Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve

Although the thaw is well under way the water at the reserve remains frozen with little seen in the way of waterfowl. At the Clubhouse feeding station several Moorhen squabbled over the small amounts of seed  that was discarded from the feeders above. At least 3 Siskin were observed feeding on a small Alder with a male briefly visiting the seed feeder. Suddenly there was a commotion and a female Sparrowhawk swept past scattering all the passerines. A few moments later she returned and settled briefly on an Alder before making a second sortie past the feeders but was again unsuccessful in her hunt.

Sparrowhawk (female) at the Clubhouse  feeding station.


Monday, 20 December 2010

Chess Valley, Scotsbridge Mill

Steve Carter and I visited Scotsbridge Mill and we were surprised to find the River Chess had frozen over. In my life time I have never seen the Chess freeze over and we later discovered that temperatures here dropped to -14 overnight. The temperature during our visit was a balmy -6!
Species of interest observed as follows;
Little Egret (2), Teal (12), Common Buzzard (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Water Rail (6), Common Snipe (5), Meadow Pipit (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Reed Bunting (2).

                                          Common Snipe.

                                          Water Rail.

                                                       River Chess (frozen).


While updating my blog I have just had 4 Reed Bunting visit my garden feeding station.

More Waxwing

At the junction of Northway and Station Road 4 Waxwing were observed in trees adjacent the flats.
Maple Cross
While driving along Hornhill Road I noted 5 Waxwing feeding in Hawthorn.

                                                       Waxwings at Northway, Rickmansworth.

                                                        Waxwing at Hornhill Road, Maple Cross.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Waxwing fest at Maple Cross

While out at Bury & Stockers Lake I received a call from friend and fellow birder Steve Carter who had relocated the flock of Waxwing at Oakhill Close, Maple Cross. When I arrived the birds were busily feeding on berries in a garden but were easily spooked by traffic. The flock dispersed and eventually relocated nearby with a total of 108 birds eventually counted. I believe this to possibly be the biggest flock ever recorded at Maple Cross. Other species observed included 2 Red Kite, a single Buzzard being mobbed by 2 Carrion Crow, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush feeding on Yew berries, a male and female Blackcap feeding among the Waxwings, Redwing, Fieldlfare and a hunting Sparrowhawk that flushed the Waxwings from their feeding site.


                                          Waxwings at Maple Cross.

                                          Red Kite over Maple Cross.

                              Common Buzzard being mobbed by one of two Carrion Crow.

                                          Blackcap (male).

Bury Lake & Stockers Lake

I made an early morning visit to Bury Lake & Stockers Lake to conduct wetland bird survey counts. On arriving I found both lakes to be frozen with an area of open water at Bury Lake and 2 smaller areas of open water at Stockers Lake holding concentrations of waterfowl.
Count as follows;
Little Grebe (1), Great-crested Grebe (4), Cormorant (18), Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan (46), Canada Goose (133), Wigeon (30), Gadwall (32), Teal (4), Mallard (49), Shoveler Duck (100), Pochard (26), Tufted Duck (229), Red-crested Pochard (6 inc 4 drake), Smew (2 male), Goldeneye (6), Moorhen (19), Coot (396), Lapwing (51), Black-headed Gull (60), Common Gull (2), Herring Gull (1), Stock Dove (1), Woodpigeon, Kingfisher (3), Ring-necked Parakeet (5), Green Woodpecker (1), Pied Wagtail (1), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Goldcrest (1), Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit (2), Great Tit, Treecreeper (1), Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin (c100), Reed Bunting (2).

                                          Smew at Bury Lake.

                                          Goldeneye at Bury Lake.

                                          Mallard on ice at Bury Lake.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Maple Lodge in the snow

Steve Carter and I headed off to the reserve in heavy snow where we spent a couple of hours at the Clubhouse Hide. Below is a photographic record of some of the species encountered.

                                          Pheasant (hen).

                                          Pheasant (cock and hen).

                                          Ring-necked Parakeet.

                                          Long-tailed Tit.


                                          Fox on the run.

                                          Are you looking at me?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Waxwings arrive in Mill End

A total of 21 Waxwing were present throughout the day at the south end of Chiltern Drive where it meets Shepherds Lane in Mill End. A very mobile flock actively feeding on many varieties of berries. This area still holds a good crop so I expect the birds to remain for a few more days at least!

A couple of record shots of the Waxwing flock present at the Chiltern Drive/Shepherds Lane junction this afternoon.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Reed Buntings at Maple Lodge Close

I have been unable to get out and bird the last couple of days but after returning home this afternoon from a family commitment I noted 3 Reed Bunting in scrub behind my house. A male and 2 female birds present in Dog Rose accompanied by several House Sparrow. On paper this is an ideal spot for the odd Waxwing to drop in and feast on the abundant rose-hips so I will continue to keep an eye on this area!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Aldenham Country Park

A late morning early afternoon visit to Aldenham Country Park with fellow birder and good friend Steve Carter produced the following species list;
Little Grebe (3), Great-crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron (1), Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Wigeon (c100), Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Smew (2 adult female), Mandarin (10 including 7 drake),
Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Woodpigeon, Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush (1), Redwing (2), Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit (calling bird in wooded area), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper (1), Nuthatch (1), Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin.
Later a visit to Bury Lake produced 7 Red-crested Pochard including 5 drake.

                                          Mandarin (drake) at Aldenham Country Park.

                                          Mandarin (pair) at Aldenham Country Park.

                                          Smew (female) at Aldenham Country Park.

                                          Wren at Aldenham Country Park.

                                          Mute Swan at Aldenham Country Park.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Stockers Farm, Stockers Lake & Bury Lake

From Stockers pumping station I made my way through the farm to Stockers Lake & Bury Lake.
At Stockers Farm I noted 2 Little Owl in a large Crack Willow and 3 Lapwing present on the flooded field (now dry). At Bury Lake, which had 80% ice coverage, 6 Red-crested Pochard (inc 4 drake) were present on open water at the north end.
At Stockers Lake, also with 80% ice coverage, I noted an adult male Smew that was busily diving for food at the east side of the lake with at least 5 drake Goldeneye and c100 Shoveler also present.

                                          Smew (adult male) at Stockers Lake

Early morning at Maple Lodge

With much of the reserve frozen over and the only remaining open water present at the Clubhouse Lake waterfowl numbers were lower than usual.
Species counted as follows;

Little Grebe (2), Cormorant (1 over), Mute Swan (2), Teal (4), Mallard (4), Shoveler Duck (2), Pochard (2), Tufted Duck (1), Moorhen (42), Coot (65), Pheasant (3), Kestrel (1), Black-headed Gull (2 over), Woodpigeon (34), Green Woodpecker (1), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird (3), Fieldfare (2 over), Redwing (1 over), Goldcrest (2), Long-tailed Tit (7), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Treecreeper (1), Jay (2), Magpie, Jackdaw (over), Carrion Crow, House Sparrow (several at Maple Lodge Close), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin (c100 very mobile flock).
A count of selected species observed at Lynsters Farm went as follows;
Canada Goose (2), Egyptian Goose (2), Stock Dove (3), Jackdaw (c100), Rook (5).

Monday, 6 December 2010

West Hyde

An afternoon visit to the Gravel Pits of West Hyde produced the following species of note;
Troy Mill G.P
Little Grebe (1), Little Egret (1), Kestrel (male), Water Rail (2), Common Gull (3), Herring Gull (c90), Lesser Black-backed Gull (5), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Jay (1), Siskin (2).
North Troy G.P (Helicon G.P)
Ice coverage was quite extensive on the lake today and I observed a colour ringed Herring Gull at rest on the ice. The ring was yellow and was present on it's left leg with a metallic ring on it's right leg.
The inscription on the colour ring was just visible and may have been 1682? or 1652?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Maple Lodge Close

A much milder morning with periods of sunshine and virtually no wind.
Early this morning there was a brief period of shooting activity at Lynsters Farm where c20 Wigeon were flushed and observed heading north.
At my garden feeding station 3 Reed Bunting had returned (1 male & 2 female) and were accompanied by a male House Sparrow.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Maple Lodge Close

With the cold conditions continuing, my garden feeding station has been extremely busy this morning, species of note as follows;
Dunnock (3), Robin (2), Blackbird (several feeding on apples with an aggressive female chasing off the male birds), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay (2), Magpie, Starling, Chaffinch (5), Greenfinch, Reed Bunting (3).

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bury Lake, Stockers Lake and Stockers Farm

I decided to brave the cold, wintry conditions and headed off to the Gravel Pits of Rickmansworth. Ice coverage was extensive with concentrations of waterfowl present in the few areas of open water. 
Bury Lake
Wigeon (23), Red-crested Pochard (8 including 5 drake), Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Green Woodpecker (1), Mistle Thrush (1).
Stockers Lake
Shoveler Duck (a feeding raft of c70), Goldeneye (6 including 2 drake), Lapwing (15  at rest on the ice), Common Snipe (1 over heading east), Kingfisher (1 along the River Colne),  Treecreeper (2 calling birds),  Siskin (c50 feeding in Alders), Greenfinch (male feeding on Dog Rose seeds), Reed Bunting (4).
Stockers Farm
Lapwing (3), House Sparrow (c30 in Hawthorn hedge).

Late in the morning, while in Rickmansworth Town Centre I noted a calling Marsh Tit from a Silver Birch adjacent the Council Offices located at North Way.

                                          Blackbird at Stockers Lake.

                                          Robin at Stockers Lake.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Maple Cross and West Hyde

An afternoon visit to the Gravel Pits of Maple Cross and West Hyde produced the following species of interest;
Troy Mill G.P
Little Egret (1), Teal (2), Lesser Black-backed Gull (5), Dunlin (adult in winter plumage observed sitting on large crack willow log before flying off), Green Woodpecker (1).
North Troy G.P (Helicon G.P)
Siskin (c30 feeding in Alder).
Pynesfield North G.P
Wigeon (37), Great-spotted Woodpecker (female).
Lynsters Farm
Canada Goose (40 grazing), Wigeon (61 grazing).  

Earlier in the day while driving along the A412 I spotted 2 Red Kite circling above the fields behind Woodland Road.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Woodoaks Farm

A late afternoon visit to Woodoaks Farm produced the following species of note;
Cormorant (6 over briefly before landing at Stockers Lake), Lapwing (30 on grass field behind the manure pile), Common Snipe (1 flushed from upper pasture above old orchard), Meadow Pipit (1), Blackbird (10 feeding on hawthorn at old orchard), Fieldfare (4 at old orchard), Goldcrest (2 at ladywalk wood) Jay (1).  

Maple Cross morning update

A pair of Goosander were briefly observed in flight above Maple Lodge Close heading north.

Early morning at Maple Cross

Another cold, windy day although this part of Hertfordshire has at least missed any significant snowfall.
Looking out towards the playing field this morning I noted a single Red Kite as it moved West.
A pair of Mistle Thrush and a single Common Gull briefly passed by and were later followed by at least 10 Redwing.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve & Lynsters Farm/Lynsters G.P

The cold snap continues with much of the reserve frozen. Small areas of open water remain at the top end of the Clubhouse Lake and at the Sluice. There was approx 50% ice coverage at Lynsters G.P and at Lynsters Farm the cattle were out on the field feeding and taking on water at Lynsters G.P.
Species of interest as follows;
Maple Lodge
Little Grebe (1 at the clubhouse lake), Moorhen (31 on cricket pitch), Pheasant (cock flushed from it's alder roost near rotunda hide), Mistle Thrush (1 over calling), Goldcrest (1 calling), Siskin (1 over calling).
Lynsters Farm
Egyptian Goose (2), Wigeon (pair grazing), Common Buzzard (2 over briefly), Moorhen (18), Black-headed Gull (22 feeding among cattle), Lapwing (1), Pied Wagtail (2), Fieldfare (5 over), Jay (1), Jackdaw (56).
Lynsters G.P
Water Rail (1 calling from bank), Teal (6).  

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Lysters Farm, Troy Mill G.P & North Troy G.P

An afternoon visit in freezing conditions produced the following species of interest;
Lynsters Farm
Canada Goose (31), Egyptian Goose (2), Wigeon (38 grazing on the bank of Lynsters G.P), Jackdaw (c150 feeding among cattle).
Troy Mill G.P
Little Grebe (1), Kestrel (male), Common Snipe (1 circled overhead before dropping into marsh at north end of troy cutting), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Jay (1), Siskin (1).
North Troy G.P (Helicon G.P)
Greylag Goose (1), Wigeon (4), Teal (12).
While writing this c50 Lapwing have just passed over the house heading south towards West Hyde.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Colour ringed Canada Goose update.

The colour ringed Canada Goose I observed at Bury Lake on the 24th November seems to be a bit of a resident at the site. I am surprised by it's age, these geese live longer than I anticipated. 
Below is a detailed breakdown of all the sightings of this bird that I have recently received.
Ring       Colour                  BTO Ring No                       Date                      Site                                                                        Grid Ref
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                04/07/01              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                15/08/01              Stocker’s Farm                                                  TQ054935
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                01/01/02              Rickmansworth Aquadrome                       TQ0593
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                21/02/03              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                18/09/03              West Hyde Fields                                            TQ027915
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                06/01/04              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                19/06/06              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                04/07/07              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                24/06/08              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938
FSD        Orange                 5219356                                24/11/10              Bury Lake                                                            TQ053938

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Maple Lodge Close

Watching the sun rise from my bedroom window a Red Kite appeared into view and circled above the playing field before drifting south. A great start to the day. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Stockers Lake, Stockers Farm & Bury Lake

A morning visit to Stockers Lake produced the following species list;
Little Grebe (1), Great-crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose (including ringed bird at Bury Lake, Left/Orange/Black FSD), Gadwall, Teal (pair), Mallard, Shoveler Duck (24), Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye (4 inc 3 males), Pheasant (5 hens), Water Rail (2 from Kingfisher Hide), Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing (6 on tern raft), Black-headed Gull, Common Gull (3), Herring Gull (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Ring-necked Parakeet (3), Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail (on tern raft), Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush (3), Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch (female), Siskin.
Stockers Farm
At Stockers Farm a single Little Owl was present low down in a large Crack Willow on the once flooded field.
Bury Lake
A pair of Red-crested Pochard and 11 Wigeon were observed on Bury Lake.  

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve & Lynsters Farm

A cold, quiet day with little in the way of waterfowl present at the reserve although a calling Water Rail was noted from Rotunda Hide. At the Sluice a single Kingfisher put in a brief appearance.
From Lynsters Hide a total of 10 Wigeon were noted on Lynsters Gravel Pit with a single Grey Wagtail observed over briefly. At Lynsters Farm 10 Meadow Pipit and 6 Stock Dove were present near the muddy pool.

Woodoaks Farm

A late morning/early afternoon visit produced the following species of interest;
Common Buzzard (2), Kestrel (male hunting above manure pile), Black-headed Gull (c60), Common Gull (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Collared Dove (c50), Green Woodpecker (1), Skylark (4), Meadow Pipit (3),
Fieldfare (1), Redwing (2), Jay (2), Chaffinch (c50 feeding among barns), Linnet (10 feeding on paddock below old orchard).

Friday, 19 November 2010

Late Swallow at Maple Lodge Farm

While returning home from a late afternoon visit to Maple Lodge Nature Reserve I discovered a Swallow flying around the old barn at Maple Lodge Farm. After several circuits of the barn it then headed east towards the cricket pitch and disappeared from view. This is the latest record I have had of this species in the UK. Earlier at Maple Lodge Nature Reserve I noted a Water Rail from Rotunda Hide feeding among the reeds and shortly after disappearing 2 calling birds were heard.
At Lynsters Farm c75 Jackdaw nosily fed among the cattle.

                                Water Rail from Rotunda Hide, Maple Lodge N.R.

                                          Teal from Rotunda HIde, Maple Lodge N.R.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Return to Broadwater with Steve Carter

I spent a late morning, early afternoon visit to Broadwater with birding pal and friend Steve Carter but in all the excitement I left my bins in the car, or am I just getting old and forgetful? Still I had my scope and we arrived at the lake edge to be told by several birders that the Velvet Scoter had not been seen. I was quite confident that the bird was still present and set up the scope between both hides and after a few minutes had relocated it much to Steve's delight. The light was good and eventually Steve and I were able to make out the slight yellow to the base of the bill which I was unable to see yesterday. The pale markings to it's face and white wing-bar were also very evident. The bird was again observed busily diving for food and would remain underwater for some 30 seconds or so before reappearing. We then scoured the lake for the 2 Slavonian Grebes that were present yesterday but to no avail. Steve did find a drake Shelduck and  a total of 10 Little Grebe were observed before we called it a day.

Morning visit to Woodoaks Farm

An early morning visit to the farm in mild conditions produced the following species list;
Common Buzzard (2 worming on pasture above old orchard), Red Kite (2),  Black-headed Gull (57), Woodpigeon (62), Collared Dove (20), Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Little Owl (1 in old orchard), Great-spotted Woodpecker (1), Skylark (10), Meadow Pipit (1), Pied Wagtail (3), Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird (8 raiding Hawthorn of berries), Redwing (6), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay (2), Magpie (3), Jackdaw (5), Carrion Crow (2), Starling (7), House Sparrow (32), Chaffinch (7), Greenfinch (1), Linnet (c50 very mobile), Bullfinch (male calling from Holly in Ladywalk Wood), Yellowhammer (6), Reed Bunting (male in hedge at old orchard).

                                   Little Owl in it's favoured tree in the old orchard.

                                          Yellowhammer (male) on Dog-rose.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Slavonian Grebe update, Broadwater Gravel Pit.

A good friend, Geoff Lapworth has just notified me that there were 2 Slavonian Grebes at Broadwater Gravel Pit today. He viewed both and the Velvet Scoter this afternoon. I did originally think that there may have been 2 birds at the site as the one I was viewing this morning seemed to move from the middle of the lake to the margin unbelievably quickly, but I just could not find the 2 together!
Lets hope all 3 birds remain for a few more days at least.

Slavonian Grebe & Velvet Scoter at Broadwater Gravel Pit, Harefield

After yesterday's debacle birding in thick fog I thought I would make the most of the better conditions and headed off to Broadwater G.P, Harefield. This was a wise move as not long after arriving I connected up with a Slavonian Grebe. At first I embarrassingly miss identified the bird as Black-necked Grebe as it was a long way out and one had been reported a few days earlier at Stockers Lake. But once it decided to move in close to the bank my mistake was obvious. It's contrasting dark, flat crown and pale cheeks met at eye level and the bill was straight. The bird was very active regularly diving for food and was later pushed further along the bank by a Great-crested Grebe. I then made my way to the second hide where I panned around with my bins and eventually found the immature male Velevet Scoter that had been reported over the weekend. Present with Tufted Ducks it's larger size was obvious and it too was busy diving for food. A magic day and one I will remember for some time.

                                          Slavonian Grebe.

                                          Distant shot of Velevet Scoter.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve in the fog

A late morning, early afternoon visit to the reserve with a thick blanket of fog covering everything made birding very difficult indeed. At the Clubhouse feeding station Blue & Great Tit's busily fed on the nut feeders while below several Chaffinches squabbled over the scattered pickings. A cock Pheasant then appeared briefly before several Moorhen moved in and took advantage of an easy feed. Above in an Alder a single Ring-necked Parakeet called out as a Cormorant suddenly appeared and successfully landed in the gloom. Then a female Great-spotted Woodpecker landed on the nut feeder and hungrily fed. The rest of the reserve was comparatively quiet but at Lynsters Hide I did note a Grey Wagtail at Lynsters Farm.

                                          Pheasant at the Clubhouse feeding station. 

                                           Great-spotted Woodpecker (female).

                                                        Friendly Robin