Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hilfield Reservoir - 2.5.17

Slavonian Grebe

Due to the goodies up on the patch it took me 4 days to visit my old one for a pair of stunning summer plumaged Slavonian Grebes. Only my 3rd and 4th in Herts and my first full summer birds anywhere since Loch Ruthven RSPB in 1991! And for the first time ever I saw 4 species of grebe at one site at once in Herts.

Herts Mega - 1.5.17

Kentish Plover

As I was slurping my morning cuppa a Tweet came through about a female Kentish Plover on Pitstone Quarry! My tea was nearly splattered over the wall when I read that! I quickly gathered myself and headed up to pay my first visit to the site. On arrival I joined a group of familiar and some unfamiliar faces as this site is well known for having the Bucks/Herts county border running through the middle of it and so potentially providing a tick for both counties listers. Thanks to Lee Evans for getting my scope on this hard to see bird it soon became apparent that it was in Bucks and that it had to walk towards us to be in Herts. Thankfully that's just what it did and became a Herts tick for almost everyone. This was the 4th for Herts with the last record in 1976 when I was nearly 8 months old! As for Bucks it was only the 2nd for them with the only other one was in 1981.

After my fill of the plover I popped into College Lake to see what was about and secretly hoping that the previous evenings Greenshank was still about. Luckily it was even if it was in the far NW corner. It was sharing the corner with a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. On the main marsh a Snipe and 2 LRP were seen as well as the Dunlin.

On Wilstone the Black Terns had increased to 3.

Back Again - 30.4.17

Today I spent a good few hours on patch and started off at College Lake where the highlight was a smart summer plumaged Dunlin.

A wander around the back of Marsworth Res failed to produce any sound of the 2 Grasshopper Warbler but not surprising due to the near gale force winds! A Hobby was upsetting some wagtails and as I reached my car a Cuckoo started cuckooing at the back of a nearby field.

A circuit of Wilstone didn't add anything to the list but I did have my best patch views of a pair of Raven over Rushy Meadow. From the hide a late female Wigeon and a hunting Hobby were noted and from the jetty 2 adult Black Tern were sat on the barley bales.

College Lake - 29.4.17

Jack Snipe and Yellow Wagtails

To get a bit of fresh air the 3 of us had a family wander around the lake. Phoebe decided to protest as soon as we arrived by screaming loudly but she soon fell asleep. 2 Lesser Whitethroat were heard and 2 LRP and an Oystercatcher were seen and that was about it until I had one last scan. On this scan a bird flew up and dropped into a weedy area and promptly was mostly hidden. But given time I managed to tentatively ID it as the Jack Snipe which had been present for a while. The only nagging doubt was its lack of bobbing! I wanted better views and so quickly walked around to the Octagon hide and thankfully got clinching views and even a bit of bobbing. It was then suddenly surrounded by 5 Yellow Wagtails. I can't recall seeing the two species together before! This is the last confirmed sighting of the Jack Snipe and so becomes Bucks latest ever.

Tring Again - 25.4.17

Yet another after work dash but this time for a pair of Black-Necked Grebe which were unfortunately on the far side of the reservoir so views were pretty crap!

Tring - 24.4.17

1 of the 2 Black Tern

A quick dash up once Carey had got home saw 2 adult Black Terns make it onto the year list along with Sedge Warbler and Swift.

Garden Mega - 23.4.17

5 hours of gardening was made more bearable when a Hawfinch flew NE over as I was putting the tools back in the shed. One of the best birds I've had on any of my garden lists.

Tyttenhanger - 17.4.17

A tweet saying that a Hooded Crow had been seen by my mate Ricky as it headed over Tyttenhamger GP's got me out the house and on site but despite a good bit of searching this county mega had obviously gone straight through. But I did see my first Whitethroat and White Wagtail of the year along with 4 LRP and 2 Yellow Wagtail.

Patch Again - 16.4.17

Yellow Wagtail

No sooner had I arrived at the viewpoint at College Lake than I heard my first Reed Warbler of the year singing from the path to the Octagon hide. As I walked around I heard some terns and once on them I was delighted to find they were 4 Arctic Terns. They didn't stay long and soon headed off towards the reservoirs. A Lesser Whitethroat was rattling at The Twist but the rest of the walk round was uneventful.

Wilstone was my next stop and from the hide I got onto the Common Sandpiper feeding out at the base of one of the trees on Drayton bank. At the jetty I almost stood on a stunning male Yellow Wagtail.

Startops had another Common Sandpiper and not a lot else!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Cassiobury Park - 15.4.17

Despite it being a Saturday I was up fairly early and into (work!) but it was for a good reason. Last years Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that I'd found had reappeared in the same spot and drawing in birders from afar to come see it. Unfortunately on arrival a military fitness type group were nearby with a very noisy instructor which possibly lead to the bird being elusive and only being seen in flight. What was good is that I saw a female too which raises hope of breeding. Others had also seen another male! This became my 150th species for the year.

Cattle Egret! - 12.4.17

Cattle Egret

An after work visit to the patch proved to be very fruitful. On walking out to the viewpoint at College Lake I noticed a white bird on the left hand island. Thinking it's probably a Little I was stunned to find upon looking at it through my scope that it had an orangey bill and crown. It was a Cattle Egret! I quickly grabbed a record shot in case it flew and then ran into the centre to inform the staff of my find. A 1st for the reserve no less! Next it was to get the news out and inform the locals. Quite quickly they started to appear and get a view. It was flighty but stuck around until closing ending up on the tern raft on the far side of the reserve. It also became my first self found 3 pointer for the patchwork challenge thereby giving me 3 bonus points!Willow Warbler and 2 Little Ringed Plover also made it onto the year list.

Marsworth was my next stop. A House Martin was a year first as were the pair of Mandarin that I'd managed to walk past without seeing them. On Startops Common Tern and 3 Yellow Wagtail were also year firsts and finally a pair of Red-Crested Pochard were on Wilstone.

Summer? - 11.4.17

A single Swallow flew over Vicarage Road cemetery this afternoon.

Home - 29.3.17

A Sand Martin flew over the garden as I was sat looking out of the window. A nice garden tick.

Wilstone + College Lake - 11.3.17

Whilst trawling through my Twitter feed I stumbled across a post informing us of Garganey up at Wilstone. Soon I was on site and enjoying the sight of 4 Garganey (2 pairs). These were my earliest ever in the UK by almost a week. It was while watching these that a bird called from behind me as it flew overhead. It took the old brain a second or two to register that it was a Curlew! This was only my 2nd ever in Herts!

Before heading home I popped into College Lake and was rewarded with 3 new patch ticks for the year in the shape of Shelduck, Redshank and Oystercatcher

Wilstone Reservoir - 6.3.17


A message on Twitter came to my attention from @Tringbirds saying there were 35 Kittiwakes on Wilstone! Thinking it maybe a fat thumb moment and he meant 3 or 5 I headed up anyway and on arrival ! was told that there was at least 1 on show and that 35 was correct but almost all of them had flown of into Bucks! In the end I managed to see 5 birds of varying age and plumage and as a result get a Tring tick.