Monday, 29 December 2008


Paid a visit to Amwell this morning for the last time this year. Started off nicely with a Kingfisher flying over my head as I arrived. The water levels very high, and some shallow areas of the marsh frozen, so few Snipe were seen, and Lapwing numbers low.
A redhead Smew at the southern end was my first for this winter. I joined some of the regulars and headed north to Hollycross, then Jim noticed the Bittern out in one of the bays at the Water vole pit-of course I did not have my camera today. We spent some time by the cottage watching a pair of Nuthatch exploring the telegraph poles, found the hybrid aytha duck that looks suspiciously like a Lesser Scaup and finally I got to see the female Red Crested Pochard that has been present for several weeks.
Not a bad end to the year as far as local birding goes-hope to do a final day trip tomorrow.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Sunday Birding

For the first time in many weeks, had a proper day out birding with Colin.
The day started at Lymington where the Red Breasted Goose was back for another winter. We had not seen it earlier in the year so thought it would make a nice end to the year. Did not expect it to be so easy to find-only a few minutes from the car park and there it was among the Brent Geese and numerous Dunlin. All the others that I have seen have been distant and often elusive, so this one made a nice change.
Called in at Beauly Road Station in the New Forest just in case a few Woodlark or Dartford Warblers were around, instead found a superb male Hen Harrier. Rather distant, we watched it hunt over the heat for around half an hour.
We ended the day at Newbury failing to see the American Wigeon that had been present on and off. Unfortunately, there are a large number of lakes and pits in the area, and the one we visited had so many bays and islands hidden by scrub, it could have beensleeping out of view.

Friday, 19 December 2008


After a blank winter or so, Waxwings have been seen again in Stevenage. Luckily I heard about them very quickly, and being only a mile away was soon on site, with Lee Evans, Dave booth and Darin Stanley already present.
They remained at the top of a tall tree most of the time, but ventured onto a pink berried Rowan on two brief occasions where I was able to get several good images. Around 2.30, a Magpie arrived in the tree, and the Waxwings got a bit nervous and flew off but soon returned, but just after 3pm they flew off again, circled the area twice and headed off west. I spent fifteen minutes driving round the area but could not locate them again.
Unfoetunately, there seem to be very few berries in the area this year, so it's doubtful if they will stay.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Amwell and other things

Spent a few hours at Amwell this morning.
The usual things on show-Water Rails running around in front of the watch-point, the male Stonechat behaving, as someone remarked, more like a Bluethroat and spending all the time at the water's edge, and al variety of wildfowl. No sign of the Smew or Red Crested Pochard though. Did find a Tufted x Pochard drake and there were a couple of Goldeneye present, but I felt that Wigeon and Teal numbers were a bit low.
Gull numbers gradually built up over the course of the morning-last night's Caspian and Yellow Legged Gull had gone at first light.
Apart from around 500 Lapwing, there were about a dozen Snipe-hard to find as the water levels were rather high, and one sleeping Jack Snipe-its taken all year to find one.
In the garden, not much to add to the NOA survey, but I did see a male Blackcap briefly on Friday.
Looks like the Rough Legged Buzzard has gone from the Royston area-a lot of Herts birders were hoping to get it on next years list, and I was hoping to get some better images.