A pretty good if cold day in the park started off with a Treecreeperby the miniature railway followed by the female Mandarin again on the water abover the waterfall. 1 of the Little Egrets was by the rustic bridge and a small flock of c.20 Siskin were by the car park. A Sparrowhawk flew over the car park closely followed by numerous mobbing birds. Then in the afternoon a Little Grebe was seen on the canal with Mallards.
Both the long stayers - Snow Bunting and Brent Goose.
As I had to drop my boy off in Berkhampstead for his cousins birthday party at noon I decided to make the most of the rest of the day and pay a visit to Tring reservoirs. First stop was Bison Hill car park at Dunstable Downs in the hope of seeing Red Kites but the misty and cold weather probably didn't help and therefore no kites were seen. A Yellowhammer was calling around the car park so got itself onto the year list. I then popped into Startops End Reservoir where after a couple of minutes I found the Snow Bunting busy feeding on the rocky edge where it had been for over a month now (and to think I was so worried about it doing a bunk when it was first found I took a half day from work to go and see it!!). A loud bang from the fields put up lots of Woodpigeons and surprisingly 21 Meadow Pipits that flew over the reservoir.
I then headed down the road to Wilstone Reservoir where finally I managed to see the Dark -Bellied Brent Goose that had been around for something like 3 months! Down in cemetery corner 2 more year ticks were added in the shape of a Grey Wagtail and a flock of around 50 Linnet. I then picked up a Redshank before a female Goldeneye flew past. I then decided to have a look through the gull flock in the hope of picking up something out of the ordinary but unfortunately nothing was forth coming. A male Pintail was also seen.
The Mandarin had moved a few yards onto the canal this morning and 2 Little Egrets were still present with one by the rustic bridge and one just South of the meadow. A Sparrowhawk flew over the yard around lunchtime.
The highlight today was the (return?) of the female Mandarin which suddenly appeared on the small stretch of water abover the waterfall with a handful of Mallards. The Little Egret was on the river just South of the meadow and a Kingfisher was near the fishing pit.
Today I joined the Watford RSPB trip to the North Norfolk coast. On arrival along with most of the group we spent a while scanning the Alder trees around the visitor centre. Eventually I picked out 3 Lesser Redpolls then 2 Mealy Redpolls and finally the Coues's Arctic Redpoll. This was my 3rd in the UK and amazingly they have all been at Titchwell! Other highlights of the day were a Spotted Redshank and a Marsh Harrier. In total I added another 12 species to my year list taking me through the 100 barrier.
Male Crossbill and 2 pics of the Dark-Eyed Junco and the Shorelark.
After a quiet week in Cassiobury Park with only the usual suspects being seen another day in Hampshire was called for to try and clear up on the birds i'd not had chance to see the week before. As i'd already seen the Spanish Sparrow I decided to not go for it again! Hayling Island was first port of call with Langstone Harbour notching up 8 year ticks including a hunting Peregrine. Next stop was the oyster beds where the star bird was a Shorelark crouching down on the shingle island keeping out the wind. Also seen were 3 Black-Necked Grebes, Red-Breasted Mergansers and a Rock Pipit. After there the village of Warblington was the next destination where a Cattle Egret was seen feeding in a field just West of the church with 2 LittleEgrets. The New Forest was the next stop where at least one pair of Crossbills kept the wait for the main bird a bit more interesting! After an hours wait the male Dark-Eyed Junco appeared and posed long enough for me to get a couple of fairly good photos. Another Peregrine flew through as did a Sparrowhawk which probably didnt help the Junco appearing any quicker! Finally 11 Golden Plover flew over the M25 at Maple Cross on the way home taking my year list to 92 species.
3 top class photos of the Spanish Sparrow (taken through bins and a double glazed window!)
A trip down to Hampshire hoping to see a few good year ticks and a possible lifer turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. The highlights on the first day was a Little Egret and a couple of Egyptian Geese. The Sunday proved more productive but only at last knockings. A very kind house owner opened up their house for us birders to view the back garden from the kitchen and living room. After a near 2 hour wait a flock of birds arrived to have a last feed before going to roost. Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Starlings and even a female Reed Bunting turned up but the main bird suddenly appeared with around 40 House Sparrows. There in some brambles was the male SPANISH SPARROW. Only the 8th for UK it showed well on the small bird table and in a tree before feeding on the grass before being flushed along with the rest of the flock. Phew! I then popped into the Spanish Sparrow cafe (the Calshot community centre!) and enjoyed 2 bacon rolls that kept me going for the drive home.
An excellent day today with not one but two highlights. The first one was only the 2nd record of Egyptian Goose with a single bird flying North over the meadow and the second was 3 Rooks that flew North over the Eastern end of the park in the afternoon. Other notable birds were a LesserRedpoll over the toilet block the male Pheasant still in the cress beds and a Kingfisher and LittleEgret on the river. Around the hide 20 Siskin and a Coal Tit were seen.
Sad news today with the discovery of a dead female Mute Swan above the waterfall. The male was sat next to it and I was half expecting it to attack me when I went to retreave the body of its mate but luckily it didn't. When I moved the body I found it to have an orange ring on its right leg with the number 838 on it. Once i've found out where it was ringed i'll post the info on here.
A Fieldfare and a Little Egret were the only birds of note today. The egret being a year tick. A Black-Headed Gull was seen complete with a white plastic leg ring but I couldnt quite make out what was on it.
With my back feeling better I chose to have a day out but didn't want to go too far just incase! So with a report of 7 Hen Harriers roosting at Wicken Fen NT in Cambs that was where I headed too. A 5 species were added on the way up but 16 more were added during the visit. The highlights were some good views of Bullfinches, a hovering Kingfisher but from the old tower hide during the last 30 minutes of light we were treated to not 1 but 2 Barn Owls and 5 HenHarriers (1 male). So 2 days in and 65 species seen.
The plan was to go to Norfolk or Kent but as luck would have it as I was about to get up I had a stretch in bed and bang. A pulled muscle in my back and my plans went down the pan! So instead I stood in the back garden and managed to clock up 14 species in 30 minutes. By lunch time I could move a bit more freely so decided to pop to Hilfield Reservoir where an hours viewing before the rain came saw the list rise to 43 species. 2 Jays on the way home meant the list ended on 44 species for the day.
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.