Saturday, 30 April 2011

RSPB trip to Fen Drayton Lakes

Just returned from an amazing trip the Hemel RSPB local bird group from Fen Drayton Lakes.  We arrived at the reserve well after 9 but still managed to pick up on a wide variety of birds.  The definite highlights were the number and variety of warblers and migrant birds.  Soon after arriving on the reserve 4 Reed Buntings were seen chasing each other through the field followed by 2 Shelduck, 1 Greylag Goose, 1 House Martin and Kestrel in hunting mode.  From the reserve car park we saw a pair of Marsh Harriers, dozens of Common Tern and Grey Herons.  We went on a long round walk from the car Park towards Drayton Lagoon were I saw 2 Green Woodpeckers, several individual Swallows, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and I glimpsed my first Hobby of the year.  The walk improved even more as we made our way towards Elney Lake 1 Cetti's Warbler exploded into a short burst of song before waiting another few minutes before repeating itself.  Along the bank the was continuous song from Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps interspersed with occasional bursts of song from a Wren.  My highlight of the day was along the ridge between Elney Lake and Springhill Lagoon were our guide(Neil) pointed out a singing Garden Warbler, which I soon got a brief stunning view of before it flew into cover cowering from the large audience of about 20+ birders.  Along the same hedgerow Neil picked out a singing Nightingale deep in the hedgerow, its gloopy song of warbles and thrush like repertoires was definitely another top birding moment of the day.  Willow Warblers were also singing along the same hedgerow, from were we also received amazing views of low fly over 2 Hobbies.


Moore Lake provided a few waders including several Lapwing and Ephraim found a Common Sandpiper.  The reserve is bisected into roughly two separate parts by a newly built bus road (which cost in excess of £180 million!), from here I saw 1 Buzzard circling high over the reserve closely tailing a Kestrel.  After a good break at the car park some of the group moved on to the River Great Ouse were I added Song Thrush to today's list.  We then back tracked a short distance to Ferry Pond, Ferry Mere and Ferry Lagoon were I received my first spectacularly close view of a singing Grasshopper Warbler in a small hawthorn scrub.  In the Ferry Mere Lagoon I pointed out 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 drake Pintail (which has remained in the area for three years due to a injured wing).  2 Teal were also found on the same lake 1 Cuckoo was calling behind the spit at ferry Lagoon and 1 Ringed Plover was also present at the border with the two lagoons.  2 Sedge Warblers were also in full song along the bank from which we were observing the lagoons.  1 Oystercatcher also turned up and as we left the reserve a Skylark flew out of the field near the entrance.  In all, and as always it was a great day birding with the group and I'm pleased to have reached 61 species throught the cause of the day.

My Day List (in order of sightings)
  • Chaffinch
  • Kestrel
  • Greylag Goose
  • Reed Bunting
  • Marsh Harrier (1 pair)
  • Mute Swan
  • Common Tern
  • Blackbird
  • Carrion Crow
  • Rook
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Grey Heron
  • Gadwall
  • Mallard
  • Cormorant
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • House Martin
  • Green Woodpecker
  • Swallow
  • Coot
  • Blackcap
  • Whitethroat
  • Hobby (4 seen together at car park)
  • Wren (heard)
  • Blue Tit
  • Cetti's Warbler (heard)
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Tufted Duck
  • Chiffchaff (heard)
  • Goldfinch
  • Jackdaw
  • Garden Warbler (2 seen, 2 heard)
  • Great Tit
  • Jay
  • Nightingale (heard)
  • Willow Warbler
  • Feral Pigeon
  • Woodpigeon
  • Canada Goose
  • Reed Bunting
  • Pheasant
  • Magpie
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Lapwing
  • Cuckoo (heard)
  • Redshank
  • Moorhen
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Buzzard
  • Shellduck
  • Starling
  • Song Thrush
  • Grasshopper Warbler
  • Ringed Plover
  • Black-tailed Godwit 3
  • Pintail
  • Teal
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Oystercatcher
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Skylark

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday trip to Croxley Common Moor and Stockers Lake

I left the house around 6:45 on my bike to Stockers Lake, the day started well with an improvement in the weather since yesterdays thunderstorm.  Soon after leaving and passing the front entrance to the RSSKL 3 Bullfinches flew past me in the hedge.  By the small green (at the end of Rockcliffe Ave) there were 2 Song Thrushes feeding in the grass and 2 Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff were singing.  My route was mainly canal based and near the Cassiobury Park section of the canal I saw 1 Grey Wagtail, and heard a Kingfisher uttering its shrill one syllable note on the other side of the canal out of sight.  Unfortunately, half way to my destination I got a puncture which prevented me doing the full route I had hoped to to, however I did stop of to scan the horse  paddock by the A412 roundabout for any Wagtails, unsurprisingly there weren't any but 16 Jackdaws were in the field and 1 Bullfinch and 1 Chiffchaff were (calling) nearby.  Most of the trip along the canal yielded dozens of singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs with even more at the lakes and the moor.  I also encountered several Grey Herons and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over.  Once I arrived at Croxley Common Moor there were Common Whitethroats calling in every corner of the moor(at least 50+ singing and spread out through the moor), 3 Blackcaps were having a dispute over territory along the edge of the river and a Muntjac Deer was browsing the vegetation on the canal side of the bank.  The highlight of the day was definitely here as I heard my first Cuckoo of the year near the railway.  In the distance I could also make out the reeling song of a Grasshopper Warbler near the electricity pylons, I made my way over but the singing stopped and finding it amongst the vegetation became almost impossible so after an hour or two of searching I moved on.  Dozens of Reed Buntings were also perched in the hedges around the moor, the males being most prominent and vocal.

male Reed Bunting

In addition, 1 Swallow flew briefly over and the river attracted 2 Common Terns.  Due to the bike puncture I made my way by foot to Batchworth Lake, 2ad. 1juv. Great Crested Grebes were on the water with the young riding on the back of an adult.  Further on at Bury Lake there were a lingering pair of Goldeneye and 3♂ Red-crested Pochard.  The furthest point of my trip to Stockers Lake revealed even more as I saw 1 Sedge Warbler and heard many more along the bank, 1 Red Kite flew low over my head and at least 3 Reed Warblers (my first seen this year) were chasing each other through the sedge.

Reed Warbler

Red Kite

Common Tern

male Great Spotted Woodpecker

male Red-crested Pochard

Another Swallow flew high over the lake (probably pressing on with its interrupted northward migration after yesterdays thunderstorm).  Two species of Woodpecker were also about including 1♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker calling from the wood by the Colne Valley Trail.  Back at Croxley Common Moor 1 Red Kite and 1♀ Kestrel flew over.  Unfortunately I didn't manage to see the Grasshopper Warbler but hearing its song is probably the most interesting characteristic, despite this it was a good days birding, only next time I have to bring a puncture repair kit.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

KL Woods and the garden

An early morning walk around 7:30 was a good start today.  There were  at least half a dozen Chiffchaffs around the wood (some singing and 2 feeding in the canopy without calling).  Blackcaps and Song Thrushes were equally abundant and being equally elusive but still very vocal.  Other birds of note were 2 Goldcrests singing, 1 possibly 2 Jays and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was also calling.  From the garden this afternoon I heard and saw several individual Swallows fly over the barn and our house.  1 Blackcap was singing from an ash tree in the garden and most surprising of all was the discovery that a pair of Blue Tits are currently occupying a nest box in the back garden that I had put up earlier this year, they seem to be well on the way to completing the lining of the box with moss as they are now making frequent visits to the box.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Fields Behind The RSSKL

My afternoon walk with Theo took me to Langley Lodge Farm.  2 Buzzards were circling the fields and being occasionally mobbed by a large flock of c.30-40 crows.  2 Lapwing also flew briefly over the farm with 1 displaying.  2 Swallows were also at the farm and on my return past Ordnance Wood 1 pair of Blackcaps were in the hedgerow and 1 Buzzard was harrying 1 Red Kite.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tring Reservoirs and Pitstone

I woke up yesterday at 5:30 to get ready for another birding day trip to Tring Reservoirs.  The day started with 1 Swallow flying over the house as I was sorting the bikes out and whilst we cycled through the small green at the end of Rockcliffe Ave I heard 1 Blackcap and 1 Green Woodpecker bounded away from us.  At our (my brother and I) arrival at Marsworth Reservoir the weather seemed to be getting better, there were a large number of clouds but there didn't seem to be much chance for rain.  From the far eastern corner of the Reservoir we saw 2 Bullfinches (1♂,1♀), 2 Reed Warblers were heard, 1 Great Crested Grebe swam past, 1 Song Thrush and astonishingly an extremely late winter visitor that my brother found 1 Redwing!  There were plenty more birds including 1 juv. Grey Heron, 1 Lapwing flew briefly over, 4 Common terns were fishing (my first of the year), and so were 2 Sedge Warblers that were in the reeds singing and doing occasional song flights.

Sedge Warbler

female Reed Bunting

male Chaffinch


As we arrived at Wilstone Reservoir we already fond a great deal of birds in the fields to the east of the reservoir including 1♂ Yellowhammer, 2 Red Kites, 3 Common Terns (traveling towards Marswoth and Startop's End Reservoir) and 2 Grey Herons.  Ay Wilstone Reservoir itself we encountered a far more including 2♂ Blackcaps singing in the hedgerows (+ many more heard but not seen), dozens of singing Chiffchaffs and on our arrival at the jetty there was 1 Pied Wagtail and c.20 Common Terns.  I also heard 1 Little Grebe but did not see it throughout the day.

Pied Wagtail

displaying Coot


Little Egret

Greylag Geese

We also checked out the Horse Fields North of the Reservoir for Yellow Wagtails but the was little there except 2 Mistle Thrushes and 1 Swallow.  Back on the Reservoir again there were 3 Lapwing, 3♂ Shoveler, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Green Woodpecker (heard only), 2 Buzzards and 2♂ Wigeon were lingering around in the willows to the right of the hide.  Another birder in the hide picked up on 1 Common Sandpiper that was feeding and hopping across the green hay bails that were lying in the water and by the time we left there were at least 42 Common Tern.  On our return past Startop's End Reservoir there was 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and I saw my first 3 House Martins of the year, at least 20+ Sand Martins and 1 Swallow amongst them.  We then visited a fourth site, College Lake, which also had some good waders about including 5 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe, and at least 3 nesting Lapwing (with a total of 9 individuals counted).  On the water there was 1 pair of Shelduck.  Our last visit of the day was to Pitstone Hill which we approached via the quarry pathway were my brother pointed out 1♂ Sparrowhawk and 2 Chiffchaffs.  From the Hill we had great views of all the Reservoirs and Lakes that we had visited during the day.  It was a great way to end the day with dozens of Skylarks singing around us occasional fly past Meadow Pipits and 1 Red Kite.  From the Hill we could look down onto the quarry to see 2 Stock Doves and 1 Lapwing.  In all and as always it was a great days birding at Tring.



Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Fields Behind The RSSKL

I took a long route through the fields today that led through Langley Lodge, were I encountered at least 10 Stock Doves, about 2 flocks of c.5-8 Linnets, 1 singing Blackcap and 1 Kestrel.  I then made my way past the farm were there I saw 1 Yellowhammer (+many more heard calling), 1♂ Blackcap and 1 Swallow.  Half way between the farm and Chipperfield I saw and heard another 2♂ Blackcaps (they seem to be singing everywere now, but are still remaining very elusive and difficult to see).  1 Buzzard also flew over and on my return past Middle Farm there were 2 Swallows, 1 possible Wheatear and 3 Goldfinches.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Renhold and The Lodge

Whilst on a family visit to my grandparents who live in Renhold, I went on a dog walk through the fields north of their house.  Here I heard 2 Green Woodpeckers (only 1 seen briefly flying away), 1 Chiffchaff and most surprising sight was 1 Swallow which flew over the house in a direct southerly direction?  Later in the day we made a visit to The Lodge, which has a unique habitat of heather and pine woodland that is capable of attracting some rare birdlife and reptiles.  However our visit was only short and we only heard 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Long-tailed Tits (in the woods leading to the hide).  From the hide we saw more including 2 Stock Doves, 1 Pheasant, 1 Red-legged Partridge and 3 Jays.  Plenty of common woodland birds also visited the feeders including 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Bike Birding to Bovingdon disused Airfield

I left the house around 11:30 and took the bike down Barnes Lane.  The first birds I encountered were 5 Linnets.  Along Bulstrode Lane there were 2 Skylarks, 4 Buzzards (3 of which were circling together) and 1 Red Kite.  The fields opposite the Greinan Farm had 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull.  As I cycled through the Little Hay Golf Course 1 Red Kite flew over, I heard 1 Chiffchaff and there were 2 Yellowhammers and 2 Buzzards near Gorsefield Wood.  1 yellowhammer was also calling near Lower Farm and other birds around the area included 1 Kestrel, 2 Blackcaps (1♂, 1♀) in the Great Wood, 1♂ Pheasant (also heard in the same area), 1 Red Kite, 7 Skylarks, 3 Stock Doves and 1 Sparrowhawk.  The footpath led into Spencer farm were I also heard and saw 1 Mistle Thrush and 3 Jays.  The small green in Whelpley Hill was the furthest point I reached on my bike trip yet all I saw still was another 1 Buzzard, 2 Stock Doves and 1 Green Woodpecker "yaffling".  My main destination was the Bovingdon disused Airfield which is little more than what is described in the title, the grass is not entirely stubble and therefore not entirely appropriate for bird life (or any at all), despite the condition I still saw 7 Linnets, 1 Red Kite, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Skylarks (there were definitely more present but their territories are big so the likelihood of seeing more than 1 in any area during the breeding season is minimal) and 3 Buzzards circling together in the distance.  Although most of the bird species I saw today were the same I got several amazing views of some of the Buzzards and I was pleased to see more than the usual number of Linnets in comparison to my visits to Barnes Lane.

Sparrowhawk over the airfield to distant to tell whether it was male or female

Red Kite over Bulstrode Lane

Skylark at airfield doing display flight quite close

Friday, 8 April 2011

KL Woods

This morning whilst walking my dog through Kings Langley Woods I came across 3 Chiffchaffs (only 1 seen), 1 Treecreeper, 2 Nuthatches (1 heard +1seen), 1 Red Kite flying high over the Wood, at least 2 Jays, 1 Song Thrush and 4 Bullfinches (3♂, 1♀), on a mature cherry tree, unusually they were in the centre of the woods.  I also heard a Blackcap this morning but didn't see it until later this afternoon when I heard and saw 1 (possibbly 2)♂ Blackcaps in the garden.

Speckled Wood

male Bullfinch

 Red Kite, unfortunately there aren't any good quality photos due to the lack of light reaching the forest floor
♂ Blackcap in garden briefly, singing a lot but very secretive

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The River Ogmore from Source to Mouth

Our second day in the south of wales included a class field trip to the local River Ogmore. There was little time to check for the local bird life however I did see 1 pair of Ravens near the source of the river and 2 Meadow Pipits.  During the course of the day, as we traveled downstream, I came across increasing numbers of Ravens with occasional groups of up to 10-12 Ravens circling the valley at 2 points on the trip and occasional Buzzards.  The farmland around our accommodation (the Margam Country Park Centre) also attracted a small group of 3-4 Ravens.  It seems the commonest bird that I came across on the entire trip were Ravens which also seem to equally common as Carrion Crows in England.

Field Trip to Wales

The past three days were taken up by a field trip to Wales (which is the reason for the lack of recent updates).  The trip to south Wales (Swansea), I saw dozens of corvids including Carrion Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws, Rooks and even 1 Raven (just before crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales).  The trip wasn't short of raptors either including its fair share of Buzzards, Red Kites and occasional Kestrels (although far smaller numbers than I usually see hovering next to the motorway).  There was also a gaggle of Canada Geese and Greylag Geese in the neighbouring field to the motorway and occasional small flocks of Lapwing.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fields behind RSSKL

The afternoon began well with adequate weather but at the time I brought the dog for a walk it began to start raining heavily.  As a result the usual 1♂ Kestrel gave up hunting and decided to rest in the bushes near the A41, and the 1 (possibly 2) Skylarks stopped singing.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Garden Birds

Whilst I was in the garden today drawing a pair of frogs in the pond (mating), I was thrilled to see my first Swallow of the year fly directly over the house and upper part of the woods.  The seed feeders were also extremely packed with dozens of Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Chaffinches.

my first Swallow of the year, a very distant shot as it flew over the woods, it didn't stay very long so evidently it was only on route to a more northerly location or heading for an area of open water to feed.

Bird Race

 My brother and I decided to go on a bird race, my route took me behind the KL School before going into Scatterdells Woods and up Chipperfield road back to Kings Langley I then made a brief visit to Kings Langley woods were I found the last 2 species on my list.  My list is as follows (in order of being seen), between 10:30 and 1:30.
  • House Sparrow 1
  • Carrion Crow
  • Woodpigeon
  • Starling 11
  • Great Tit
  • Robin
  • Magpie
  • Nuthatch 2
  • Pheasant 2
  • Skylark c.6
  • Dunnock
  • Chaffinch
  • Pied Wagtail 1
  • Blue Tit
  • Greenfinch
  • Linnet 2
  • Yellowhammer 2
  • Buzzard 2
  • Kestrel 1
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 (+more individuals heard)
  • Green Woodpecker (only heard)
  • Sparrowhawk (only heard)
  • Wren
  • Jay 2
  • Jackdaw
  • Blackbird
  • Song Thrush 1
  • Chiffchaff 3

male Yellowhammer



    Friday, 1 April 2011

    Cassio. Park

    There were 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and calling (1 seen near the cha cha cafe) and 1 (possibly 2) Nuthatches were also calling.  At the WGSB the was 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull which flew over the main building around midday, unusually there were no Black-headed Gulls at all around the area, possibly due to the movements towards the coast and inland lakes for breeding.  On the 500 bus journey back to KL (near Hunton Bridge) a huge flock of Pigeons (probably a mixed flock of Wood/Feral and Stock Doves) flew over the church, there were at least 100 but there must have been more behind the church (unfortunately I wasn't able to ID any as they were too distant).  I also observed a pair of Blue Tits copulate in front of the nest box that I put up in the tree outside my window for about 2.5 seconds, (around 3:45).