March 2014

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Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.

 Monday 31st March 2014.
3 summer plumage Black-necked Grebes at Wilstone now from jetty found by Steve Rodwell.

 Sunday 30th March 2014.
Lynne Lambert (Tring Ringing Group) - We caught three Cetti's at Marsworth this morning, a new male and two new females and another Cetti was singing so it is looking good for Cetti breeding at the reservoirs this year. Also a female Firecrest was ringed at 10:30am.
Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - No such excitement at Wilstone this morning. At least 4 Blackcaps singing, one caught, a bird from last year. Three more Chiffchaffs. Red Kite in nesting tree.Comma butterflies and a small flock of Fieldfares over. Two pairs of Mandarins on the cut at Halton village in the pm also.

Peter Brazier - A Little Gull was showing well at lunchtime from the Drayton hide. Thanks to Roy for putting us onto it.
Little Gull (amongst others) by Roy Hargreaves

Roy Hargreaves - This morning there were a few more Blackcaps in like this one by the hide. Also a Curlew flew over heading east, 2 Mandarin 2 Oystercatchers and a Little Egret by the jetty.
Blackcap by Roy Hargreaves

 Saturday 29th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Starting at Wilstone the three Little Egrets were in the field that the path down to Mead’s Farm Shop. I heard two Blackcaps and 8+ chiffchaffs while I was walking round and the two Oystercatchers were mobile and a lone Sand Martin flew through. Tringford had a male Red-crested Pochard. Startops had two Redshank and a male Red-crested Pochard. The water level in Startops has risen considerably since last weekend. Marsworth had two Cetti’s Warblers singing and Charlie and I looked for the Siberian Chiffchaff and found a very brown Chiffchaff in the same area that was interesting but clearly not the same bird. Apart from the plumage differences the bird was singing like a normal collybita unlike the Siberian Chiffchaff last week. I also noticed that fresh barley bales have been put in Marsworth and Startops and hopefully the same will be done in Wilstone in time for waders to perch on.

Phill Luckhurst - I intended to start early but overslept. So off to Marsworth first where spring has most definitely arrived. Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and all the other small birds were in full song but all being put in their place by the loud song of the Wren. How such a small bird makes so much noise is beyond me.

I then went over to Wilstone where in the strong wind the Mandarin pair were enjoying all the food being blown at them near the outflow. A pair of Blackcap were being playful behind the hide and there was also an epic battle between a pair of Pheasant. In the fields behind a female Sparrowhawk flew through carrying what appeared to be a thrush. The fields were alive with insects including butterflies such as Comma, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and a first for me at Tring, an Orange Tip.
Chiffchaff by Phill Luckhurst

Mandarin by Phill Luckhurst

Male Brimstone by Phill Luckhurst

Peacock by Phill Luckhurst

Peacock by Phill Luckhurst

Blackcap  by Phill Luckhurst

The Pheasants are revolting!  by Phill Luckhurst

Large Bee Fly (Bombylius major) by Phill Luckhurst

 Friday 28th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the mist looked bad in places but the whole of Wilstone Res could be seen. A Water Pipit was about as were the usual three Goldeneye. A pair of Mandarin were on the bank by the car park steps but obviously had to budge as people walked round. Yesterday’s Willow Warbler was in the same location and Chiffchaffs were ubiquitous.
Mandarin by Roy Hargreaves

  Thursday 27th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning a Willow Warbler was singing in the hedge opposite the entrance to the Wilstone Res car park. Oystercatchers, 3 Goldeneye, 8+ Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap were about and it was noticeable how much the numbers of Wigeon and Teal have decreased in the past week.

 Wednesday 26th March 2014.
Some pictures from Gary Hinton.
Oystercatcher by Gary Hinton

Oystercatcher by Gary Hinton

Reed Bunting by Gary Hinton

Sand Martin by Gary Hinton

Sand Martin by Gary Hinton

Richard Bennett - Wilstone today, a pair of Mute Swans engaged in courtship display. Good views of a Goldcrest by the hide.
Mute Swan by Richard Bennett

Mute Swan by Richard Bennett

Mute Swan by Richard Bennett

Mute Swan by Richard Bennett

Little Egret and friends by Richard Bennett

Rob Andrews - Startops this morning. There were 2 Water Pipits this morning along the NW shore. One flew to the Bucks corner and then a few minutes later both flew up calling and headed towards Wilstone Reservoir. Also around were c70 Sand Martins, 2 Redshank and a pair of Red-crested Pochards.

Water Pipit by Rob Andrews

 Tuesday 25th March 2014.
Charles Jackson - Has anyone come across the ridiculously tame female Blackbird at Marsworth? If I'd had some food with me I am sure I could have fed it by hand! Attached are some portraits...
Blackbird by Charles Jackson

Blackbird by Charles Jackson

Blackbird by Charles Jackson

Blackbird by Charles Jackson

 Sunday 23rd March 2014.
John Dixon has submitted this picture of the Siberian Chiffchaff.
Siberian Chiffchaff by John Dixon (c)
Peter Brazier - I was doing a lap of Wilstone when I heard about Roy's Siberian Chiffchaff find at Marsworth from Steve Rodwell. As I approached Lock 41 I saw a couple who I had said good afternoon to earlier at Wilstone whilst they were looking for the Water Pipit. They were looking at the bush opposite at a Warbler they had heard make an unusual song. I have to thank them for putting me onto the Siberian Chiffcaff there. It was flitting actively and I got the following record shots (from a distance). Made my weekend.
Siberian Chiffchaff by Peter Brazier

Siberian Chiffchaff by Peter Brazier

Siberian Chiffchaff by Peter Brazier

 Friday 21st March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the Water Pipit was still about and at least three Goldeneye were off the jetty.  While walking round I heard the distinctive chuttering of Sand Martins. Having seen small groups in the past week it was nice to see a decent-sized flock of 70+ Sand Martins fly in from the east and go straight through. Also the two Oystercatchers were on the bank and round in the hide meadow I again heard a male Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming against one of the metal struts on a telegraph pole as in the attached photograph.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Roy Hargreaves

 Friday 21st March 2014.
Wilstone: 40 Fieldfare, 100+ Sand Martin, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Oystercatcher (Stephen Middleton HBC)
Wilstone: 2 Kingfisher, pair near hide, 2 Red Kite (Jeff Bailey HBC)
Startopsend: 2 Grey Wagtail (Richard Ness HBC)

 Thursday 20th March 2014.
Phill Luckurst - Walking down the dry canal today when I saw by the wooden bridge cowering in the bushes a white Cockatiel. It has a ring and looks in good condition so is probably recently escaped. I've dropped a local vet an email and also thought it might be worth a mention on here in case anyone local has lost one.

 Monday 17th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning was cool but sunny from the outset. Two Oystercatchers were on the jetty at first but moved as I walked along the bank towards it and a Redpoll flew over calling at this point. Four Goldeneye and a male Red-crested Pochard were also visible from the jetty. The Water Pipit was still about and is in acquiring its summer plumage. By the north corner I heard then saw a Redshank fly up from a barley bale and head off. By the old overflow this Eurasian Teal was quite oblivious to my presence, which made a pleasant change to their normal habit of swimming off as I approach that corner. I thought this morning I’d finally got a decent photo of a Treecreeper as I left the hide, but I include it anyway to illustrate their gravity-defying movements. The male Yellowhammer was also singing as it held nest material in its mouth so who says that males can’t multi-task or maybe it’s just men who can’t.
Yellowhammer by Roy Hargreaves

Derek Girvan - Imagine my surprise today at 2.50pm sitting in the quiet corner of Marsworth Reservoir next to the canal when this swam past 20 feet away!
American Mink by Derek Girvan

 Sunday 16th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Today I did the WeBS count with Lucy and Jennifer (from H&MWT), and so we did a fairly comprehensive tour of the reservoirs. Wilstone had a male and two female Pintail, a male Red-crested Pochard, four Goldeneye (adult male, 1st winter male and two females), two Little Egrets roosting in the middle, 30+ Common Snipe flew out of the reeds briefly before settling back into them, three Herring Gulls settled near the tern rafts and Chiffchaffs were signing from a number of spots. Marsworth had singing Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaffs and the two Oystercatchers flew over Startops, no doubt commuting from College Lake to Wilstone. For a change Tringford had no Red-crested Pochards at all. It was interesting to note that most species of ducks have decreased in numbers since the count in February and the temperature had definitely increased today compared to when I did it last month.

Dave Hutchinson - Well what a lovely day for wandering around…………Started at Wilstone to see a Pintail on the water, a flyover Raven, Little Owl at Miswell farm and my first singing Chiffchaff this year (photo attached). Also, quite a few butterflies around (usual suspects) and I've had my first frog spawn in my pond.
Chiffchaff by David Hutchinson

Johne Taylor, Tring Ringing Group - We re-trapped 3 reservoir ringed Chiffchaffs this morning plus a new one. The female Cettis Warbler ringed at Wilstone last November was also caught along with several Goldcrests and a juvenile female Sparrowhawk. Also noted Comma butterflies plus hoverflies and bumblebees.Water rails vocal as well as a small flock of Fieldfares and Redwings. Also two Speckled woods in my back garden.

Richard Birch BBOWT - At around 11.30 am  we saw two female and one male Goldeneye plus a male Red-crested Pochard east of the Herons' nests. A Common Buzzard was sparring with a Raven over the old canal near Drayton Beauchamp bridge.

 Saturday 15th March 2014.
Charles Jackson - There were 2 Sand Martins briefly at Wilstone this early evening.

Phill Luckhurst - With the nice forecast I decided to park in Drayton knowing the Wilstone car park would probably be very busy. I am glad I did as I saw a Goldcrest then a few minutes later a Woodpecker. Even better, walking through the muddy path from Drayton to the hide I got my first ever Marsh Tit photo's. As it was quite busy today I decided to stay off the main paths and mainly spent time walking along the Wendover Arm and the field around Miswell Lane. I am glad I did as a Treecreeper appeared to be busy with nesting material in birch tree so I grabbed a quick shot as I passed though it is right next to the path so I am sure wee will see more pictures of it. High above 3 Buzzard were battling, probably for a mate.
Blue Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Goldcrest by Phill Luckhurst

Marsh Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Treecreeper by Phill Luckhurst

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Ian Williams - This morning the highlight at Wilstone was a fly through female Ruddy Shelduck just after 7.50 and a couple of short staying Sand Martin earlier. At least 5 Chiffchaff were around and numerous Red Kite and Buzzard were around distantly by mid morning. Highly cropped photo of the Shelduck attached, taken as it flew past the hide.
Ruddy Shelduck over Wilstone by Ian Williams

 Thursday 13th March 2014.
Startopsend: White Wagtail, 2 Water Pipit, 5+ Grey Wagtail (G.Hinton HBC)
Wilstone: 3 Little Egret, Chiffchaff (G.Hinton HBC)

Phill Luckhurst - I started early walking along the Wendover Arm hoping to get a few nice shots in the mist. What surprised me was I could hear the unmistakable call of Curlew cutting through. I turned down towards Rushy Meadow as that was where the sound seemed to be coming from. Eventually I saw not 1, but
2 Curlew flying over the meadow towards Drayton. I couldn't get a decent shot in the mist but it is clearly identifiable. Later on I visited the Plover Hide to photograph some of the smaller birds. Today the Reed Bunting were very close to the hide along with a small group of Goldfinch. I was really miffed with myself as while I was looking down reviewing my shots a Sparrowhawk took one of the finches right in front of me. It made me jump scaring it away before I could get a shot. That'll teach me to concentrate.
Reed Bunting by Phill Luckhurst

Curlew by Phill Luckhurst

Goldfinch by Phill Luckhurst

 Wednesday 12th March 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Before work I once again walked Miswell lane looking for the Little Owl. Although I didn't find it a Tawny Owl flew straight over my head. The noise down that lane at the moment with the masses of Corvids, newborn lambs and songbirds is amazing. The only thing that spoils that walk are all the little packages left dangling from bushes by dog walkers. If I ever come to power I will be making it legal to taser anyone caught doing this, followed by a name and shame in all the local papers. One can only dream.

I finished work quite early so after lunch I visited Wilstone. On the walk to the hide a couple of Nuthatch were in the trees along with the hammering of a Woodpecker. From the hide a pair of Red Kites were playing above the trees to the right. Hopefully, they will once again nest here. In front of the hide a Great Crested Grebe was often quite close. I spent a lot of time trying to photograph that moment they dive where just the beak is under. I failed to quite get it being a fraction of a second either side most of the time. Great to watch so close though.
Great-crested Grebe about to -

- dive by Phill Luckhurst

 Tuesday 11th March 2014.
Lucy Flower - I got round Wilstone, Startops and Marsworth this morning. You can now comfortably walk the Wilstone circuit without wellies, which is great. Highlights from there were the Kingfisher pair flying past the hide and there are at least 2 female Goldeneye remaining (I couldn't locate the male but he could well be around). A couple of Common Buzzards overhead and a Little Egret in the corner of the Drayton Beauchamp bank. It seemed as though Pied Wagtails were everywhere. I watched at least 7 different birds, a couple on/near the Tern rafts, 5+ on the barley bales, all launching themselves off to hover over the waters to presumably catch insects. Also 1 Grey Wagtail around. On Startops, there were at least 3 Grey Wagtails and the Water Pipit was along the SW shoreline. On Marsworth, Water Rail were squealing in the reed bed and a Chiffchaff was singing in the wooded area at the southern end.

 Sunday 9th March 2014.
Sally Douglas - The pair of Oystercatchers were on the raft displaying and mating (see pic but very distant). One of the male Goldeneyes, there were two pairs, and the ringed Mute Swan at Marsworth, 4ABL. Dave Hutchinson, re your query on the Merlin flying over Wilstone. I saw one at Dancers End on January 2nd.
Goldeneye by Sally Douglas

Oystercatchers by Sally Douglas

Oystercatchers, err, doing what Oystercatchers do by Sally Douglas

Ian Williams - A couple of heavily cropped images of the Black-necked Grebe attached, also Chiffchaff from Marsworth (one of at least 5 around the reservoirs this morning), a Skylark from the canal at the back of Marsworth and the Oystercatcher pair from Wilstone.
Black-necked Grebe by Ian Williams

Skylark by Ian Williams

Black-necked Grebe by Ian Williams

Chiffchaff by Ian Williams

Oystercatcher by Ian Williams

Charles Jackson - The Black-necked Grebe was still showing well at Wilstone from the jetty at dusk this evening (6.00pm)

Temperatures of 19 degrees brought out large numbers of Butterflies today. On a morning walk around all the reservoirs I counted 23 different Brimstones, 5 Small Tortoiseshells and 4 Peacocks - an excellent count for the 9th of March.
It's good to know that the mild wet winter does not seem to have effected Butterflies too badly. Apart from the 2 Oystercatchers at Wilstone and a Chiffchaff singing at Startops it was very quiet birdwise. (Charles Jackson)

 Saturday 8th March 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning the two Oystercatchers were mobile about Wilstone Res and were definitely chasing Crows off the tern raft again. Goldeneye numbers had increased to four with an adult male, the 1st winter male and two females about, but no sign of the pair of Pintail. The overcast breezy conditions meant that the Chiffchaff by the hide was silent. On the mammal front I saw two Chinese Water Deer in the fields over by Drayton Beauchamp and a Muntjac in the field between the two footpaths down from the Dry Canal.

I was dropping supplies off at College Lake and walked in to hear about the Avocet which was a very pleasant surprise – now for one at the reservoirs. It would seem that there has been a bit of a wader movement today with four Avocets at Tyttenhanger and Black-tailed Godwits at several locations.
Oystercatcher by Roy Hargreaves

Oystercatcher by Roy Hargreaves

 Friday 7th March 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I started really early today up at Miswell Lane hoping to see the Little Owl that Roy Hargreaves keeps spotting but sadly no joy, I must be looking in the wrong tree. What I did see however was a Sparrowhawk down by the wooden footbridge. On the dry canal I also spotted a Marsh Tit. I then headed over to the Plover hide. There were at least 6 Bullfinch and 2 pairs of Long Tailed Tits darting back and forth with nesting material. Overhead at various times were Red Kites, a Buzzard and the biggest flock of Wood Pidgeon I have seen in a long time.

By 12ish the sun was coming out and I was getting hungry, so I pooped off for food then decided to see if the Kingfishers were active in the Corner of Marsworth. I carefully climbed down and was instantly greeted by the usual friendly Robin. I was so fixed on the Robin I almost missed a large creature moving on the fallen tree to the right. It was one of those second take moments when you are not sure if you are seeing things. It was an Otter, without any doubt. Probably a meter long and obviously it hadn't seen me. I dare not move a muscle as it cleaned its feet. It then entered the water and swam right towards me. It must have been 4 feet away when it saw me and panicked making a huge splash as it dived down into the depths.
I've often seen Mink here before but this was a really special moment. The big splash flushed out another Sparrowhawk from the opposite bank. The owners of that lock house must have a great time. All went quiet for quite a while after that but the pair of Kingfishers did show up flying past many times but only landing briefly on each run through. Back on Startops the Pipit was still about but one of the Black-headed Gulls seemed intent on giving it hassle.

Editors note: This is now the third reported sighting of Otter in this corner of Marsworth.
Tufted Duck by Phill Luckhurst

Reed Bunting by Phill Luckhurst

Mallard by Phill Luckhurst

The friendly Robin by Phill Luckhurst

Mallard by Phill Luckhurst
This morning I did all of the reservoirs for a change. At Wilstone I saw two Oystercatchers chasing off a Carrion Crow from the tern rafts so it looks like they are set for another breeding attempt this year. Let’s hope they are more successful than last year if they do. The Water Pipit was in the jetty area and the pair of Pintail that I saw yesterday were visible in the middle of the reservoir. There was a Chiffchaff singing loudly by the hide and two Kingfishers were chasing after each other all over the reservoir. Tringford had six Red-crested Pochard on it with a very pale female among them. Marsworth had another Chiffchaff singing loudly in the trees behind the reeds at the southern end of the reservoir. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Thursday 6th March 2014.
Not a great deal to report from Startop's or Marsworth mid-afternoon. I didn't manage Tringford and only popped into Wilstone to see if the Pink-footed Goose was amongst the Greylags (it wasn't). Still, the Water Pipit was ranging along the Bucks section of Startops, there were at least 2 Grey Wagtails about and 7 Common Gulls amongst the Black-headed Gull flock.  The Water Pipit is the original bird (with the nick in the lower left eye-ring) and is obviously well into its pre-breeding moult. The Wigeon were grazing on the NW bank of Wilstone. (Lucy Flower)
Water Pipit at Startops by Lucy Flower

Wigeon at Wilstone by Lucy Flower

 Wednesday 5th March 2014.
At this time of year I like to walk down to Wilstone reservoir while it is still dark to get there for first birding light. This morning this allowed me to see a Tawny Owl about 5 metres away from me before it decided that was too close. There was an Oystercatcher on the jetty this morning and also the Water Pipit was in that area. Two Goldeneye were by the reeds and a Chiffchaff was singing sporadically by the hide. On the walk back home a Blackcap was singing in the same spot on Miswell Lane and also there was one singing in my garden this morning. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Tuesday 4th March 2014.
A few pictures from today at the Plover Hide.
Bullfinch by Michael Nott

Kingfisher by Michael Nott

Mallard by Michael Nott

 Monday 3rd March 2014.
It was again pleasant to be out in calm, sunny conditions. Walking past Miswell Farm a Little Owl was in its usual tree and unusually was still visible on my return journey. Skylarks were singing with great enthusiasm round by the Dry Canal. The Pink-footed Goose was in the field on the inside of the corner by Wilstone Cemetery with a few Greylags. On my return journey there was a singing male Blackcap in a garden at the top end of Miswell Lane. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Sunday 2nd March 2014.
The Pink-footed Goose flew into Wilstone for a brief stay before heading out to the fields again with the local Greylags. Although it is easy to doubt it's provenance, as Roy has said it seems quite wary, always staying on the far side of the Greylag flock keeping it's distance from the bank. A couple of photos attached.(Charles Jackson)
Pink-footed Goose by Charles Jackson

At about 8.30 a Bittern pursued by a Black-headed Gull flew into Wilstone, circled around until it lost the gull and then landed in the reedbed. The Teal seemed to be very restless today. (Johne Taylor)

 Saturday 1st March 2014.
Today was lovely and the forecast fog wasn’t as dense as I feared so even first thing visibility was good enough to check the reservoirs. From the Wilstone jetty two Goldeneye were visible and an Oystercatcher was flying round and appeared to land but out of sight and later I saw it from the hide as it roosted on a tern raft. By the cress beds three Little Egrets flew up from the adjacent meadow and towards the reservoir. When I arrived at Startops six Red-crested Pochard were swimming round before flying over to Tringford and when visiting it I saw eight there. In the morning I received a call from Ian to say that the Pink-footed Goose was about again and later on it was on the water with Greylags and was certainly wary compared to the Greylags. I also heard a Nuthatch between the hide and the west corner of the reservoir. (Roy Hargreaves)
Pink-footed Goose 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.

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