Documenting surprising sightings, fascinating findings, & exciting encounters, with birds, wildlife, & other nature,
around Hemel Hempstead...
Explore & find out more about wildlife in this West Hertfordshire town. To return to the full homepage just click the banner above...
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Monday, 30 December 2013
BARN OWL calling once after dark near W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - heard whilst stood near horse paddock
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Monday, 23 December 2013
Friday, 20 December 2013
Thursday, 19 December 2013
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
|Female KINGFISHER between Water End & Great Gaddesden.|
13 LESSER REDPOLLS around private fishing pools at Water End, moved through S - my highest count in Hemel.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
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.
Monday, 16 December 2013
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Friday, 13 December 2013
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Monday, 2 December 2013
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Friday, 22 November 2013
Thursday, 21 November 2013
Friday, 15 November 2013
Thursday, 14 November 2013
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Monday, 11 November 2013
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.
Friday, 8 November 2013
Thursday, 7 November 2013
2 RAVENS - pair(?) seen in this area in previous Winters.
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
|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):
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!
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.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Monday, 4 November 2013
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.
Saturday, 2 November 2013
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
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! - an unusual location for this species, clearly migrating.
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
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?
|Record shot of GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools.|
|Record shot of GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools - with CANADA GOOSE for scale.|
Friday, 25 October 2013
Monday, 21 October 2013
Saturday, 19 October 2013
Monday, 14 October 2013
Friday, 11 October 2013
Thursday, 10 October 2013
Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Monday, 7 October 2013
Sunday, 6 October 2013
Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - only 2nd record for Hemel, 1st being only 8 months ago (details > HERE <).
Monday, 30 September 2013
Sunday, 29 September 2013
Friday, 27 September 2013
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Monday, 23 September 2013
Sunday, 22 September 2013
Friday, 20 September 2013
Thursday, 19 September 2013
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
|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...
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Saturday, 14 September 2013
Friday, 13 September 2013
|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.
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.]
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Monday, 2 September 2013
Saturday, 31 August 2013
|1 of 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS with many PIED WAGTAILS feeding around horses|
in the West paddock on Nettleden Road, Water End.
Friday, 30 August 2013
Thursday, 29 August 2013
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
HEMEL MEGA: Female REDSTART at Lower Roughdown Common - in hedgerow at top of small rough field SSW of gas tower frames at Boxmoor.
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
Saturday, 24 August 2013
Thursday, 22 August 2013
|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.
|RED KITE at farmland behind Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.|
|A very well camouflaged Juvenile DUNNOCK.|
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Monday, 5 August 2013
Sunday, 4 August 2013
Friday, 2 August 2013
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
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
|Male COMMA Butterfly on Brambles at Picotts End Pools|
Sunday, 28 July 2013
Friday, 26 July 2013
Thursday, 25 July 2013
Escaped COCKATIEL calling whilst flying between Corner Hall offices & Two Waters - both shape of bird & call having a resemblance to Bee Eater!
Monday, 22 July 2013
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Sunday, 14 July 2013
Saturday, 13 July 2013
|Record shot of Drake & Female TUFTED DUCKS at Piccotts End Pools|
|Backlit Female KESTREL at Piccotts End Pools|
Friday, 12 July 2013
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Wednesday, 3 July 2013
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Monday, 1 July 2013
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Monday, 24 June 2013
Thursday, 20 June 2013
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Monday, 17 June 2013
Sunday, 9 June 2013
Saturday, 8 June 2013
Friday, 7 June 2013
|RED-HEADED CARDINAL BEETLE at the edge of Thrift Wood|
between Piccotts End & Water End.
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Monday, 27 May 2013
Thursday, 23 May 2013
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
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.
Monday, 20 May 2013
Sunday, 19 May 2013
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.|
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.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
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 - 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?
Total of Wagtails included...
- Male YELLOW WAGTAIL
- GREY WAGTAIL
- 2 PIED WAGTAILS
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.
Friday, 10 May 2013
|Record shot of Hobby at Piccotts End.|
|Record shot of Hobby at Piccotts End.|
The Hobby was 1 of 5 Raptor Species seen around the area over an hour or so.
- RED KITE
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.