December 2014

  

WE NEED YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS PLEASE 
Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.

CHRISTMAS WALK - Saturday 27th December at the Drayton Hide 11am. 
Mince Pies and Mulled wine. 
Poster Here

Friday 19th December 2014.
Red Kite by Roy Hargreaves
Roy Hargreaves - Having been on the Antipodes for three weeks it was good to get back and check out Wilstone Res this week. It is certainly obvious that the water level has risen while I have been away and continued this week. Monday was very pleasant in the sunny conditions and the Little Egret and Red Kites were taken then. It is interesting to note the affect that wear and tear has had on one Kite’s tail shape. It is clearly a Red Kite on its plumage but the tail shape could lead people astray if that was all you focussed on. Also on Monday two Goldeneye and a Black-tailed Godwit were about.

Red Kite by Roy Hargreaves


On Tuesday I saw three Goldeneye and a party of seven Bullfinch was a little unusual. Again the Godwit was still about and this fairly co-operative Meadow Pipit was by the jetty. With no sign of a Water Pipit yet I think we might be in for a blank winter on that score, but spring always had potential.
Meadow Pipit by Roy Hargreaves
Monday's Little Egret by Roy Hargreaves

Wednesday rain stopped play and on Thursday the water level had again risen obviously after Wednesday’s rain with little to show for it.

This morning a juv Scaup was out in one of the usual haunts of this autumn’s birds and no sign of the Black-tailed Godwit but maybe checking other local waters will reveal where it is.

Sunday 14th December 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - A long walk in the winter sunshine today was just what I needed after being injured and ill for the last few weeks. It seemed quite quiet on the water compared to this time last year, probably too much food elsewhere. Lots of meadow pipits around but far less in the way of Fieldfare. Was god to see so many Greenfinch up on the dry canal plus with a few Reed Bunting at Tringford. The rapidly growing willows at Startops held quite a few Thrushes when I walked through along with a pair of Grey Wagtail. Wilstone I found 4 Snipe and 1 Black Tailed Godwit. There also seem to be more Cormorant than ever before. Water levels are rising in Wilstone now pushing the wading birds into an ever shrinking area. A bit of a mixed blessing for photography, the birds get closer but many move on.
Reed Bunting by Phill Luckhurst

Cormorant in Flight by Phill Luckhurst

Greenfinch by Phill Luckhurst

Reed Bunting by Phill Luckhurst

Johne Taylor - Tring Ringing Group - 18 more Redwing ringed this am plus a Fieldfare and an adult Chiffchaff at Wilstone. 105 Meadow pipits ringed to date at Wilstone since late October too. 

Saturday 13th December 2014.
Peter Brazier - The weather today was excellent for walking. A lap of Wilstone revealed a Black-tailed Godwit visible to the right of the Drayton hide and a Dunlin to the left. Behind and through Rushy Meadow there were numerous Fieldfare and some Redwing. A Mistle Thrush was singing from the bushes along the dry canal. By Cemetery corner a Grey Wagtail was very active with the Alba's.  Gary Hinton reported large numbers of winter thrushes at Startopsend and similar numbers were reported by Andrew Steele at Marsworth. Gary also reported 4 Red-crested Pochard at Tringford and a Grey Wagtail.
View from the hide

View from the dry canal

Friday 12th December 2014.
Jeff Bailey (via HBC) - Wilstone: 10 Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit.

Thursday 11th December 2014.
Gary Hinton -
Dunny no whose looking at me

Fieldy fare play

Jennys give me a ring

Don’t move I might be seen says woody

Wednesday 10th December 2014.
Gary Hinton - Wilstone: Golden Plover, 2 Little Egret, 50+ Wigeon, 59+ Redwing, Kingfisher, 25+ Fieldfare Startopsend: 30+ Redwing, 30+ Fieldfare, Grey WagtailTringford: Kingfisher, 2 Red-crested Pochard. Marsworth: Kingfisher.

Tuesday 9th December 2014.
Gary Hinton - Marswoth, Grey Wagtail and a Peregrine Falcon. (Via HBC)

Friday 5th December 2014.
Graeme Culzean - Just a brief reminder that Opticron are having one of their quarterly Optics days tomorrow the 6th December 2014. A good opportunity to catch up on the latest bins and scopes, to try before you buy and or treat yourself or someone else for Christmas.
Opticron rep:-The very knowledgeable Chris Galvin
Venue:-Graham's Hide College Lake
Time:- From 09.30 onwards

Tuesday 2nd December 2014.
Lucy Flower - Managed a brisk walk around Wilstone reservoir late this afternoon before an appointment locally. Most notable species were large flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, especially around the back, SW of cemetery corner and along the dry canal (approx 150+). Also large group of Redwing (approx 50+) in the woods behind the hide. On my last visit 16/11, I'd noticed a significant increase in Blackbirds around the site, especially along the dry canal and in the hedges surrounding the reservoir. Those numbers weren't so obvious this afternoon but still a fair few around. Didn't have time to call at the hide or scan the water in any detail but did notice a Common Gull in amongst the Black-headed Gulls coming to roost at 3:15pm.

________________________________________________________________________________
For other bird sightings in the area please visit Herts Bird Club. for whom we thank for many of the sightings listed here.
  
For information about other wildlife visit The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and see Hertfordshire Natural History Society.
Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites
(Abbreviations: HBC Herts Bird Club, BBC Bucks Bird Club, BBYG Bucksbirders Yahoo Group, HBYG Hertsbirding Yahoo Group.

And, please note that unless a reported sighting is clearly a mistake, we try to post them without too much delay. Therefore many of these sightings are unchecked. Please bear this in mind when checking sightings above and if appropriate, please send further corroborative records or any other information you may have.

November 2014

  

WE NEED YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS PLEASE 
Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.

Please be aware Canal & River Trust contractors will commence hedge removal works at the base of the west embankment of Startops reservoir W/C 10th November. The works are required to inspect and uncover the overflow discharge channel. There are no restrictions in place other than the immediate work area however we felt it necessary to keep you informed due to the nature of the works. Click here for a map of the works. 

CHRISTMAS WALK - Saturday 27th December at the Drayton Hide 11am. 
Mince Pies and Mulled wine. 


Saturday 29th November 2014.
Peter Brazier - Lovely afternoon at the reservoirs, met a couple from Devon up for the weekend and walked around Wilstone with them. Only bird of note was a Meadow Pipit between Cemetery Corner and the Jetty.
Meadow Pipit by Peter Brazier

Tuesday 25th November 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - The water at Marsworth is quite high at the moment with the other 3 reservoirs low. Marsworth does seem to attract Water Rails and it has been where I have had most success in seeing them. In the last 2 weeks I have not failed to see at least 2. Over at Wilstone yesterday there was a single black swan, good numbers of golden plover and a small flock of snipe were sent up when a peregrine flew low over the reed bed. It was also interesting to see the corvids gang up and chase away a sparrowhawk. I often see crows and rooks gang up on birds of prey but yesterday 2 magpie and 2 jays joined in the attack. (via Hertsbirding)

Monday 24th November 2014.
James Heron - Wilstone looking wonderful this morning. Steamy and white for a time.
James Heron

Early Morning Nap by James Heron

Redwing by James Heron

Redwing by James Heron
Sunday 23rd November 2014.
Francis Buckle - In very dire conditions after a text from Dave B I met up, by chance, with Iain Malin, Dave Hutchinson and Ed and we went round to the hide at Wilstone where Dave B was still who quickly got me onto the Knot together with a Dunlin amongst the few hundred Golden Plover. Attached a couple of very hazy record shots. We then quickly retired to College Lake for a hot cuppa!
Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Friday 21st November 2014.
Gary Hinton - I went for a walk this afternoon around all the reservoirs, joining Wilstone by the route of the Wendover Arm of the dry canal. The weather was poor to say the least, around 8 degrees, with that I set off with just some goggles and an old pocket digital camera. 1st up Tringford: a few Blackbirds , Pied Wags with the horses at the rear side, ChaffinchesDunnocks, Wrens, Wood pigeon numbers perched in various trees on route, Magpie, Robins, Long Tailed Tits by the area of the hide. On the water I could see from the hide 3 Heron, a Cormorant fishing, a pair of Gadwall, numbers of Teal in at least 3 groups one of which was on the water’s edge to the right of the hide showing their brilliant colours, Moorhen & Coot in numbers, Red-crested Pochard, Mallard & Tufted ducks, Mute swans, Pochard and Dab chicks maybe around 5.
Tringford by Gary Hinton
Over to the dry canal area where I saw a single Redwing sitting on a power line. A few Chaffinches & Blackbirds is all that was noted. On to Wilstone: no sign of the Stonechat or very little else. On the walk to the hide other than a few Blackbirds, a Mistle thrush & 2 + Redwings that few into the hedge on the inlet side of the cow field. There was a large number over 250, with other flocks arriving, of Golden Plover on the right side of the hide, also numbers of Shoveler, Tufted, Mallard, Wigeon ducks, Cormorant’s, Grebes and Dabs, Mute Swans, Coot, Moorhen throughout the three waters with Pied Wagtails, Dunnocks near the water’s edge. 8 + Fieldfare near the steps down to the farm cafĂ©, numerous gulls in and around with at least 30 Greylag geese, along with the partial albinistic, toing and throwing from reservoir to field behind the farm shop.
Sunflower still going on Wilstone by Gary Hinton
Wilstone by Gary Hinton
Over to Startopsend: 1 Little Egret, in their favourite spot by the feeder stream, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted, Shoveler, Wigeon ducks, Grebe, |Mute swans, Blackbird and 2 + Redwing favouring the shrub’s around the reservoir being spooked as I walked along, Dunnocks, Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails, Chaffinches & numerous gulls. Also seen 4 Meadow Pipits on the corner shore line by the car park with the wags.
Startopsend by Gary Hinton
On to Marsworth: not a lot there as the main event was over the way, then, taken by a small Starling Murmuration starting, so walked onto the area id seen them roost in up recently by the lock keepers cottage reed beds. There doesn't seem to be as many yet as last year but I'm sure the numbers are going up weekly, so go see this wonderful display.
Marsworth Murmuration by Gary Hinton

Saturday 15th November 2014.
Peter Brazier - Visited Marsworth at dusk to watch the Starling Murmuration. Not a massive congregation by any means but worth visiting and trying out some video (kept short you will be pleased to know!) - Can anyone do any better?
Starlings by Peter Brazier


Thursday 13th November 2014. Roy Hargreaves - This morning was overcast but day and not too breezy while I was out. Along the Dry Canal I saw a male Reeves’s Muntjac in the enclosed area where the picnic site will eventually be. From the jetty a juvenile Greater Scaup and Black-tailed Godwit were in their usual areas. From the hide I saw no Golden Plover on the mud and assume that the Dunlin were also out in the fields with them. I did see 21 Common Snipe, 17 of which were flying round. The cows have been taken in from Rushy Meadow as well now and this morning’s scrutinising of the new fencing paid off with a 1st winter European Stonechat perched on the fence between Rushy Meadow and the meadow to its South. While I was watching the Chat I saw a couple of birds fly along the back of the meadow and it was a Woodcock being chased by a Jackdaw. Clearly something or someone had disturbed the Woodcock for it to be flying round at 8:30 in the morning but I didn’t mind as I enjoyed my best view of one at the reservoirs. On the way home I also saw Chinese Water Deer in the fields and two Lesser Redpoll flew over. The field next to the Dry Canal and by the footpath up to Miswell Farm had a flock of at least 25 Yellowhammers in it, which is a good number for there. The Red Kite was one of two flying over my house together and they still haven’t lost their appeal even if they are a common sight round the reservoirs and Tring.
Stonechat by Roy Hargreaves
Red Kite by Roy Hargreaves
Wednesday 12th November 2014. Lynne Lambert - There were about a thousand Starlings performing over Marsworth this evening and at least two Sparrowhawks. At the last second, just before they disappeared into the reed bed, the whole flock tightened up into a ball and a sparrowhawk dived through the middle of them and came out the other side carrying a bird. 48 Corn Buntings gathered in the trees on the causeway before going into roost in the reeds. Reed buntings and Goldfinch were also dropping in. Water Rails and a Cetti calling. 8 Shoveler on the water and hundreds of gulls flying overhead to the northeast. Saturday 8th November 2014. Gary Hinton -
Grey Wagtail at Startopsend by Gary Hinton
Little Egret at Startopsend by Gary Hinton
Mistle Thrush in the Startops feeder woods by Gary Hinton.  
Roy Hargreaves - This morning I started on the jetty and with more time than I have during the week I was able to locate one, or possibly two, of the juvenile Greater Scaup and also two redhead Goldeneye were new in. From the jetty I could see a flock of Golden Plover with a Dunlin tagging along. It started raining as I walked to the hide so I didn’t linger in between the two. From the hide Ian had briefly seen a probable Sand Martin in the rain. From the hide three Dunlin were on the mud to the right in with the Golden Plover and a Black-tailed Godwit had returned. While scanning I spotted the Sand Martin flying over the tern rafts. I assume that this bird has been blown north by the southerly winds rather than having lingered in Britain all this time. Marsworth had vocal Water Rails but little else of note. Startops seems to be the new preferred hangout for the Little Egrets with four on the feeder stream. It also had three Red-crested Pochards – a male and two females. Tringford had eight Red-crested Pochards (four males) and the lower water level has encouraged a good number of Teal round the margins. A quick return visit to Wilstone in the afternoon added a pair of Pintail to the list of birds seen today. On a general note there are reasonable numbers of Meadow Pipit scattered round Wilstone and Startops and I couldn’t find any Rock or Water Pipits with them today.
Thursday 6th November 2014.
Kingfisher at Marsworth today by Gary Hinton
Marsworth's Friendly Robin b y Gary Hinton. 
Phill Luckhurst- Wednesday 5th November 2014. Phill Luckhurst- Over the last week or so I have spent a lot of time at Marsworth trying to photograph the Water Rails there. I've managed to take pics of 4 different individuals. One evening sat in the corner of Marsworth I could see 4 at one time. When the two pairs that seem to be living in that corner at the moment get a bit close to each other they begin shouting and when they start you can hear others around the res. At one point as well as the 4 I could hear 3 more shouting back so there are at least 7. The Starlings have begun to gather in better numbers too, hopefully by December they will be treated to a similar spectacle to last year.
Water Rail by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning was warmer than yesterday with slightly murky overcast light but better than yesterday. The two Black-tailed Godwits were about and two adult Shelduck were new arrivals and weren't with the long-staying juvenile. I haven’t seen a Scaup since Monday. By the jetty three Meadow Pipits were on the concrete edge of the reservoir. From the hide Golden Plover were with the Lapwing and a few Snipe turned into fifteen when a Sparrowhawk flew low of the Drayton Lagoon but this is probably a small percentage of the Snipe actually present if the count of 85 in January this year is anything to go by. I also noted an increase in Fieldfare numbers as well but still not many about. Tuesday 4th November 2014.
Little Egret at Tringford by James Heron
Grey Heron by James Heron
Cormorant by James Heron
Monday 3rd November 2014. James Heron - Wilstone this afternoon: The low water level meant that all avian activity was very distant!
Snipe at Wilstone by James Heron
Shoveller by James Heron
Golden Plover by James Heron
Teal by James Heron
Long Tailed Tit by James Heron
Trevor James, Herts Natural History Society's flora recorder and archivist recently paid a visit to Wilstone and I was lucky enough to bump into him. I asked him to write up what he found and this is his comprehensive report. Thank you Trevor. 
I spent an hour or two examining the mud and lake margins where we met [old overflow], moving on to the fen east of the hide, and came back with a number of specimens that will need to be identified under the microscope – so more work to do over winter! The plant life on the mud was interesting. Most of the more open mud of the drawdown zone was occupied by the suite of species we might expect, but including a fair quantity of the rare Mudwort Littorella uniflora, which only occurs at Wilstone and Marsworth Reservoirs now in Herts. This is the first time I have seen it in this particular part of the drawdown zone – it usually occurs around the inlet, east of the hide. There was also quite of lot of the rather local wetland plant Great Yellow-cress Rorippa amphibia, which had eluded us when we were doing the Herts Flora Survey in the 1980s-1990s, but which appeared again last year. It had been recorded in the area in the 1960s. So, the open mud there was in good shape, with very little of the feared Crassula helmsii. Unfortunately, though, when I examined the mud under the poplars/willows, I found it was dominated there by Crassula, except where sedge beds overtopped it. So, its lack of occurrence on the lower mud areas may be limited by the winter height of the water body. My main work there the other day was to make another effort at re-sampling the beetles that live both on the open mud, but also, especially, in the marsh ‘litter’. A lot of recording was carried out at Wilstone especially in the late 1890s by the first County beetle recorder, E. G. Elliman, who lived in Tring. These studies were summarised in the first County list of beetles, published in Vol. 1 of the Victoria County History of Hertfordshire (1902). Since then, very little real recording of these insects seems to have been undertaken at the reservoirs, and so I wanted to see how many of especially the rarer species I could re-find. I have made two visits so far, the previous one having been in the early summer, when I recorded a number of quite scarce wetland-associated beetles, especially in the fens near the old boat jetty on the east side. As I said when we met, because Wilstone is spring-fed from the Chalk, its waters are particularly good for supporting a rich flora, which in turn supports natural fenland insect communities. This is very different from many reservoirs and gravel pit lakes. Also, as such, the habitat at Wilstone has evidently evolved from previously existing natural wetlands, so a range of highly habitat-specific insects took advantage of the creation of these habitats, and seem at least in part to have remained there. Interestingly though, in the past the dominant plant round the margins was Common Reed Phragmites australis, but this has gradually been replaced by other things over the last 50 yerars, probably because of the nutrient enrichment. Best wishes, Trevor ________________________________________________________________________________
For other bird sightings in the area please visit Herts Bird Club. for whom we thank for many of the sightings listed here.
  
For information about other wildlife visit The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and see Hertfordshire Natural History Society.
Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites
(Abbreviations: HBC Herts Bird Club, BBC Bucks Bird Club, BBYG Bucksbirders Yahoo Group, HBYG Hertsbirding Yahoo Group.

And, please note that unless a reported sighting is clearly a mistake, we try to post them without too much delay. Therefore many of these sightings are unchecked. Please bear this in mind when checking sightings above and if appropriate, please send further corroborative records or any other information you may have.