May 2014


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

Thursday 29th May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I visited Tringford only today with only a little time free but glad I did. From the hide just a few minutes after arrival the Wren family fledged. One by one 6 appeared hopping along the low branches, no wonder the parents have been so busy. They didn't move far though and gathered in a bush to the left. Also on the res a single Black Swan arrived. After about 20 mins feeding it flew off towards Marsworth. Fantastic shots of the Brown Argus, I've never seen one in Tring before only over at Aldbury.
Black Swan by Phill Luckhurst

Wren by Phill Luckhurst

Francis Buckle - fter a miserable morning sun after lunch so made a dash up to my local patch as was rewarded by a good number of Brown Argos, doing a lot,lot better than last year! I attach a few pics taken with my Canon PowerShot SX50HS
Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Francis Buckle

Wednesday 28th May 2014.
Lynne Lambert - We went to check the Kestrel box today at the FoTR reserve within Tring Water Treatment Works, with the hope of ringing the chicks. There had been 6 eggs when we looked three weeks ago. We were very disappointed to see a Grey Squirrel flee the box as we put the ladder up. Inside the squirrel had started to build a nest towards the back of the box and there were just three cold and abandoned kestrel eggs at the front. Very sad.

Roy Hargreaves - This morning was damp and drizzly again and didn’t really promise much. Anyway the 1st summer Little Gull as still at Wilstone but no sign of the Goldeneye that was about on Tuesday. Coming back from the hide at 6:50 a raptor flew over my head towards the hide and surprisingly it definitely wasn’t a Red Kite or Buzzard. As it banked it was an Osprey and it flew towards me and allowed me to get this hurried shot of it, which was nonetheless pleasing under the circumstances. It even briefly perched in a tree by the hide before flying round being mobbed by the Common Terns and corvids before I lost it in the gloom.

I then checked the smaller reservoirs but it seemed to have gone and this Grey Wagtail posed for me on the depth marker in Tringford and the hirundines were very close as they cruised up and down the causeway on the Marsworth side of it hunting for insects – having them come within 1 metre at times was special too.
Osprey by Roy Hargreaves

Grey Wagtail by Roy Hargreaves

Tuesday 27th May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - I started walking along the Wendover arm from Drayton today where loads of Goldfinch were filling the trees along with a few Yellowhammer. Just at the point where the canal becomes dry was the first highlight of the day for me, a Spotted Flycatcher regularly darting out from one of the tall dead trees at that point to nab some food. Great to watch but impossible to photograph. Later on I arrived at Tringford a Little Grebe was feeding right in front of the hide. As I sat there I noticed the usual Wren pair. They are normally are working hard on bringing back food. Today however, only one parent was doing that while the other appeared to be shouting out and marking territorial borders. The routine went on for hours with the bird moving to 20 or so specific perches and calling for minutes at a time on each. I always enjoy seeing these tiny birds.
Wren by Phill Luckhurst

Link to video of the Wren -

Monday 26th May 2014.
Lynne Lambert -Two male cuckoos calling from the tall poplars in Tring Water Treatment Works, they call with a distinctly different pitch. One flew over and drove the other one off and chased it around for a bit. The female was calling too, she seems to be busy this year. Maybe it will be a good year for cuckoos (or a bad year for Reed Warblers). In Norfolk they think that the protracted arrival of reed warblers this year has given their cuckoos more opportunities.

Sunday 25th May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - A late visit today. First in the corner of Marsworth where Ian pointed out loads of Crayfish parts eaten by something, probably Mink. On the opposite bank a couple of Reeves Muntjac were feeding while the resident squirrel sat bemused on one of the branches of the fallen tree enjoying the setting sun. Marsworth was particularly devoid of birds this evening with only 1 Tern. Everything seemed to be elsewhere. I was heading home but on driving past Wilstone and seeing huge numbers of Swift I decided to drop by to see if I could grab a shot. I failed, as usual with just a couple of poor attempts. Glad I stopped though as a Chiffchaff was feeding on the masses of insects near the bank as well as a grumpy Dunnock. I've never seen Dunnock being aggressive before but he seemed to not like the presence of the Jackdaws. The Oystercatcher was taking his usual route to collect worms while plenty of Hobbies were grabbing their fill. On returning to my car it was absolutely covered with insects.
Dunnock by Phill Luckhurst

Chiffchaff by Phill Luckhurst

Muntjac by Phill Luckhurst

Grey Squirrel by Phill Luckhurst

Swift by Phill Luckhurst

Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) This morning’s session at Wilstone produced juvenile Robins, Long Tailed Tits and Goldcrest. Female Cettis still brooding. A Willow warbler also caught plus lots of Reed and Sedge warblers. A female Cuckoo was in the orchard but no male calling.

Francis Buckle - After the excitement of a pale swift at College Lake at c09.30 for about 20 mins a couple of us relocated to Wilstone 13.00hrs, me for about 10 mins, Swifts and 12 Hobbies careering about the skies but nothing else of note that I saw.

Roy Hargreaves - This morning the 1st summer Little Gull was still about and alternating between the barley bales and flying round by the tern rafts. Otherwise fairly standard fare with Cetti’s singing round the back and Oystercatcher still feeding young on the tern raft.

Saturday 24th May 2014.
Charles Jackson - Hundreds of Swifts feeding low over the bank at Wilstone this morning. 6 Hobbies feeding over the Reedbed. An Oystercatcher was flying back and forth from the field carrying food in its bill. A few photos of the Swifts attached plus a Common Tern. Also a group of about 20 Jackdaws feeding on the water's edge and 50 plus Common Terns.
Common Tern by Charles Jackson

Swift by Charles Jackson

Swift by Charles Jackson

Francis Buckle - At 14.00 this afternoon there were at least 15 Hobbies

Friday 23rd May 2014.
Mike Wallen - Please see attached for your perusal, taken at Wilstone on the 20th as it took food from the fields to the chicks on the raft. Clearly worm on the menu here.
Oystercatcher (and worms) by Mike Wallen

Lucy Flower - At least 5 Hobbies catching insects over the reedbed along the SE shoreline at Wilstone this morning. Lovely to watch the Swifts, Swallows, Sand and House Martins over the banks and water too. A couple of Cuckoos singing at Marsworth.

James Heron - Marsworth Martins at a very dark, wet reservoir today.
House Martins by James Heron

Thursday 22nd May 2014.
Roy Hargreaves -  This morning I headed out as soon as the rain eased and toured all of the reservoirs. Wilstone had the 1st summer Little Gull still and also the Goldeneye. It was sat on the jetty at one stage and later it was stood on the sluice block in the middle and I couldn’t see any rings. Also interestingly the female was reported at Springwell Lake today with one duckling so it looks like this could be a wild bird and a coincidence – or part of the same breakout from a cage. Marsworth had Cetti’s singing on both sides of the path and a Cuckoo singing. Startops had the female Red-crested Pochard with three ducklings and Tringford had four Shelduck and two Common Sandpipers. I decided to try my hand at photographing Swifts this morning and it’s like trying to follow them while looking down a metre long toilet roll! My best effort is attached I had more luck with a male Bullfinch. I usually struggle with this species as they never seem to stop in view and I find it ironic that I have much better photos of the lone Pine Grosbeak that I’ve seen.
Swift by Roy Hargreaves
Bullfinch by Roy Hargreaves
Wednesday 21st May 2014.
Mike Collard - Gather from twitter which I don't do or even know how to, that there has been a Curlew Sandpiper at Wilstone and Honey Buzzard over College Lake today.
Richard Bennett - Good views of Cuckoo from path by hide this morning pointed out by Roy Hargreaves.
Cuckoo by Richard Bennett

Cuckoo by Richard Bennett

Tuesday 20th May 2014.
Mike Wallen - The first summer Little Gull was still present until at least 5pm, also a couple of Hobbies about and the three Oystercatcher chicks looking healthy on the raft.

Roy Hargreaves - I started at Marsworth and Startops and Marsworth had two male Cuckoos singing at each other. Startops still had the female Red-crested Pochard and three ducklings. Wilstone had a 1st summer Little Gull and a female Goldeneye, almost certainly the female from Springwell Lake near Rickmansworth as that bird disappeared yesterday I believe. Also the reservoir had one Common Sandpiper.
Little Gull by Roy Hargreaves

Goldeneye by Roy Hargreaves

Sunday 18th May 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Today was WeBS count day so I was out this morning and this afternoon. I started with the smaller reservoirs and on Startops there was a female Red-crested Pochard with three ducklings. On Tringford the Mute Swan still had six cygnets. Earlier in the week I had seen a Shelduck behaving in a territorial manner and chasing off other birds so I was hoping they might be breeding there but I haven’t seen the bird since. Across all of the reservoirs ducklings and goslings were in evidence as were young Coots.

By Cemetery Corner a family party of Treecreepers was very vocal and active and so I was pleased to get this photo of an adult. Three Common Sandpipers were on a rock on Drayton Bank so wader migrations is still trickling through. Also a Hobby was about and Swifts were very high up and in small numbers. I would think that the fine weather made finding insects easy and so there was no need for the Swifts to congregate over the reservoirs.
Red-crested Pochard family by Roy Hargreaves

Treecreeper by Roy Hargreaves

Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - We caught an adult Spotted Flycatcher, probably a female [short wing length] this morning. Cettis warbler female is incubating, no doubt. Heard Garden warbler by Rushy Meadow. No Kites this year. First young Robins of the year. Hobbies over the reeds but no hirundines or Swifts over the back.Water Rail sharming. Mink seen,unfortunately .

Saturday 17th May 2014.
Charles Jackson - Some local butterfly shots.
Common Blue by Charles Jackson

Orange Tip by Charles Jackson

Small Blue by Charles Jackson

Phill Luckhurst - Just dropped by at Wilstone for a visit this evening and was greeted by masses of insects. Sitting on the bank by the steps became a little uncomfortable at times as they were swarming all around me. Most were Mayfly of various species including some tiny little white ones with three tails that I have yet to look up. Taking advantage of this were many birds. Hopping around on the bank among the 200 or so Starling were Wagtails, House Sparrows, 2 Yellowhammer, Goldfinch and large numbers of swallows and martins. The Oystercatcher pair are in full parenting mode passing me every couple of minutes with a beak full of worms to feed their 3 young. Their route was quite predictable as they always flew to the same corner of the field behind the car park where there is presumably a plentiful supply of tasty morsels.
Oystercatcher by Phill Luckhurst

Roy Hargreaves - At Wilstone there was a Garden Warbler singing by the path up to the canal near to the Waddesdon Estate Gate. The Oystercatchers are still feeding young and male Cuckoo was mobile and the Cetti’s was singing round the back. Tringford has this co-operative Common Tern perched on a post by the overflow and six newly-hatched cygnets.
Common Tern by Roy Hargreaves

Friday 16th May 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - Another sunny morning with very light mist. The two Little Egrets I saw don’t seem to be on parental duties as they stood around on rocks in the middle and then both flew off to the west together. There was a Common Sandpiper about and the Oystercatchers are feeding three chicks as my rubbish photograph shows. Cuckoo and Cetti’s Warbler were vocal round the back. The Whitethroat that I have been photographing on the canal has lost its tail but is still being co-operative.
Oystercatcher and Chicks by Roy Hargreaves

Tailless Whitethroat by Roy Hargreaves

Tuesday 13th May 2014.
Terry Groome - It was not clear till I looked at my photo why this swan came straight out of the water and went for a mum and dad with 2 children feeding some mallards, they ran pass me with the children screaming , the swan went for me as I passed but I jumped out of the way, he would not let the next person by and others had to go down the bank to get by, the swan has made a nest on the bank. On Marsworth.
Trouble Ahead by Terry Groome

Tuesday 13th May 2014.
Terry Groome - Great Crested Grebe's displaying.
Great Crested Grebe by Terry Groome

Great Crested Grebe by Terry Groome

Great Crested Grebe by Terry Groome

Great Crested Grebe by Terry Groome

Great Crested Grebe by Terry Groome

Tuesday 13th May 2014.
Roy Hargreaves - While the weather looked similar to yesterday with light rain first thing it didn’t produce waders in the same way as yesterday. I saw a Chinese Water Deer in the fields adjacent to the Dry Canal and walking round the banks there are more young birds about and an Oystercatcher was on the bank looking for worms no doubt. By the overflow I could hear Swallows close by but couldn’t see them when I looked up. Looking at a lower level I saw them perched in the hedge by me and also noticed this Sand Martin close by so took this unique opportunity to photograph it perched on a branch at reasonably close range. Round by Rushy Meadow a Cuckoo and Cetti’s Warbler were singing and it was nice to get a photo of a co-operative Common Whitethroat in the hedge along the Dry Canal.
Sand Martin by Roy Hargreaves

Common Whitethroat by Roy Hargreaves

Monday 12th May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Just a quick evening session at Wilstone for me trying to play dodge the hail storms and lightning. With no raincoat I decided to stay relatively close to the car and see if I could photograph the Oystercatcher collecting food for its chicks. Every 5-10 mins it would fly to the field opposite the car park looking for worms stirred up by the cows. There were huge numbers of Swallows, Martin and Swift at times while on the bank were some very young Pied Wagtail. The bushes behind at one point probably held 40 Goldfinch.
Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst
Song Thrush by Phill Luckhurst

Oystercatcher by Phill Luckhurst

Stormy Wilstone by Phill Luckhurst

Lynne & Colin Lambert - Two Oystercatcher chicks on the raft at Wilstone Reservoir today. One of the adults seen chasing off a Crow and bringing in earthworms from the fields. Also Common Terns apparently catching flies and four Hobby.

Roy Hargreaves -  This morning it rained just before I went out and also lightly while I was walking round Wilstone Reservoir. From near to the jetty I could see a Little Egret hunting in front of the hide in the vegetation there. By the north corner I saw four waders flying round, which turned out to be three Ringed Plover and a summer-plumaged Dunlin. They flew about for a short while, then landed on barley bales for about 15 minutes before disappearing. Also the Cuckoo and Cetti’s Warbler were quite vocal. It was also interesting to note the change in composition of the hirundine flock with it being mostly House Martins with a Swallows and only a few Sand Martins.

Sunday 11th May 2014.
Lynne Lambert - We checked the FoTR boxes at Tring Reservoirs on yesterday. Pleased to find that the Kestrel box held 6 eggs, which is a large clutch. One of the new Barn Owl boxes, paid for by FoTR last year, is being used by a roosting barn owl (feathers and pellets inside).
Many of the other boxes that were checked by Bucks Owl & Raptor Group in the surrounding area were occupied, including Barn Owls on eggs in Long Marston and Pitstone. It is a great start to the breeding season with many of the boxes containing cached voles & mice, indicating plenty of mammal prey available.

Friday 9th May 2014.
Ian Williams - A quick check on Startops and Marsworth early revealed nothing of interest.

Walking from Cemetery Corner towards the car park I came across a pair of Whimbrel on the bank close to the N corner at 6.30. They flushed and landed near the new overflow where they were again flushed by a walker. This happened several times before they eventually settled on the jetty. After about 20 minutes they again flushed and flew back towards the car park, landing again on the bank for a while until they were flushed for a final time by a dog walker and flew out to the middle, alighting first on a shooting butt before finally locating to a tern raft at about 8.30 where I believe they remained until mid morning.

Otherwise one Oystercatcher seen chasing a Red Kite and a Common Sandpiper. Numbers of House Martin have increased over the last couple of days and I understand Lee had 72 Tern mid morning of which at least 11 were Arctic. Good numbers of Swift still and a Pied Wagtail pair has fledged at least 3 young near the car park.

Photos of the Whimbrel attached, also a couple of Swift and a very confiding Wheatear on the jetty from Tuesday.
Swift by Ian Williams

Wheatear by Ian Williams

Whimbrel by Ian Williams

Whimbrel by Ian Williams

Phill Luckhurst - I decided to go to Wilstone where a pair of Whimbrel were on the tern rafts. I walked up along the Wendover Arm to Tringford where a very friendly Greater Spotted Woodpecker posed for the camera. There were 3 Little Egret there and 3 Little Grebe in front of the hide. From the Plover Hide the Kingfishers, 4 of them, were very active with a number of territorial disputes going on.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Phill Luckhurst

James Heron - Greedy Grebe
Greedy Grebe by james Heron

Lee Evans - Two confiding WHIMBREL at Wilstone Reservoir, initially on bank but now on rafts

Water Levels updated. See water levels tab for more.

Tuesday 6th May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - Only a quick walk today but had a little fun. First was a Barn Owl out in daylight over at Marsworth. I've never seen one in the day in the wild before so was great to see. Again on the dry canal I stopped to watch the singing Whitethroat and was also greeted by a Whinchat.

From the Drayton hide I could only see 4 Hobbies today. A Cuckoo flew over a couple of times and I even managed to get a poor shot of it. In the woods behind the hide a Jay seemed intent on watching me and calling out so maybe it has a nest there. It also chased away a Nuthatch and a Magpie so is definitely feeling aggressive.
Cuckoo by Phill Luckhurst

 Monday 5th May 2014.
All the excitement was happening just over the border at College Lake today where a Lesser Yellowlegs had flown in. Here are Dave's excellent shots of it.
Lesser Yellowlegs by David Hutchinson

Lesser Yellowlegs by David Hutchinson

Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - A slow morning in the reedbed  on Sunday.The first CES of the year was the least productive for 4 years. However there were a pair of Cuckoos,a Hobby,a dozen or so low flying Swifts and a much larger number passed over very high.The female Cettis has a well developed brood patch as do the Chiffchaffs and Blackcap.Actually caught a newly fledged Blackbird,we did not get any last year!

Paul Sutton - 11 Common Sandpiper in Cemetery corner at Wilstone, Also a Cuckoo and 3 Little Egret.

I decided to put these shots of a confiding Reed Warbler take by Charlie Jackson at College Lake as they are just stunning!
Reed Warbler at College Lake by Charles Jackson

Reed Warbler at College Lake by Charles Jackson

Reed Warbler at College Lake by Charles Jackson

 Sunday 4th May 2014.
Ian McConnell - Another bright start to the day.  Early in the hide there were a couple of Hobbies menacing a number of Swifts that flew in.  From there I walked round to the dry canal and stood for a while on the footbridge watching Long Tailed Tits busily catching food for their young.  There was also a very vocal Whitethroat and several Goldfinches in the tops of the hedgerows.  From there I walked back to the meadow behind the hide to see what Butterflies were to be found.  There were quite a few Small Whites, Small Coppers, Orange Tips, a single Peacock and a few Brimstones as the temperature increased. Quite a few Damselflies are now on the wing so the Dragonflies will not be far behind. A selection of photos from this morning attached.
Greylag by Ian McConnell

Long-tailed Tit by Ian McConnell

Peacock by Ian McConnell

Small Copper by Ian McConnell

SMall White by Ian McConnell

Whitethroat by Ian McConnell

 Saturday 3rd May 2014.
Phill Luckhurst - What a fantastic day today. I first went to Miswell to see the Little Owl and was also greeted by a Tawny Owl who was feeding on a mouse. I stood still watching it for a good minute before trying to raise the camera but sadly it departed before I managed a shot. Same happened with a Cuckoo who was probably just 20feet in front of me. There were also numerous Goldfinch and Blackcap along with 2 singing Whitethroat. After that I visited the Plover Hide where a pair of Reed Warbler were calling to the right. A Bullfinch dropped in and we had regular visits from Common Tern.

All the fun was over at Wilstone however. I had a long slow walk around with a Scaup being my first surprise of the day. Up towards the dry canal a Whinchat was stood on one of the posts until it was scared by a jogger. From the Drayton Hide Hobby numbers have increased to at least 9, often feeding on Mayfly all around the hide. The Kingfishers were very active as were the numerous Gulls, Common and Arctic Terns. We also had visits from a Mandarin pair and also a Red Crested Pochard pair. To the left the Coot were making a lot of racket as one of their newly hatched chicks was taken by a rather large pike. The first Graylag goslings have appeared today too. On leaving the hide there was a bit of commotion when a Song Thrush flew through with a Sparrowhawk just inches behind it. Not sure if the Thrush escaped as it vanished through the woods.
Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

Hobby feeding by Phill Luckhurst

Mayfly by Phill Luckhurst

Whitethroat by Phill Luckhurst

 Thursday 1st May 2014.
Charles Jackson - I raced to Startops this evening and saw the Sandwich Tern resting on one of the bales before it flew off towards College Lake. Some record shots attached taken under very poor conditions! Also there an Arctic Tern. a Hobby, 1 Shelduck and a Kingfisher. A few Swifts over as well. Also this very pale female Yellow Wagtail (see photo). Of interest was a Common Tern in a plumage that I cannot workout despite checking through all my attached so any comments would be appreciated.
Common Tern (see note) by Charles Jackson

Common Tern (see note) by Charles Jackson

Sandwich Tern by Charles Jackson

Sandwich Tern (with Common) by Charles Jackson

Yellow Wagtail (see note) by Charles Jackson

Mike Wallen - Sandwich Tern on Startopsend Reservoir - reported by Steve Rodwell.

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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