Back in the park again today and had a couple of year ticks to boot. First was a pair of Mandarins thatflew in and were lost to view. I re-found them on the river an hour later and they were still present around 5.30pm (reported to me). The other was a singing Blackcap in the meadow. Other notable birds were 2 Lesser Redpolls flying over along with a Meadow Pipit. A Coot was on the cress beds and 3 Chiffchaffs were singing. On the way home I found around 30 Waxwings in a tree eating the leaf buds opposite 21 Hill Farm Avenue.
At 1.30pm today whilst in Cassiobury Park I was asked by one of my work mates tocome and check an Owl that a member of the public was concerned about. I drove up to a tree half expecting to find a Little Owl but was amazed to find an adult Tawny Owl hanging upside down by its feet about 20 feet from the ground. At first I thought it may have been caught up on something but apparently it had been attacked by a couple of Carrion Crows and had flown up into the tree and just hanged there like a bat! I've never seen a Tawny Owl do this before and so I managed a couple of photos before it flew off into a nearby Oak tree and was then mobbed again before flying into a group of Pine trees and was lost to view.
This afternoon I popped over to my mums for Sunday dinner and was immediately gripped off when she told me she'd had a Red Kite over the garden just 15 minutes before I arrived! I went into the garden to do a bit of work for her and heard some gulls calling and upon investigation 3 Buzzards soared over!
4 photos of the Baltic Gull showing the long wings of the bird and the top one showing the darkness of the bird compared to a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.
My plans for today were to go to Suffolk in the morning and see the target bird then get back home in time for the Herts bird club conference. The plan however didn't come off! I woke early on Saturday and saw that the bird was still present so I got ready and headed for only my 3rd ever visit to Languard NR near Felixstowe. I arrived around 10.30am and managed to find a parking space. On the Friday i'd been in a t-shirt and had sweat running down my head. 24 hours later and I was wearing 4 layers, gloves and a wooly hat as the wind was a tad cold! After a bit of a wait and several shouts of it showing I finally got onto the bird as it perched on a dead Holm Oak. For the next 10 seconds or so I was watching through my bins my first ever SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER. I had good but brief views of it as it worked it's way along the Eastern side of the compound for the next hour or so along with fellow Herts birders Ricky Flesher and Steve Blake. Unfortunately i'd not noticed the time and had left it too late to get to the conference so I had a hot chocolate and a burger and watched a 1st Summer Mediterranean Gull over the car park I decided to head on to Lackford Lakes SWT in the hope of another potential lifer. I met the other two on site and we headed to the first hide where I saw my first Sand Martins of the year with around 50 flying over the lake. We then moved off to another hide over looking The Slough and almost immediately found the Sub-Adult BALTIC GULL and watched it for the next hour. It certainly looked different with it's very long slender wings when rested and almost black back. I'll let the gull experts make a descision!! A pair of Egyptian Geese on the way home also found themselves on my year list.
Not too much to add on here other than 2 Sparrowhawks and a few more Chiffchaffs. Yesterday evening saw my first Pipistrelle Bat of the year as it flew over the road outside my mums house. Today though was pretty good with 3 different Chiffchaffs dotted around Watford aswell as a Meadow Pipit that landed briefly at KGV playing fields. The highlight though was around 4.15pm when I went into the garden to get the washing in and immediately heard calling Waxwings! At first I couldn't see them but thankfully they decided to fly in and land in a large Ash tree beind the garden of the house 2 doors away. I counted 16 of them in total and had just enough time to get my scope and take a single photo (see above) through my new phone. They started eating the leaf buds but unfortunately they flew off over the green after just 5 minutes viewing. These could possibly be my last of this invasion which would be sad :( . At least I can count them as seen from the garden list!!
Seeing as the moon is at its closest to Earth in 18 years and for once the sky is clear I thought i'd try to photograph the moon. I'm quite pleased with the result you can see above. I digi-scoped it from the back garden.
The Water Pipit and the CUA Cormorant. If you look with your head to the left and on the left side of the ring you can just make out the letters!
I paid my first visit to Tring this afternoon and along with my girlfriend and her daughter and grand daughter we spent just over an hour walking around the reservoir. One of the first birds of the visit was a Cetti's Warbler that sang near the cemetary corner. Next up was the wintering Water Pipit that was unfortunately being flushed by passers by. I did manage 1 photo but as you can see from abover it was quickly taken and a bit over exposed! My first spring migrant of the year was a Chiffchaff singing between the reservoir and the farm shop. Also noted were 6 Lapwing, Little Egret a Red Kite and Buzzard in the same binocular view, 12 Goldeneyes (2 lucky males displaying to 10 females!) and last but not least an old friend of mine. A Cormorant with the white darvic ring with green letter CUA. I first saw this bird as a 1st winter/juv in 2006 so it's still liking the reservoir in winter.
Afterwards I spent 2 minutes at Startops End Reservoir and saw the male Red-Crested Pochard which was year tick number 122.
I finally added Lesser Redpoll to the year list at 7.10am this morning when I walked out of the front door to go to work and a single bird flew over calling heading SW. This was species number 120 for the year.
The reason for the title is that I saw another c.40 of my favourite bird (Waxwings) this morning. Just after finishing marking out the 2 pitches in Callowland Rec we drove into Gammons Lane and I saw the flock fly up into a large lone Poplar tree. On the way home I went to have a closer look and found the tree was in the back gardens of the houses on a road called The Square off of The Harebreaks (I wonder if Phillip Schofield lives there?!!)
Earlier in the day while at KGV playing fields I saw my largest flock of Fieldfares of the winter with around 50 feeding on the grass on the entrance road along with around 30 Redwings.
Whilst cutting the shrubs back at the entrance to North Watford playing fields I suddenly noticed 6 Waxwings in a Silver Birch tree in the back garden of 219 Gammons Lane. 2 of the birds were probably a pair as one bird was pulling off the leaf buds then flying next to the other bird and feeding the buds to it. Wouldn't it be nice to have them breed in the town!!
As I had a Watford RSPB trip to Oare Marshes on the Sunday Me nad the missus went down to her mums for the weekend so I could have a lie in and still get there on time and see her mum of course! On the Saturday we went to nearby Riverside CP where a year tick was added in the shape of a single Bar-Tailed Godwit. Oare on the Sunday saw 3 more species onto my list. Those being Avocet, Ruff and Snipe. 8 Common Seal on some sand on the Swale was nice.
I've not typed much up recently mainly because i've seen nothing of note! Highlights if you cancall them that have been my first Red Admiral of the years a week ago today in Cassiobury Park, Bullfinches heard again in Oxhey and a couple of RN Parakeets.
Today was spent cutting back a shrub bed that hadn't been touched since it was planted when the Harlequin shopping centre was built nearly 20 years ago! Birdwise 6 Herring Gulls were calling and a Blue Tit and Robin paid a visit to see what we were up to!
A day spent in the bowling green produced a few good birds. The best of the bunch was a Sparrowhawk which put everything up. A Green Woodpecker was heard as was a Nuthatch and a male Pied Wagtail was on the green itself.
2 closeish pics of the Waxwings, and two arty pics aswell!
Today I finally managed to see some Waxwings with sunlight on them! I popped to The Avenue after work and saw 36 of them sat in trees outside number 62. I'd seen 40 odd fly from that direction towards Beechen Grove earlier that morning and also had 2 in the council yard in Oxhey at 3pm. I managed to get some photos using my paltry hand held camera. I say paltry as there were 2 birders there with massive telephoto lenses!
This morning at the Oxhey depot whilst being given training on some new equipment a Bullfinch flew over calling and was lost to view behind the garages. Later around 12 Waxwings were in trees in the Wiggenhall road depot.
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.