MONDAY 20 OCTOBER
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