CROXLEY COMMON MOOR
I headed straight across the moor from east to west, near the railway bridge (generally the most productive region). However, I could not locate anything except a few singing Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs Blackcaps. Several Reed Buntings were also present as were 2-3 Green Woodpeckers and a Pheasant calling from nearby the Gade River. I was limping back in the direction I had come when a Common Tern flew through followed by a text that Ian had located 5 Wheatear at Cassiobury Park (a potential first for me at the site). I decided to turn the situation around and up my momentum and no sooner had I put the phone away I located my first 2 SWIFTS of the year hawking over the southern edge of the moor, followed by another year tick in the form of 2 WHITETHROATS. I also nearly walking straight past my third year tick of the day, I just caught a glimpse of a brown bird perched in the open on a bramble bush and I quickly lifted my bins to reveal a stunning rufous ♀ CUCKOO! (maybe the day could be salvaged after all). It remained for some time perched in the open, before flying low across the ground and landing in a small tree on the opposite side of the River Gade, still in good view, allowing me to take some rubbish shots on my phone. Other birds of note, before a shower of rain set in were 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Jays, and several Swallows (up to 4). Next I received further news that Wheatears had been reported at the site earlier today, I assumed they would have taken land fall near the eastern extent of the moor, were the grass is shortest. Fortunately, luck was once again on my side and I bumped into 3 Wheatear (all stunning males, including a probable Greenlander). I retraced my steps again back to the western corner, when a shower of rain set in. Within minutes Wheatears were appearing all around me with a minimum total count of 8 Wheatear although I assume over 13+ were present in the nearby area. Even better, the rain also brought in a stonking ♂ WHINCHAT, a very pleasing find. It was mainly frequenting the central/northern edge of the moor, perching most of the time on long grasses or brambles (only once on the ground). I lost it several times due to interruptions from dog walkers, and as I was getting the message out but I did get occasional good views (although it wasn't very approachable). Other birds of note before I left at 17:50pm, included 4 Common Terns, many more Whitethroats (concentrated mainly near the river) and 2♂ Green Woodpeckers doing a stand-off, which involved swaying their necks from side to side in a threatening way to their opponent.
I still had to limp back through Watford to catch a bus and bypassed Cassiobury Park in hope of Ian's Wheatears. To my surprise all 5 Wheatear were still on the hill with the wooden benches, next to the cedar.
In all, a rather good days after-school birding.