After a report yesterday of c.20 Waxwings in Oxhey Park I decided to take a drive past on the way back to my temporary base in Oxhey. Luckily as I drove past around 2.45pm I noted c.50 birds in a tree adjacent to the Mercedes garage. The birds had been feeding on the large Cotoneaster by the entrance gate at the Bushey arches end of the park. I had been looking out for them there but had probably drove past them yesterday when going home! Also of note today was a Little Egret that flew over the Lower High Street station and Watford Fields around 1.30pm heading in the general direction of Rickmasnworth. A Sparrowhawk also flew over Oxhey Park this morning.
Looking through my notebook I forgot to put on here that on the 12th Feb whilst in Poole I had a Brimstone butterfly in one of the nearby gardens (possibly my earliest ever?) and in the council yard last Friday I noted a pair of Blue Tits mating.
Spent the day at KGV playing fields in West Watford pruning the shrubs in the car park next to the community centre. At around 10.30am the chipper became blocked so we stopped to clear it out and I thought I heard Waxwings nearby. A couple of minutes later 7 flew over heading NW! An hour later and I suddenly realised there were a few more than 7 as a large group that were possibly behind the centre also flew NW over us. I counted 107 but there was possibly more as they were pretty mobile. Finally at 2.40pm 8 more flew over bringing the total to 122 birds for the day.
My photographic efforts of the Dove and Gull. Distance and dullness have slightly effected the quality!
Well ok it was actually nearer 5 hours but it would have been nearer 4 and a half hours had I not sat at home for 30 minutes in between! Just incase your wondering what i'm on about it's actually the time it took me today to add 2 MEGA lifers to my UK list. I woke at 7am and left the house soon after. I arrived in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire around 9am and parked up and proceded to walk down The Leys. I then bumped into the Rugby lads John, Pete, Dave and JJ and they were heading round the corner to Lord Piece Road where the previous 3 days the bird in question roosted for up to 2 hours. Around 9.30am the bird flew in stuck around for 30 seconds before heading back to where it came from. We didn't have to wait long for it to return and there it was though distantly. My first ever ORIENTAL TURTLE DOVE and it showed nearly constantly for the next hour and a half. I arrived home at 12.20 took off my shoes went to the loo and the MEGA alert went off! I had a cup of tea and left for Rainham Marshes RSPB. 50 minutes later and then a 2 mile fast walk I arrived to see most of the already present birders walking down the bank and back to their cars. Had I missed it by minutes? I met Brendan Glynn and he said it was still there so I gave it a go and straight away I found in a small gap in the piles of rubbish my first and the UK's first SLATY-BACKED GULL. It showed well for a minute before a Peregrine flew in for a Starling dinner and put everything up. It flew around for a couple of minutes before heading towards the reserve where a bit later we watched it at some distance on Wennington marsh. After a couple of minutes all the gulls flew off towards the Thames and wasn't seen again so it was definately skin of the teeth stuff!!
Whilst on the journey home Iwas just coming up to Haines Way when I picked up 11 Waxwings flying over the road just infront of me heading towards Leavsden Green School. Trying to see where they went was tricky as a bus was coming the other way but I did pick them out in a tree within the school grounds. I pulled into the car park behind the shops/post office and parked up and counted 45 before another load joined them. I counted at least 67 but there was possibly more as I had no bins on me.
A Black Swan and the Long-Billed Dowitcher at Poole Park and 2 photos of the Pale-Bellied Brent Goose in Poole harbour.
Thanks to my lovely mum who generously gave me some money for a weekend away me and the missus booked a night at the Langstone Hotel on Hayling Island. As we couldn't get into our room till around 2pm we went to Poole Park in Dorset first. The reason being that 2 good birds were present. Before we left I checked my year list and noticed that i'd only seen 1 species of wader so far this year that being Lapwing. On arrival we parked up and walked round to the NE corner and there feeding on a very small area of mud that contained at least 4 shoes was my 2nd ever Long-Billed Dowitcher and only my 2nd wader of the year!! My previous LBD was at Old Hall Marshes RSPB in Essex way back in 2005. The bird was showing down to around 10ft totally oblivious to all the birders watching it. The photo above was digi-scoped but as the bird was so close I was the one who had to move back to get a good shot!! the 2nd bird that i'd hoped to see was a Ring-Billed Gull but although it was rumored to have been seen I and most of the other birders missed it. I did however see another bird i'd not seen for many years on the neighbouring Poole harbour where a single Pale-Bellied Brent Goose was in with around 20 of its darker bellied cousins. From memory my las one of these was back in 2002 at Pagham Harbour. Another year tick there were the 3 Mediterranean Gulls. We then headed off to the hotel but not before adding more year ticks in Langstone harbour!! Curlew outside the hotel was species number 100 for the year.
Well after a few days with nothing more than a few Siskins to look at today was brightened up just as i'd finished tidying up after working on the ring road in Watford. 3 Buzzards (93) were seen distantly slowly thermaling over the town centre. Then 5 minutes later a Sparrowhawk flew over being mobbed by 20 large gulls.
I spent the day in the park with a couple of year ticks being the highlight. A Kingfisher (91) was by the canal bridge and not one but two Treecreepers (92) by the tennis courts. Other noteworth sightings were a Little Egret, Little Grebe and a Grey Wagtail on the cress beds. At least 100 Siskins were present in 2 flocks, 1 by the new hide and 1 in the nature reserve. Also in the nature reserve were 2 Water Rails. A Sparrowhawk flew high over the meadow and 2 Canada Geese were on the canal witha single Coot.
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.