the Romans!! It'll be interesting to see if they edit out the noise when it's on telly! 2 Little Owls called to each other next to the top football pitch just before lunch.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Osprey! - 14.9.11

On attempting to do my lunch for work this morning I realised that the fridge freezer had died and pretty much all the food in it had de-frosted aswell! All we saved were 2 Lamb joints and my House Sparrow that I found dead in Norfolk last time I was there! (It now resides in the emergency freezer in the shed!). Anyway back to birding, this meant having to take at least half a day off from work to clear all the food and go shopping for another one. After spending just under £400 on a new one I decided to have the whole day off. So with a couple of spare hours I popped over to Hilfield Reservoir again in the hope of a storm blown bird. Unsurprisingly I drew a blank so I walked round to the hide and spent an hour in there. I was just scanning the 20-30 gulls on the water when they suddenly all took off. Thinking it might be the Buzzard i'd heard 5 minutes before I scanned the skies to see 2 birds over the water. 1 was a LBB Gull and the other was an Osprey!! I got it in the scope and watched it circle over the reservoir hoping that it'd spot a fish and plunge in after it but the attention of the gulls put it off and it flew off SE possibly going towards Aldenham Reservoir? This was only my 2nd Osprey in Herts, the last being back in 2005. 2 minutes later a Hobby flew in over the hide and started hunting dragonflies over the SE bay. Back on the dam around 30 Swallow flew through and c.25 Meadow Pipits flew off the dam and headed W.

Mmmmmm I can smell the lamb cooking!!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 13.9.11

Only 11 RN Parakeets today but a couple of other goodies were to be had with probably only the 2nd record of Grey Wagtail this year and 7 Meadow Pipits that flew South which were the first for the Autumn. 2 Chiffchaffs were still around with one singing briefly again. A Single Swallow zoomed past the car park just before lunch.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cassiobury Park - 12.9.11

With the remains of ex-Hurricane Katia blowing through the country it was a pretty windy day in the park. The main highlight (if you can call it that) was the total of 40 RN Parakeets that all flew in from the South or South-East including a group of 17 birds. 13 Swallows flew through, at least 6 juv Woodpigeons were seen with over 20 adults and a flock of Long-Tailed Tits totalling around 45 birds were in with a mobile tit flock.

This evening I thought i'd try my luck at finding a wind blown strafe at Hilfield Reservoir but as expected there were no Grey Phalarope or Sabine's Gull. A Common Sandpiper, c.40 Yellowhammers and around 50 Sand Martins were as good as it got!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Pager!! - 9.9.11

10 years ago today my new RBA pager popped through the letterbox and so began my twitching days! When I recieved it i'd seen 243 species in the UK. Within a week i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! After 10 years of ownership i'm now on 428 (UK400 rules). So thats 185 new species seen in the last 10 years! I dread to think how many miles i've travelled and how much i've spent on fuel but hey ho it's been fun! Just hope I live long enough to reach 500, though if I try to average a new species every month i'll do it in 6 years! I'll be lucky in the next 25 years!

Birdwise today in Cassiobury Park saw 2 juv Pied Wagtails enjoying the paddling pools, 2 late House Martins and a Kingfisher was heard near the waterfall.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

22 Years - 7.9.11

A very quiet day in the park with only a group of 5 RN Parakeets as anything of note. Later in the day as there was no food in the house instead of going shopping we decided to go fill the car up with fuel and get a McDonald's! I was just about to open the door when my phone started ringing. It was Joan Thompson and when she phones it's usually because she's heard of a good bird! It was a good bird and it was at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring. Trouble was I still had to go fill up the car and get dinner and it was 6.45pm and sunset was in 50 minutes! A run of good traffic meant I arrived about 7.10pm and parked up at cemetary corner and had around 50 House Martins overhead while I walked to the jetty where I found Joan, Steve Rodwell, Mike Campbell and a couple of others looking out onto the spit of mud from the jetty. There on the left hand side with c.10 Ringed Plovers (including my first ever tundrae race birds) was a Pectoral Sandpiper. This is the first record in Herts since 1989 (22 years). I actually saw that bird which was on Startops End Reservoir during a Y.O.C outing! I watched it until 7.50pm when it was almost dark and it had started to rain. But before I left I counted the Little Egrets that were roosting in trees on Drayton bank and counted 22 birds. My highest Herts count.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Bumbling Bears

There is a new addition to my (Site I Visit/Link) section. Its to a site that has been produced by The Rugby Lads or as I know them Pete, Jon and Dave Hall. They added my blog to their site ages ago but due to my failing memory I forgot to add them to mine until now (after an email from Pete!!) Sorry lads! So go visit their site and see their excellent photos. Please!

Back To Work - 5.9.11

It was back to Cassiobury Park again this morning and it started off pretty good with a Hobby zooming over the yard in pursuit of 3 RN Parakeets! A bit later on a charm of 27 Goldfinch flew over the paddling pools and a couple of Chiffchaffs were still present. But after that it turned very quiet.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Not A Lot - 3.9.11

Either 1 or the same Sparrowhawk flew over the caravan whilst at Waxham the few hirundines that were flying over the dunes were having a rough time with a Sparrowhawk and 2 Hobbies chasing them! 20+ Sandwich Terns were over the sea.

Back To Norfolk - 2.9.11

I went back up to Norfolk this time with my boy so he could see his grandad again. We popped over to Winterton Dunes in the hope of seeing the juv Red-Backed Shrike but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack! A Linnet and Yellow Wagtail were seen in the dunes whilst 3 Bar-Tailed Godwits and a few Sandwich Terns were seen from a brief seawatch. Back at the caravan 2 Cormorants and a Hobby flew over.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hilfield Reservoir - 30.8.11

36 today and I wake up feeling like i've been run over (and not due to booze!). To escape the whinging baby I went to Hilfield Res for a wander round. On arrival at the car park a Chiffchaff called (1 of at least a dozen), a Jay flew over and a Buzzard was harrassed by either a Kestrel or Hobby but my bins were still in the boot so i'll never know! From the base of the steps I noticed a small bird perched on top of one of the life rings so through my scope I saw it was a female Wheatear. Just as I was about to endure the steps Steve Murray arrived and so we both went up and scanned the res together. After nothing much of note on the water I said my farewells only to be stopped in my tracks by a stunning Fox in the corner of the car park. I got Steve onto it and whilst watching it I suddenly heard the call of a Ringed Plover! Sure enough I turned round to see it fly in from the North and nearly crash into Steve's head! It eventually landed on the dam and was ID'd as a juv and was apparently the first record for the year. The walk round saw a Sparrowhawk fly by, still 7 Swifts, 35 House Martins and 18 Swallows. 3 Yellow Wags flew NE over the dam and a Little Owl was sat on a post in the paddocks behind the viewpoint. Just as I was walking past the North pines a huge flock of gulls arrived from the NW and landed on the water. I scanned through them and rough counts were 600 Black-Headed Gulls, 150 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and 50 Herring Gulls. Back in the car park and 3 Greenfinches were atop of one of the trees.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Journey Home - 29.8.11

We weren't supposed to be coming home until the Tuesday but Barbara's grand-daughter (Smelly, my name for her!) had been rushed to hospital back home with an asthma attack. So we packed up and left this morning and headed home but news coming through was that she was ok just a little chesty and that she'd probably be staying overnight so no need to speed home. So with that good news we stopped off for a quick burger at McDonalds and a quick 5-10 minutes at Deadman's Hill at Sandon. 2 Red Kites were hunting over a ploughed field just outside the county boundary at Chrishall in Cambs whilst a quick scan of the fields at Sandon saw a covey of 9 Grey Partridge and 52 Stock Dove in the adjacent fields.

UPDATE - As I was packing the car this morning back up in Hemsby I heard an unfamiliar call so unfamiliar that I couldn't even put it to species!! It was a dysillabic call similar to Pied Wagtail but deeper and harsher. I desperately looked for what was making the call when suddenly 2 terns flew NE over the caravan site. I know the calls of the usual terns that i'd expect to see/hear around there (Little, Common, Sandwich and even Arctic) but it wasn't a call i'd put to any of them. So just now i've been checking out tern calls on xeno-canto (a great online bird call library) and the only one I can find that matches the call I heard was that of Roseate Tern!! I certainly wasn't expecting that this morning!! Only my 2nd and 3rd in the UK.

Cley NWT - 28.8.11

The juv Red-Backed Shrike, the juv Red-Necked Phalarope, the 8 sleeping Spoonbills and 3 of the Curlew Sandpipers (honestly!)

It was a toss up where to go with birds at Cley and Cromer but we decided on Cley first. We pulled up into the car park infront of the new reserve centre and from there we could see the 8 Spoonbills but there were other birds I wanted to see so we payed our money and went for a wander. First stop was Bishop's hide where we eventually got a seat and started to scan the birds infront of us. The 8 Spoonbills hadn't moved an inch and were doing what they do best and sleeping! The year ticks started falling with a very impressive 25+ Curlew Sandpipers, 5 juv Little Stints, Wood Sandpiper and only my 3rd ever Red-Necked Phalarope but my 1st juv. Other notable birds were a Marsh Harrier a Hobby which spooked all the waders and at least 20 Ruff. We left after a while and headed towards the East bank but rather than walk up it we carried on towards Walsey Hills NOA where after a short walk we found our quarry, a lovely juv Red-Backed Shrike that was busy catching and eating Wasps! This was my 8th in the UK! We then walked up the East bank where I saw 2 Greenshank and then added Spotted Redshank to the year list. We finally arrived at the beach car park where Barbara had a rest and I did a brief seawatch. Sandwich and Common Terns and a few Gannets was about it until I had my last scan of the water and to my delight I picked up a Sooty Shearwater about half way out and watched it as it flew West. A Meadow Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear were added to the notebook on the way back to the car. A quick stop off for an ice cream in Salthouse produced 33 Egyptian Geese in the fields and the lonely Greylag Goose who is a favourite of one my friends was still there! After a 20 minute journey we arrived in Cromer and had a spot of late lunch before I had another quick seawatch which was even more quiet than Cley (apart from the sooty!) but that was soon broken when a lone Puffin flew East just off of the end of the pier! We stopped off for 30 minutes at the nearby Warren Wood but there was no sign of the Western Bonelli's Warbler (should have gone there first and seen it in the morning!) 8 year ticks though so I can't complain!

Up To Norfolk - 27.8.11

A week off work finally arrived so myself and Barbara decided to go up and stay at my dads caravan in Hemsby until Tuesday (my birthday!). The journey up was uneventful bird wise with a Swallow over just before the M1 junction 6 and whilst stuck in the inevitable traffic before Elveden 3 Buzzards were soaring over the trees. After arrival we chilled out for a bit before deciding where to go but then the heavens open with 3 large thunderstorms in a row which left the area of grass where I parked under an inch of water! So we stayed put and watched Dr Who!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Oh My God-wit - 26.8.11

The day in Cassiobury Park started off dry so first point of call was the paddling pool area which needed a quick tidy up. Whilst litter picking I heard a RN Parakeet calling so I looked up but immediately my gaze shifted to a huge flock of waders flying overhead in a Westerly direction! There was a large messy clump of birds at the front with a long thin line of single birds trailing behind. First thing I did was ID them as Godwits and because of the feet projecting beyond the tail and the fact they had black tails I safely ID'd them as Black-Tailed Godwits! These were the first record for the park and I had a quick attempt at counting them and estimated the flock to be around 150 strong! I can only imagine what I miss flying over when most of my time is spent looking at the ground! A little later a Sparrowhawk dive bombed into gardens backing onto the park.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 25.8.11

A brief spell of sun this morning encouraged c.20 House Martins to swarm together looking for insects but soon the rain arrived and stayed for over 3 hours! Around 10 RN Parakeets were seen and heard and the long staying Chiffchaff called away by the river. However the strangest sight was of 2 adult Green Woodpeckers that were on the ground about 3 feet apart and they were swaying their heads from side to side and slowly getting closer and closer until they were infront of each other. They then threw their heads back and forth gently touching the tips of their bills together. It was like watching the display of White Storks and Gannets and I don't know if it's display, aggression or pair bonding? Anyone ever seen anything like this before?!

Cassiobury Park - 24.8.11

RN Parakeets today rose to 17. Included in that total was a group of 13 over the meadow. But shortly after seeing them the highlight of the day infact the last few days was my first ever sighting of Yellow Wagtail in the park. I initially heard them as they flew in from the North and eventually I picked them up and noted 4 birds but then I found another 2 closely behind. I hoped that they would like the look of the park and drop down but they obviously wanted to get to the heat of Africa! This occurence was only the 4th sighting of this species for the park. A single Swallow also headed South and a juv Cormorant flew over the paddling pools so low that I could hear the noise made by it's wings!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 22.8.11

A gathering of RN Parakeets around the council yard this morning held 13+ birds before the dispersed and a Chiffchaff responded to the warm weather by singing for a few minutes in the afternoon!

Leavsden CP - 21.8.11

A kickabout with my boy was ruined after about 20 minutes due to a rain shower but a Chiffchaff was heard calling by the tennis courts as was a Bullfinch.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Stockers - 20.8 .11

A brief visit this morning saw 53 Canada Geese in the field at Stockers Farm and 50+ Swallows around the lock keepers house. The only notable birds around the lake were Chiffchaffs with at least 10 birds between the hides and 8 RN Parakeets flying over.

KGVPF - 19.8.11

Just before lunch a Hobby flew in and joined 2 Carrion Crows in mobbing a Buzzard.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 18.8.11

Before the rain arrived 3 fresh juv Herring Gulls were sat in the paddling pools calling out for their parents. Eventually the adults arrived and after some pestering they regurgitated some food for them. Surely they have been born in Watford town centre? I must try harder to prove it next year!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 15.8.11

11 RN Parakeets flew over this morning including 8 in a group over the yard. 7 Herring Gulls flew over mid morning (4 adults + 3 juvs) and then I met Samuel Perfect and his brother Ephraim. The yhave been putting their sightings on the Herts bird club website and so it was good to finally meet them. Just before lunch a Chiffchaff started singing for a few seconds near the meadow.

This evening I paid a visit to Tyttenhanger GP's as 2 Wood Sandpipers had been reported there. Unfortunately no sign of them nor the 2 juv Mediterranean Gulls but there were 2 Green Sandpipers present.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hilfield Reservoir - 14.8.11

This morning I went to the res to do a WeBS count as the usual person is abroad. On arriving at the top of the steps I heard a couple of Common Terns that sounded a bit agitated and no wonder as I looked at them through my bins they were mobbing a large female Peregrine Falcon! It flew towards me but then headed North over the castle. Whilst doing my count a Little Egret flew South and a Swift was over the NE corner. Other notable birds were 2 Buzzards, 10 Swallow, 8 House Martin, a single Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Reed Warbler and a Common Sandpiper.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 12.8.11

Another fairly eventful day saw at least another 10 RN Parakeets, 2 Little Owls were calling to each other near the car park but just before lunch we were coming back from nearby KGV playing fields towards the park I saw a group of geese feeding on the grass next to the river on Gade Avenue. There were 12 birds 11 of which were Canada Geese but in the middle of them was a Greylag Goose! This is only the 2nd ever record for the park following a flyover bird late last year.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 11.8.11

An interesting morning of birds considering the rain started off with a flock of 10 RN Parakeets flying over the council yard as I stepped out of my car. A bit later I had 4 Herring Gulls fly over (2 ads and 2 fresh juvs calling for food, surely from the town centre). The rain then got heavier as did my socks when my boots leaked (though within a couple of hours of me saying I wouldn't be working anymore today unless I got a new pair, hey presto!!). A Little Owl was calling from trees by the car park but the highlight today was the 21 Mistle Thrushes on the cricket outfield with Starlings.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 10.8.11

A Sparrowhawk was seen in Garston on the way to work. Around 1pm a juv Common Gull flew over the paddling pools briefly (probably the first juv i've seen in the park) and 11 RN Parakeets were flying around.

North Kent - 7.8.11

I'd almost forgotten about my trip down to Kent on Sunday. It wasn't bird related unfortunately but instead a family christening. I did however sneak my bins into the car and managed around 5 minutes birding at 2 sites! The first 5 minutes was at Otterham Quay where the future mother-in-law lives. The tide was out and the mud had attracted around 10 Black-Tailed Godwits with a couple still in their summer finery. The best though were the 2 Avocet in a small creek. The first time i've seen them here. On the way to the church in the village of Iwade I pulled over and had a quick look over Funton Creek. 9 years ago i'd seen a Spoonbill there in with around 60 Little Egret. Today though saw not 1 Little Egret and nothing else of note other than another 2 Avocet.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 8.8.11

5 RN Parakeets flew over mid morning and at least 2 Chiffchaffs were calling by the river. But the best bird was a Willow Warbler that was near the rustic bridge singing it's usual song but very quietly and subdued (sub song I suppose you could call it?).

Cassiobury Park - 4.8.11

Just a Kingfisher of note today.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 2.8.11

I received a phone call this morning from Joan Thompson telling me that she had found a juv Sparrowhawk down by the fishing lake but that she had only heard it calling. Unfortunately it's the summer holidays and the weather is nice so that means loads of people and loads of rubbish to clear up and no time to go looking for juv Sparrowhawks! But thanks anyway Joan! 9 RN Parakeets were flying around squawking and the last bird of the day as I was heading past the bowls club towards the council yard was a Sparrowhawk!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Cassiobury Park - 1.8.11

Well it's August already which means not long until my birthday and autumn migration will soon crank up a gear! The first good bird of the day was the first returning Common Gull briefly on the cricket outfield with a few BH Gulls. Later at least 1 Bullfinch was heard just South of the meadow bridge. Just as I was getting into my car to come home I heard the alarm call of House Martins above me and sure enough a Hobby flew North fairly high up. Thats the 5th or 6th record this year of Hobby which is 5-6 times the normal average count!!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Tring - 30.7.11

The Ruff, 1 LRP and the one that didn't get away!

As it was a nice day and we were child free myself and Barbara (the missus!) decided to have a wander around the reservoirs at Tring. First port of call was Wilstone Reservoir. From the top of the car park steps I saw 4 Greenshank over the far side but the rest of the notable birds were seen from the hide. 2 juv Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpiper and a male Ruff were on view as were 15 Little Egrets. A Reed Warbler half heartedly sang a couple of times and I saw my first Small Copper butterfly of the year.

After a quick drink in the Angler's Retreat pub we walked around Startops End Reservoir. Apart from a few Mallards and Tufted Ducks it was fairly quiet. That was until we approached the NW corner. I suddenly saw 3 Red Kites circling over fields (presumably one that was being ploughed earlier) between us and Wilstone Reservoir. 3 turned into 7 then finally 10 Red Kites were circling together! This is the first time i'd seen a double figure flock in Herts and it's the biggest flock i'd seen since 40+ in 2002 in Oxon (the first time i'd seen them in UK). Another singleton was seen later over Tring.

Whilst walking back to the car a young fisherman had hooked a large fish. A small crowd then gathered to see what it was. A few minutes later he hauled out a large Mirror Carp which after weighing in at 29.5lbs (apparently his personal best!) and a few photos it was released back into Marsworth.

Gone Batty! - 29.7.11

As there were no birds seen of note other than a nice Stock Dove that allowed close approach I was back in the park in the evening to join the HMWT bat walk. I've worked in the park now for 10 years but from memory I can't recall ever seeing a bat before. In just over an hour we had seen 4 species of bat. 6+ Pipistrelle, 2+ Soprano Pipistrelle, 2 Noctule and at least 3 Daubenton's as they flew low over the river. The funniest bit though was the kids that came along were told to shout BAT whenever they saw or heard any bats. Suddenly one of the kids shouts BAT as 5 Mallards flew over the canal!!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Cassiobury Park - 28.7.11

The surprise bird of the day was a Common Tern which flew North following the canal. A Bullfinch was heard in the meadow and 8 RN Parakeets were seen through the day.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cassiobury Park - 26.7.11

Well the lack of posts can really only mean 1 thing. Theres nothing to report not even dull stuff! Today though saw a family party of Nuthatches by the bowls club and a couple of RN Parakeets flying over. 11 Mistle Thrushes were by the log benches just before lunch.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Garden Tick - 22.7.11

I stumbled out of bed this morning and suddenly remembered that it was bin day! I got my uniform on and my trainers and put the recycling out on the path and suddenly heard a Crossbill! It flew over the houses to the right of me and circled over the green before heading back over the houses. A few seconds later not 1 but 4 Crossbills flew over the houses and headed off NE loudly calling. At the park I bumped into an elderly couple who I meet every now and then who do a bit of birding. They were looking for the Little Owls but hadn't seen them. Just as they said that they probably wont see 1, hey presto 1 flew in! Later at KGVPF, 13 Swallows were flying past me with what looked like an adult feeding young in mid air.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Cassiobury Park - 20.7.11

The first birds of the day were 3 RN Parakeet with 4 more following shortly after. A surprise on the tennis courts were 4 juv Pied Wagtails. Whether 3 of them are the same as seen a while ago i'm not sure. 1 juv Little Owl was sat in it's tree and even winked at me! At least 3 Chiffchaffs were around with the resident songster again near the meadow along with 1 by the rustic bridge and 1 by the cress beds. Also on the beds was a single Coot. It looks finally as if work to return the beds to business use is in full swing with a new perimiter fence put up around the boundary and 2 new wooden board walks installed over the water.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cassiobury Park - 18.7.11

A Sparrowhawk over the yard was a nice start to the day. This was closely followed by 3 Ring-Necked Parakeets. A male Chaffinch was having a bath in a small pool of water on top of a picnic table in the cafe grounds! A Chiffchaff was still singing it's heart out near the meadow (is it doing it for a mate or just for fun?!). 2 Kingfishers were heard but not seen near the waterfall. As I was driving home a Hobby flew alongside the car over the boundary fence of Leavsden Studios.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Kings Langley + Wilstone - 15.7.11

I started the morning at my sons school for his sports day. He managed 3rd in his sprint, egg and spoon race and relay and was happy with that! Bird wise while waiting for his races a Sparrowhawk with prey flew over aswell as 3 Red Kites.

Afterwards I visited Wilstone Reservoir for a bit. There had been up to 14 Little Egrets reported but I could only find 4. An Oystercatcher, Redshank and my first Green Sandpiper of the year were seen from the hide and an early sign of Autumn with 9 Wigeon present.