Monday, 31 January 2011

A41 and Cassiobury Park - 30-31.1.11

While driving to Berkhamstead on Sunday to drop my son off for a party the high street was closed after the Barclays bank building had collapsed (probably some thieves trying to dig their way into the vault!). A Cormorant flew over the hall where the party was being held and on the way home I noted 2 Little Egrets by a patch of water next to the canal. I will try to go next weekend for a closer inspection! Also noted were 4 Kestrels between Berko and Kings Langley.

Todays sightings were limited to 4 probably 5 Great-Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other around in the trees at the junction of Rickmansworth Road and Gade Avenue along with 50 or so Siskins. A few RN Parakeets were around and after work I went and paid a proper visit to the new bird hide in the park. I sat there in the hope of seeing the Bramblings that were reported a couple of weeks ago. Alas there was no sign (maybe too late in the day?) with only 7 Chaffinches and 2 Coal Tits being noted. 2 more Coal Tits were near the car park.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Cassiobury Park - 26.1.11

I had the morning in the park so I was hoping for some year ticks. It wasn't to be but highlights were c.80 Siskins over the toilet block and while I was there I recieved a call from Brendan Glynn telling me he'd just found around 70 Waxwings feeding on a Cotoneaster in the car park of Woodside leisure centre! I'd been keeping my eye on this shrub as it was laden with berries and looked good for Waxwings to visit. Back in the park a Little Egret was on the cress beds by the fishing lakes and a Sparrowhawk flew over the meadow. After work I took a detour past the lesiure centre and there in the tree by the layby were the Waxwings. I counted up to 70 before they flew off but there was a lot I didn't count so the flock was probably nearer 100.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Waxwings Again - 25.1.11

Well only 11 months to Xmas!! I spent the day at Goodwood Rec cutting back the foliage next to the path when at 11am 2 Waxwings flew over but the strangest sight was of a Grey Heron landing in the middle of the rec looking for worms in the soft grass, but as soon as it had landed a Carrion Crow flew in and started annoying it and following it around!

Dungeness - 23.1.11

Record shot of the Slavonian Grebe, female Goosander and adding to my list of 'sunbathing animals' (Mole and Seal) now a sunbathing Hare!!

Normally I don't go to Dungeness in January as I prefer to go there in the Spring when theres migrants to be had. But there was some good birds present so off we went. The first good bird of the day was a Little Egret in a flooded field just before the turn off to Snave followed by the first year tick of the day when 2 Red-Legged Partridges were trying to conceal themselves in a field. First point of call was down at the beach area. Unfortunately the juv Glaucous Gull wasn't playing ball but year ticks were falling fast with both Razorbills and Guillemots flying past with the odd Red-Throated Diver and Gannet. There were quite a few Kittiwakes aswell.

We then went to the RSPB reserve where almost as soon as we arrived Marsh Harrier got onto my list. Probably the best bird of the day was the Slavonian Grebe on one of the pits but as hard as I tried I couldn't get a good photo of it. 3 female Smew were dotted around and a pair of Goosander flew over me aswell as another female from one of the hides. A Black-Necked Grebe was on Denge Marsh and on the ARC pit I missed Bittern but had a lovely male Smew.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

1000 Waxwings - 22.1.11

At 2.20pm today while unpacking the shopping from the car 31 Waxwings flew over in the direction of Leavsden Studios. They got themselves onto my garden list and they also saw my Waxwing tally in Herts go past the 1000 mark (1012 and counting!). This invasion has added 770 birds so far!

Also of note i've now made 400 posts on this blog and on Wednesday I added Coal Tit to the year list.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Double Dip Weekend - 15-16.1.11

In my last posting I was hoping that a gull at Rainham Marshes was the UK's first Slaty-Backed Gull. That evening the Mega alert went of on my pager and yes it was one! So dawn on Saturday found me and around 1000 other birders stood at the top of a slippery bank trying to view through a fence into the rubbish dump. 3 hours passed without a sign before my legs and back could take no more standing at un-natural angles but in that time i'd seen a 1st winter Caspian Gull (found by the Notts birder next to me) and an adult Yellow-Legged Gull. In total 11 year ticks were had. I walked back the 2 miles to the car and was a few yards from the visitor centre when someone ran out saying a radio message had come through saying the Slaty-Backed Gull had reappeared! I decided to go home and thankfully it was a good choice as it wasn't seen over the weekend! Me and the missus went into town shopping and on the way home I stopped off near the Tudor Arms pub to get my lottery and when I came out I noticed a flock of birds flying down to a Rowan tree in Westfield Avenue. Yep you guessed it - Waxwings!! I counted around 40 before they were flushed by people walking by and they weren't seen again. Around 4pm I recieved a text from Joan Thompson sayinga Red-Necked Grebe was at Hilfield Reservoir.

This morning I crawled out of bed at 9.30am with a swollen knee from standing funnily yesterday at the tip! I went to Hilfield but found no sign of the grebe so a double dip weekend. Lets hope for better soon!
The 2 photos taken on my phone are from Friday just after a heavy shower had passed through Cassiobury Park. Unfortunately they looked better in real life!! They are called Mammatus clouds and were tinged a green colour. They aren't as good as the ones you get in America but not bad all the same!

Friday, 14 January 2011

No Waxwings!! - 14.1.11

After the last few days when Waxwings were the order of the day, today saw no sign or sound of them. A RN Parakeet over the cemetery was as good as it got. Once back in the yard I was gripped off by my colleague who a couple of minutes before had had 4 Canada Geese go over! A year tick missed!! Hopefully a UK tick will be had tomorrow if the gull at Rainham Marshes RSPB turns into the 1st Slaty-Backed Gull for the UK! Fingers crossed! And last but not least a big hello to Bill Haines who has become my 5th follower to my blog. Thanks Bill.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Cassiobury Park and Watford - 13.1.11

Whilst in the yard this morning I heard that now familiar trilling noise and looked up to see 13 Waxwings in the large Oak tree just East of the yard. Every now and then new birds would appear until 48 were present before they flew off into the park. On arriving back at the park for lunch there were 3 birders busy looking at the Waxwings including Chris Sharp who I nearly drowned with on the Alder Flycatcher twitch last year!! After lunch we headed back to Vicarage road cemetery and then I had to pop over to the Oxhey depot where 19 Waxwings flew out of the allotments!! Then back at the cemetery around 2.40pm a flock of Waxwings flew in from the North and I counted 38 birds. Thinking that they were probably from the park I was surprised to see when back in the yard 58 Waxwings flying around with some Redwings and Woodpigeons. So all in all a grand total of 115 birds today!

Cassiobury Park - 12.1.11

Around 10am I popped back into the park and was greeted with 6-7 Waxwings in the trees around the cafe. They were mostly flycatching rather than eating berries. A Sparrowhawk flew over a bit later in the day.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Cassiobury Waxwings - 11.1.11

A day out marking footy pitches around the borough saw nothing very exciting with 3 Rooks at KGV playing fields being unusual. It was only when going to lock the toilets in the park around 3pm that I noticed a couple who I bump into now and then looking up at a tree just North of cha cha cafe. They had asked me the day before if i'd seen anything good so I told them about my 40 Waxwings that had flown over me that morning and told them that they seem to head over the park in the morning and evening so maybe try and see if any come past. Low and behold there infront of them were at least 120 Waxwings which were annoying the local Mistle Thrushes by eating all their berries!! Other birders had at least 10 more from noon onwards.

Monday, 10 January 2011

1st for Cassiobury Park! - 10.1.11

I was in the park all day today so whist doing my job I had the chance to try and find some year ticks. Nearly the first bird of the day was a flock of around 40 Waxwings that flew over the tennis courts and my head calling at 8.20am heading NE! The first year tick of the day was 4 Stock Doves near the cafe. Other birds of note were 8 Ring-Necked Parakeets, a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Cormorants, 40+ Goldfinches with 80+ Siskins, Sparrowhawk, a calling Tawny Owl at 10am was a surprise and a year tick as was a Little Egret on the cress beds. Also on the cress beds was a brief Water Rail and a Little Grebe.

As for the 1st for the park at around 10.30am I heard the call of and then saw a Greylag Goose flying North following the canal. It was only when i got home and checked my park records that I realised that it's never been seen before!! A strange but welcomed record and the 4th year tick of the day. Also the 147th species for the park and Whippendell Woods and follows closely the last addition also a goose (Pink-Footed).

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Watford Waxwings - 8.1.11

I went to the football today with my brother and my son (Watford v Hartlepool United) and after an awful 1st half we were losing 1-0. During the half time break I noticed a flock of birds fly up from the area around Cardiff Road/Wiggenhall Road and I hoped they were what I thought they were. Thankfully they flew in the direction of the ground and straight infront of the stand I was in. 25 Waxwings!! They certainly brightened up a dull day but the 2nd half was much better with us winning 4-1.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Watford + And Oxhey - 6.1.11

Whilst marking out the footy pitches in Cassiobury Park 11 Waxwings flew over heading towards the town. A Nuthatch was added to the year list then later just before lunch when driving past St.John's road around 70 Waxwings were back in the tree I found the 130+ last month. Then whilst at the depot in Oxhey a Sparrowhawk flew through and onto my year list.

Watford - 5.1.11

Just 1 addition to the year list when 2 Cormorants flew over Vicarage road cemetary. It wasn't until back at the yard that something good turned up when c.35 Waxwings flew over towards the met line station.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cassiobury Park - 4.1.11

Well back to work today but only 3 year ticks seen. Those being Goldcrest, Wren and Song Thrush (species no.54). 7 Ring-Necked Parakeets flew over the council yard aswell.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

County Tick - 2.1.11

The male and female Bearded Tit and the reedbed at Southern CP.

On the way back from Norfolk on new years eve news on the pager broke of 2 Bearded Tits at Southern CP near Bishop's Stortford. Not knowing where it was I decided to head on home and try at the weekend. This morning I arrived on site at 10.40am and walked round the other side and waited. After 10 minutes or so I caught the 2 birds fly from one side of the reed bed to the other. Another birder was viewing from the other side so I went and joined him but after only seeing 6 Reed Buntings and having a Siskin and 2 Skylarks overhead and a Water Rail squealing I went back to the other side. After another 15 or so minutes I noticed some movemet low down at the bases of the Reedmace and there about 25 feet away were the 2 Bearded Tits (a pair and my first in Herts). I beckoned the other birders over from the other side and together we watched them flitting around and every now and then they showed out in the open where I managed to grab the 2 photos above.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year - 1.11.2011

Well that one year gone and another starting. Not many species were seen today the main lot were seen from the garden where the highlights were a fly over Skylark, Grey Wagtail and a Green Woodpecker. Dinner was around my mums so just before we went there I drove past the Bruce Grove/St.Alban's road junction and there was the flock of Waxwings sat in a tree. I drove round into Grove Road and counted 93 birds. After 5 minutes they flew off and a few minutes later I re-found them just up the road at Maude Crescent feeding on a small Sorbus tree.

Norfolk, Suffolk And Herts - 31.12.10

Photos of 1 of the 3 Scaup and the 3 Scaup, the leucistic Pintail and Wigeon, 66 of the Waxwings and the extent of the fog at Breydon Water.

I was up early to make the most of the lack of fog that had been around the day before. I started off just down the road at Gorleston-on-Sea and almost immediately a flock of birds appeared from inland and heading out to sea. Thinking they would be geese I was amazed to see they were Cormorants. 5 large groups headed over and I counted at least 472 birds! Easily the most i've seen at one time. In the car park 11 Turnstone were looking for food and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew past.

I then decided to go to Lowestoft harbour in the hopes of seeing the juv Iceland Gull that ha dbeen around for a while. No sign of it there so next stop was my first visit to Leathes Ham. Again no sign while I was there but the 2nd year tick of the trip was. 3 Scaup (1 male + 2 females) were on the ice free section where I managed to get a couple of crappy shots! Also present were 3 Pintails (the male bird being leucistic), a pair of Wigeon where the female was also leucistic and a Kingfisher was heard. Back in the car 3 Water Rails suddenly appeared 20 feet from the car in the waterside foliage.

Next port of call was Breydon Water but on arrival the fog had returned and all that was seen was a couple of Redshanks. The geese I wanted to see could be heard but not seen!
Finally a quick detour to Chiswell Green before going home saw 70 Waxwings on the Watford Road feeding in a small Sorbus tree.

Norfolk - 30.12.10

As I had to take my dads xmas presents up to him in Norfolk I decided to try and make the most of it and try to get a further 7 species for the year to reach 200. Unfortunately due to the weather and lack of information only 2 were seen! A Little Egret flew over Flitcham on the way and my first stop was Brancaster Staithe where the previous day a Northern Harrier had been seen. I arrived at 9.30am and 2 hours later the only birds of note were a female Marsh Harrier, 2 Little Egrets and many 100's of Dark-Bellied Brent Geese and Pink-Footed Geese. It was only when another birder turned up in the hope of seeing Hen Harriers that he informed us that the Northern Harrier had been showing well at Thornham Marsh for the last 2 hours! Off I went and then stood around for another 3 hours! Just after 1pm I saw a harrier sp fly through but didn't get much detail on it. 2 other birders decided to head back to Brancaster and we swapped mobile numbers incase either of us found it. They were half way down the track when from nowhere my first NORTHERN HARRIER flew into view. The other 2 birders car suddenly stopped and out they got to view it. This was at 1.25pm 5 minutes before I had to leave!! Due to the fact that it had taken 5 hours to see it my other plans didn't happen and off I went to my dads.