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Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Monday, 22 December 2014
Revisiting the Possible SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF of recent at KLAS Kings Langley Fishery (Kings Langley Lake), I was looking through some of the photos again when I came across one I had overlooked as it was SO bad, but on closer inspection this pic may be the best one to show the bird as it looked in the field & also shows some of the identification features...
|Probable SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF|
- Greyer, paler nape than mantle & crown
- Slight green tinge only in flight feathers
- Faint wing-bar - sometimes mentioned in the identification of some 'Sibes'
- Pale grey patch on shoulder
- Buff supercillium (eye-stripe)
- Paleish cheek with darker rear/lower border - can see in this pic that the cheek is infact buff/tan toned
- Very pale (almost white) below
- Gentle buff tone in flanks - this photo is more true to the lighness of the buff colouration than the others
- General greyish-brown colouration with lack of yellow & greens despite yellowish cast to photo
A Google image search quickly brings up birds that seem to match this one. & with the combination of this & the call, which was bang-on for me, I'm now feeling pretty confident of its ID.
Link to the search... https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=siberian+chiffchaff&safe=off&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=SDaYVN6xMMLlUsTagKgL&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1280&bih=961
Friday, 19 December 2014
Monday, 15 December 2014
Friday, 12 December 2014
Thursday, 11 December 2014
This bird appearing more like what I'd expect for a regular Wintering Chiffchaff, note the cheeks are quite dark & close in shade & hue to the crown, & if you squint or look from further back the bird appears to have a dark head. The breast, flanks & belly are closer in shade to the nape & mantle giving the bird a pretty uniform overall appearance. The eye ring is very obvious against the darker face, the legs brownish-black, & the supercillium (eye-stripe) narrow & clearly green-yellow even in dull, grey light conditions. Even the green-yellow streaking in the breast & flanks is obvious in the dull conditions. Compare these features to the birds photographed yesterday & the differences become more apparent, though there is a variation in individual collybitas.
|Regular collybita CHIFFCHAFF Wintering at KLAS Kings Langley Fishery|
|One of the friendly ROBINS at KLAS Kings Langley Fishery|
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
HEMEL MEGAS: Possible SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF & SCANDINAVIAN CHIFFCHAFF between KLAS Kings Langley Fishery & Canal.
The Possible SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF (tristis) showed itself for a minute or so again this morning, between KLAS Kings Langley Fishery & the Grand Union Canal. I was alerted to it by its single call, a slightly squeaky, slightly down-slurred piping whistle. It spent a few seconds in branches overhanging the lake then flew up into the tops of the trees & bushes on the canal towpath until I could no longer find it. I managed to get a few more record shots, though the bird looks a bit darker in them due to being against a bright reflection in the water. The greyness on the nape is apparent & I noticed it seemed to have a small pale grey patch across its 'shoulder', as well as the supercillium (eye-stripe) looking obviously peachy-buff today. As the bird moves around its tones appear to change, looking brown above & white below one minute, then brown envelope above & milky tea below, then greyish tree bark above & pale peach below, but each time standing out as different to the other CHIFFCHAFFS on site, which there are C.3 of. Of the other Chiffchaffs, there is at least 1 definite 'normal' British-type Wintering CHIFFCHAFF (collybita) looking all dark green-brown, dusky below with dark cheeks & face with a slim yellow-green supercillium. Then there is the bird I got a view of today near to the 'Siberian', which was generally pale, dull greyish green-brown, with a pale throat & face but darker around the belly & under-tail coverts, & obvious but gently-yellowish supercillium. Its call sounded as a regular Chiffchaff, an upslurred quick 'huit' or 'whiip'. It had pretty pale bordered cheeks compared to that of collybita, but the lower eye-ring was more obvious against it than on the 'Siberian'. It's legs were reddish dark-brown rather than the jet black of the 'Siberian' & the bill definitely paler. In fact the general appearance of this bird was not dissimilar to a dull Willow Warbler, & I was surprised that the primary projection looked a bit longer than I was expecting on a Chiffchaff, with the gaps between tips being progressively larger nearer the wing-tip too, rather than even like a regular Chiffchaff. This bird has to be a SCANDINAVIAN CHIFFCHAFF (abietinus).
|Note buff flanks, white belly, light undertail coverts, buff supercillium, greyish nape & pale grey area on 'shoulder'.|
Tuesday, 9 December 2014
|1 of 2 REED BUNTINGS at Old Fishery Lane, Boxmoor - this bird is ringed but the ring unreadable.|
|WREN displaying to another hidden in undergrowth at Fishery Moor, Boxmoor.|
Monday, 8 December 2014
From the path between KLAS Kings Langley Fishery & the Grand Union Canal this morning I was alerted by a whistling call that sounded alot like it was some sort of waterfowl, very nearby in the margins of the large lake. It sounded alot like a young juvenile Coot, which would be pretty unusual at this time of year. On searching the edge of the water there was no sign of where the call was coming from but I could clearly hear it so I was baffled, but then right infront of me in the branches overhanging the lake I noticed a CHIFFCHAFF associating with a GOLDCREST & a LONG-TAILED TIT flock, but that call wasn't a regular Chiffchaff! I moved to view it better through the branches & it became aware of me, & with that the call stopped, though it continued to feed close by. It then struck me was how light the bird was, almost white below the belly to the under-tail coverts, whiteish throat, quite pale cheeks & generally washed out aroung its head, more brownish-grey than normal. But then how its flanks & some of its breast looked an obvious warm buff tone, in fact if I were to describe it to the extreme, compared to the bird I had seen here two days ago, which I would describe as 'dark green', this bird looked 'pale orange'! It was hard to judge the finer tones as it kept flitting behind branches & going against sky, then bark, then water, but the greenest part as far as I could see was its flight feathers. It had quite an obvious beigeish supercillium (eye stripe), more obvious above & behind the eye than I'd expect, & it somehow looked longer than a regular Chiffchaff, or at least its head looked longer as it appeared to have a slightly longer bill than normal & a less 'squashed-in' face.
With the general appearance of the bird & the mystery call which seemed to come from it, is it a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF?
Before it dissapeared with the flock I attemped to grab some record shots to look at later, but it was extremely difficult through the branches & against the changing background. Below are the rubbish pics I did manage but the lightness & colour doesn't show so well in the more detailed shots as they are against the sky, the really really terrible shots on the other hand do atleast give an idea of the tones as they are against a more neutral, less bright background. An interesting detail that they do show is that the cheeks are pretty light for a Chiffchaff with a thin dark border.
|Note the buffish supercillium, pale cheeks with thin darker outline, lightness of underneath & throat, greyish back of head.|
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Thursday, 27 November 2014
Friday, 21 November 2014
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Monday, 17 November 2014
Monday, 10 November 2014
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
Michael Howard saw a Female BRAMBLING in Adeyfield today - First of the Winter.
Bramblings aren't seen (or reported) very often in the Hemel area but with the abundance of beech trees, Chaffinches, & garden feeders there are surely more around each Winter than immediately obvious.
James Collins saw a KINGFISHER at the Water Gardens, Town Centre today - great to see they have returned to fishing in the town centre for the Winter once again.
Monday, 3 November 2014
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Friday, 31 October 2014
Ian Bennell saw 46 FIELDFARE heading NW over his Bennetts End garden at 10.45. Ian Bennell saw 46 FIELDFARE heading NW over Bennetts End
At least 1 FIELDFARE called when C.40 Thrushes flew over Gadespring Cress Beds, Old Fishery Lane, Chaulden / Boxmoor.
At least 1 FIELDFARE called when C.40 Thrushes flew in 2 groups over Gadespring Cress Beds, Old Fishery Lane, Chaulden / Boxmoor in the fog. Despite the limited visibility it was Probably 40 FIELDFARE judging by their jizz. There appears to be a mass arrival nationally today.
Some REDWINGS & SKYLARKS also went over but could not attain precise numbers in fog.
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
GREY PARTRIDGE calling & C.3 YELLOWHAMMERS at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
TAWNY OWL calling at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm, very early this morning / last night.
Monday, 27 October 2014
Saturday, 25 October 2014
Ian Bennell saw a LESSER REDPOLL over his Bennetts End garden
Friday, 24 October 2014
HEMEL MEGA: Ian Bennell saw an Adult Winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL S over Bennetts End to roost with 7 Black-headed Gulls
Ian Bennell saw an Adult Winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL S over his Bennetts End garden to roost with 7 Black-headed Gulls at 17.20
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
PEREGRINE FALCON (probably Female) circling high over, 7 RED KITES (4 on E side, 3 on W side) & BUZZARD N of Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.
|Composite record shots of PEREGRINE circling high over Great Gaddesden.|
RING-NECKED PARAKEET over S & LITTLE OWL calling over back at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - the parakeet being a bird I didn't really think possible see at this site!
HEMEL MEGA: BLACK REDSTART still, & Male STONECHAT, at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.
HEMEL MEGA: Female / Juvenile BLACK REDSTART still, & Male STONECHAT, at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End. Below are the best shots I could manage of the Black Redstart, not great but an improvement on Monday's, & a couple of the Stonechat...
|BLACK REDSTART at Water End / Nettleden|
Herts Bird Club: Phill Luckhurst saw 6 FIELDFARE in a field near the horse paddock at the W end of Nettleden Road this morning.
Phill Luckhurst saw 6 FIELDFARE in a field near the horse paddock at the W end of Nettleden Road this morning.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
KINGFISHER, COMMON SHREW & 2 BANK VOLES at the Box Moor Trust's Gadespring Cress Beds, Chaulden / Boxmoor.
KINGFISHER, COMMON SHREW & 2 BANK VOLES at the Box Moor Trust's Gadespring Cress Beds, Chaulden / Boxmoor (no general public access).
I received a message from Mark saying that he had seen a MARSH HARRIER sat on the gas tower frames near London Road, between the Bulbourne meadows & Roughdown Common at Boxmoor until 8.15 at least - so the bird from yesterday roosted here overnight & could stick around for a bit if the strong winds persist so keep an eye out & double check those Buzzards.
Monday, 20 October 2014
Female type MARSH HARRIER W over Two Waters from Apsley at 13.00, then circling / harrying at the Box Moor Trust's Bulbourne Moor, Boxmoor, before going W out of sight - attracted attention of 2 RED KITES & BUZZARD whilst upsetting BLACK-HEADED GULLS & CARRION CROWS, the latter in hot persuit.
2+ SWALLOWS staying to hunt for a while when passing through at horse at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - latest birds I've seen locally.
HEMEL MEGA: BLACK REDSTART AND CORN BUNTING, & 2 (M&F) STONECHATS at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End!
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Saturday, 18 October 2014
Friday, 17 October 2014
Paul Higgs saw a FIELDFARE briefly at the horse paddock at the W end of Nettleden Road - First of the Winter & quite an early bird.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Here is a summary of Winter Thrushes I noted over a couple of hours this morning...
At Piccotts End
C.5 SONG THRUSHES over S
At Great Gaddesden & Water End
C.340 REDWINGS through S
10+ SONG THRUSHES over S & alighting bushes
At Corner Hall
C.30 REDWINGS over S
There were probably many more but this gives an idea of the mass arrival of Redwings & Song Thrushes Nationally.
Monday, 13 October 2014
First REDWING of the Winter over Dellfield, Westbrook Hay.
2 RAVENS, 3 SNIPE, 14 TEAL, 3+ LITTLE EGRETS, KINGFISHER, GREY WAGTAIL, & 2 BULLFINCHES, at Great Gaddesden.
At Great Gaddesden this morning...
2 RAVENS over woods to the NW
3 SNIPE & 14 TEAL on the flood meadow N of Hemel Garden Centre
3+ LITTLE EGRETS, KINGFISHER & GREY WAGTAIL
2 BULLFINCHES - 1 in hedge at flood meadow N, & 1 Female in hedge at flood meadow S, of Hemel Garden Centre.
Still plenty of MEADOW PIPITS about, & the odd SKYLARK.
2 RED KITES, BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK & KESTREL.
|One of at least 3 LITTLE EGRETS at Great Gaddesden.|
|Young SPARROWHAWK hunting perch to perch in the rain, at Great Gaddesden.|
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Friday, 10 October 2014
MARSH TIT in trees at flood meadow behind Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.
5 late HOUSE MARTINS feeding for a while before moving on SWish, at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.
2 BROWN HARES at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - the usual adult lying around in the horse paddock, & a youngster (Leveret) lying low trying not to be seen in the ploughed field across the road.
|BROWN HARE Leveret (youngster in its first year) lying low to avoid being seen, at Nettleden Road, Water End.|
|Close up of BROWN HARE Leveret (youngster in its first year) lying low to avoid being seen, at Nettleden Road, Water End.|
Thursday, 9 October 2014
G. Hinton reported a BARN OWL at M1 Junction 8, Buncefield / Leverstock Green at 04.14 this morning - the same area that I saw one on the 7th of July at 01.10.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Friday, 3 October 2014
12+ COMMON SNIPE, 4 LITTLE EGRETS, 2 REED BUNTINGS & GREY WAGTAIL at flood meadow N of Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.
12+ COMMON SNIPE, 4 LITTLE EGRETS (one colour-ringed Orange top/left leg, Yellow top/right leg - not possible to read rings at 350m range & low light), 2 REED BUNTINGS & GREY WAGTAIL at flood meadow N of Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden.
|GREY WAGTAIL wagging its tail, at Great Gaddesden|
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Monday, 29 September 2014
JACK SNIPE & 2 COMMON SNIPE at flood meadow N of Hemel Garden Centre, Great Gaddesden. Jack Snipe flushed with MEADOW PIPIT flock, circled once, then landed out of sight again - earliest date recorded locally.
|JACK SNIPE at Great Gaddesden - composite of record shots in flight.|
2 LITTLE EGRETS
3 GREY HERONS
2 GREY WAGTAILS
C.10 MEADOW PIPITS
Possible WATER RAIL called once
Male STONECHAT through E following hedgerow at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - different bird to previous (particularly stunning black & orange Male with extensive white collar) & appeared to be just passing through, seen from field across road, flying in from W, bounding along length of hedgrow E until out of sight. Represents a probable 5 individuals seen in this area over the past couple of weeks!
|MEADOW PIPIT at Water End|
Friday, 26 September 2014
2 STONECHATS, 1 Male & 1 Female, at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.
|Male STONECHAT in drizzle at Water End / Nettleden|
Thursday, 25 September 2014
At least 1 TREE SPARROW in the hedgerow around the layby at the horse paddock at the W end of Nettleden Road. Given away by call then glimpsed flying E along hedge, later 1 seen feeding on ground in paddock out in the open briefly & heard from hedge on & off over next half hour or so. I can't recall even seeing a House Sparrow here so this was a very pleasant surprise - the first record for the Hemel area in a very very long time!
Monday, 22 September 2014
3+ STONECHATS (2+ Male & 1 Female) at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End. Mainly seen around fence-lines at S (top) end of paddock.
Friday, 19 September 2014
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
EDIBLE DORMOUSE (Glis glis) & TAWNY OWL calling at Valley Green, Woodhall Farm - rather late in the year to be hearing Edible Dormice calling but the mild weather may have kept them out longer & this one seemed upset by the presence of the Tawny Owl.
Friday, 12 September 2014
Friday, 5 September 2014
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Friday, 22 August 2014
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Monday, 18 August 2014
1st Winter WHINCHAT with 2 WHEATEARS at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.
This is only the 3rd Whinchat I have seen in the Hemel area & as far I know only the 3rd record too.
Here are the two best shots I managed of the Whinchat when, with the Wheatears, it was flushed by something & it flew in my direction into cover along the footpath on the S side (top of slope) of the paddock. The light was very dim due to the huge black clouds going over so I'm afraid they aren't the sharpest of shots. I'll post the rest with more details soon...
|1st Winter WHINCHAT at Water End|
|1st Winter WHINCHAT at Water End|
Saturday, 16 August 2014
Friday, 15 August 2014
Thursday, 14 August 2014
This is the first Juvenile LITTLE EGRET recorded in the Hemel area, which confirms that this is also a new individual to the area as only Adult birds have been recorded so far. It was standing in a small tree with a GREY HERON beside the canal at the Box Moor Trust's Gadespring Cress Beds at Old Fishery Lane, Chaulden / Boxmoor. It later stood on the footpath at the cress beds, before moving into the thick of the vegetation out of sight. The whole time it seemed relaxed & unperturbed by my presence, not at all wary like many of the local adult birds, even the tamer ones.
Perhaps this youngster has made its way along the canal from Tring Reservoirs to the NW, or Stockers Lake to the SE, where Little Egrets now breed.
I will post the photos shortly.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Monday, 11 August 2014
Others seen recently inc. 1 at entrance to Grovehill Playing Fields & 1 on Shenley Rd. near Valley Green, Woodhall Farm.
Friday, 8 August 2014
|Male LINNET at Piccotts End Pools.|
|Male LINNET's beautiful rosey breeding plumage.|
During a fairly quick visit to Piccotts End Pools before work this morning I saw the following birds of note...
This MISTLE THRUSH must have been a particularly white-looking juvenile but with regular colouring to its new adult feathers. It appeared both obviously white-headed & small-headed even at distance due to its moult. It showed regular adult plumage below the shoulders, very white juvenile feathers across the chest & speckled through the mantle, & moulted out juvenile head feathers with adult feathers yet to grow through. (Thanks to Samuel Perfect for noting that particularly white juvenile feathers do not necessarily mean the bird shows any leucism.)
|White-headed Juvenile to Adult moulting MISTLE THRUSH at Gadebridge Park|
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
As far as I know this is the first definite sighting locally of the 'dreaded' NOBLE FALSE WIDOW Spider (Steatoda nobilis). It was on the inside of a wheelie-bin lid at my office in Corner hall. Usually sightings transpire to actually be either the Lace Web Spider (Amaurobius species) or Missing Sector Orb Weaver Spider (Zygiella x-notata) which do both show a resemblance. Despite the Noble False Widow being venomous, it's bite causing pain, swelling, redness, nausea & allergic reactions to some, it is extremely unlikely to bite in the first place, only doing so when it feels threatened such as when handled roughly, squashed, or caught between clothing & skin.
Female NOBLE FALSE WIDOW Spider (Steatoda nobilis)
in wheelie-bin lid at Corner Hall offices
(Click to enlarge)