Sunday, 29 April 2018

Tring + College Lake - 28.4.18

As I had a couple of hours to spare before Carey headed out for the day I shot up to Wilstone Reservoir hopefully for some more year ticks. I bumped into George who was walking back to his car but as he didn't have his scope he asked to look through mine for any Arctic Terns. Quite quickly I picked one out in the NW corner above the trees and got him onto it and then I found a Common Sandpiper on the barley bales. 2 year ticks in 2 minutes wasn't bad! He then left to join his girlfriend. I gave it another 30 minutes and in that time I added another Arctic Tern, Sand Martin, Hobby and Yellow Wagtail into the notebook.

At Marsworth a Reed Warbler was singing and at Startops a Sedge Warbler was singing next to the path.

At College Lake I joined a mini twitch for the 69 Black-tailed Godwits that had dropped in earlier. They were joined after I left by another flock and totalled 102 birds! Also present were 2 Common Sandpiper, LRP and a singing Lesser Whitethroat.

Watford - 26.4.18

While cutting the grass at KGV playing fields my attention was turned by 3 Goosander (2 male) flying overhead towards Hampermill Lake!

Watford - 23.4.18

A singing Whitethroat was a nice surprise at Harwoods Rec this morning. A first for that site from memory.

Watford + PENDULINE TIT!! - 16.4.18

Penduline Tit

The day at work started off nicely with my first Willow Warbler of the year singing at Waterfield Rec but at lunchtime I checked my phone to see a message saying there was a Penduline Tit at Tyttenhanger! My friend Steve Blake had found it but it was a bit elusive. As it was a Monday I finished work at 3pm so I shot straight over there. I parked up and on the walk to the site I added Tree Sparrow, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail to the year list. I arrived to find Steve still there along with Brendon and Terry to be told it'd been showing well until 10 minutes ago but had flown over some trees. Luckily 2 minutes later I saw some movement and there it was feeding on a group of 4 bulrushes. For the next 10 minutes or so it gradually came closer and closer until it was around 15-20 feet away and was showing brilliantly. At times it was heard calling too. Annoyingly when I'd left for work this morning I thought about taking my scope just in case but I didn't pack it so I had to make do with just my binoculars. Because of this the photos above are quite poor as they were taken with my phone hand held through my bins! Nevertheless a 1st for Herts isn't to be sniffed at so thanks again Steve! A singing Lesser Whitethroat was seen on the way back to the car so 6 year ticks today.

Hilfield Reservoir - 15.4.18

I was going to head up to Wilstone for a pair of Black-necked Grebe and some Little Gulls but with a possible Glaucous Gull at Hilfield I decided to pay a visit there instead. I arrived to find Steve Murray and Tony Blake on the dam but the possible Glauc had flown soon after it arrived. The visit wasn't a total loss as there were 6 Little Gulls showing nicely and the same number of Black-necked Grebe. 3 House Martins were also a year tick.

Kings Langley - 12.4.18

Driving home I spotted my first 2 Swallows of the year perched on wires at Wayside Farm.


There I was on the evening of the 7th watching a film with my wife when at about 10.30pm a message popped up on my phone saying an American Bittern had been seen in Suffolk! It turns out one of the volunteer wardens had taken some great shots of what he thought was a Eurasian Bittern at Carlton Marshes NWT near Lowestoft and had posted them on Twitter as such. Alarm bells then began ringing with the first people to see them and sure enough it was an American!

American Bittern. Thanks to Craig Shaw for his photo

Plans were made for a visit the next day with George and Matt and we were on site just after 9am. The hours ticked by and the rain started and stopped and with only a Barn Owl and Marsh Harriers to keep us interested we decided to call it a day at about 12.20pm and headed back on the 15-20 minute walk back to the car. We had just stepped into the car park when the warden came out to tell us that 10 minutes after we'd left it took flight alongside one of our Bitterns and dropped down again! He said he was heading back and did we want a lift! We settled into place again and thankfully 45 minutes later a bird got up. It was the American Bittern! 15 seconds of flight views showing the distinctive upper wing pattern and it dropped down and for those quick off the mark it showed in the field for a few seconds. Happy with that we headed for home with a most unexpected mega on our lists!

At the time of writing its still present and at times giving amazing views feeding in the ditch so I might have to go back for seconds!

College Lake + Wilsotne Res - 5.4.18

A patch visit was in order to try and get a few more year ticks on the list. 2 Little Ringed Plovers at College Lake was a nice start while at Wilstone 3 Common Tern and a nice male Yellowhammer were also added. Butterflies were present too with Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell all be firsts  for the year.

Oxhey Park - 26.3.18

The first sound of Spring was heard today with a singing Chiffchaff.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Norfolk - 18.3.18


A trip up with George and Matt Moreton in very icy conditions was a mixed bag as two of our targets didn't show but I did manage a couple more Norfolk ticks. First stop was Santon Downham for my second attempt at the Parrot Crossbill flock but again I failed. We also failed to find any Lesser-spotted Woodpecker but Marsh Tit and a nice male Brambling made up for it.

At Cockley Cley our hoped for Willow Tit and Goshawk also failed. Another Marsh Tit and a Norfolk tick Red Kite eased the dipping!

At Lakenheath/Hockwold washes we walked up to view over the washes and had a couple of Little Egrets quickly followed by another Norfolk tick in the shape of a Great White Egret as it flew over. As we had just lowered our bins from watching that Matt says there's a Spoonbill! Sure enough not too far away was a lovely Spoonbill amazingly awake but quite quickly it realised it had been rumbled and flew off to join the GW Egret! A Whooper Swan was showing well too.

Our last stop was Cavenham Heath where quite quickly George found 2 Stone Curlew huddled down against the wind.

Cassiobury Park - 15.3.18

Little Owl

As if visiting the park on a Sunday was bad enough I again paid a visit but this time on the first day of my holiday from work! I joined the Watford RSPB group for a wander round and while it wasn't as exciting and rare filled as last time we did see some decent birds. A Redpoll flew over and 1 Little Owl was still in-situ. 3 Mandarin were seen flying around in the meadow and from the hide 10 Siskin and 2 Coal Tit were the highlights as was a nice pair of Sparrowhawk displaying above us.

Cassiobury Park - 25.2.18

Going to one of my places of work on a Sunday morning isn't my idea of fun but when I saw a tweet from David Darrell-Lambert aka @birdbrainuk asking for help on the birds of the park for a new book he's writing  I thought who better to show him what it has to offer than me! The first bird of the day was a fly over Reed Bunting which was only about the 5th record for the park! This was followed by 2 Little Owls sat in their usual tree looking down on us. An Egyptian Goose took off from the canal before we reached the hide. Another great bird for the park. As we neared the fishing lake a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker drummed and called a couple of times but wasn't seen and finally 2 Coot were on the fishing lake. Also a bit of a mega for the park! David, you can come again!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Norfolk - 28.1.18

Glaucous Gull

Purple Sandpiper

I again joined Brendon and Ricky for a day out but this time in Norfolk.

First stop was Santon Downham to hopefully see the good sized flock of Parrot Crossbill but they weren't seen. Siskin and Brambling were though so not a total blank.

At Mundesley I added the juvenile Glaucous Gull to my Norfolk list and even saw it from the local café while having a nice fry up!

Cromer golf course eventually turned up the juvenile Iceland Gull just as we were heading back to the car. This was also a Norfolk tick for me.

2 Purple Sandpiper were seen on the seafront rocks at Sheringham.

Passing through Weybourne I noticed a flock of about 200 Pink-footed Geese in a roadside field.

Stopping off at Salthouse for a flock of Snow Bunting found us 2 Ruff on the flooded field but the buntings didn't play ball.

Egyptian Goose fell at Cley and our final stop at Warham Greens added 2 ringtail Hen Harrier and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser along with a female Merlin. up to 115 for the year.

Odds and Sods

Lesser Redpoll and Nuthatch were seen in Oxhey on the 9th

A male Blackcap was seen in my mums garden on the 14th

A female Bullfinch was seen in Botley, Bucks on the way to the in-laws house

College Lake + Tring - 7.1.18

My first visit to the patch in 2018 produced a couple of good birds including Marsh Tit at College Lake and Peregrine, Raven and Corn Bunting at Tring. I finished the day on 101 species for the year.

Yet More Work! - 4.1.18

Just Long-tailed Tit and Jay for the list today.

Work Again - 3.1.18

3 more species were seen today nudging me into the 90's. Red Kite, Dunnock and RN Parakeet.

Work - 2.1.18

Back to work after the Christmas break added 5 more year ticks taking me to 89 species. Redwing, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, GS Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail.

Kent - 1.1.18

So a new year and a new yearlist. So to get it under way I joined Brendon and Ricky on a day out to the garden of England. The first bird of the day was a Robin singing in the dark outside my house. Our first stop was Harty Ferry where from the raptor watch point we started adding a few birds including Barn Owl which I failed to see in 2017, Marsh Harrier, Merlin and Cetti's Warbler.

A quick visit to Shellness to look for 3 Lapland Buntings failed to produce the goods but 5 Red-throated Diver, Grey Plover and a few other species were noted.

Elmley was our next stop but seeing as you had to pay £5 to enter we didn't stop but we did add House Sparrow and Coot!

We then headed to Oare Marshes where despite being told our target bird had flown to the other side of the reserve I managed to pick it out asleep on the island tucked up with a flock of Black-tailed Godwits. Thanks to a couple of Mute Swans getting argumentative they walked through the sleeping flock and woke up my 3rd UK Long-billed Dowitcher which then took flight and disappeared. By now it was raining and so after adding Avocet, Bar-tailed Godwit and a showy Water Rail we headed off towards Dungeness.

As we drove past the ARC pit I picked out a Great White Egret but we weren't so lucky at Lade GP's where somehow the Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck managed to avoid our gaze. A look out over the sea at Dungeness added Great  Northern Diver to the list and the amazing sight of 100 Great-crested Grebe on the sea. A quick look over the ARC pit re-found the GW Egret and whilst I was watching that I noticed movement from the reeds behind it and eventually a Bittern showed fairly well! A Curlew was the final bird of the day and I finished on 84 species. One day ill break 100 for NY Day!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

2017 Review

So another year over and in 2017 I finished with 215 species.


1. Elegant Tern
2. American Redstart
3. Cedar Waxwing
4. Eastern Orphean Warbler
5. Rock Thrush
6. (Horned Lark)

Plus Eastern Yellow Wagtail has been accepted from Lower Moors, Scilly 2016

Herts ticks

1. Kentish Plover
2. White-winged Black Tern
3. Parrot Crossbill

Great Gaddesden - 31.12.17

In my last post I mentioned the words end of the birding year, but with birding you shouldn't count your chickens too soon! A phone call from George Moreton saw me heading 4 miles to the north of home to his local patch where he had found a flock of his favourite bird. Hawfinch! 15 to be precise but all the time I was there I only saw them perched briefly but mostly seen in flight. Not a year tick after my garden fly over earlier in the year but a great record so close to home.


Male Parrot Crossbill

With a couple of decent sized flocks of Parrot Crossbill in Norfolk and Surrey/Berkshire us Hertfordians were daydreaming about them turning up in the county but deep down knowing it was highly unlikely. That was until Barry Reed stumbled across 3 (2 male + 1 female) in Broxbourne Woods on the 18th. Not being able to get there that day I waited on news which thankfully came out early on the 19th and headed over. As I arrived I bumped into Steve Blake who was just returning to his car and he told me where to go. After a few minutes walk I found the small crowd and immediately got onto the 2 males followed 5 minutes later by the female. These were the 1st record for Herts and a great end to the birding year.

HORNED LARK at Staines Reservoir!! - 28.11.17

Horned Lark (honestly!)

A Shorelark found at Staines Reservoir was re-identified as a 1st winter female North American Horned Lark after photos appeared online.Unfortunately it was very distant when I went so a record shot is all I achieved. As I type this 5 months down the line it has been DNA'd as a Horned Lark and so becomes just the 3rd record for the UK. Fingers crossed for a future armchair split tick!

Hilfield Reservoir - 19.11.17

Whooper Swans

Just over a month since I last went birding I popped over to my old patch to see the 10 Whooper Swans that had arrived mid morning. I timed it perfectly as after no more than 5 minutes or so viewing they took flight and headed north. They were later seen in Cambridgeshire. The group contained 2 adults and 8 juveniles. I had seen a couple of Whooper's in Herts in the past but couldn't find any notes on them so these become my first noted/official birds for the county.

Wilstone - 31.8.17

Pink-footed Goose

Totally forgot to add this record so here it is! Whilst sat in the hide I suddenly noticed that there was a Pink-footed Goose in front of me! Strange time of year but on the year list it goes!