Back on my good old Herts patch for the winter hols whilst back with my family in Kings Langley. So far everything's been trundling along as usual with the same garden birds and squirrels still gorging themselves on the garden feeders. The farmland behind the RSSKL has produced regular Red Kites and I've made a few more trips down to the canal which have rewarded me with a single drake Gadwall ( a decent local bird!), 2 Pochard and a good passage of 1,000's of BhGulls heading South to roost each evening. Regular Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails are present most of the time as are one or two Chiffchaffs. A scan across the valley towards Bedmond produced an impressive patch record-breaking flock of 16 Red Kites, with numerous others scattered about the valley at the same time! Kestrels don't seem to be as prevalent as they once were but the odd Sparrowhawk has provided some consolation as have the increase in Buzzard numbers. A few signs of spring are already on the way and thanks to continuing mild weather I've already seen a few daffodils and Black-headed Gulls coming into summer plumage. Other bits and pieces appearing on patch in the past week include Fox, Roe Deer, a few Fieldfare and 1 Little Owl (unfortunately the tree in which it nested last year has blown over).
An off patch visit to Staines Reservoir was well worth the effort as I managed to finally clock a Great Northern Diver on Staines Res, a site at which I've been eager to see one for some time! Additional highlights included the Snow Bunting feeding distantly on the North Basin and a drake Scaup also asleep on the same basin with 2 Black-necked Grebes. The South Basin hosted an additional 2 Black-necked Grebes and Green Sandpiper was accidentally flushed from the causeway. I just about had time to explore Staines Moor but the long walk around to the other side expended some valuable time. This paid off with the hoped for Water Pipit which I finally located in the damp channels at the northern end of the moor.