July 2014


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 The start time for the work party is 10am, we will be working until about 2pm but people can just come and work for an hour or so if that is all they can manage.

• Thursday 31st July 2014.
Johne Taylor - The Wilstone Little Egret nest has 4 healthy chicks in it. This the second nest record for the reservoirs.

• Wednesday 30th July 2014.
Lynne Lambert - Lovely to see photo by Alan Horsley of the juvenile Cuckoo at Wilstone. We had two females and at least three male Cuckoos around the reservoirs this spring. The adults have left now but some of the young will have only recently fledged. This is the first year that I have found a Cuckoo egg while recording Reed Warbler nests at the reservoirs and I am happy to report that it hatched (not so happily for the reed warbler chicks that it ditched) and fledged around the 16th July. I saw a juvenile Cuckoo yesterday at the FoTR reserve at Tring Water Treatment Works, like Alan's it was also sitting on the ground looking dopey, it flew off strongly though.

• Saturday 26th July 2014.
Thanks to Bill for clearing in front of the Plover hide!

• Saturday 26th July 2014.
Alan Horsley - Juvenile Cuckoo 17.30 hrs on footpath around south west corner of Wilstone reservoir.
Cuckoo by Alan Horsley

Cuckoo by Alan Horsley

• 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.

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