Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

Did a bit of last minute shopping in town today. Rather dicey underfoot as pavements and car parks are just sheets of ice though it is starting to thaw.
Heard a few Redwings go west over the Stevenage leisure park and a pair of Pied Wagtails were feeding on the ice edge. Not a lot else here, even the feral pigeons and crows have all but gone.
Driving home via Chells Manor, I passed the Emperors Head pub and a flock of about twenty birds flew south. Probably Starlings, but this area has been good for Waxwings in recent years. Have not heard of any sightings this winter so far.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Winter Scenes

A few more wintery scenes.

Friday, 18 December 2009


Last night we had a big fall of snow, similar to what we got in February. As a result, most of the town seems to have ground to a halt. Luckily I had the day off and could for once enjoy what is these days a pretty rare event.
Having cleared about four inches of the stuff off the feeders, disturbing the waiting Robin, I spent some time waiting to see what would arrive. Seven House Sparrows, two Starlings, two Blue Tits and a Dunnock came down over the next hour-pretty normal but I did get two Great Tits which are not at all frequent. One of them sat for a while on a fence post and proceeded to bathe in the snow, something I have not noticed before.
At 0930 I went for a walk out to the countryside east of Stevenage. Most of the time, the snow was around four inches deep, but in a few places there were drifts waist deep. Birds were of course rather infrequent. A few Skylarks could be heard moving west, and two Lapwing were a surprise. More expected were thrushes and tits. I found a large flock of Long Tailed Tits which also contained a few Blue and Great Tits. There were several small flocks of Fieldfare, and every now and again I encountered Redwings, Blackbirds and the occasional Mistle Thrush. A single Kestrel was the only bird of prey.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Another quiet one

With the iffy weather and a lack of exciting new stuff to go and photograph we decided to save a bit of petrol money and have another quiet weekend.
So yesterday morning I went down to Amwell for the usual social gathering and hopefully a few decent birds. It was a nice sunny start, though it gradually got colder and by mid day the sun was starting to go as well. The water is a lot higher than when I was last here-a combination of the higher sluice gate and recent heavy rain. As a result, there is not much left of the islands for loafing wildfowl and waders. The reeds have been cut in places leaving long channels which are now starting to get a bit wet and this has produced feeding opportunities for waders and smaller birds.
There were a lot of early thrush movements-mainly Fieldfare with a smaller amount of Redwing, but the first decent bird was a Chiffchaff seen in one of the willows. Some of us then went down to Hollycross Lake to see the Red Crested Pochard-only the one this time, but stopped off on the way at a clump of birches first. Did not take long for a couple of Redpolls to appear, along with a Siskin. The latter is still a regular winter sight, but the days of big Redpoll flocks in the Lea Valley are a thing of the past. We also enjoyed prolonged views of one of the resident Cetti's Warblers and a brief Redwing in the bushes.
Back at the viewpoint, gull numbers were building, but nothing unusual was picked up, a few Snipe were seen-no Jacks yet and in one of the reed-bed cuts a Water Rail fed along with a number of Reed Buntings.