Monday, 22 September 2014

Not Spurning The Chance To Go On Shrike! - 21.9.14

2 of the Masked Shrike, Redstart and Whinchat
Saturday morning broke and while sat in bed with a cup of tea I had a check of the pager to find that there was still a good smattering of scarcities along the east coast including a new in juv Woodchat Shrike at Kilnsea but nothing worth shouting about. I then had a check on Twitter to see what was occurring when I came across an interesting tweet from a birder in Shetland saying he had an interesting looking flycatcher that looked good for Brown. After catching up on my tweets I finished my tea and laid down again only to hear my pager start vibrating on the window sill. I turned to Carey to say that the flycatcher had been ID'd as a Brown but I was shocked to read with still bleary eyes that the Kilnsea Woodchat Shrike was in fact a Masked Shrike!! This only depressed me as with paint shopping and bedroom furniture procurement the plan for the day along with my car making worrying noises from the engine I knew I wouldn't be able to go for it. That evening Carey took pity on me and said I could borrow her car and with that Sunday morning arrived and the bird was still there so off I went leaving the house just after 9 arriving eventually no thanks to the M1 roadworks just before 1pm.

Having never been to the Spurn area before I didn't really know where I was going but thanks to the sat-nav I found my way to the Bluebell car park and nabbed the only space before following everyone else to the viewing area and straight away getting onto my first ever MASKED SHRIKE. The small black and white bird was most of the time sat in the hedge motionless before flying out and catching craneflies. Every now and then it would turn around to reveal a small peachy coloured patch on the flank. This 3rd for Britain shared the hedge with 3 Redstart which were my first of the year and a nice Lesser Whitethroat which looked quite brown so maybe one of the eastern races? After having my fill of the Shrike I headed up the church where I added 2 Garden Warbler to the day list and another Lesser Whitethroat. I then wandered round the corner to the famous Crown and Anchor pub where in the hedge opposite a surprisingly showy Barred Warbler performed to the crowds. I then took a footpath to the opposite side of the field by the church and from here I added 4 more year ticks with 2 Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and a brief Red-Breasted Flycatcher in the hedge and out on the estuary I finally spotted a Knot! The last year tick of the day was a dark morph Arctic Skua on a very quick seawatch from the car park. All in all a very good day.

Back Garden - 20.9.14

A Rook flew over and then just before dusk c.40 Greenfinch flew overhead.

Oxhey Grange - 17.9.14

A day spent tidying the bowling green was fairly productive with a small movement of Meadow Pipits totalling 16 birds. A single Swallow flew over as did a Sparrowhawk and while having my lunch a rattling flock of 7 Mistle Thrush flew over.

Work + Home - 16.9.10

Another singing Chiffchaff this time at Paddock Road and then at home 3 Grey Wagtail flew SE over the garden together.


Not really anything exciting enough to call them highlights but a few more singing Chiffchaff at various sites and the odd fly over Sparrowhawk and Red Kite.

Watford + Oxhey - 10.9.14

A Sparrowhawk flew over the yard at Wiggenhall Road and at Oxhey Grange a Red Kite flew over and a Chiffchaff was singing.

Waterfields Rec - 9.9.14

A Meadow Pipit flew over and 2 Chiffchaff were present with one of them singing in the sunshine.

Watford - 8.9.14

An excellent start to the day was had when a Crossbill flew in and stayed briefly at NW Cemetery. Down at Radlett Road rec 4 Meadow Pipit flew over, a Chiffhcaff was singing, 8 Magpie were on the grass and a Bullfinch was heard along the railway embankment.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Callowland Again! - 5.9.14

The Chiffchaff that has been present all week was joined by another today with both half heartedly singing. A lone Mistle Thrush was briefly on the pitches.

Callowland + KGVPF - 4.9.14

11 Magpie were in a single tree near the car park at KGVPF but they soon scattered when a large Sparrowhawk flew over. The Chiffchaff was still present at Callowland.

Callowland - 3.9.14

The Chiffchaff was still present and singing again today.

Watford - 2.9.14

While getting the football pitches ready for the start of the season a Buzzard circled over Callowland rec and a Chiffchaff started singing briefly. Later in the day at Cassiobury Park 2 Meadow Pipit flew south.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Tring Reservoirs - 31.8.14

After an uneventful birthday the day before I had a couple of hours to spare so decided to pop over to Tring. The hoped for Great White Egret had departed after just 10 minutes so I concentrated on what was still present. 2 Green Sandpiper were a year tick and I counted 10 juv Black-Tailed Godwit. Also noted were Common Sandpiper, 3 juv Shelduck, 2 Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail, Hobby, 3 Red Kite and 2 LRP. Afterwards I popped into Startops End Reservoir and quickly found the juv Black Tern which was new for the year.

Home And Away - 29.8.14

before work I sat in the garden enjoying my morning cuppa and I had 12 Swallow fly SW and a Sparrowhawk fly west. At Oxhey bowling green a GS Woodpecker thought it was late winter and started drumming!

Cassiobury Park + KGVPF - 28.8.14

9 Mistle Thrush were on the football pitches with Starlings and a juv Pied Wagtail. Over at KGVPF 2 Chiffchaff were calling and singing and 2 Swift flew over.

Cassiobury Park - 21.8.14

6 Herring Gull flew over the park (4 adult and 2 begging juvs)

New Back Garden - 15.8.14

Our new house in Hemel Hempstead has a nice garden to enjoy and once moved in I sat out on the patio with a cup of tea and started off my new garden list. A couple of surprises with Jay and both Green and Great-Spotted Woodpecker were had but then I heard a bird call as it flew overhead and was amazed to ID it as a Tree Pipit! It was only my 6th in Herts but my 4th self found.

End Of An Era - 12.7.14

Today was the last day living in the flat in Chipperfield. In the 2 and a bit years I lived there I had seen such highlights as 10 Raven, 70 Golden Plover and of course the county tick of a Gannet! Also with the lights in the communal area being on all night I added nearly 90 species of Moth!

Chipperfield - 6.8.14

2 Swift flew over the flat mid evening.

Watford - 1.8.14

Whilst working in Vicarage Road cemetery a Chiffchaff started calling.

Chipperfield - 17.7.14

After a nice pub meal for my brothers birthday we left the pub and while chatting in the car park a Woodcock flew over squeaking and croaking as it went.

Great Knot - 15.7.14

Great Knot
A few years ago I was on holiday up at my dads old caravan when just as I was sitting down to dinner the mega alert went off telling me about a Great Knot just down the road at Breydon Water. On arrival the bird was in the middle of the estuary and couldn't even be identified to any species! Roll forward a few years and news broke late in the evening of a Great Knot at Breydon Water! News the next morning was positive and so off I went arriving around 2.5 hours later. Learning from my last twitch there for the Broad-Billed Sandpiper I headed straight for the rugby club car park on the south wall. I wandered up and joined 2 other birders. While waiting for the tide to drop I noted 7 Little Egret, a nice summer plumage Mediterranean Gull and 4 Spotted Redshank which were a nice year tick. Eventually the tide dropped and the waders left their roost and flew out onto the mud. The birders on the north bank then suddenly started moving and were obviously looking at the bird. After a nervous wait I suddenly picked up the bird and GREAT KNOT was onto my list. I got the now 9 others onto it and everyone was suddenly very happy!

Hilfield Reservoir - 13.7.14

A rare visit to the patch didn't produce a year tick for the first time this year. Highlights were 5 Blackcap and a Reed Warbler.

Osprey - 10.7.14

On the way to work this morning I was nearing the end of Langley Hill when I saw a large raptor in the distance circling over the same spot. I quickly drove out of Kings Langley and pulled over. I grabbed the bins from the boot and got onto the bird and was pleased to see it was what I had expected a lovely Osprey. It circled a few more times before dropping out of view behind some trees. It had gone down in the area of a small trout lake so presumably was fishing. I waited to see if it reappeared but it didn't and so off I headed to work.