Saturday, 30 November 2013


Did not go for the Western Orphean Warbler last Sunday as planned-a stomach bug took care of that. Reckon I've lost around a dozen lifers over the years by sudden illnesses-would be much higher but I have had second chances with some birds.
Very cold northerly wind today, and not much fun on the Amwell watch point. Went down to the Gladwin hide to get some shelter and hopefully the Smew. Met Barry on the way down and had a brief chat. After about fifteen minutes the 1w drake Smew appeared behind the willows at the extreme southern end. Not very good views. Maybe six Goldeneyes were down this end and around the main island.

While waiting I spent some time digiscoping the cormorants opposite. The very poor lighting not a great help.
Eventually made my way to the Hollycross feeders bumping into a returning Tony and being joined by Simon. Bill was already there. Spent a good 45 minutes but no sign of the Bramblings. Lots of Chaffinch and Goldfinches, several Great, Blue and Coal Tits and the two Marsh Tits appeared briefly. One Greenfinch and an over flying Redpoll as well.
Lot of noise from the hawthorns-a Stoat was trying to take a huge buck Rabbit and it was a long slow struggle. The Magpies and Tits seemed to take an interest.
Returned to the now milder watch point around 1130 meeting Stevenage Dave and Ron Cousins. The Smew was back in it's usual bay and showed well in the scope.  

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Things are slowly getting back to normal now.
Popped out for a couple of hours this morning and went to Amwell. The weather was a bit grotty-drizzle on the way and murky all morning, plus it was a bit colder than my last visit. The water levels are about as high as they get although the new  excavations in front of the viewpoint provided a lot of muddy edges.
Jay Tony Trevor and Phil were present when I arrived, and Colin and Richard Pole arrived much later. Surprised to discover that Jay did not go to Wales for the Orphean Warbler-but he did manage to get to last years one. Barry and Bill had gone for insurance purposes.
Reasonable duck numbers as expected, with my first Goldeneye of the winter. Snipe were around but hard to see, and Lapwing numbers a bit low. The usual selection of gulls with a nice 3w Yellow Legged showing well.
Phil has put some feeders up, viewable from the now closed Hollycross gate and this has been pulling in Marsh and Coal Tit. Despite a half hour wait they failed to appear for me though a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the fat was nice to see. Tit flocks all over the place, I missed a couple of Treecreepers in one of them, but I did encounter a large number of Goldcrests.
Despite the lateness, the autumn colour is still a bit hit and miss with many trees still remaining green, and one of the Hazels had catkins.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Glossy Ibis Rye Meads

Mum came out of hospital on Tuesday and I have taken a few days off to help her. The same day I learnt that a Glossy Ibis lurking in the Lea Valley had appeared at Rye Meads-Jason, Lee Evans and most of the locals connected that afternoon. Bit frustrating as it has been seen there on and off since.
Mum said she would be ok for a couple of hours today and told me to go for it so I did.
I arrived around 0940 (the reserve opened early today) and met Vicky and a few others in the Lapwing hide. Unfortunately she told me it had flown off earlier onto Draper scrape and was then flushed presumably onto the meads but had not been found. Also the Konik ponies were due to be rounded up shortly.
Anyway she left to work in the office and we waited. One Cetti's Warbler calling from the ditch and a few Teal, Shoveller and Mallard were flying around and there were Pheasants, Herons and Moorhen on view.
Some time after 10 someone found it. Dont know if it had flown in-I had a tweet saying Bill Last had it mid morning at Amwell briefly, but I saw it at the back of the flood meadow a long way off and in poor light. Managed to get some poor digiscoped images before I returned home.
Considering the number present in recent years it is surprising how few have made it into Herts-this may only be the third or fifth record. And my first.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Lodge Sandy

Today I took a bit of a break from the continual hospital visits and went out with Colin. We did not have a plan as such but were hoping to do some autumnal scenes. Colin had his new Pentax dslr so wanted to give it a whirl.
He arrived at 0930, and after a quick in car discussion decided to go to the Lodge at Sandy as we have had good results in the past. There had been a lot of overnight wind, though the day was largely sunny and breezy but many of the trees have yet to colour up, and others are almost bare.
I was a bit surprised when we got to the Lodge car park and spotted a couple of familiar faces-William from Amwell and Kathy from LDAS. I found out that they were taking part in a fungal foray and over the course of the morning bumped into them from time to time.
The feeders in the car park were attractive to a number of species-mainly tits and a vocal Nuthatch but a nice bonus was the male Brambling. Shame I did not have any birding lenses with me.
We made our way down to the ornamental gardens and spent some time there looking at the shrubs and herbaceous plants, before walking through the woods and onto the old heath. Apart from a few more tit flocks, crests  and a single calling Chiffchaff the only things I saw were a queen Hornet and a male Common Darter.
Despite the fungal foray, we did not see much of interest from a photogenic point of view (not that I know anything about fungi) , but some of the trees and shrubs were excellent, as was the landscape in general. The breeze was a bit of a problem at times and I was glad to have the flash available in the more shady parts of the grounds.