Monday, 12 March 2012

Local Patch Birding with Redpolls everywhere (10th March)

Started out at 9:00am from Kings Langley and went through the fields behind the RSSKL towards Berrybushes Wood via Langley Lodge Farm.  The weather was ideal and the damp ground and overcast skies meant more birds were present than usual.
  • cloud 2/3 shade 1/3
  • wind 1/3
  • temp. 1-2/3

1 Goldcrest feeding in the lower canopy of the coniferous trees in the car park of the RSSKL was the first bird of the day followed by calling Yellowhammers in the first field behind the RSSKL.  The neighbouring field outside Clapgate Farm held a flock of 55+ Common Gulls along with several Black-headed Gulls (although these were much less numerous).  After crossing the A41 I encountered 3 Skylarks in their classic song flight high over the fields, although I did notice their territories are rather sparse and widely space, another indication that this species might unfortunately not be doing particularly well in this area.  As I approached Langley Lodge Farm, 70+ Fieldfare took of from the tall trees and moved over to the hedgerows nearer to the carriageway.  2 Yellowhammers and 2 Song Thrushes were also of note in the hedgerow leading to the farm.  The small pond neighbouring Langley Lodge Farm was rather productive with a mixed flock of c.20 Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, including at least 1 stunning male with a pink chest.  I headed on further SW through the farmland where I encountered a further 2 Yellowhammers and 2 Skylarks.


I was passing Berrybushes Wood when a large mixed flock of c.50 Siskin and Lesser Redpoll erupted from the west end of the wood.  In the same time a second flock consisting mainly of c.30 Lesser Redpoll flew over west in the direction of Bucks Hill.  As I walked up the track towards Model Farm I was treated to a further 6+ Lesser Redpoll perched in the hedgerow.  I met up with Colin Everett at Sheepcote Spring (pleased to meet you eventually and thanks again for the tour) and soon pointed out a flyover Lapwing (a rather scarce bird in the Kings Langley area only a km north of the sight) and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets (also a bird I have not recorded in Kings Langley before).  We also enjoyed views of a Buzzard which later came to perch on a lamp post towards the motorway.  Other birds of note in the near area included Goldcrests singing in the nearby wood, 1 calling Green Woodpecker, 2 Mistle Thrushes mobbing the single Buzzard and a calling Treecreeper.  As we approached the Model Farm we were both treated to excellent views of c.30 Lesser Redpoll busily drinking in the small puddle and drinking trough with the occasional Siskin.

dozens of Lesser Redpolls visiting the water trough for a precious sip of water (unfortunately I didn't find a Mealy amongst them)


one of the several stunning male Siskins

Further down the track we encountered 2 MARSH TITS (a year tick), also a scarce bird in the Kings Langley area and a further reminder to me how much the bird life can change over a matter of kilometers from one site to another.


We made a decision to head towards Chipperfield so that Colin could point out some of the birding hotspots in the area and we certainly weren't disappointing as 2 Buzzards flew over and at Topcommon 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were of note followed by a calling Green Woodpecker.  Best of all was the find of an adult LITTLE OWL perched on the edge of a hole in the side of a tree just NNW of Topcommon itself.

Little Owls at Topcommon


A Green Woodpecker soon joined the Little Owl in the same tree followed by 2 flypast Jays which soon alerted the resting Owl and triggered it to start calling in alarm.  I also had a brief view of a possible Chiffchaff amongst the hedges, 1 Treecreeper in the sparsely wooded area neighbouring the houses and 2 Siskin flew over towards Chipperfied.  On our way back, 1 Green Woodpecker was heard and Colin, with his expert hearing pointed out the call of a LITTLE OWL as we past the north side of Berrybushes Wood.


We headed back down to Hunton Bridge passing several previously occupied Little Owl sites, unfortunately we didn't find any birds here.  However, as we came down Langleybury Lane a Kestrel flew past and 5 Linnets flew over in a westerly direction, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was of note and we had a distant record of a single Cormorant heading north up the canal.


I said goodbye to Colin (thanks once again for a very enlightening walk around your local patch) and headed down the canal towards the small green space at Clarendon Farm.  Unfortunately the previously water filled ponds are still dry so bird life was rather restricted.  I couldn't find anything of note so headed back home back along the canal.  The last birds of the day included a shy Little Grebe diving and hiding amongst the overhanging vegetation of the canal and a calling Kingfisher up one of the tributaries were the Gade River splits from the canal.

4 Red Kites were also in my local area, however this is a sensitive species so releasing information may be unwise if they attempt to breed.

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