After having dipped out on the Eastern-crowned Warbler on the previous Sunday (30th November) I was determined to have another decent go again over the following weekend. My previous visit on Sunday had been unsuccessful after I arrived at 16:40pm. The light was quickly fading and it hadn't been sighted since it was ringed and released before the news was out on rare bird alert at 8:41am.
HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR
Anyway, the 5th November started well with 2 sightings of a Kingfisher darting across the road next to the dam were the ECW was originally released and my first large flock of 100+ Fieldfare of the winter were heading W over Elstree Aerodrome. The trees neighbouring the reservoir on the northern edge hosted 1 Ring-necked Parakeet and a Buzzard was also calling further north from the Aerodrome, although not seen. Bird activity increased progressively through the day starting with large swathes of Woodpigeons, mainly spooked from the wood after occasional gun shots. 2 Common Gulls flew over the Aerodrome as did several Skylarks, although the later were only heard. I made my way clockwise around the perimeter of the forest and found an ideal viewing platform situated on the NE side of the reservoir providing adequate views, compensating for my lack of a key that I would otherwise have had to acquire from the HMWT to enter the Reservoir. On my way to the viewing point I unfortunately flushed a flock of 58 Canada Geese which flew onto the reservoir but later returned to feed. The woodland was still productive with 2-3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 4 Goldcrests and 3 Green Woodpeckers and large flocks of Great, Coal, Long-tailed and Blue Tits also feeding close to the viewing platform, followed by a flyover flock of 7 Siskin. The reservoir itself was mainly empty except for 7 Little Grebes, 10 Shovelers (3 ad.♂, 3 eclipse ad.♂ and 4♀), several dozen Tufted Ducks, 6 Cormorants and a good count of 18 Great Crested Grebes. Gull numbers were also relatively small with 3 Common Gulls, only 1 Herring Gull, 11 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Behind the viewing point at least 34+ Fieldfares flew past all in a general WNW direction, accompanied by only 4 Redwings. I had a short, yet typical glimpse of a Sparrowhawk fly over the field behind the viewing platform followed by 2 Ring-necked Parakeets and before I left I scanned the electricity pylons, one of which had Kestrel perched on top.
I decide to make the short trip between Hilfiled Park and Aldenham Reservoir to check what I might otherwise have missed. Infact Aldenham Reservoir was packed with both a greater number and variety of wildfowl and would have been far more worth the time, however I could only spend a few hours at the place as the light was fading quickly and I still had to make the bike trip back. All the same I counted 130 Gadwall by which time I gave up and scanned for any possible rarity. Amongst at least 100+ Wigeon, smaller numbers of Tufted Ducks, only a few Pochard and 2♂ Shovelers the best I could find were 4♂ Mandarins. Also on and around the water were 2 Grey Herons, several dozen Canada Geese, a Little Grebe, and a similar number of gulls as on Hilfield Park Reservoir, including 1 Herring Gull, 2 Common Gulls and dozens of Black-headed Gulls. A Grey Wagtail made several passes infront of me as I scanned the ducks a single Siskin was heard over the SW part of the wood around Aldenham Reservoir and a single Fieldfare flew overhead.