A better day in the park with a Grey Wagtail by the river and a few Siskin around the mini railway. In the meadow a Sparrowhawk flew past infront of me mid morning and in the afternoon a Red Kite flew over. 5 Siskin and 20 Redwing were near the cafe and a Treecreeper was by the car park in Whippendell Woods.
Finally after what felt like ages I enjoyed a full days birding. Along with the Watford RSPB group we headed up to Cley NWT. I set off requiring 32 year ticks to reach 100 species for the year. The first tick was a Red-Legged Partridge by the A505 near Royston followed by a Lapwing near Swaffham. Eventually we reached Cley and I then spent 30 minutes grilling the flock of Brent Geese looking for the juvenile BlackBrant. Frustratingly the only thing different was a single Pale-Bellied Brent. I then walked along the coast road and heard a few Bearded Tits pinging away but suddenly out the corner of my eye I saw a pale bird flying around over the marsh to the west of the road. There in the daylight was a Barn Owl! I watched it for a few minutes before I headed off towards the sea. On the fence posts around the car park a pair of Stonechat was a nice addition but a 30-40 minute sea watch saw a distant Gannet, 8 Red-Throated Diver, 20 Common Scoter, 2 Razorbill, Guillemot and a raft of 30 Eider. Just as I was about to stop a Fulmar flew west. I walked back onto the top of the shingle and went over and joined some other birders looking into the eye field. In with the Skylarks were a single Dunlin and a single Purple Sandpiper which is a good bird to get onto the list. A Marsh Harrier put everything up and even caught something which it drowned by holding it under the water. The final bird into the notebook was a Water Rail that was showing well near the Bishop Hide. So I wanted 32 species to hit 100 and I actually added 33 so I was a happy bunny!
After my son had mentioned the other weekend that he'd like to be an artist when he's older he asked if we could go to an art gallery! So a day out in London was had with a wander round the National Gallery seeing Van Gogh's, Constable's and Monet's and being told by a jobsworth foreign guard not to point at the paintings. After a quick doughnut and cup of tea we headed over to Hyde Park. Almost as soon as we entered the park a couple of Greylag Geese flew over and along with a few pairs of Egyptian Geese got onto my year list. But the main reason for going was soon found near the Diana Memorial fountain (more like an insult than a memorial) in a tiny reedbed I soon found the 2 female Bearded Tits that had been present for a couple of months. They showed amazingly well just a few feet away for the next 5 minutes quite unlike Bearded Tits usually behave!
After the report of the LS Woodpecker from the meadow I had a quick 2 minute look while my boss turned the van around and as I got to the end of the bridge 2 ducks flew up from the flood water. They were a pair of GADWALL! They saw me and took flight but landed only c.40ft away. This was a park first for me making them my 105th species I'd seen in the park and after checking my records they were confirmed as a first for the park becoming the 156th species! Not bad for a park in Watford! Unfortunatley I couldn't stay to enjoy them as I had to get back to work and there was no sight or sound of any woodpeckers. A male Mandarin was reported to me this afternoon also in the meadow.
A while ago I joined Twitter after I'd seen someone I'd not met reporting birds from the park. On checking my account I noticed they had reported hearing a Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker from the meadow on the 12th. This was great news as there wasn't a confirmed sighting last year. In the park today though a Skylark flew south over the toilet block and a Common Gull was a on the paddling pools. Near the cafe were 30+ Redwing. A quick visit to our Oxhey depot to pick up some equipment saw 100+ Fieldfare and 50+ Redwing around the allotments and the yard and a Kestrel and Lesser Redpoll were also seen in the yard.
Having spent most of the morning pruning shrubs on the ring road the dirt and cold was broken by a Grey Heron trying to land in a back garden whilst being buffeted by strong winds and once it had managed it 2 Herring Gulls took a dislike and started mobbing it forcing to head towards the high street! Then while getting in the cones I heard the lovely trill of a Waxwing and sure enough in the very same garden was a single Waxwing and then another at the bottom of the garden. These two were then joined by another 6 that flew out from behind the fence and all 8 birds landed in a tree I was stood next to. They certainly warmed up my day!
A new month and an increase of noteworthy birds. 17 Greenfinch flew over the yard first thing and the Coot from the other day had been joined by a second. 2 Goldcrest, 2 Treecreeper and a GreyWagtail were also noted.
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.