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around Hemel Hempstead...

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Saturday, 30 March 2013

YELLOWHAMMER singing at Nettleden Road, Water End & a couple of others calling nearby.

3 BROWN HARES near Nettleden Road, Water End

REED BUNTING at Water End

C.17 LAPWINGS, 11 FIELDFARES, 2 RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES, a COMMON GULL, & a SKYLARK singing around Nettleden Road, Water End

Male TEAL on river behind Red Lion, Water End

15 more FIELDFARES S over Red Lion, Water End

2 FIELDFARES S over Water End / Piccotts End Pools

2 BUZZARDS & a BROWN HARE near Red Lion, Water End

2 SISKINS E over fields b/w P.E.Pools & Bridens Camp

2 RED KITES flying in snow blizzard at Piccotts End Pools

34 GOLDEN PLOVERS N over Piccotts End

34 GOLDEN PLOVERS heading N over E Piccotts End seemed to swirl in the air then dissappear, possibly going down to land in fields E/NE of village when the flock was hit by an oncoming snow blizzard from the N.

LITTLE EGRET & 3 (sinensis) CORMORANTS at Piccotts End Pools

MEADOW PIPIT at Piccotts End

GREEN SANDPIPER S over Leighton Buzzard Road near Piccotts End Village

GREEN SANDPIPER flying along road appeared to be moving from Piccotts End Pools to the River Gade at Piccotts End Village.

CHIFFCHAFF by river at N Gadebridge Park

RED KITE low over Gadebridge Park

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

2 RED KITES (probable pair) circling close together over Two Waters / Corner Hall

RED KITE over Boxmoor

Female MALLARD up a tree at Water Gardens!


Never seen this before so took a couple of shots on my mobile..!

Female Mallard up a tree at the Water Gardens
Female Mallard up a tree at the Water Gardens






Sunday, 17 March 2013

SPARROWHAWK eating COLLARED DOVE alive after hunting & catching it at The Nickey Line, Highfield.


This afternoon I was taking a stroll along the Nickey  near Queensway in Highfield when behind me I heard a something crashing through the branches with a clatter of wings. As I turned around, just a few metres away a SPARROWHAWK was tumbling down the bank with a COLLARED DOVE in its talons until it settled at the bottom on the footpath with a firm grip on its prey. The Sparrowhawk then proceeded to pluck & eat the Collared Dove alive whilst I sat there watching from across the path, & although I didn't have a camera with me, I managed to get some video footage on my mobile phone.

At times the Collared Dove tried to fly free even after being eaten for at least 5 minutes & I will warn that this video may be distressing for some people to watch. These clips are just snippets of about 10 amazing minutes watching this stunning bird, at times within 2 metres from me, seemingly completely unfazed by my presence, until I decided to let the Sparrowhawk continue in peace.

[Filmed on Samsung Galaxy S3 Mobile Phone with digital zoom so apologies for the low quality.]




And here are some photos I snapped with my phone at the time too...

Sparrowhawk feeding on Collared Dove at The Nickey Line near Queensway, Highfield.
[Taken with Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone on digital zoom.]

Sparrowhawk feeding on Collared Dove at The Nickey Line near Queensway, Highfield.
[Taken with Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone on digital zoom.]





























GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER at Nickey Line near Queensway

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

BUZZARD E over Boxmoor / Apsley

KESTREL hunting at Boxmoor near Two Waters

BUZZARD & RED KITE over Boxmoor

RED KITE low over Corner Hall offices

This RED KITE has been cruising around the area between Boxmoor, Two Waters & Corner Hall even more regularly over the last couple of weeks, often with a mate(?) & sometimes with another pair(?). At times showing a bit of display behaviour & very often coming very low down over the offices at Corner Hall, as it is here, shot sideways out of my window... I'm thinking they must be planning on breeding nearby.

Red Kite at Corner Hall offices, 13/03/13








Tuesday, 12 March 2013

4 LITTLE EGRETS low S over Corner Hall offices, appeared to go down to roost at Durrants Hill (Two Waters) Fishery at 18.08.

4 LITTLE EGRETS is a record count for Corner Hall / Two Waters, though I have seen (presumably) these same four birds heading in the same direction to roost in the past over Gadebridge Park / W. Herts College, viewed from Queensway, Highfield. Due to this sighting & previous similar instances I am pretty sure that there is a small Little Egret roost at Durrants Hill (Two Waters) Fishery, of four & possibly up to six birds. (In the past, on more than one occassion, I have seen a Little Egret at dusk fishing in the stream opposite Mc Donalds there too.)

Four is the maximum I have seen together anywhere in the Hemel area & on those few occassions they were all at Piccotts End Pools. I believe the four seen today are the same four regularly seen at Piccotts End, Water End & Great Gaddesden & when in these areas in the early evening I often see individuals take flight & head S or SE to go to roost, following the River Gade, which would bring them to the same point.

I do have a feeling though that there may be at least one different bird that spends the day in the Boxmoor & Chaulden area, as one, & very occasionally two, Little Egrets are seen on Boxmoor & on the stream at Chaulden & I have witnessed a bird flying E along the canal at Corner Hall going to roost. As birds are very much creatures of habit I feel it is safe to assume this may be Little Egret number five.

Little Egret at Boxmoor, 14/01/13








RED KITE low over Corner Hall offices

Saturday, 9 March 2013

COMMON GULL movement this afternoon...

600+ COMMON GULLS S over Piccotts End Pools today in about half an hour, between 15.25 & 16.00!
The majority of birds being in 3 massive swirling flocks in groups of C.100 at 15.25, then 300+ & C.200 at 16.00, with a scattering of birds heading more directly S in between.

KINGFISHER at Water End

5 TEAL at Water End next to Red Lion

LITTLE EGRET & KESTREL at Water End next to Red Lion Pub

TREECREEPER at Piccotts End Pools

Another C.500 COMMON GULLS S over Piccotts End Pools in 2 huge swirling masses! Joined by BUZZARD & rising until disappearing into cloud!

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL stopped off at Piccotts End Pools to wash large amount of blood from bill & face from presumably feeding on a carcass.

2 LITTLE EGRETS, 2 STOCK DOVE, MEADOW PIPIT & SISKIN at Piccotts End Pools

C.150 LAPWINGS E & C.100 COMMON GULLS S over Piccotts End Pools 15.25

GREEN SANDPIPER at Piccotts End Pools

My first GREEN SANDPIPER in the Hemel Area since Summer 2011!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Location of Singing WILLOW TIT at Water End, 02/03/13

Before I do a proper write up of the WILLOW TIT singing at Water End this weekend here is some detail of where I found it in case you decide to have a look for it.

On Saturday afternoon it was in trees behind houses on Willows Lane (appropriately enough), singing its strong 'tiu tiu tiu tiu' song with a slight Wood Warbler-cum-Chiffchaff-like sound to it, occasionally uttering some 'squeaky' notes like stepping on a dogs toy quickly! It was singing as I approached, walking up Potten End Hill & it immediately grabbed my attention. It then sang continuously for a good 5 minutes until it went silent & didn't start up again.

As hard as I tried to find the bird I couldn't, with small birds busy flitting in all directions in the branches & with my view partly obscured by the fence & hedge. To add to this the people in the house nearest the trees were stood at their back window as I was searching with my bins & I didn't want to upset them by turning to face their house from the other angle.

To double check the song I immediately opened on my mobile, Jean C. Roche's 'All The Bird Songs of Britain & Europe', on which I found a spot-on match under Willow Tit straight away, & as hard as I tried to make it 'just' a Marsh Tit which I have seen & heard locally around the area, I couldn't, the recording matched too perfectly.

Below is a recording by Steve Evans which also matches exactly the main song the Willow Tit sang on Saturday.



Willows Lane is a private road with a public footpath so there is no access by cars of places to park so to help with getting to the right spot here is an interactive map to show the location & how to access the area...

The RED Pinpoint is the location the Willow Tit was singing from.
The BLUE 'P' is the nearest place to park, at the National Trust car park.
The BLUE Line is the public footpath passing through the area, which runs between Potten End Hill & Leighton Buzzard Road (A4145), via Noake Mill Lane.
If you 'pull' the map down you will see an AQUA Pinpoint, this is a spot very easy to find Water Rails at if you sit waiting for 5 minutes or so on the river bank, which I thought might be of interest if you were visiting the area anyway.


View Location of Singing Willow Tit 2/3/13 in a larger map


I hope this helps if you decide to try to find it, I will certainly be trying to refind it & would love to hear if anyone else does too.





Saturday, 2 March 2013

2 or 4 SNIPE landed, 3 GREY WAGTAILS & WATER RAILS still active at Water End NW of Red Lion.

HEMEL MEGA: WILLOW TIT singing at Water End! From trees behind gardens on Willows Lane - 'tiu tiu tiu tiu' song matched recording on mobile perfectly.


1st WILLOW TIT for Hemel Hempstead Area!
More details > HERE <.







WATER RAIL seen & calling at Water End - C.100 yards SE of 'S-bend' bridge, NW of Red Lion Pub

This area is becoming increasingly reliable for WATER RAIL. If you just sit & wait on the bank of the River Gade for 5 minutes or so you should at least get to hear their strange calls, & very possibly see one running across gaps in the foliage or pausing at the water's edge for a moment or two.

KINGFISHER & 2 LITTLE EGRETS at W.End nr RedLion

LITTLE EGRET & 5 SISKINS at Water End near Red Lion Pub

2 LITTLE EGRETS at P.E.Pools

LITTLE EGRET at Piccotts End Pools

2 RED KITES low over Queensway, Highfield / Old Town

Friday, 1 March 2013

HEMEL MEGA: WOODCOCK at Great Gaddesden! At reedbed beside Hemel Garden Centre.


Only my 2nd record of WOODCOCK in the Hemel Hempstead Area.

Below is a poor photo of  when the bird was flushed by work going on at the garden centre. It flew away out of sight but shortly returned to the same area. Unfortunately this took me by surprise & so could not adjust the settings on my camera, so I'll have to make do with this quick record shot...

Woodcock at Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead, 01/03/13







KINGFISHER at Great Gaddesden

11 STOCK DOVES at Nettleden Rd. Water End

KINGFISHER at Water End

RED KITE over Town Centre

BUZZARD over Boxmoor