July 2014

  

WE NEED YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS PLEASE 
Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.
NEWS: Work Party at Startops Reservoir 21st September 2014

• Thursday 24th July 2014.
Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) Having visited the rafts this week we can say that the rafts have produced 3 Oystercatcher chicks[2 ringed]but only one fledged successfully. About 70 Common Tern chicks with 52 ringed. Mike Collards raft had two successfully fledged young. A big thank you for everybody's help with Mikes raft and the others in the past. We believe that the big raft was colonised late by birds moving from the College Lake marsh colony.  Regards Johne

Roy Hargreaves - This morning it was overcast again first thing but visibility was good. As has been typical recently I saw a Reeve’s Muntjac – on this occasion along the edge of the Barley field that is next to the Dry Canal. As I approached the jetty I heard a Greenshank and it called three or four times before I saw it as it flew off east towards the smaller reservoirs. On the Little Egret front I could certainly see two nestlings in with the adult in the nest. On the wader front there was two or three Common Sandpipers about and about 200 Black-headed Gulls in the field behind the jetty but I couldn’t see the Med Gull at all.

• Wednesday 23rd July 2014.
Dan "Veloraptor" - The Juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL may still have been at Wilstone around midday today. While searching gulls on the fields across the bank behind the jetty I fell upon what seemed to be it but at the same instant the bird walked behind foliage into the next field & I didn't get a view of it again. 2 COMMON GULLS were about. At Startops a HOBBY shot through like a bullet chasing swallows.

• Tuesday 22nd July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - First this morning it was a bit too foggy and there was always that lingering doubt that something could have been sat in the open and not seen. Lapwing numbers have been increasing and must be close to 100, if they aren't already slightly over that. Also two Common Sandpipers were about. This afternoon I received an email from David Bilcock and a text from Steve Rodwell to say that there was a juvenile Mediterranean Gull about and then later that there was a Greenshank in front of the hide. In a normal year Greenshank isn't a tough bird to see at the reservoirs but in the past two years they haven’t been easy so I headed back down this evening and saw the juvenile Med Gull on the barley bales and then it flew into the field being ploughed by the Cemetery. The Greenshank was walking along the bank in front of the hide and hopefully will be there in the morning. The Little Egrets were dispersed and impossible to count accurately as you couldn't see them all from any one vantage point.
Lapwing by Roy Hargreaves

Mediterranean Gull by Roy Hargreaves

• Sunday 20th July 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I have had quite a weekend around the reservoirs. Firstly the Kingfishers, I have been told that nationally they have done well this year and this is certainly true for Tring. In the usual spot at Marsworth I have seen 4 all on the same branch. From the Plover Hide I have seen 2 perched together and at Tringford 3. Wilstone had 5 at one point. Now I am sure there is some overlap where I have seen the same birds at different locations but just a few years ago you would not have dreamed there would be so many sightings.

The Meadows behind Wilstone had loads going on this evening. At one point there were 9 Red Kite and 2 Buzzard above the farmers tractor with fleeting visits from a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel. It was also impressive to see just how many insects were around including my favourite of the day a Male Scarce Blue-Tailed Damselfly. To end today with a smile there were 3 Yellow Wagtail feeding in Rushy Meadow, 2 were very young.
Grey Heron by Phill Luckhurst

Red Kite by Phill Luckhurst

Buzzard by Phill Luckhurst

Blue-tailed Damselfly by Phill Luckhurst

Magpie by Phill Luckhurst

Red Kite by Phill Luckhurst


Roy Hargreaves - Interestingly there were two Common Sandpipers on Startops yesterday and no sign today. Otherwise 16+ Little Egrets on Wilstone were difficult to count as they were well scattered and there was also activity at the nest – although I’ve not seen any youngsters yet. Also two Common Sandpipers on Wilstone today had also been there yesterday, but little else.

Johne Taylor - Turtle Dove singing all morning at Wilstone. Excellent breeding season continues.

• Saturday 19th July 2014.
Graham Clark - I visited Wilstone on the evening of Thursday 17 July. I live in the Scottish borders and am visiting my mother in Rickmansworth and around this time of the year make an annual pilgrimage to Wilstone to view the evening Hobby spectacular. I first visited Tring in 1964 - in fact it was the first venue for birding expeditions when I was nine! Anyway, on the evening of 17 July no Hobbies at all came in to hunt over the reedbed at Wilstone. I scanned from the bank above the car park from 20.10 until 21.50. This surprised me. Without access to my notebooks I can't be sure whether I've always visited earlier in previous years (in May and June). I do recall that I've always seen them catching small insects rather than dragonflies. However, I was expecting big numbers (I think my previous record's 19) with the adult numbers swollen by newly fledged birds but it was not to be. I've certainly never 'failed' before.

So my questions are :-

1. Do they move away from the area earlier than I had anticipated once the young have fledged? or ...
2. Are they not there every evening during the season and I've just always been lucky in the past? and if so ...
3. Do they sometimes hunt collectively over another local reedbed e.g. Marsworth or Western Turville or even College Lake? and if so ...
4. Might that behaviour be weather dependant? - Thursday evening was bright and clear with a breeze in my face from the car park so S.E. max Beaufort 3 or ...
5. Is there another factor I haven't considered above?
I'd be grateful for your answers and thank you in anticipation.

In compensation, I did count 18 Little Egrets coming into their roost tree (including the sitting bird). A male Sparrowhawk flew across NE-SW with prey around 20.40 and a Buzzard moved along a similar line beyond the reservoir around 21.00. A party of around 20 Lapwings came into roost from behind me.

Best wishes,

Graham Clark

• Wednesday, 16th July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning at 6:15 I heard a Dunlin calling and then it practically flew over my head, heading East – possibly to try out one of the smaller reservoirs. I then heard Common Sandpipers and later saw two on the barley bales and one on the spit. Having managed 18 Little Egrets on Tuesday I was half-expecting more today but I could only find 15 today and both counts included the sitting bird. It was also interesting to go back this afternoon doing the WeBS count and see that the spit in front of the hide is almost complete from the hide to the bushes in front and is certainly ready for waders to land on it and hopefully lingerJStartops had two Yellow Wagtails on the bank by the layby steps – an adult and a very young juvenile which are probably local birds. Also something to note is that the barley bales have been renewed in Marsworth and Startops so Wilstone will hopefully be next.

• Monday, 14th July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Walking towards the jetty a quick scan showed Little Egrets scattered around the far side and indeed I counted fifteen in all and by lifting the hide flaps very slowly when I got there one or two of them were very close to me. One was still sat on a nest in the central bushes. One Oystercatcher and a Redshank were about and the mud has definitely increased in extent over the past two days and Lapwing numbers are increasing. There are now cattle in the meadow next to the cress beds and a couple of Little Egrets were in those fields too, so maybe we will get a Cattle Egret one day.
F Blackcap by Roy Hargreaves

Little Egret by Roy Hargreaves

• Friday, 11th July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning two Chinese Water deer were by the jetty on the lower area of grass close to the hedge. They were also there on Wednesday and a Reeves’ Muntjac was in that area on Thursday morning. They were surprisingly confiding on Wednesday but less so this morning. Also this morning a Ringed Plover went up from the concrete edge as I approached the jetty and flew round calling before disappearing off to the east. Nine Little Egrets were also about and the first fledged Common Tern from Wilstone was flying about.

Yesterday I did all of the reservoirs and there was a Yellow Wagtail and a family party of Pochard on Startops and eclipse male Red-crested Pochard on Marsworth. Tringford had five juvenile Common Tern among the adults and I assume that they are College Lake birds from the main lake. As usual Tringford remains the place to get close up photos of Common Terns as they perch on the posts by the overflow, but I still can’t read the ring on this one.
Chinese Water Deer by Roy Hargreaves

Common Tern by Roy Hargreaves

• Wednesday, 9th July 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Some days start out well and just get better and today was no exception.
My plan was an early start at the back of Tringford to see if any of the swallows were roosted but it seems they get up earlier than I do and were already out hunting. While standing watching them I could hear the unmistakable tapping of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the trees next to me. It was soon chased away by another so I started to walk through the woods to the hide. Suddenly a Great Tit whipped around me using me as an obstacle to escape the clutches of a Male Sparrowhawk. Both passed so close to me I could feel the air move as they passed. A few twists and turns later and the Great Tit managed do escape deep in the bushes. The Sparrowhawk landed in the tree above and unruffled hid feathers before looking for another victim. After that I sat on the bank for a while watching numerous ducks when just in front of me a Kingfisher landed. It was so close I had to move back to see all of the bird in my lens and at 400mm managed a head an shoulders shot filling the whole frame. He sat for what seemed to be forever before flying towards the lagoon.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Sparrowhawk by Phill Luckhurst

Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst


• Monday, 7th July 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I do not know what it is about Kingfishers but as soon as I hear one I become gripped by the urge to see them. Today at Marsworth was a prime example, as soon as I arrived I could hear them calling at the usual spot and I was greeted with an amazingly close spectacle. They did it all today including fishing, regurgitating pellets, attacking Magpies when they entered their territory. They did flee when a Heron arrived though, some battles are too big.

Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Video - https://www.flickr.com/photos/distinctly_average/14599151235/

Over in Tringford one pair of Little Grebe have 3 chicks being well guarded by their parents. Another pair were feeding in front of the hide. The path at the back of Tringford seemed unusually full of butterflies today. Most people photograph the colourful tops of the wings but I am fascinated by the intricacy of their underside such as can be seen in this Peacock. It was also good to see so many bees of all different species all covered in pollen.
Little Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Little Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Peacock by Phill Luckhurst

Bee by Phill Luckhurst

Roy Hargreaves - This morning I saw four Common Sandpipers flying around with two favouring the bank and two in the middle. I also saw a Redshank flying round and one Oystercatcher. By the old overflow one of the juvenile Little Egrets was unusually confiding – albeit briefly. There was also still a Little Egret sitting on the nest in the middle. On the way home this Pied Wagtail was stood on the top of a Land Rover at Miswell Farm and really was quite fearless and allowed me to photograph it at eye level.
Little Egret by Roy Hargreaves

Pied Wagtail by Roy Hargreaves

Sally Douglas - Pleased to report the Spotted Flycatchers have, again, bred successfully in Weston Turville Churchyard and today saw an adult feeding a juvenile.

James Heron - Couple of pictures from Wilstone today. 
Little Egret by James Heron. 
Kingfisher by James Heron

• Sunday, 6th July 2014.
David Hutchinson - The family of three Oystercatchers still at Wilstone along with three Common Sandpipers. 
Oystercatcher by Dave Hutchinson



Oystercatcher by Dave Hutchinson



Oystercatcher by Dave Hutchinson



Oystercatcher by Dave Hutchinson


• Friday, 4th July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the Oystercatchers were again on the jetty with Greylag Geese. The Ross’s Goose was still with the main Greylag flock. Predictably the Little Egrets had increased to ten and will probably continue increase in the next two months. There was a Lesser Whitethroat still in the overflow hedge and as I approached the old overflow a Little Ringed Plover flew in calling from the north-west and flew round over the reservoir before I lost sight of it. By the hide there was a family party of Treecreepers, which could be a second brood.

• Thursday, 3rd July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Fairly quiet this morning, although an increase in Little Egrets with nine or possibly ten birds and this includes the sitting bird. Also the Oystercatcher family were on the jetty with Greylags and seemed  more confiding because of that so I managed this photo of the juvenile Oystercatcher.
Oystercatcher by Roy Hargreaves

• Wednesday, 2nd July 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - The morning started off with the four Ravens this time as they flew pretty much the same route as yesterday but more than 2 hours earlier. Also 2 Red-legged Partridge in the same place as yesterday. I could only see one Oystercatcher in a field and six Little Egrets including the sitting bird. The highlight on today’s return journey came as I was changing my camera’s battery and I heard a Ring-necked Parakeet calling and watched it fly from the Little Tring/Tringford area over to Drayton Beauchamp where it appeared to go down – so it is still in the area.

• Tuesday, 1st July 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I headed to Marsworth for the evening and things looked a little quiet.
The Kingfishers were feeding in the corner and I also had a visit from a pair of Yellow Wagtail. A Cetti's was calling and there were a few ChiffChaff hopping around the trees. About 7 the Oystercatcher family flew over announcing their arrival and departure with vigour. I then sat up by the old lock gate arm watching a vole pop in and out of its hole.
Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Vole by Phill Luckhurst

Roy Hargreaves -  While walking down towards Miswell Farm I heard the alarm call of a Blackbird and saw this Common Buzzard close by. This morning I could only see five Little Egrets, including the sitting bird. The Oystercatcher family flew on to the rocks in the middle of the reservoir. A nice fresh Lesser Whitethroat was in the hedge that is perpendicular to the bank by the overflow. From this point on it was clear that several grass fields had been cut for animal feed and so several Buzzards were checking out these fields for any easy pickings. Indeed the meadow behind the hide had been cut and two Buzzards and a Red Kite were lingering. I saw a silent Cuckoo fly out over this meadow as well so one did make it into July. Just after I crossed the footbridge over the Dry Canal I heard cronking and then saw a family party of four Ravens flying along the mini ridge above the Dry Canal. On the way back up through Miswell Farm I heard a Little Owl calling from the usual haunt.
Common Buzzard by Roy Hargreaves


_________________________________________________________________________________
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.

June 2014

  

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


• Monday 30th June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves -  This morning was again calm and clear after disappointing weather over the weekend. I saw two Red-legged Partridge running down the edge of a field as I walked down and by the Waddesdon Gate a Tawny Owl flew across from high in the poplars presumably to a less exposed roosting spot – quite a surprise. I again counted eight Little Egrets and the Oystercatcher family were in an adjacent field to their normal one. The birds weren't being too co-operative but this Comma and Large Skipper were so I took advantage of that in the good light.
Comma by Roy Hargreaves

Large Skipper by Roy Hargreaves
• Sunday 29th June 2014.
Andy Wood, Lia Soeterboek - We wondered if the "unknown moth" from Phill Luckhurst's posting on Saturday might be a Buff Arches.

• Saturday 28th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - After yesterdays find of a Green Woodpecker on a tree where I have seen it a number of times I decided to head back to Tringford to see if it was about again. Instead I found another green species, 2 Ring Necked Parakeets one of which seemed very inquisitive and posed nicely for the camera. I then decided to go on an insect hunt with my first surprise being an Elephant Hawk Moth. Sadly I didn't get a shot of that as he was well hidden in the undergrowth but further along the path I managed to see many other species including the one photographed below. At Wilstone later a Whitethroat was singing nicely while the Dragonflies were being hunted by 5 Hobbies.
Juvenile Green Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Ring Necked Parakeet by Phill Luckhurst

Unknown Moth? by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning was very pleasant and much better than I expected. Starting at Wilstone the walk round the back was uneventful although this juvenile Chiffchaff was very co-operative as it sat waiting to be fed by a parent. I didn’t hear a Cuckoo at Wilstone this morning or yesterday but did hear one later at Marsworth. The meadow by the hide had good numbers of Common Blue Damselflies and quite a few butterflies and also this Ruddy Darter. All of the Darters that I saw this morning appeared to be Ruddy and this seems to be more numerous than Common Darter round Wilstone in my experience. The Small Tortoisehsell was also in the meadow and Ringlets and Meadow Browns was were very much in evidence too. From the hide I could see a Little Egret feeding in front and a Lapwing stood in the shallows – soon there will be mud ;-) From by the old overflow I inadvertently flushed a Little Egret, but it was too close to the bank to avoid disturbing it. I then noticed seven Little Egrets in the bushes and in front of the hide and Ian and Richard were by the new overflow and  they told me that there were eight Little Egrets including the one sat in the bushes in the middle. I had seen this bird yesterday and it was sat down then rather than stood perched and thought then that it might be on a nest. While you can’t see much of the bird let alone any nest it must be a very good bet that it is on a nest. It is best seen from about 20 to 30 metres from the new overflow as you head back towards the car park and look at the central bushes just to the right of the old shooting Butt and at the bushes behind the butt. Also the Oystercatcher family were on the rocks in the middle as I left Wilstone. Tringford had this eclipse male Mandarin on it and Marsworth the male Cuckoo singing still, but little else other than co-operative Common Terns perched on the posts by the overflow on Tringford.
Common Blue Damselfly by Roy Hargreaves

Chiffchaff by Roy Hargreaves

Eclipse Male Mandarin by Roy Hargreaves

Ruddy Darter by Roy Hargreaves

Small Tortoiseshell by Roy Hargreaves


• Friday 27th June 2014.
Sally Douglas - was speaking to a friend who fishes at Startops/Marsworth and obviously the fishermen aren't pleased with the sightings of the otter! He said he recently found the carcass of a large pike partly eaten and a dead swan in the wooded area at Startops but the predator could be one of several. However, are otters going to affect the bird life at the Reservoirs, or are they just fish eaters, bearing in mind the damage mink cause to water birds?

• Thursday 26th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - At 2:30 I got a call to say my cameras were ready for collection after their service so collected them from Elstree and headed for Marsworth. When I got to the corner I very quietly crept down and just got a glimpse of the rear end of an Otter as it vanished under the water. Still buzzing I sat down while on the far bank all sorts of alert calls could be heard from the birds hidden in the reeds and bushes. I thought it was just my arrival but a Tawny Owl carrying some prey was being harassed by a trio of Magpie. There were also quite a few Greenfinch sounding off in the trees. Seconds later a Male Kingfisher arrived and perched on a branch just 2 meters away. All this before I even got my camera out of the bag. I dare not move and just watched the beautiful bird devour a small pike. It then moved to a lower branch about 5 meters away so slowly and quietly I unzipped my bag and pulled out my camera. Slowly raising it and holding my breath I got focus, then all hell broke loose as a dog came running down and sunk its teeth into my leg. Apparently it was "My Fault for hiding in the bushes", which really waved the red flag in front of me and apologies to anyone offended by my tirade.
Reed Warbler by Phill Luckhurst

Once I had calmed down and cleaned my leg I decided to head for the reed bed to try and get a shot of the warblers. The twitching of the reeds really does give away their huge numbers. However the reed warbler rules state that they shall only be seen for nano-seconds at a time and if they do come to rest then subsection 4 states that only 60% of a bird should be visible. While sat watching the Warblers a pair of Oystercatchers flew overhead from the direction of College lake calling out. Not sure if these are the Wilstone pair or another. I then visited Wilstone which was very quiet bird wise but the Dragonfly numbers have trebled since the weekend. A I drove through Drayton one of the fields contained a huge flock of Goldfinch, well over 100 all flying as one towards the dry canal. Is this a common sight? I have never seen this behaviour before.


• Wednesday 25th June 2014.
Ian McConnell - Just a brief report.  Plenty of Dragonflies now at Wilstone with Emperors, Black Tailed Skimmers, Four Spotted Chasers, Brown Hawkers and Common Darters all seen, either singly or paired and ovipositing.
Over at Marsworth, I returned late morning and went and perched at the waters edge in the far corner next to the cottage, trying to get a shot of one of the Kingfishers on a particular branch (see image).  Success at last and I managed to get the shot I wanted. However, as a complete surprise, as I lowered the camera to review the image, an Otter appeared directly below me, about a metre below my feet, and slipped silently into the water and disappeared.  This was about 13:45 and I must admit I did think it a little strange for it to be out in daylight, but glad it was for the thrill of seeing one so close.
Black Tailed Skimmer by Ian McConnell

Emperor by Ian McConnell

Four Spotted Chaser by Ian McConnell

Kingfisher by Ian McConnell

• Tuesday 24th June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the mist soon cleared and another pleasant walk round Wilstone. After I went past the jetty I saw two young foxes on the dung heap in the adjacent field, one of which decided to sit on top and watch me. No doubt the warmth from the dung was attractive to the Fox but you’d think with such a developed sense of smell they’d not want to linger in the vicinity. As I turned from the Fox a Sparrowhawk shot along just above the water checking the vegetation on the concrete bank for prey. It then landed on the edge of the upper level and I spent ten minutes gradually getting close until I managed a number of very good photos and I have attached what I consider to be my best. It only shows that you don’t need camouflaged clothing if you are quiet, slow-moving and lucky of course.

I could only see one adult Oystercatcher in the field this morning, but probably nothing to be concerned about. I also noticed five Little Egrets today, two of which were juveniles, but I don’t think they had just left a nest as they lacked the straggly bits of down that newly-fledged birds have. I also should have mentioned that I saw two Common Tern chick on the plastic-sided tern raft yesterday. They were still there today with two more visible on another of the rafts. Yesterday’s Red Kites had dispersed and the Cuckoo may make it into July with luck.
Sparrowhawk by Roy Hargreaves

Fox by Roy Hargreaves

• Monday 23rd June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - I know it is still June but tell the birds that! This morning I saw my first true autumn migrant in the form of a Green Sandpiper on the exposed concrete bank by the siphon. The water levels seems to be dropping about 2cms a day at the moment – long may it continue. Two Little Egrets were about and Cuckoo was still calling and Cetti’s was still singing. The Oystercatcher family is still intact but an additional adult was being seen off while I was there.

Two of the meadows by Rushy Meadow were cut yesterday and a Reeve’s Muntjac was in one and the other had seven Red Kites and two Buzzards in it looking for victims of the cutting process no doubt.

Out of area a Lesser Yellowlegs was reported at Beadnell today. If it was one and was the College Lake bird then we might be in for an autumn repeat, although if it dropped in at Wilstone early one morning I really wouldn’t mind :-)


• Saturday 21st June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - After a day of feeling very rough I didn't get out until 5pm. Glad I did though as Wilstone and the fields behind were alive with insects. I quickly removed my long lens to put on the macro and dropped my camera in the long grass. While it had a soft landing my sensor is filthy with pollen and plenty more playing havoc with my hayfever. Still, with so many stunning insects around to shoot I made the best of it. As well as the butterflies listed by Roy my best find of the day was a Common Emerald moth. There are few green moths in the UK and this one is a real stunner. From the hide things were very quiet but a reed warbler popped up in front and the terns were putting on a good show. A Buzzard decided to stir things up for a while flying very low above the reeds to the right creating quite a racket. Later on I walked up the Wendover Arm towards Tringford where I found a field containing quite a few poppies. In amongst them were plenty of small birds including good numbers of Green  Finch, I had wondered where they were all hiding as usually there are quite a few along the dry canal. Above the poppy field a Sparrow Hawk  was perched in a tree feeding on its catch.
Common Emerald Hemithea aestivaria by Phill Luckhurst

Poppies by Phill Luckhurst

Reed Warbler by Phill Luckhurst

Scorpion Fly by Phill Luckhurst

Small Skipper by Phill Luckhurst

Common Tern by Phill Luckhurst. 

• Friday 20th June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning a Little Owl was visible on the usual tree for the first time in weeks as it was on a low bare branch. A Cuckoo was calling away still and was mobile as usual. An adult Oystercatcher and the juvenile were feeding together in the field of sheep that is adjacent to the Wilstone barn conversions. I also saw two Little Egrets copulating in the bushes in the middle of the reservoir so we may yet see locally-reared young Egrets this year. A Hobby was perched in the poplars to the right of the hide.

The meadow behind the hide had Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies in the grass waiting for it to warm up and Rushy Meadow had a good number of Peacock Butterfly caterpillars feeding on the vegetation. I thought this male Reed Bunting was also interesting as the wear of the feathers has reduced the pale feather sides and made the mantle look darker than one might normally expect.
Meadow Brown by Roy Hargreaves

Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars by Roy Hargreaves

Reed Bunting by Roy Hargreaves

Ringlet by Roy Hargreaves
• Tuesday 17th June 2014.
Alison Lythgoe - I have attached a couple of photos of the oystercatcher chick and an adult on the bank at Wilstone taken at lunchtime today.

Oystercatchers by Alison Lythgoe

Oystercatchers by Alison Lythgoe

Richard Bennett - The three oystercatchers seen on the bank before flying off to centre. Images digiscoped through bino’s.
Oystercatchers by Richard Bennett

Swans in a row by Richard Bennett

Oystercatchers by Richard Bennett

• Monday 16th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I had an early trip to Wilstone today and also managed to see the young Oystercatcher on the bank but from a distance. Great to see how well it is doing. I see so many Greater Spotted Woodpeckers these days around Tring so today it was great to see the wonderful Green Woodpecker behind the Drayton Hide. This is the first time I have managed to even get a shot of these seeming shy birds. Not brilliant but hopefully I will see him again. Also behind the Drayton Hide was this lovely Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria) high in a tree. To get the image I was at full stretch with my arm being stung by some huge nettles. Sadly it was still too high to get a shot from above. Worse still was I then had to go to work just after the 3 Kingfishers began posing.

Green Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Swallow-tailed Moth by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the Cuckoos were still vocal but the big news was that the juvenile Oystercatcher was on the bank with an adult and then flew back to the middle when disturbed by a dog walker.

• Sunday 15th June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning I did the WeBS count and so was around longer than normal. The Red-crested Pochard pair are alternating between Marsworth and Startops and I saw three adult Little Egrets on Tringford this morning having seen four yesterday. Cetti’s and Willow Warbler were singing at Marsworth and Cuckoos and Kingfishers were all over the place today. It was interesting to see this Great Crested Grebe finish of a Crayfish in pretty short order. This Reed Warbler was also relatively co-operative and not obscured by reeds as they normally are.
Great Crested Grebe by Roy Hargreaves

Reed Warbler by Roy Hargreaves

The highlight for me was a Ring-necked Parakeet that flew over Wilstone Res calling and appeared to drop into trees by the car park but wasn’t seen or heard again so maybe it headed into the village.


Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - On a related matter. We watched a female Four Spotted Chaser prepare itself for its maiden flight this am in the orchard,took about an hour. Female Cuckoo spent time in the orchard as well as the reedbed this morning. Either an opportunist or perhaps there are two females.  Also in the orchard was a Spotted Flycatcher. Another record breaking June CES session with 97 birds processed including 25 juvenile Blackcaps, a couple of the juvenile Starlings roosting in the reeds but as yet no Juvenile Acros.

Charles Jackson - There are phenomenal numbers of Common Blue Damselflies at in the long grass in the meadow behind the hide at Wilstone. I have attached a few photos taken yesterday evening. A party of 4 Ravens flew over and the Oystercatchers were flying in and out of the bushes on the spit so the young bird must still be safe.
Oystercatcher by Charles Jackson

Oystercatcher by Charles Jackson

Common Blue Damselfly by Charles Jackson

Common Blue Damselfly by Charles Jackson

Common Blue Damselfly by Charles Jackson

• Saturday 14th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - A day dedicated to the macro world behind Wilstone for me turned out to be great fun. It was never going to be easy with the wind but there were plenty of sheltered spots. My first find of the day was a Jumping Spider enjoying a fly of some kind. He was very protective of his catch so I only took a couple of quick shots before leaving it alone, spiders give me the willies anyway. Next was a snail that I have never seen before on one of the trees. The nearest ID I can find on the web is the Plaited Door Snail but I am sure I am wrong. There were numerous Bee Mimics around some you would be hard pressed to tell the difference at a glance but the eyes and wings give them away. A number of other little bugs and a few moths (again, yet to identify some of them) later and I ended up with loads of interesting images to come home and research into the species. Gotta do something to avoid the football.
Door Snail by Phill Luckhurst

Green Nettle Weevil by Phill Luckhurst

Scorpion Fly by Phill Luckhurst

Unknown by Phill Luckhurst

Jumping Spider by Phill Luckhurst
Beautiful Golden Y moth by Phill Luckhurst

Charles Jackson - The 2 Black Swans were at Wilstone (photos attached). 3 Kingfishers were about plus 3 Hobbies. Cuckoo calling.
Black Swan by Charles Jackson

Black Swan by Charles Jackson

Black Swan by Charles Jackson

• Friday 13th June 2014.
Sally Douglas - Totternhoe. I know it isn't within the Tring area (but only 9 miles away!) The Turtle Dove It is such an iconic bird and in such a perilous state now that I thought the 'Friends' might like to see some pics I took today. The bird spent about 90% of the time preening, 5% sleeping and 5% purring. Let's hope he has found a female and she is sitting on a nest nearby.
Turtle Dove by Sally Douglas

Turtle Dove by Sally Douglas

Turtle Dove by Sally Douglas

Turtle Dove by Sally Douglas

Turtle Dove by Sally Douglas

James Heron -
Coot Foot by James Heron

Buzzard over the old overflow by James HEron

Wilstone Yesterday by James HEron

Whitethroat by James Heron

F Blackcap by James Heron

Water teeming with life by James Heron

• Thursday 12th June 2014.
Richard Bennett - Fine start to the day with much cormorant activity. Pair of black swans among a group of mutes preening and displaying white undersides. 3 cuckoo’s flying over rear meadow and pair of oystercatchers flying from centre. Ross’s goose flew in among flock of greylags then joined into a group of canada geese.
Black Swans by Richard Bennett

Black Swans by Richard Bennett

Black Swans by Richard Bennett

Whitethroat by Richard Bennett

Whitethroat by Richard Bennett

Wednesday 11th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Like Roy I spent quite a bit of time watching our obliging Kingfisher. I do not know what it is that is so addictive about watching these little birds but I just cannot get enough. As you can see from the photos he is ringed, probably one of the 2 ringed in the last few weeks. I also took a little video of him fishing, as ever a but shaky because I am too lazy to carry a tripod. Other highlights were a Cuckoo just 10 feet in front of me and a Speckled Wood landing on my lens while I was shooting the Kingfisher. Hobby numbers seem down today as I only saw just 3. There seems to be very few Swift, Swallows and Martins too so maybe there are not as many insects around over the res.


Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning I saw an Oystercatcher carrying food to the bushes in the middle so I think it is safe to assume that the chick is still alive and hiding in the bushes at the moment which seems a safe place. At least two Cuckoos are still about as I could hear both male and female calling from all over the place. There was also a 1st summer Hobby perched in the Poplars to the right of the hide and from the hide this Kingfisher has been attracting the attention of photographers this week such that they have got to the hide before me – although I did think that camouflage netting over the left-hand hide opening was a tad excessive as it would mean no one else could see the bird if it perched there. It would seem that wherever an obliging Kingfisher happens to be photographers will turn up to try and capture a special moment.
Kingfisher by Roy Hargreaves

Kingfisher by Roy Hargreaves

Sunday 8th June 2014.
Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - Four Cuckoos flying around this morning.Its turning into an excellent breeding season with a lot of juvenile Robins, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs. First juvenile Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Song Thrush and Great tit of the year. A male Cuckoo ringed today as well as another Kingfisher. The highest total for CES session 4 ever at 100 birds handled, usual average 53.
Cuckoo by Johne Taylor

Saturday 7th June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Given the forecasted apocalypse I spent the day doing housework but as it turned out rather nice I ended up spending a late afternoon at Wilstone. The plan was to pop into the hide for a short while then go insect hunting. That plan failed miserably with the first highlight of the day, a quick swim past of a Little Grebe Chick while en route to the hide. After that I ended up sat in the hide with the gathered and excited masses watching the young Kingfisher feed to the left. In the trees to the right at least 3 Hobbies were perched, occasionally nipping out for a quick snack. The terns were very entertaining and we had a fly by from the Ross's Goose. When I eventually left I saw a Buzzard in the field behind and a few daisies growing by the path. Back at the car and it was covered in insects and various moults. I just had to grab a few shots.






Roy Hargreaves - The forecast said rain from first thing, but the weather said differently. I started at Wilstone and could see the Ross’s Goose still in the middle with Greylag. Walking round the back was uneventful until I got to Rushy Meadow, I’d heard a Cuckoo by Cemetery Corner but hadn’t been able to see it. At Rushy Meadow just about every noise I’ve heard a Cuckoo make was being made. I then saw three Cuckoos and in flight and thought that was nice until I saw two more. The spectacle of five Cuckoos flying round calling is quite something. Back in 1978 I noted seven in one locality but five in the same view is something g I haven’t managed before and certainly not at the reservoirs. Also a Cetti’s was singing by Rushy. I joined Ian in the hide and we listened and watched the Cuckoos going all over the place. We then spotted the juvenile Oystercatcher in the water by the tern raft. One of the adults joined it in the water and they began to swim towards the bank. Eventually the other adult joined them and all three swam behind the bushes in the middle but didn’t appear on the other side. We assume that they disappeared into the bushes in the middle for a rest but don’t know. The smaller reservoirs had Cuckoo(s) singing but it/they could easily be from the five at Wilstone.

Ian Williams - This morning Roy and I witnessed history being made with the first successful fledging of an Oystercatcher at Wilstone. It jumped off the tern raft just before 7.50am and swam with mum towards Drayton Bank, being joined by dad shortly after setting off on its journey. Attached a couple of heavily cropped photos capturing the event.
Oystercatcher by Ian Williams

Oystercatcher by Ian Williams

Oystercatcher by Ian Williams

Friday 6th June 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Jack Fearnside contacted me concerning the comments I made about the pair of Black-necked Grebes that I and others saw on Monday. Jack said “The males tend to have brighter and larger chestnut sides, often have brighter/longer golden head plumes and can appear slightly larger and thicker set.” This all matches the birds this week. I would add in this case and other birds that the females can also be paler than the males with a sooty-grey tinge to their plumage. Today the Ross’s Goose was on Wilstone with a fair-sized flock of Greylags and the Oystercatcher chick was still on the tern raft and the Cuckoo and Cetti’s Warbler were still on song.

Thursday 5th June 2014.
Johne Taylor - Phil Luckhurst’s photo is indeed of a Wasp Beetle Clytra arietis. It would be really useful if observers pass on their sightings to the relevant County recorder.In the case of beetles this would be Trevor James, details can be found on the Herts Natural History Society website. I mention this as both Lynne and I have come across Musk beetles Aromia moschata at the reservoirs only to be told they have not been reported for over a hundred years! So if you do not report them maybe they do not exist.  
 

Phill Luckhurst - Many thanks to both Lucy Flower and Stuart Wilson for identifying that little beastie. About this time of year I always get addicted to insect photography. The more I see them the worse it gets. From the spider below that looks almost squid like to bright golden flies to butterflies that have survived the winter tatty but still keen to find a mate. There is just so much to see in the macro world and Rushy Meadow is particularly good. As well as the insects today I saw my first grass snake there. I wonder what other reptiles we have? After my search for beasties I visited the Drayton hide and sat watching first a Cormorant fishing close to the hide followed by an epic battle between a Great Crested Grebe and a Coot.
The Grebe drew blood and the Coot skulked away quite badly injured by the encounter. Once again the young Kingfisher perched just by the hide. Walking along the bank was quite exciting too as I was constantly buzzed by Swift, Swallow and Martins. At times you could feel the air move as they passed close by.
Great Crested Grebe vs Coot bu Phill Luckhuurst

Cormorant by Phill Luckhurst

Long Jawed Orb bu Phill Luckhurst

Lovers by Phill Luckhurst

Old Butterfly by Phill Luckhurst

Spider by Phill Luckhurst

Yellow Dung Fly by Phill Luchkhurst


Stuart Wilson - Regarding Phil's excellent images of insects. The mystery one looks suspiciously like a Wasp Beetle. It's actually a form of Longhorn Beetle that mimics wasps. Back in the early 1980's when the reservoirs were under the stewardship of the now defunct NCC (Nature Conservancy Council) I (and the other wardens) undertook an insect survey including many moth traps. I believe we found three different Longhorns on the reserve including this one. Tringford is an especially good locality for them. Regarding your desire to see Brown Argus butterfly on the reserve. I suspect (in the presence of Grizzled Skipper) the images from Francis Buckle were probably  from the surrounding chalk hills but in fact you can actually see Brown Argus on the reservoirs in the meadow behind Drayton Hide at Wilstone. I frequently get them in my garden adjacent to that meadow, along with Small Copper & even Dark Green Fritillery. Regarding other interesting insects. The reservoirs are also of national importance for Saw Flies - not many people know that!

Roy Hargreaves - This morning it wasn’t raining and was pleasant even though you could get soaked through from the tall vegetation on some of the paths. The lone Oystercatcher chick is fairly large now but is still normally watched over by one of the adults. A Cuckoo is still singing, as is a Cetti’s Warbler. Round the back the real surprise was a Corn Bunting by Rushy Meadow, which I digi-scoped. Ian told me about one he’d seen a few weeks ago and I thought it had moved through but clearly not. Also I heard a Tawny Owl call near the hide but couldn’t see it. The Kingfisher was taken a few days ago but was unusually co-operative perched close to the hide.
Corn Bunting By Roy Hargreaves

Kingfisher by Roy Hargreaves

Tuesday 3rd June 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - After spending many days at Ricky trying to photograph the Kingfishers there all the action was at Tring. Just outside the Drayton hide this recent fledgling was displaying brilliantly. You can still see the white tip to its short beak. The Hobbies were in fine form too but I couldn't find the Black Necked Grebes of yesterday. There was some interesting action from one of the Great Crested Grebes though as it was using an interesting technique to catch Damsel Flies and taking them in his beak to the bushes on the right. I can only guess that it has a newly hatched chick (is that the right term for a baby Grebe?) and anything larger is not suitable. It is certainly fun to watch. Insect life is on the up with some species I have not encountered before so if anyone can tell from the image I would love to know what it is. There were plenty of different bumble bees too which is great to see. While watching the insect life a Greater Spotter Woodpecker appeared in front of me munching on a few of them.
Bee by Phill Luckhurst

Young Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Young Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Great Crested Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Unknown Insect by Phill Luckhurst

Great Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst


Monday 2nd June 2014.
Francis Buckle - Thanks to Roy and Dave Bilcock got down to Wilstone by c08.30 and the Grebes were showing very well. Attached some pics taken with my Canon  SX50, didn't have my SLR with me!
Black-necked Grebe by Francis Buckle

Black-necked Grebe by Francis Buckle

Black-necked Grebe by Francis Buckle

Roy Hargreaves - A Little Owl was calling from the usual tree this morning, despite it being sunny and me being later than normal. I haven’t seen a Little Owl for weeks as the tree is now fully in leaf and visually impenetrable for the most part. This morning the Cuckoo was still singing round the back and will shortly be heading back to Africa! I headed round to the jetty and was surprised to see two Black-necked Grebes off to the right. They slowly moved across to the left but were only close enough for digi-scoping hence this adequate photo. However, it does illustrate obvious differences between the plumages of the two birds. Whether it is age-related or gender-related I’m not sure as I have drawn a blank with the literature that I have, which includes BWP. None of my literature mentions differences between the sexes and 1st summer is speculatively suggested to achieve summer plumage as late as May, but we are in June and they both appear to be in full plumage. I have no doubt that these birds are probably from Hilfield Park Reservoir and are failed breeders, but it will be interesting to see if they linger. If anyone has any insights to explain the plumage differences I’d be interested to know. I favour gender-related but am surprised not to find it hinted at in the literature that I have.

Otherwise the Oystercatchers are still about but I could only see one chick yesterday. The pair of Eurasian Wigeon proved me wrong this morning as I thought that the female was unable to fly and they both flew round this morning. Also a Little Egret was in the Heronry this morning.

Yesterday the Ross’s Goose was back from Manor Farm on Startops so I’ve managed to see two species that were named after the British explorer James Clark Ross. The Gull was more exciting in my opinion but the Goose is certainly beautiful.
Black-necked Grebes by Roy Hargreaves

Sunday 1st June 2014.
Charles Jackson - [Slightly off patch] Pitstone Church End just gets better and better. Surely the best plant and butterfly site in the area - certainly a better variety of plants and butterflies than College, and the site receives virtually no management. Perhaps it is because it gets no conservation management that it is so good....just a thought! The numbers of Small Blues are still very good with some fresh individuals out - also plenty of Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, again with a few fresh ones. The Orchids are getting better and better with 5 species on site including Common Spotted, Chalk Fragrant, Pyramidal, White Helleborine and several Bee Orchids including a superb example of the variety belgarum. The meadow contained Common Broomrape which parasitises Clovers. I have attached a few photos from the visit.
I chatted to a lady from the village council who told me that the National Trust want to get their hands on the site - a mixed blessing if ever there was one.....
Bee Orchid by Charles Jackson

Bee Orchid var belgarum by Charles Jackson

Bee Orchid var belgarum by Charles Jackson

Common Broomrape by Charles Jackson

Grizzled Skipper by Charles Jackson

Small Blue by Charles Jackson


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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.