Monday, 20 October 2014

DARTFORD WARBLER still skulking on Beacon - and more RING OUZELS....

The calm before the storm. Light winds today with some long sunny periods - dry too - and still relatively mild.
My first port of call was AMWELL GRAVEL PITS (HERTS), where Barry Reed yesterday had uniquely discovered two separate YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS within a kilometre of each other. I arrived shortly after 0930 hours, Bill Last informing me that one of the birds was on show, and after eventually making sense of his directions, enjoyed a very brief view as the bird flew from an Ash tree just 75 yards north of the Great Hardmead Lake Viewpoint back across the Lea Navigation canal to a tall Sycamore on the west side adjacent to the first two picnic benches. For around 5 minutes then, the bird called repeatedly from the canopy - a loud, penetrating, high-pitched ''chew-ee''. It then went missing for a period before once again, it called loudly from the Ash on the east of the canal. A crowd of around 25 observers gathered and over the next 10 minutes, the bird showed well on several occasions, flitting about the canopy and in an inter-twined Elm. It then returned back over the canal......
With yesterday's bird at the SE end of Hardmead Lake, the county total for Yellow-browed Warblers now increases to SIX, with previous records consisting of -:
#    Long Marston near Tring from 28 September to 3 October 1988;
#    trapped & ringed by Philip Burton in Roundhill Wood, Wigginton, on 27 September 1997;
#    in Tring town centre on 12 October 2003;
#    in a private Tring garden on 9 October 2010
Richard Crossley, Jason Ward, Phil Bishop and others obtained good photographs of the initial bird found by Barry and Mike Ilett and others photographs of the second (see below).

Two shots of the original bird taken by Phil Bishop...

....and one of the second taken by Mike Ilett

Other species noted at Amwell included a COMMON RAVEN, Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Kestrel, 2 Siskin, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Jay, Redwing, 3 Chaffinch and Common Kingfisher with 76 Shoveler and 10 Mute Swans being the most noteworthy of Great Hardmead Lake's diversity of species.
I then moved on to CROSSWAYS FARM HORSE PADDOCKS at NETTLEDON (HERTS), where Dan Forder's immature/female BLACK REDSTART was showing well on the fences of the furthestmost paddock. It was loosely associating with a pair of COMMON STONECHAT but was highly mobile, moving from the main paddock one minute to the farm buildings and then to the far fencing. It was flycatching. The paddock also held 16+ Pied Wagtails, 24 Common Starlings and Green Woodpecker.

Dave Hutchinson and I then drove up to IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVE (BUCKS) where Ephraim Perfect's first-year male DARTFORD WARBLER was still present in the dense clump of Hawthorn just beyond the S-bend on the Beacon Slope - scolding just occasionally and showing briefly in one of the sheltered spots between the thicket. Four RING OUZEL were also skulking in this same clump - three males and a female/first-year - as well as 8+ (Continental) Song Thrushes and a single REDWING, the latter my first of the autumn on the site. Red Kite (3), Green Woodpecker, 10 Woodpigeon, Common Blackbird, 2 Stock Dove, 15 Chaffinch and a confiding MARSH TIT were also noted, but little in the way of diurnal migration.

However, just as I got home at around 1700 hours, a flock of 28 REDWING flew SSW over my house


Sunday, 19 October 2014


David Bilcock discovered two juvenile GREATER SCAUP on Wilstone Reservoir this morning - both birds still being present when Dave and I returned this evening (photographed by Dave Hutchinson above). Dave also had an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL.

Also this evening, both Whooper Swans present (one being particularly vocal), 13 Pintail, 200+ Wigeon, 300+ Teal, 25 Gadwall, 116 Pochard, 35 Tufted Duck, 23 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Little Grebe, 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, the juvenile RUFF, 2 Common Snipes and 260 Black-headed Gulls.

On the Hills, Ephraim Perfect photographed a male DARTFORD WARBLER just up from the S-bend on Ivinghoe Beacon

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Recent Sightings

Whilst away in Norfolk all week, the same Northeasterlies that brought that county a major fall of birds also displaced a large number of birds locally.....

For example, Roy Hargreaves had a Grey Phalarope on Wilstone on Tuesday, as well as 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipits and a Pink-footed Goose, whilst on Friday he had 2 Grey Plovers.

On the Hills, Mike Wallen recorded at least 6 Ring Ouzels, numerous Brambling, a Woodlark, 2 Fieldfares and over a thousand Redwing

I did survey the area on FRIDAY (17 OCTOBER) visiting WILSTONE and although the 2 Grey Plover had moved on, I did log 650 Lapwing, 106 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, a RUFF, the 2 Whooper Swans, 4 Little Grebe, 24 Mute Swan, 7 Pintail, 73 Pochard, 52 Sinensis and 2 remaining Black-tailed Godwit.

At IVINGHOE BEACON, Mike Wallen and I had a nice male RING OUZEL in the Whitebeam close to the S-bend at the start of the Beacon Slope, as well as 6 COMMON STONECHAT, a late NORTHERN WHEATEAR, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 COMMON RAVEN, 4 migrant Blue Tits, Jay, 76+ Goldfinch, 18 Common Starling, 3 Sinensis Cormorant West, 18 Common Starling, 45+ Skylark, Nuthatch, Yellowhammer, 30 Chaffinch, 2 Bullfinch and 2 Goldcrest

My pictures from today.....

The Sheep Fields now full of sheep!

A late Northern Wheatear in the sheep pens

still 6 Common Stonechats on site

a migrant Reed Bunting - my first of the autumn here

a few Meadow Pipits still

at least 76 Goldfinches on site

An inquisitive Stoat

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A new RUFF and some GOLDEN PLOVERS....

Despite some hefty showers, most of today was fine and dry with some long spells of warm sunshine. The wind remained in the Southwest so visible migration was virtually at a standstill.....
I started off at WILSTONE RESERVOIR where David Bilcock had earlier seen a Scandinavian Rock Pipit but despite a thorough search by Steve Rodwell and I, there was no further sign of it. There was some sign of wader passage, with a 'new' juvenile RUFF on site and a flock of between 7 and 20 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, while the 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS remained, 2 RINGED PLOVERS and the COMMON SANDPIPER; Lapwings numbered at least 316 but were coming and going to the fields all of the time.

Otherwise, I had an opportunity to do the counts, with 18 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 19 Sinensis Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, just 22 Mute Swan, the two adult WHOOPER SWANS (showing well in the sunshine, preening near the new overflow), 38 Canada Geese, a single first-year COMMON SHELDUCK, 85 Mallard, 175 Wigeon, 315 Teal, 15 Gadwall, 8 PINTAIL, 53 Shoveler, 15 Tufted Duck, 47 Pochard, 299 Coot, 5 Red Kite, Common Buzzard, 37 Black-headed Gull, Common Treecreeper, Yellowhammer, 6 Pied Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail. A male Common Blackbird was enjoying the sun.

Evidence of some movement came in the form of a flock of 15 Meadow Pipit on the East Bank and 2 Eurasian Skylarks over.
At TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, the most noticeable event was the tremendous increase in Robins - at least 13 being present. The woodland fringe also held 2 Dunnock, Chaffinch, 8 Goldcrest, 8 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Great Tit and a Common Chiffchaff, whilst on the water, counts included 5 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Little Grebe, the 8 Mute Swan, an impressive 47 Gadwall, 71 Teal, 28 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 8 Pochard, 5 Red-crested Pochard, 163 Coot and 20 Moorhen.

Not much to add from STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR other than a migrant Jay, 15 Mute Swan, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Little Grebe, 131 Coot, 8 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 18 Pochard and 38 Tufted Duck, while MARSWORTH was largely birdless other than 2 Mute Swans, 12 Shoveler, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Robin - 6 more Robin being noted by the SEWAGE FARM. Sadly, a dead Badger was lying on the road opposite the sewage works.
In the east of the county, a return visit to LEMSFORD SPRINGS NATURE RESERVE resulted in further excellent views of the JACK SNIPE from the main hide, 7 GREEN SANDPIPERS (all but one colour-ringed), WATER RAIL, 2 fabulous COMMON KINGFISHERS, 5+ Grey Wagtail, 3 Little Egret, Common Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Bullfinch.


Not that far away, I was astounded to find 32+ CLOUDED YELLOW BUTTERFLIES by one of the gravel pits