Thursday, 31 March 2011

KL Woods

After school today I made my way back through the woods, I heard 1 Chiffchaff (my first in the woods for the year) and 1 Ring-necked Parakeet (nearer the upper part of the woods) around 3:45.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Bury Lake

Today's sport involved going sailing at Bury Lake, obviously I had a look out for birds.  Despite the rain over 45+ Mute Swans were on Bury Lake alone (c.10 of which were on the surrounding bank), I had two sightings of 2 Ring-necked Parakeets fly over the lake (with occasional other individuals heard), in addition 1 Sparrowhawk flew over, 1 Green Woodpecker was calling on the S-E bank, a maximum count of 2 Grey Herons and several Great Crested Grebes were on the lake (although there were far fewer than I would have expected), 12s of Coot were also on the South-Eastern side of the lake.  The highlight were 4 Red-crested Pochard (3♂,1♀) the males were calling and displaying and I was able to get great views from the water in the boat.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Waxwing in Kings Langley Woods

On my return from the high street at 7:10 there were at least 4+ Wrens singing loudly from cover.  The highlight was the surprising view of 2 Waxwing which flew over the woods from a North-West-Westerly direction, they even alighted briefly on the uppermost branches above me and called occasionally and flapped there wings in order to remain balanced.  Closer to home 1 Muntjac Deer skulked through the vegetation near the first entrance to the wood (coming from Love Lane).

Monday, 28 March 2011

More Signs of Spring

In the car journey to school today 2 Jays flew past the car whilst at the round about outside Watford (were the M25 (junction 19) meets the A41).  One was carrying nesting material so evidently the the corvids are planning to nest soon.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Fields Behind The RSSKL

As I arrived in the field bordering the RSSKL there was 1 Green Woodpecker "yaffling" and 1♂ Kestrel was perched in the tall hedges that run along the A41.  The walk seemed to follow the usual routine and 1 Pheasant called near the woods next to Langley Lodge.  2 Yellowhammers were nearby (1♀ and 1 calling).  1 Skylark was also over the cow field (singing) and 1 Buzzard was circling over the fields near the ditch leading to Chipperfield.  My largest count of 3 Yellowhammers was near Ordnance Wood (and included 1♀ and 2 others (only heard calling and singing)).  1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was also calling from the wood and a total of 69 Pigeons (consisting of 34 Stock Doves and 35 Woodpigeons) were in the neighboring field but unfortunately took flight after being disturbed by me and the dog.

mixed flock of Woodpigeons and Stock Doves

Evening Dog Walk

On last nights dog walk 1 Red Fox crossed the road between the farm and our house (which is on the end of the lane).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Pagham Harbour with the Hemel RSPB Group

This was an amazing Saturday, the Hemel RSPB local group and I met up to go on a joint trip to Pagham Harbour.  The day started well and on the journey 4 Jays flew over the motorway.  2 Herring Gulls flew over the car park in Tesco in Fishbourne and a further 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were perched on a lamppost over the road.  Just outside Pagham Harbour 1 Green Woodpecker bounded over the fields (also seen from the car).  The day really got of to a good start when we arrived at the reserve, had a brief look at the recent sitings at the visitor centre and we were soon on our way around the reserve.  The first of the birds included 1 Kestrel (over the visitor centre), 1 Singing Chiffchaff near the reserve entrance and a further 3 Chiffchaff were all heard (and seen in most cases).  The first and only hide that we visited, was also near the reserve entrance and overlooked a small pool surrounded by stubble grassland and fields, on the bank alone there were 100s of Black-headed Gulls and amongst them there were an astonishing 21 Mediterranean Gulls, occasionally they would all take of as a group either grouping together into groups of the same species or mixing.

two adult Mediterranean Gulls on the bank of the lake

The lake also hosted c.14 Black-tailed Godwit (1 of which was almost in full summer plumage), there were also good numbers of ducks including 18 Shoveler (predominantly male) and 5 Shellduck, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Herring Gull and numerous Lapwing, bearing in mind all this was seen within 30 mins of our arrival!  Further around the reserve 1 Grey Heron flew over and 2 groups of a total of 10 Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers were the first of the waders to be seen.  The local farmland also had a variety of species including singing Skylarks, 2♂ Reed Buntings,(+1 more singing in a hedge) and 1 Little Grebe calling in the gully to the left of the path.

male Chaffinch


The same area also had 1 Buzzard (perched in a dead tree over the neighbouring farmland), 1 Little Egret, 2 Red-legged Partridges and 4 Linnets.

Little Egret

A tip from another birder was worth a second glance at the small gully as he put us on to a ♂ HOODED MERGANSER (most likely an escape) idling around between the two beds of reed!  We had fantastic views of the north american duck and I managed to take some quick photos

♂ Hooded Merganser in the small gully to the left of the path soon after coming onto the reserve.

Of course the debate is open to whether it is escape or genuine.  However, there is a strong possibility that it could be wild (presumably it was the same bird seen in Weymouth earlier in the year), the markings were almost perfect and to be honest, genuine or escape it is a fantastic duck.  On the way back to the centre 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard and 2 Pheasants were also nearby.  From the reserve entrance we made the small journey to the other end of the reserve by car and arrived by the Church Graveyard, this led onto wide expansive mudflats and this was evidently a magnet for the birds.  The most obvious of all were the 40+Oysercatcher, 3Turnstone, 12+Ringed Plover and 2 Black-tailed Godwit (both in summer plumage).  Other common Waders included 12s of Curlew, 15+ Dunlin (+12s more around the rest of the reserve).  Other highlight were 53+ Turnstone and 2 flocks of 16 and 20 Dark-bellied Brent geese respectively, 2 more individuals were also feeding separately closer to the western spit.

Brent Goose


2 more individuals were also seen seperatly feeding on the seaweed.  2 Little Egrets were also in the salt-marshes and 1 Chiffchaff was singing form within the churchyard.  2 Pheasants were also bordering the reserve (1♂,1♀), the rest of the walk up to the spit that was once the old sea wall included 1 Linnet, 2 Skylarks and 3 Wheatear, a good early spring find which had probably just made the exhausting journey from Africa (I didn't manage to tell which sex they were but most likely ♀).


beach at Church Norton

Numerous Cormorants were also perched along the entrance to the Distributary) and 1 Grey Heron flew over.  Other ducks seen at the reserve included Teal and Wigeon.  This relatively tame Pheasant and Reed Bunting were also feeding underneath the reserve feeders. 

male Reed Bunting

male Pheasant

Lastly on our second visit to the reserve centre I rushed of again to have a third encounter with the Hooded Merganser and I manage to take some better photos.

male Hooded Merganser

having a good old stretch

earlier in the day it made a short flight to the pool in front of the nature reserve

this was taken later in the evening when the light was fading and was becoming less active

After today's frantic birding a relaxing car journey back home was a luxury (not to mention the additional siting of 1 Kestrel and 1 Red-legged Partridge (just outside the reserve).

Friday, 25 March 2011

Waxwing on Vicarage Lane

On my way back from school, the walk through Cassiobury Park included the usual drumming 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.  However, on my way back up Vicarage Lane coming from the village I heard some trilling that I suddenly recognised as Waxwing call, There was a great confusion of movement in the bushes and suddenly a group of about 10 Waxwing flew out of the berry bush in a front drive half way up Vicarage Lane.  After a brief detour they returned.  However, me being unequipped with any gear I ran quickly home and returned with camera and bins to take some of the below pictures (they are all cropped to some extent and I did manipulate the colour tone only because the light was bad).  Whilst waiting for the waxwing to return 1 Sparrowhawk also flew over.  The views of the Waxwing that my brother and I had were amazing and their bravery was also very surprising as 1 juvenile remained in the bush whilst the others went on their short detour behind the neighbouring houses and remained extremely close to the road despite all the traffic and people walking past within feet of it.  Most birds seem to be adult female or juvenile.  A last good view of them included a total of 9 Waxwing, and needless to say the experience was amazing. 

my favorite photo of a female Waxwing going crazy over the last of the berries 

the juvenile that remained in the bush braving the Friday after school traffic 

Garden Birds

Yesterday, whilst filling up the garden feeders I had 3 Greenfinches (2ad. 1 juv.) perch in the tree above the garden shed, 1 Sparrowhawk also circled over the woods (probably ♀).  As well as the other usual garden visitors there was also 1 Coal Tit and 2 Goldfinches.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

normal day in Watford

There was 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the park (early morning c.8:15) and 1 Grey Wagtail was on the roof of the sports hall at WBGS.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


This mornings on the 500 bus journey passing Hunton Bridge 1 Ring-necked Parakeet flew over the road just by the canal and 2 Canada Geese flew over the cassiobury estate (also seen from the bus).  The walk through cassio. park included 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (today was one of the few days I actually saw it) and there were at least 4 Herring Gulls circling the WBGS (early morning c.8:15).  After school I went into the town centre, in the little fountain pond alone there were 11 Mallard (7♂,4♀) and 1 Moorhen, I soon got side tracked and decided to go for a big diversion up Orphanage Road leading to the large church.  On the way 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull was resting on one of the spires by the church, 1 Grey Heron flew over and at least another 5 Herring Gulls were also present.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Cassiobury Park and KL Woods

This morning whilst walking down into the village I heard 1 Sparrowhawk calling in KL Woods (It was probably a male and was evidently aiming to attract a mate), it seemed the usual residents birds of the wood had evacuated and dozens of common species were taking refuge in the bush on the outskirt of the wood including Coal Tits and Great Tits.  There was very little on my way through the park in the morning but on my return at 4:25 There were 3 Nuthatches chasing each other around and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming.  Back in Kings Langley, on my way back down into the village for the second time 1♂ Sparrowhawk flew over the front gardens outside the KL State School and landed in the small copse to the left of the entrance, it was a fantastic view and its classic behavior was so obvious it would have been difficult to miss.  Whilst walking through the woods 2 Muntjac Deer skulking at the side of the road one bounded in front of me, evidently scared by my arrival and the second fled in the opposite direction up towards the common.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Cassiobury Park and My Garden

My Monday morning started with 4 Coal Tits flitting past my window.  The morning walk through Cassiobury Park included 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, followed by another 1 GSW also drumming on my way back at 4:25.  2 Nuthatches were also near the path on my walk back including 1 at the parks entrance at Stratford Way and Shepherds Road.  The birds in my garden after 5:15pm included 2 Coal Tits (on both the seed and nut feeder (the nut feeder being more popular than the seed)), 2 Greenfinches, and some other birds that are often taken for granted such as 1 Robin and 2 Dunnocks.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Fields behind RSSKL

The weather was relatively good and it was around midday c.12:45 that I got out behind the RSSKL fields to walk my dog.  The first birds about were the raptors including 1 Red Kite, 1♀ Kestrel and 1 Buzzard (heard calling).  At one point there was a maximum of 8 Magpies perched in the trees near the motorway and 1♂ Pheasant called near Langley Lodge.  Around the farm were 48+ Woodpigeons (perched in the dead trees along the hedge row) and 2 Skylarks were singing (both in the fields neighboring Langley Lodge).  15+Starling flew over the cow fields and a further 50+ Starling were in the hedge rows that boarders the sheep field near the A41.  1 Grey Heron also flew in the direction of Chipperfield and 3 Long-tailed Tits were in the hedges along the A road.

Skylark over fields near Langley Lodge

Saturday, 19 March 2011

North Watford

There was 1 Little Egret along the canal, it was very nervous and didn't want to behave normally even when I was at a distance (despite it living in the middle of a town).

Little Egret

1 (possibly 2) Siskin were calling in the poplar trees bordering the canal and a Little Grebe briefly called in the reed be behind the canal.  There were also 2 Grey Wagtails perched in the middle of the stream briefly perched on a pile of twigs.  1 chiffchaff was also calling along the canal

Grey Wagtail

Leading up to the nature reserve there were several Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits.  In the nature reserve itself there were numerous Goldfinches calling(I was unable to count exact numbers because I only heard them calling), a chiffchaff was also singing.


Brent Reservoir and Woodland Park

This morning was spent at Brent Reservoir from 8:30 until 12pm.  1 Greenfinch was in a tall tree neighboring the playing fields and 1 Sparrowhawk flew over.  The trees and rough grassland was also very productive and I found 1 Green Woodpecker, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (we (Ephraim and I) had at least 4 more individual sitings along the path.  We also came across several singing Chiffchaffs.  On the Reservoir itself (most birds were seen from the hide) there were 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 (possibly 5) Snipe, 126+ Black-headed Gulls were resting on the mud in front of the hide and a further 100+ Black-headed Gulls were also in the western corner of the Reservoir.  There were also 17+ Common Gulls (together with the BHGulls most still in winter plumage).  Ring-necked Parakeets kept flying over and I saw them in most areas around the reservoir.  At least 4 Little Grebes were on the Reservoir (mainly near the centre), 2 Reed Buntings were on the south bank, 1 Sparrowhawk flew over the reeds and 1 ad. Ruddy Duck was skirting the south bank, often diving and difficult to pick up on.  2♂ Shoveler were also in front of the hide together with numerous Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebes and Herring Gulls.
The northern part of the reservoir, just after crossing Cool Oak Lane also had a lot of bird life including 2 more Ruddy Duck (1 ad. and 1 juv.).  There were also more Great Crested Grebes, Pochard, Gadwall and Ephraim found a Chiffchaff in the small woods to the left of the path.

Ruddy Duck in the northern part of the reservoir, after crossing the road.
Great Spotted Woodpecker on the northern bank of the reservoir (a lot of drumming was going on)

Mute Swan
1 of 2 Mistle Thrushes in the woods neighbouring the reservoir

Friday, 18 March 2011

Cassio. Park and the fields behing RSSKL

On my morning walk through Cassiobury Park I heard 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green woodpecker and 1 Nuthatch.  On the bus journey back from Watford c.3:45 I saw a flock c.10 Waxwing like birds perched in the trees up Langley Hill, the views I had were very distant but they had chubby bellies and were perched precariously at the end of the branches (Waxwing like behavior),  I've seen them in Kings Langley 2 possibley 3 times so maybe it could have been them, anyway they were too far away to tell exactly what they were so they'll have to remain anonymous.  Behind the RSSKL there were 2 Red Kites, 1♂ Pheasant3 Mallard (2♂,1♀), 1♂ Kestrel.  Unfortunatly the effect of intensive farming has resulted in an unproductive monoculture and I very rarely record more than 20 species.

Red Kite over fields near Langley Lodge, distant and bad light but still an amazing bird (a white feather is protruding from the primaries in the right wing, probably a new feather replacement after its gradual molt)
An excellent view of a ♂ Pheasant (its in the middle of the photo left of the pylon) (slight hint of sarcasm)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

KL Woods and Cassio. Park

There was 1 Ring-necked Parakeet over the entrance to Cassiobury Park at Shepherds Road at 7:15.  At the WGSB there were also numerous Black-headed Gulls (most in full summer breading plumage) and a Lesser Black-backed Gull was alsoo perched on the building.  On my way back through KL Woods there were 2 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Nuthatch, Blue and Great Tits.  A small rodent was also near the top of the woods scurrying through the leaf litter (Its body was c.4.5cm long and with the tail would have been approximately 8cm).  Overall it had brown/grayish fur and a horn/pink coloured tail, it was also relatively chubby and didn't seem to have the usual pointy nose that is characteristical of shrews, I don't know rodents so well but the closest match would be a Wood Mouse).  I also flushed a dark brown bird from the leaf litter, it was difficult to note the exact size and feature because I only noticed it once it had taken flight.  It was smaller than a Red-legged Partridge and seemed to display the characteristics of a Woodcock.  As with Woodcocks it also had strong barring on its back with a mottled bark/pale brown plumage.  I'll record it as a probable Woodcock.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Cassiobury Park

The walk through Cassiobury Park included 3 Nuthatches (1near the entrance to Stratford Way and 2 heard and seen outside the entrance to the Cha Cha Cafe).  There were also 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and calling (only one seen in same location as the pair of Nuthatches).  There were c.7 Pied Wagtails on the WGSB playing field and a flock of c.10 Waxwing-like birds flew over the school at 1pm (they were too distant to be certain but I did hear a slight "trill").  In the Watford Town Center there were at least 2 Herring Gulls (2 by the fountain, 1 over market Street). 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


These are some of the moths that have come in my bedroom over the past year (a pretty good variety), maybe I should start a Bedroom moth list except I don't know very many species.  If anyone can ID them for me I would be very grateful, thanks.

1. Small Blood-vein
2. Silver Y
3. Copper Underwing/Svensson's Copper Underwing
4. Heart and Club
5. Sycamore
6 and 7. Satellite
8. Swallow-tailed moth

Small Blood-vein

Silver Y

Copper Underwing/Svensson's Copper Underwing

Heart and Club




Swallow-tailed Moth

Thanks to HertsHobbies for IDing all the above moths for me!

Cassiobury Park

The morning walk through Cassiobury Park only included 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (drumming), there were also fewer Gulls than normal at the Watford Grammar School for Boys as there are usually 20-30+birds circling the playing field.

Kings Langley Woods

On my way back from the village c.7:00 a Red Fox crossed the road, near the Kings Langley Primary School Entrance.  I was hoping to hear a Tawny Owl but even my mimicked calls didn't fool one.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cassiobury Park

The walk through Cassiobury Park at 8:15 produced at least 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (1 drumming and another calling, both only heard), I heard 1 possibly 2 Greenwoodpeckers "yaffling" in the upper part of the park (closer to the town center) and 3 Herring Gulls circled over Shepherds Drive (also calling), they were my first of the month.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

An update on my Garden Birds

A second visit into the garden produced more interesting birds including 2 (possibly 3) Coal Tits and numerous more Greenfinches and at least 3 Goldfinches.  The highlight was the Sparrowhawk (probably female) which was chased over our garden by a Carrion Crow.

Garden Birding

Today's garden birds included 3 Greenfinches (2 ad., 1juv.) and 1 Goldfinch on the seed feeder, I heard a Ring-necked Parakeet (in the direction of the high street), a pair of Blue Tits were investigating last years unclaimed nest box, on one occasion one carried a piece of nest material to the box, but there hasn't been much more activity.  There were also 3 Dunnocks, 3 Robins, 1 Coal Tit, 3 Blackbirds  (2males, 1 female), 1 Jay was on the bird table in the early morning and some Fieldfare and a Nuthatch were heard in the woods about midday.

a Coal Tit paying a brief visit to the peanut feeder

A bit of squabbling over the bird feeder as 3 Greenfinches cram onto the bird feeder

Greenfinch poking its head through the bird feeder and out the other side?