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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

MISTLE THRUSH at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm

Monday, 30 December 2013

BARN OWL heard calling near Nettleden Road, Water End.


BARN OWL calling once after dark near W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - heard whilst stood near horse paddock




14 MEADOW PIPITS & 14 PIED WAGTAILS in horse paddock W Nettleden Road, Water End.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Adult HERRING GULL at Corner Hall offices.

Same 3rd Winter HERRING GULL at Corner Hall offices again.

3 BUZZARDS at Great Gaddesden

GREEN WOODPECKER, & SONG THRUSHES singing at Water End & Great Gaddesden.

Confiding Female KINGFISHER at Great Gaddesden / Water End.


Female KINGFISHER between Water End & Great Gaddesden.



3 RED KITES & a few COMMON GULLS, MEADOW PIPITS, REDWINGS & FIELDFARES at Water End.

13 LESSER REDPOLLS around private fishing pools at Water End.


13 LESSER REDPOLLS around private fishing pools at Water End, moved through S - my highest count in Hemel.



LITTLE GREBE on stream S of Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.

BUZZARD perched by reed bed at Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.

2 SNIPE at Great Gaddesden

2 LITTLE EGRETS, GREY WAGTAIL, YELLOWHAMMER, 2 RED KITES, & some REDWINGS & FIELDFARES, at Great Gaddesden.

C.90 TEAL at Great Gaddesden! - by far the highest count here, doubling previous counts.

2 BUZZARDS sat in horse paddock at W Nettleden Road, Water End.

16 CANADA GEESE in field & Adult COMMON GULL through, at Nettleden Road, Water End.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Adult COMMON GULL at Water Gardens, Town Centre.

3 RAVENS E over Corner Hall offices - from Boxmoor, heading towards Bennett's End / Leverstock Green.


3 RAVENS over Boxmoor / Corner Hall / Bennetts End - equals highest count for Hemel.



ROBIN carrying something longish & bright green into hedgerow at Cupid Green Lane, Grovehill - Courtship gift? Nesting material? Feeding young?

C.2 YELLOWHAMMERS in hedge behind Valley Green, Woodhalll Farm.

TREECREEPER at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm

Monday, 11 November 2013

LITTLE EGRET SE into Two Waters

Single SNIPE Species flew low over road (A4146) from flood meadows at Great Gaddesden this morning - looked pretty small, didn't notice long bill & flying directly rather than zig-zag so could have been the Jack Snipe seen there recently.





Possibly 5 LITTLE EGRETS along Gade Valley between Piccotts End & Great Gaddesden now - highest previous count is 4.


I scoured the Gade valley from Piccotts End to Great Gaddesden again this morning in case the Great White Egret was still around, but no luck. Also checked the area N or Great Gaddesden across Dagnall Road that I mentioned previously as a possible area worth checking due to the habitat, but on getting there noticed it wasn't as ideal as I'd thought, with much less vegetation on the flood meadow & a much narrower, more concentrated stream than I'd seen there in the past.

On the other hand, it seems there may be another LITTLE EGRET in the area, in addition to the usual 4 found along the Gade. I first saw one at Great Gaddesden, N of Hemel Garden Centre on the flood meadow, then a second here stood in the hedge literally at the back of the garden centre where the stream disappears through the fence. When driving back I saw one at the river at Water End, between the 'S-bend' bridge & the Red Lion pub. Then at Piccotts End Pools there were 2 Little Egrets, one around the sheep field & one at the back of the pools, later roosting in the trees there.

Small flocks of REDWINGS on the move today & coming down to land in drizzle at Piccotts End & Great Gaddesden.

2 LITTLE EGRETS, C.20 TEAL, & Flock of FIELDFARE over S at Great Gaddesden.

LITTLE EGRET at Water End b-w 'S-bend' bridge & Red Lion pub.

Male TEAL, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 5 CORMORANTS & NUTHATCH at Piccotts End Pools

GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools

Thursday, 7 November 2013

LITTLE EGRET S over Corner Hall offices - going off to roost.

No sign of Great White Egret today despite scouring the Gade valley between Great Gaddesden & Gadebridge Park, including Water End & Piccotts End - though there is suitable habitat N of Gt. Gaddesden, parrallell to the A4146, that I did not check.

SISKIN, REED BUNTING, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, KESTREL & RED KITE at Piccotts End Pools.

2 RAVENS circling over field W of Piccotts End Pools then heading W over pools towards Potton End.


2 RAVENS - pair(?) seen in this area in previous Winters.



LITTLE EGRET at Water End b-w 'S-bend' bridge & Red Lion pub.

LITTLE EGRET, REED BUNTING & C.20 TEAL at Great Gaddesden.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

3 LITTLE EGRETS S over Corner Hall offices

HEMEL MEGA: GREAT WHITE EGRET touring Water End, Great Gaddesden & Piccotts End Pools!


GREAT WHITE EGRET at Water End / Great Gaddesden / Piccotts End Pools.

GREAT WHITE EGRET at Great Gaddesden flood meadows, N of Hemel Garden Centre.
Record shot of GREAT WHITE EGRET at Great Gaddesden flood meadows, N of Hemel Garden Centre
- with LITTLE EGRET & GREY HERON in background, showing the habitat & how I found the bird at this location.














































More images below...


UPDATE (extract from quick email):

Hi all,
sorry for lack of updates, battery went after trying to get news out, typical!

Basically I only went out early in case the Redbournbury GREAT WHITE EGRET had popped over to the ideal, if a bit disturbed, habitat at Piccotts End / Water End / Great Gaddesden with all the Little Egrets - well just as well I did!

First seen whilst I was stood at Water End flood meadows on N side of Nettleden Road walking S to go home! - At 9.06 I saw a huge pale bird flying N from over Heizdin's Wood, Water End with another bird that appeared a similar size & colour at distance, but that one went down towards the Red Lion Pub area of Water End.

As it neared I could see that amazingly it was the GREAT WHITE EGRET!

RAVEN low S over Great Gaddesden


RAVEN low over Great Gaddesden, heading S towards Water End.



C.25 TEAL, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 3 GREY WAGTAILS & MEADOW PIPIT at Great Gaddesden.

HEMEL MEGA: JACK SNIPE & 7 COMMON SNIPE at Great Gaddesden! - at flood meadow N of Hemel Garden Centre.


JACK SNIPE & 7 COMMON SNIPE at flood meadows N or Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden - in main flood area where stream widens on N side of wooden bridge.



Monday, 4 November 2013

PEREGRINE FALCON low over Corner Hall offices - heading towards town centre.


PEREGRINE FALCON - appeared to be Female due to large size, possibly returning Winter roosting bird, though not at roost on BT building when checked about 5 mins later.



4 LITTLE EGRETS, 2 KINGFISHERS, 5 CORMORANTS, 2 TEAL, GREY WAGTAIL, GREEN WOODPECKER, KESTREL & RED KITE at Piccotts End Pools.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

2 BUZZARDS at Howe Grove, Highfield

REED BUNTING at Piccotts End Pools

LITTLE EGRET at Great Gaddesden

3 BUZZARDS, 2 RED KITES & SKYLARK at Nettleden Road, Water End.

Female CHAFFINCH with Viral Papilloma on both feet & legs at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


Female CHAFFINCH with Viral Papilloma on both feet & legs looking like its wearing white boots due to the thick coating, at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm - thankfully the bird seems unfazed by its condition, which is only lightly contagious in close contact & supposedly usually only through open wounds.



Thursday, 31 October 2013

2nd Winter COMMON GULL at Water Gardens, Town Centre

COMMON GULL at Gadebridge Park

TREECREEPER at Margaret Lloyd Park, Grovehill

11 FIELDFARES SW over Margaret Lloyd Park, Grovehill.


11 FIELDFARES SW over Margaret Lloyd Park, Grovehill - First of the Winter despite there being birds within a few miles of Hemel for a couple of weeks.



REED BUNTING W over Margaret Lloyd Park, Grovehill!


REED BUNTING W over Margaret Lloyd Park, Grovehill! - an unusual location for this species, clearly migrating.



Tuesday, 29 October 2013

2 (Pair) GADWALLS at private fishing pool N of wooden bridge, Water End.

3 MEADOW PIPITS at Nettleden Road, Water End.

LITTLE EGRET at Water End - one of Great Gaddesden birds.

LITTLE GREBE on small stream S of Hemel Garden Centre, KINGFISHER & GREY WAGTAIL, at Great Gaddesden.

24+ TEAL at Great Gaddesden

Probable GREEN SANDPIPER at Great Gaddesden - Sandpiper sp. seen flying in vegetation briefly a few times, at flood meadow N of Hemel Harden Centre.

2 SNIPE, C.4 TEAL, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 4 MEADOW PIPITS, 2 RED KITES & BUZZARD at Great Gaddesden.

3 REDWINGS at Noak Mill Lane, Piccotts End Pools.

2 RED KITES, BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK, COMMON GULL & STOCK DOVE at Piccotts End Pools.

SISKIN & MEADOW PIPIT over Piccotts End Pools.

2 LITTLE EGRETS, KINGFISHER & 5 CORMORANTS (1 with large Pike lure stuck to bill!) at Piccotts End Pools.


Here is some footage I digi-vid-scoped of the Juvenile 'Sinensis' CORMORANT with the large Pike lure attached to its bill at Piccotts End Pools. Fellow fishermen should act more responsibly with their tackle. How long before this poor bird dies of starvation?





GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools


GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools - it appears that this bird may be sticking around the Piccotts End area, in particular the pools, but I have seen them flying between the pools & the stream at Piccotts End village in the past so both areas worth checking out. I have added some record shots here, including one with geese nearby to give a sense of scale for anyone that may not have seen a Green Sandpiper & isn't aware of the small size of the bird when looking for it...

Record shot of GREEN SANDPIPER in flight at Piccotts End Pools.

Record shot of GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools.


Record shot of GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools - with CANADA GOOSE for scale.





Male PEREGRINE FALCON drifting low over field behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm!


Male PERGRINE FALCON drifting low over field behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm, near Holtsmere End Lane - As this will be my first Winter living in Woodhall Farm I had plans to put some effort in to find Peregrines hunting the farmland behind my flat in Valley Green, as on previous visits the surroundings looked promising & I have seen birds only a few miles away East-ish in recent years. Well on my very first visit specifically for this reason, early in the season, this bird showed itself within minutes of me leaving the front door, in fact this was the first bird I noted, & hard not to as it went straight over me looking around for prospective prey!

Male PEREGRINE near Valley Green.




SKYLARK over Valley Green, Woodhall Farm

2 RED KITES & BUZZARD over Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

GREYLAG GOOSE with 3 CANADAS over Corner Hall / Two Waters.

GREYLAG GOOSE at Water Gardens, Town Centre

BUZZARD at N Gadebridge Park

NUTHATCH singing at Gadebridge Park

CHIFFCHAFF singing at Grovehill playing fields

C.3 LINNETS at Grovehill playing fields

A trickle of migratory SKYLARKS at fields N of Woodhall Farm & Grovehill.

HEMEL MEGA: MEDITERRANEAN GULL flying low over hedge at N side of Grovehill playing fields in fog.


MEDITERRANEAN GULL - only 2nd record for Hemel, 1st being only 8 months ago (details > HERE <).



Monday, 30 September 2013

Numbers of LINNETS (at least 1 flock of C.15), SKYLARKS (at least 1 flock of C.5, & MEADOW PIPITS (3+) starting to build up around Nettleden Road, Water End.

5 SKYLARKS S over Piccotts End village.

TREE BUMBLEBEE at Piccotts End Pools

2nd Winter COMMON GULL at Piccotts End Pools.

CHIFFCHAFF singing at Piccotts End Pols.

2nd Winter HERRING GULL, 2 LBB GULLS, RED KITE & BUZZARD at Piccotts End Pools.

BULLFINCH, 2 MISTLE THRUSHES, some SWALLOWS & C.2 JAYS at Piccotts End Pools.

REED BUNTING, 10+ LINNETS, 3+ MEADOW PIPITS, KINGFISHER & 3 Juv. CORMORANTS at Piccotts End Pools.

3 LITTLE EGRETS, 5 LINNETS, SKYLARK, MEADOW PIPIT, 4 STOCK DOVES & 2 Juv. CORMORANTS at Piccotts End Pools.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

C.2 YELLOW WAGTAILS over Betjeman Way, Gadebridge.

MEADOW PIPIT over Betjeman Way, Gadebridge.

YELLOW WAGTAIL, GREY WAGTAIL, PIED WAGTAIL & MEADOW PIPIT at Piccotts End Pools.

2 LITTLE EGRETS & KINGFISHER at Piccotts End Pools.

Large Female SMOOTH NEWT (COMMON NEWT) on footpath S of Piccotts End Pools.


SMOOTH NEWT (COMMON NEWT) on footpath at Piccotts End Pools.



A large Female SMOOTH NEWT (COMMON NEWT) was on the footpath heading towards Piccotts End Pools from the S this morning which was nice to see. It was completely still & didn't move when approached so I took a couple of snaps, then as it was directly in the 'tread zone' I decided to move it to a safer spot beside the footpath. I took this opportunity to take a couple of photos showing its size compared to my hand. Unfortunately I only had the 150-500mm on the Pentax so it wasn't ideal for taking pics at close range, but fortunately I was carrying my waterproof Lumix compact, which meant I could also take a short video...



5 YELLOW WAGTAILS with cattle at Piccotts End - in field W of village.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

2 Female TEAL at Great Gaddesden

10 LINNETS at Great Gaddesden - 1 almost caught by Female SPARROWHAWK.

Constant movement of MEADOW PIPITS around Piccotts End Pools.

LESSER WHITETHROAT at green at Piccotts End Pools.

LESSER REDPOLL at green at Piccotts End Pools.

NUTHATCH, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER & GREEN WOODPECKER at Piccotts End Pools.

WILLOW WARBLER at green at Piccotts End Pools.

HOBBY perched at the green at Gaddesden Hall, Piccotts End Pools - then chased by Female SPARROWHAWK.

1+ BULLFINCH around the green at Gaddesden Hall, Piccotts End Pools.

GREYLAG GOOSE with 90+ CANADA GEESE at Piccotts End Pools.

C.4 MEADOW PIPITS, KINGFISHER, LINNET, GREY WAGTAIL & C.2 STOCK DOVES at Piccotts End Pools.

TREE BUMBLEBEE at footpath to S of Piccotts End Pools.

Friday, 13 September 2013

BARN SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid at Gadebridge Park


Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13

As I rode to work this morning in the drizzle I cut through the football pitch at the North end of Gadebridge Park, some gulls were resting so I stopped to check them out. As I got my binoculars out of my rucksack the drizzle got heavier & in dropped a flock of C.30 Hirundines from the North, staying to feed up, SWALLOWS mainly shooting low over the grass & HOUSE MARTINS wheeling around overhead.
My adrenaline suddenly started pumping as I picked out a Swallow with a whitish rump through the drizzle, hoping it was going to be a Red-rumped Swallow I tried my best to stay on it. From a fleeting glimpse of it face-on I noticed it had a slight pale area on the face, appearing mainly around the throat, perhaps less than I'd expect for a Red-rumped, but it was a terrible view so I couldn't be sure what I could see. I lost it for a few moments as it flew up to join the increasing number of Hirundines above me, now numbering C.60, & whilst trying to find it I noticed a MISTLE THRUSH feeding nearby on the football pitch. Now the drizzle had turned to rain & this prompted 8 MEADOW PIPITS to drop in from the NW, appearing to go down at the rough field at Howe Grove, near the horse stables at Fletcher Way, Highfield. I then glimpsed the 'light-rumped Swallow' again, skimming across the grass towards me from across the field. I got my bins back onto it & got a slightly better view of it's face, that's when I realised that unfortunately it wasn't a Red-rumped Swallow, but something interesting none-the-less. It was either a Barn Swallow x House Martin Hybrid or a Barn Swallow x Red-rumped Swallow Hybrid, but it was just too tricky to get a decent view in the rain. I lost the bird again & thought I wouldn't be able re-find it as by now the Hirundine flock above Gadebridge Lane had increased to C.200, & me, my binoculars, & my camera were very wet. But then from nowhere it came zipping past, closer than before. I managed to fire off some shots which was very hard as the bird was very fast in low light & I couldn't really see what I was doing in the rain, especially with water in my viewfinder. I then lost the bird & could not re-find it, the rain started to ease off leaving me completely soaked & the Hirundines started to move on, heading S over Gadebridge Park. I tried to analyse the photos in the field but I couldn't really see the preview on my camera as it was dripping wet, so I thought I would wait until I got to work to scrutinise my very poor record shots.

Once at the office, out of the rain & dried off, I looked at the photos keeping my mental notes in mind, & it immediately became apparent that it was a Juvenile BARN SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid. It had a cleanish white rump, medium-short forked tail with no white spots & no white on the under-tail, no light patches on its nape, Juvenile Barn Swallow-like chest-band & paleish lower face, but without a noticeable pale forehead above the bill (making the bird appear pale-throated but with a dark fore-head). The bird was obviously round-bodied & plump, being shaped more like a House Martin, rather than having the slender, tapered body of a Swallow. Its movement & jizz were also different in comparison to the other Swallows feeding near it, with its wings not 'lapping'/flicking out as much as you'd expect from a feeding Swallow. I think I also may have heard this bird call, sounding more like a House Martin, but I couldn't say so for certain, when at one point the majority of the Hirundines were grouped together up high apart from this bird & about 3 other Swallows hunting low over the grass. As this bird passed me, when I took the photos, I heard what I was sure was a House Martin call close to me, but from what I could see all of the House Martins were too high up & far over Gadebridge Lane for me to hear, especially as it was raining, & the only other birds nearby being the few feeding Swallows.

8 MEADOW PIPITS over SE at N Gadebridge Park football pitch - when rain picked up appeared to go down to rough field at Howe Grove, nr horse stables at Fletcher Way, Highfield.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

HEMEL MEGA: Goose Galore - 2 EGYPTIAN GEESE, Large CANADA GOOSE Flock & First GREYLAG GOOSE at Piccotts End Pools.


EGYPTIAN GEESE at Piccotts End Pools.

As I approached Piccotts End Pools on the footpath from the South this morning I thought to myself 'please be something different here today, there's probably not enough exposed shore for many waders but maybe some interesting wildfowl, even just a Tufted Duck would do'. Then as I continued I heard the 'honk' of Canada Geese, which in itself is not unusual. But as I rounded the hedgerow to join the stretch running along side the pools I was amazed to see a massive flock of geese resting & preening at the pools. In fact, after many attempts to count them I can say there were at least 159 CANADA GEESE! By far the biggest count ever here, with my highest previous count being 18, only last week, & only 9 before that!

Accompanying the Canadas was a single GREYLAG GOOSE, which in itself is a good record as I have never seen one or seen records of any here before! I wondered whether this flock, including the Greylag, are in fact the usual wintering flock from the Water Gardens in town, & Hemel Cricket Club at Boxmoor, which haven't been seen since last Winter, & usually include a single Greylag?

Well to top this all off, as I started to walk further up the footpath to re-count the Canadas I saw two large, bulky birds heading straight towards me from North-West over the horizon. I straight away thought 'hang on, these are something different', & as they neared I saw bright white wing panels glowing in the low sunlight against the dull grey sky. 2 EGYPTIAN GEESE! They closed in on the pools then circled many times, lower & lower, looking to land & definitely attracted to the large number of geese already at the pools, though in the end they just weren't sure & headed off slowly SSE towards Gadebridge Park. This is only the second record of Egyptian Geese in Hemel, the previous record being 2 birds that, coinsidently, I saw flying off S from the pools on the morning of 18th of August 2004! Could these be the same 2 birds & this is a route they often use around this time of year? If so they must be getting on a bit!

EGYPTIAN GEESE at Piccotts End Pools.




[Note: Possibly the same 2 Egyptian Geese as seen at Maple Cross by Chris Bessant the next day, 13/09/13. Maple Cross is only 11 miles South of Piccotts End Pools & these birds were heading that way.]

STOCK DOVE singing at Noake Mill Lane, Piccotts End Pools.

Quite a few COMMON TOAD Toadlets & a few COMMON FROG Froglets, as well as a couple of fully grown COMMON FROGS, along the footpath at Piccotts End Pools.

2 KINGFISHERS at Piccotts End Pools

4+ MEADOW PIPITS & LINNET at Piccotts End Pools.

KINGFISHER & Female KESTREL at Piccotts End Pools.

YELLOW WAGTAIL, & 2 MEADOW PIPITS low over S, at Piccotts End Pools.

2 LITTLE EGRETS at Piccotts End Pools

Record count of 159+ CANADA GEESE & 1 GREYLAG GOOSE at Piccotts End Pools

HEMEL MEGA: 2 EGYPTIAN GEESE circled low at Piccotts End Pools looking to land at 10.05 then continued S towards Gadebridge Park!


2 EGYPTIAN GEESE. More details > HERE <.



Male KESTREL & GREY WAGTAIL at New Piccotts End Farm House.

C.20 YELLOWHAMMERS at field behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

2nd unfortunate dead COMMON SHREW of recent, at field N of Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


The second unfortunate dead COMMON SHREW I've found recently, at field N of Valley Green, Woodhall Farm - this one seems to have not survived the cold during the night.

Dead COMMON SHREW near Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.
(Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone)




MEADOW PIPIT at W side of Gadebridge Park.

Family party of 5 LINNETS at Dodds Lane N of Grovehill.

MEADOW PIPIT in fields behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

LITTLE OWL calling near Holtsmere End Lane behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


LITTLE OWL - my first in this area.



EMPEROR DRAGONFLY at canal at B&Q, Corner Hall.

4 LITTLE EGRETS at Piccotts End Pools


Record shot of 2 of the 4 LITTLE EGRETS at Piccotts End Pools,
these 2 interacting with 2 of 18 CANADA GEESE .



5+ BUZZARDS, 4 RED KITES, 2 (Pair) KESTRELS & Female SPARROWHAWK at Piccotts End Pools.


Not the best photo, as I was definitely unprepared for this young Female SPARROWHAWK to shoot past me like a bullet at 3 meters range, trying to take Yellowhammers, Dunnocks & Whitethroats by surprise as it sped along the top of the hedgerow at Piccotts End Pools.



18 CANADA GEESE at Piccotts End Pools - by far the highest count here.

3 LITTLE EGRETS, 1+ YELLOW WAGTAIL & 2 RED KITES at Piccotts End Pools.

YELLOW WAGTAIL, LITTLE EGRET & HERRING GULL at Piccotts End.

2 (Pair) KESTRELS & 4 RED KITES together at Lovetts End, N of Grovehill.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

3 YELLOW WAGTAILS in horse paddock W of Heizdin's Wood at Nettleden Road, Water End.


1 of 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS with many PIED WAGTAILS feeding around horses
in the West paddock on Nettleden Road, Water End.




Thursday, 29 August 2013

'ICTERINE-looking' WARBLER at Lower Roughdown Common!


Possible ICTERINE WARBLER!

Extract from quick email to local birding groups with details:

I also saw what I could only describe as an Icterine Warbler but not 100% sure. From this field [small rough field SSW of gas tower frames at Boxmoor & E of wood at Lower Roughdown] you can get out at the top of the slope, nearest the wood, to the footpath that runs along the top of the bank of the A41. About half way along here at the edge of the wood a very yellow warbler popped up, more substantial than a Willow Warbler, very yellow, with a relatively long, thick orange bill, thick pale yellow eye stripe & a thick pale yellow eye ring that gave the bird an open-faced look with a big eye, with no dark markings on its face. In just a moment it darted along into a tree then I could not find it again, if flew much like a Reed Warbler or Blackcap, darting & in rush, diving into cover, unlike a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff.

Grid reference for Google Maps etc. 51.739547,-0.486554




C.5 BULLFINCHES at Roughdown Common

YELLOW WAGTAIL at Roughdown Common

HEMEL MEGA: Female REDSTART at Lower Roughdown Common - in hedgerow at top of small rough field SSW of gas tower frames at Boxmoor.


Female REDSTART

Extract of quick email to local birding groups including details:

I got up early & specifically made a point of visiting this small area to look for chats / flycatchers as the habitat looks good, if only a tiny area. It was a fairly fleeting view unfortunately, I was watching 2 Dunnocks & another brown bird on the fence when the Female REDSTART popped up from the ground for a second or so then flew up into the hawthorn. I couldn't find it again but with more time I'm sure it could be dug out. If visiting by car I think you would be ok parking on Roughdown Avenue, it is residential but a wide rough road where I don't think people would mind, if not Roughdown Road or the surrounding streets would be fine I'm sure. If you park here take the footpath leftish at the top of Roughdown Road, go through the gate to the old quarry area then follow the footpath all the way up through the wood until you come out at the small, rough, sloped field. It was along the fence & hedge at the top of this field (on your right as you come through the gate) about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way along the hedge. I hope this helps.

Grid reference for Google Maps etc. 51.738593,-0.483142

I also saw what I could only describe as an Icterine Warbler but not 100% sure... Details > HERE <.




Wednesday, 28 August 2013

HOBBY at Stags End near Gaddesden Row.


HOBBY upsetting Hirundines around houses & farm buildings at Stags End near Gaddesden Row. For those that may not know, this area is C.1 mile N of Grovehill & Woodhall Farm.



Thursday, 22 August 2013

TREECREEPER at Marchmont Arms, Piccotts End

REEVES'S MUNTJAC & RABBIT with Myxomatosis disease in field NE behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


REEVES'S MUNTJAC on farmland behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.
A RABBIT showing early signs of the Myxomatosis disease - note the closed eye surrounded by swelling,
on farmland behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.




4+ RED KITES (C.3 Juvs.) & 2 BUZZARDS at field NE of Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


RED KITE at farmland behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.


A very well camouflaged Juvenile DUNNOCK.



7 BUZZARDS & 2 RED KITES up together N of Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Heard possible ARCTIC TERN at canal at Corner Hall earlier today - since then Ian Bennell has found one at Cassiobury Park, Watford, only 6.5miles SSE.

HEMEL MEGA: RINGED PLOVER heard calling whilst passing over Valley Green, Woodhall Farm C.12.30am last night.


RINGED PLOVER uttering upward-inflected 'khu-eep' or 'pu-eep' call as it passed overhead in the darkness at around 00.30 in the night, at Valley Green in Woodhall Farm.

This is only my second record for Hemel Hempstead, the other also being heard at night, though I do know they have been seen with Little Ringed Plover at Piccotts End Pools in adverse weather conditions during migration in the past.



Monday, 29 July 2013

Dead REEVES'S MUNTJAC beside L.Buzzard Rd. at Piccotts End.

2 (Male & Female) COMMA BUTTERFLIES at Piccotts End Pools


Male COMMA Butterfly on Brambles at Picotts End Pools





KINGFISHER, 2+ GREEN WOODPECKERS, C.3 STOCK DOVES, BUZZARD & LINNET at P.E.Pools.

PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLY at Piccotts End Pools.

HOBBY mobbed by Male KESTREL at Piccotts End Pools.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lost COCKATIEL flying from Corner Hall to Two Waters whilst calling! 17.45


Escaped COCKATIEL calling whilst flying between Corner Hall offices & Two Waters - both shape of bird & call having a resemblance to Bee Eater!



RED KITE mobbed by Adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL with Juvenile & COMMON TERN, at Two Waters / Corner Hall.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

2 EDIBLE DORMICE (GLIS GLIS) in trees running along back of Valley Green, Woodhall Farm - my FIRST in Hemel!

RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE in field behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.

Family of COAL TITS at Gaddesden Hall, P.E.Pools.

LITTLE EGRET N over Noake Mill Lane, Piccotts End Pools.

2 YELLOW WAGTAILS at Piccotts End Pools

C.100 SWIFTS at P.E.Pools

KINGFISHER at Piccotts End Pools

SPARROWHAWK attracted by C.70 SWIFTS at P.E.Pools.

HEMEL MEGA: Another SAND MARTIN at Piccotts End Pools - this one staying to feed for a while.

HEMEL MEGA: 2 SAND MARTINS S through Piccotts End Pools!

3 BUZZARDS around P.E.Pools

2 (Pair) TUFTED DUCKS, KESTREL, 4 LINNETS & 4 STOCK DOVES at P.E.Pools


Record shot of Drake & Female TUFTED DUCKS at Piccotts End Pools
Backlit Female KESTREL at Piccotts End Pools




1+ YELLOW WAGTAIL at Piccotts End Pools

TUFTED DUCK, 3 STOCK DOVES, 2 RED KITES, BUZZARD, CORMORANT, NUTHATCH, C.2 GREEN WOODPECKERS, LINNET & WHITETHROATS at Piccotts End Pools.

YELLOW WAGTAIL, 2 STOCK DOVES, YELLOWHAMMERS & WHITETHROATS at Piccotts End, in fields N of village.

2 RED KITES & 2 BUZZARDS up together over Valley Green, Woodhall Farm

Friday, 7 June 2013

LITTLE GREBE at Piccotts End Pools - first in a long time.

Male REED BUNTING singing at Piccotts End Pools

2 (Pair) YELLOW WAGTAILS at fields between Piccotts End Pools & Bridens Camp

YELLOW WAGTAIL at fields between Piccotts End Pools & Bridens Camp

RED-HEADED CARDINAL BEETLE at Thrift Wood, Piccotts End / Water End.


RED-HEADED CARDINAL BEETLE at the edge of Thrift Wood
between Piccotts End & Water End.



2 (Pair) YELLOWHAMMERS & LINNET at Piccotts End Pools

Male YELLOW WAGTAIL, 1+ GREY WAGTAIL & 2 (1 Juv) PIED WAGTAILS at Piccotts End Pools

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

More MOORHEN chicks near Police station, Town Centre

Juvenile BLACKBIRD near Police station, Town Centre - 1st of the year.

2 (Pair) PIED WAGTAILS at Water Gardens

2 MOORHEN chicks at Water Gardens, Town Centre - 1st of the year.

COMMON TERN around Corner Hall / Two Waters

RED KITE over Boxmoor & GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER flying from Two Waters to Boxmoor

C.15 SWIFTS over Two Waters

RED KITE over Town Centre

WILLOW WARBLER singing at SW side of Keen's (Kings) Field, Adeyfield


WILLOW WARBLER - the first I've had in the Keen's Field area.

There seem to be more Willow Warblers around Hemel this Spring than usual, & all I've found have been singing.





Sunday, 19 May 2013

LAPWING flying around fields between Bridens Camp, P.E.Pools & Water End

C.2 Male YELLOWHAMMERS, 2+ WHITETHROATS & C.4 SKYLARKS around Rape field b-w P.E.Pools & Bridens Camp


Yellowhammer in Rapeseed field at Thrift Wood, between Piccotts End Pools & Briden's Camp.



Peacock Butterfly at Thrift Wood.






2 (Pair) of GREY WAGTAILS around the old Noake Mill at P.E.Pools

GARDEN WARBLER singing at Piccotts End Pools around green next to Gaddesden Hall


GARDEN WARBLER - 1st of the year & not often recorded in the Hemel area, though I'm sure there are more than we realise, particularly as their song is often very similar to that of the very common Blackcaps.





3 BUZZARDS at P.E.Pools

2 (Pair) STOCK DOVES, RED KITE & SKYLARK at P.E.Pools

RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE singing & STOCK DOVE at P.E.Pools

Almost trod on a COMMON FROG!


Small Common Frog on the back of my hand at Piccotts End Pools.







SPARROWHAWK & BUZZARD sharing a thermal at P.E.Pools, then Buzzard displaying.

YELLOW WAGTAIL at Piccotts End Pools


YELLOW WAGTAIL - possibly the Male from Wednesday (15/05/13) sticking around?





REED BUNTING, LINNET, WHITETHROAT & GREEN WOODPECKER at Piccotts End Pools

KINGFISHER & KESTREL & Piccots End Pools

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Road casualty HEDGEHOG at Piccotts End Village


HEDGEHOG - definitely don't see as many hedgehogs compared to 15 years back, & when I do they are usually squashed!

Here is a photo of a Hedgehog in Leverstock Green I took back in 2010. A least this one remembered to 'Stop, look, & Listen'...

Why did the Hedgehog cross the road?
Hedgehog, Leverstock Green, 23/04/2010







2 LITTLE OWLS calling / singing to one another across fields at Piccotts End, NE of village, 19.25


2 LITTLE OWLS - not seen or heard for a good while near the Piccotts End Pools probably due to disturbance by work carried out at Gaddesden Hall & the actual fish farm pools, L. Cura & Sons. Maybe these birds are the same individuals & have moved to this location?





Male KESTREL around P.E.Pools

2+ YELLOWHAMMER (1 singing), WHITETHROAT & RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE singing at NE. Piccotts End

Adult HERRING GULL N over P.E.Pools

GREEN WOODPECKER & GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER at P.E.Pools

KINGFISHER & 2 (Pair) STOCK DOVES at P.E.Pools

LAPWING calling at Piccotts End Pools

Male YELLOW WAGTAIL, & REED BUNTING singing at Piccotts End Pools


Total of Wagtails included...
  • Male YELLOW WAGTAIL
  • GREY WAGTAIL
  • 2 PIED WAGTAILS

WHITETHROAT singing close to Corner Hall offices

WHITETHROAT singing at E. Boxmoor

2 (Pair) COMMON TERNS often perching on lamp post near B&Q & 2 (Pair) GREY WAGTAILS, at E. Boxmoor.

E. Boxmoor alive with aerial feeders - C.15 SWIFTS, C.20 HOUSE MARTINS & C.4 SWALLOWS.


Including a HOUSE MARTIN with white in its tail feathers & a SWALLOW with rusty toned underside.

This is my highest count of SWIFTS so far this year.

STARLING with food mimicking Jay alarm call whilst alarm calling at MAGPIE near nest site at Corner Halll offices.

3 (2 Ad. & 1 Imm.) HERRING GULLS, 2+ SWIFTS, & 2 MALLARDS E over at Keen's Field, Adeyfield this morning.

Friday, 10 May 2013

KINGFISHER, 2+ LINNETS, MISTLE THRUSH & SKYLARK at P.E.Pools

LAPWING calling & Male KESTREL at P.E.Pools

8 SWIFTS, REED BUNTING, LINNET & 2 (Pair) STOCK DOVES at P.E.Pools

HOBBY, RED KITE, BUZZARD & SPARROWHAWK at Piccotts End (Hobby heading towards Gadebridge)


Record shot of Hobby at Piccotts End.
HOBBY hunting low out of sight along the river at Piccotts End village then crossed then came over the hedge, crossing Leighton Buzzard Road, & continuing across the fields towards Gadebridge main. I was alerted to its presence a while before I could see it by the alarm calls of the SWALLOWS in the area.

Record shot of Hobby at Piccotts End.

The Hobby was 1 of 5 Raptor Species seen around the area over an hour or so.
  • HOBBY
  • KESTREL
  • SPARROWHAWK
  • BUZZARD
  • RED KITE






Possible 2nd Summer YELLOW-LEGGED GULL with LBB GULL N over Piccotts End 18.35


Possibly the same Possible YELLOW-LEGGED GULL seen on the 8th of April (see > HERE <) in the same area, also heading N with an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL.

KESTREL & RED KITE over Corner Hall / Boxmoor

SWIFT over Corner Hall

2 COMMON TERNS around Corner Hall, Two Waters & Boxmoor - often perching on lamp post near B&Q at Two Waters Way.

COMMON TERN W along canal at Corner Hall / Boxmoor

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

2 HERRING GULLS (1 Ad. & 1 2nd Sum.) over Corner Hall offices

STOCK DOVE flying between Two Waters & Hemel Cricket Club

WHITETHROAT heard from Corner Hall offices

2 COMMON TERNS over Two Waters / Corner Hall

4 SWIFTS & 2+ HOUSE MARTINS over Two Waters

WILLOW WARBLER singing at Two Waters


This is the 4th time I have heard a WILLOW WARBLER singing here over almost 3 weeks since the 23th of April - details > HERE <.