Documenting surprising sightings, fascinating findings, & exciting encounters, with birds, wildlife, & other nature,
around Hemel Hempstead...

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Regular visitors will have noticed a decrease in posts to the HEMEL NATURE
blog - this is because I have been living & working out of the area, & due to the job my time out
& about with nature in Hemel is limited. I am working on a new blog to come soon & hope that the work that has gone into HEMEL NATURE will prove useful & interesting to those still visiting it.

In the mean time you can follow me at my new accounts on the following social media platforms...

Instagram @DanFWildlife >

Twitter @DanFWildlife >

Facebook I am still building on but you can still follow me none-the-less
by 'Likeing' the @DanFWildlife Page >

Many thanks for your support,


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Out of Area: Southend

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


At work at Corner Hall offices today...

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL - 1 wandering around AM.
SISKIN - 1 calling 9.50.
3 GOOSANDERS! - I was getting some fresh air & resting my eyes from the computer whilst stood beside the canal at B&Q when I noticed the refection on the surface of 3 largish water birds flying high in a close group. As I looked up I quickly realised these weren't Mallards, or Cormorants, but 3 Goosanders, too high against the white sky to sex but otherwise unmistakable. They were flying in close formation E at 14.30, seemingly following the canal, & for a few moments hesitating as if wanting to land, possibly at Durrant's Hill Fishery (Two Waters / Apsley) but instead continued on out of sight. I was thinking that they could alight at Kings Langley Fishery or the neighbouring Gaywood's Fishery as they were heading that way when five mins later they returned, still following the canal but now heading W, still occasionally looking like coming down to land but ultimately carrying on out of sight once more. Maybe they found Westbrook Mere Fishery or Pixies Mere Fishery (Chaulden / Bourne End)? If I wasn't so busy at work I'd have gone to have a look, but either way I'm happy to have added Goodander to my Hemel Life List, especially after missing the Female that Colin Everett found at Kings Langley Fishery in Dec.'10, the only other record I know of, in fact I think I can count this as a Hemel MEGA!

At The Magic Roundabout...

PEREGRINE - the Ringed Adult Female was on her roost on the BT building when I passed on my way home at 18.20. I hadn't seen her for a while & considered the possibility that she had left the winter roost early as the weather has been so mild recently, but clearly not.

Monday, 23 January 2012

WOODPIGEON Gang Hanging Around

Whilst on lunch at work today I witnessed a perculiar sight. Next to the tow path at Two Waters, across the canal from B&Q, 5 WOODPIGEONS were also having their lunch, feeding on Ivy berries. Now I know that doesn't sound very out of the ordinary, it isn't, but their style of feeding was. At least 3 of the pigeons were hanging completely upside-down, dangling & swinging by their feet to reach the fruits! The Ivy is undercut so there are few places to perch & the branches are flimsy anyway so these Pigeons had decided to try out their acrobatic skills, & it worked, all the birds managing to voraciously consume any berries in swinging distance. Viewing from afar they resembled African Grey Parrots, but although quite closely related to Parakeets, & despite occasionally seeing a Woodie tip over reaching food from time to time, I certainly didn't expect to ever see a group of them conciously feeding trapeze artist style. I managed to snap the following pics with my compact camera at full zoom, into the sun, then cropped, so they're not great, but you get the picture...

Woodpigeons feeding upside-down beside the tow path at Two Waters.

A Woodpigeon feeding upside-down & spread-eagled beside the tow path at Two Waters.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Colour-ringed MUTE SWAN 054 at canal at Corner Hall

Male Mute Swan taken with mobile phone at B&Q, Corner Hall.
For the last few years a pair of Mute Swans have been pretty resident in the Corner Hall / Boxmoor / Two Waters area on the River Gade & Grand Union Canal. They breed each year in the area around the small bridge over the river near Brayley Honda & B&Q, with their fluffy young often admired by passers by as they feed on the narrow stretch of grass between the main road (Two Waters Way) & the river. Over the winter I've been seeing a pair of MUTE SWANS in this same area which I am presuming are the same pair.

I remember seeing a Colour-ring on one of the swans before but never really paid much notice, so on seeing a Colour-ring on one of the swans today on the canal at B&Q I thought I'd make a note of it & see if (A) this is the same pair that breed in that area each year, & (B) where these birds were ringed & have been seen since. The Pen (Female) has an orange Colour-ring on her left leg with  054  in black text, which I managed to get a photo with my mobile phone, as well as a metal ring on her right leg. The Cob (Male) just has a metal ring on his left leg which I couldn't read this time as they are incredibly hard to see, but I will try again soon. I've sent the details of the Female's ring to Euring hoping to receive some background on this bird, though I don't expect it to have come far, it may be interesting none the less. I'll post as soon as I get back any info for those of you interested, for now here are my snaps taken on my mobile phone...

Colour-ring  054  on Female Mute Swan taken with mobile phone.

Monday, 9 January 2012

'Peggy' the MOORHEN recovers & becomes cycle safety technician

A few weeks ago I noticed a Female Moorhen with an injured left leg severely hobbling about at the Water Gardens beside Moor End Road Car Park. It looked to be in serious discomfort & possibly in pain, avoiding moving about if it could, sometimes crouching down to rest & sheltering in the hedge. I didn't have very high hopes for the poor thing & expected the worst. I considered catching it but with just my hands & no net I didn't want to cause it any extra undue stress, & I thought anyway that at least where it was it had a free supply of food from the duck-feeders, it had shelter if it wanted it, it had some safety in numbers & the weather was mild, so at least if it was going to be its last days it could do what a Moorhen does with relative safety & Moorhen amenities.

Well, despite my fears, when passing that same spot this morning, I had the pleasant surprise of seeing this tough little MOORHEN running around, yes running around, all be it with a limp, grabbing breadcrumbs before its friends could. I was amazed to see that it had recovered so well in the short space of time, & apart from the limp, was very mobile & looking much more comfortable compared to the last time. I sat & watched it feed for a while until I found myself unconsciously call her Peggy, after her peg-leg walk. I decided to take a short video of Peggy on my compact camera & with that she decided to show off by flying up onto my bike beside me, giving it a safety inspection, then when it appeared not to meet her standards fluttered to the ground with a rather clumsy landing.

Now, I'm not saying it was a sign, but, after she jumped off I took a quick look over my bike now that much of the dried mud of recent had fallen off, & to my amazement all four chainring bolts that hold the front gears on had come loose, so loose in fact that I could unscrew & remove them with one turn of my fingers! If it wasn't for Peggy prompting me to look I would never have noticed & it could have caused a potentially nasty accident. Was Peggy looking out for me because I was looking out for her? Either way I'm highly grateful to her for making me take notice, thank you Peggy.

'Peggy' the injured Moorhen conducting a cycle safety check
at the Water Gardens beside Moor End Road Car Park, Town Centre.

The dangerously loose chainring bolts noticed by Peggy.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Welcomed back to work by SISKINS

Once again the RED FOX was calling very early morning around Baylie Lane, Highfield.

Shortly after arriving at work, for my first day back at the office in Corner Hall, I popped out for milk & was alerted by sorrowful calls from the trees bordering B&Q. As expected it was 3 SISKINS flitting between the Alders.

Later on, at 13.25, a SPARROWHAWK circled over mobbed by 2 CARRION CROWS & c.30 STARLINGS.

So, I wont bore you with commentary on my 2012 Work (Corner Hall Offices) List, but incase you're interested it's > HERE <. I'll just continue to post any interesting bits as usual.

Later on in the eveing, the noisy RED FOX was up to tricks again around Baylie Lane, Highfield.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Leisurely Hemel year listing adds an easy PEREGRINE

Whilst cleaning the car this morning (the afternoon for eveyone else) at Baylie Lane, Highfield I added the following to my 2012 Hemel Year List...

11) SPARROWHAWK - Male over mobbed by BH.Gull & C.Crow
Then, whilst on an evening cycle to get some fresh air & start the post Christmas detox I added...

12) GOLDFINCH - Boxmoor nr. K2
13) MAGPIE - Boxmoor nr. K2
14) STARLING - Boxmoor nr. K2
15) WREN - Boxmoor nr. K2
16) GREENFINCH - Boxmoor nr. K2
17) MISTLE THRUSH - Boxmoor nr. K2
18) MUTE SWAN - Canal b/w Apsley & Bennetts End
19) BLACKBIRD - Canal nr. Kings Langley Fishery
20) FIELDFARE - Canal nr. Kings Langley Fishery
21) GREY HERON - Kings Langley Fishery
22) TUFTED DUCK - c.10, Kings Langley Fishery
23) COOT - Kings Langley Fishery
24) BLUE TIT - Canal nr. Kings Langley Fishery
25) CHAFFINCH - Canal nr. Kings Langley Fishery
26) JAY - New Plantation
27) JACKDAW - Abbots Hill / New Plantation
28) SONG THRUSH - Abbots Hill / New Plantation
29) REDWING - many going to roost, Abbots Hill / New Plantation
30) LONG-TAILED TIT - Abbots Hill / New Plantation
31) GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER - Abbots Hill / New Plantation
32) DUNNOCK - Abbots Hill / New Plantation
33) BULLFINCH - c.2, Abbots Hill / New Plantation

Notable were the numbers of REDWINGS & FIELDFARES going to roost around Abbots Hill / New Plantation, tens & tens likely to of amounted to c.40 of each.
Whilst stopping off at my office in Corner Hall on the way back I managed to kick off my 2012 Work List after dark by adding a REDWING that I heard go over.

Then I made a little extra effort for the year list to add...

34) PEREGRINE - the usual Ringed Adult Female roosting on the BT building near the 'Magic' or Plough Roundabout, Town Center, 17.55

Shortly after I saw the usual c.50cm PIKE in its favoured spot below the weir at The Water Gardens near Bank Court.

On my way out to dinner I saw a small RED FOX run across Catsdell, Highfield, most likely the very vocal one of recent. And again, later on, I heard it uttering its five bark call over & over well into the night around Baylie Lane, which I had also heard very early in the morning too. Occasionally if I listen I can hear another Fox at distance responding to the call with its own.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The 2012 Hemel Year List begins. On your marks, get set... no.

After a heavy night of excess, & waking at the Holiday Inn, still under the influence, I was in no fit state to ID any continental LBJs today, in fact the closest I got was el PJs & a chicken, ssp. rustica, from Domino's.

On leaving the hotel in a daze I did manage to use my beergogglenoculars to kick off my Hemel 2012 Year list with an amazing start...

1) 2 (or was it 1?) WOODPIGEON

Then whilst collecting my pizza I added the following at the Water Gardens in the town center...


And that's as far as my New Year's Day birding goes.

Later that evening & into the night the RED FOX which has been calling almost every night over the last week or so from gardens around Baylie Lane & Queensway, Highfield, was very vocal once again, usually calling a quick series of five barks & occasionally uttering their usual 'sheiking howl'.


So I've dabbled a bit in birding blogging over the last few months of 2011, I've learnt what takes up too much time & isn't neccessary, & what I should do to keep things concise & clear, & so I will be going for a slightly more simple approach from now on.

I'm back on it & will do the best I can to keep this space up-to-date, full of info, & filled images.

I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Good luck for 2012, just get out, look up & expect the unexpected, be it in birding or otherwise...