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 BeanGoose 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.
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.
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.
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?!
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 LittleEgret 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!
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! 6.am 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!
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 FeralPigeon 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.