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around Hemel Hempstead...

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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

LITTLE EGRET S over Corner Hall offices, 17.31

HOBBY N over Piccotts End Pools


HOBBY over Piccotts End Pools then heading N towards E Water End & Bridens Camp - First of the year.

HOBBY over Piccotts End Pools.



CUCKOO at Piccotts End Pools - near poplars N of pools.

CUCKOO at E Water End - just N of Varney's Wood.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

RAINBOW TROUT & C.20 BREAM in canal at B&Q, Corner Hall


C.40cm RAINBOW TROUT accompanied by same sized BREAM near surface beside canal bank at B&Q, Corner Hall.

Also loose shoal of C.20 BREAM of decent size visible there, some feeding.



'COMIC' TERN high over Durrants Hill Fishery, Apsley / Two Waters at 10.30


COMMON TERN or ARCTIC TERN in gloom high over Durrants Hill Fishery, Apsley / Two Waters at 10.30 - first thought Common seen at long distance but then noticed at times it looked a bit bull-necked & short billed with grey look below & obvious white cheeks more like Arctic. The bill did look darkish red but it was in dim light. I also couldn't make out a dark wedge on the wing. Tail streamers & birds movement weren't conclusive & even looking at the shocking record shots I managed I still can't decide. It soon headed off NW vaguely following the canal before dipping down & being lost from sight behind trees. It was silent unlike almost all Common Terns I see following the canal.

'Comic' TERN high over Two Waters in gloom.



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

C.2 WHITETHROATS at layby on Dodds Lane, Piccotts End


C.2 WHITETHROATS at layby on Dodds Lane, N Piccotts End - First of the year, though may have been here for a few days as I haven't visited this very reliable site.



2 COMMON TERNS at canal at Corner Hall


2 COMMON TERNS at canal at Corner Hall - First of the year



HEMEL MEGA: 2 SAND MARTINS, + Poss. PIED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW WAGTAIL, GARDEN WARBLER & GADWALL at Piccotts End Pools.


Of particular interest at Piccotts End Pools before work this morning...

2 SAND MARTINS (HEMEL MEGA) - plus possibly another different bird through as I arrived
11+ HOUSE MARTINS
C.30 SWALLOWS

1 of 2 SAND MARTINS (far right) with 11+ HOUSE MARTINS & C.30 SWALLOWS in drizzle at Piccotts End Pools.

1 of 2 SAND MARTINS (bottom) in flight in drizzle with HOUSE MARTINS at Piccotts End Pools.


YELLOW WAGTAIL
2 (Pair) PIED WAGTAIL

WILLOW WARBLER
GARDEN WARBLER near the stile which Sang briefly - my First of the year though found by Jim Middleton last weekend

Possible Female PIED FLYCATCHER

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Visiting Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire for Easter - where should I go birding?


I have had a few requests from people visiting Hemel for Easter who wanted to know where to go birding in the area so I have copied here my quick(ish) response with details of where to get both quantity & quality of species without travelling around too much...

If you want to go birding immediately around Hemel then the best spots at this time of year are

(1) The Water End & Great Gaddesden area - at the moment WHITE WAGTAILS, YELLOW WAGTAILS & WHEATEARS can be found in the horse paddock at times here: Grid Ref. to paste to Google maps 51.779245,-0.515996 . SWALLOWS & HOUSE MARTINS have arrived here: 51.782365,-0.501319 . There is a walk you can do & add to published on this map: http://www.chilternsaonb.org/uploads/files/Walks_and_Rides/Gade_Valley.pdf .You will also find all sorts of other birds around this area, it is good for RED KITE, BUZZARD SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL, LAPWING, REED BUNTING, YELLOWHAMMER, SKYLARKS, RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES, GREY WAGTAIL, MEADOW PIPIT, CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP, GADWALL, KINGFISHER, LITTLE EGRET & GREY HERON. WHITETHROATS will be returning now along with HOBBY if you're very lucky. A little harder to find but are are around are RAVEN & GREY PARTRIDGE. This area is also good for seeing BROWN HARES on the farm fields.

WHITE WAGTAIL, YELLOW WAGTAIL, WHEATEAR, 2 HOUSE MARTINS etc. at Water End.


Another great quick visit to Nettleden Road at Water End before work this morning.


At the horse paddock at the W end of the road...

1 WHITE WAGTAIL for about 5 mins (visited 3 days this week & seen White Wags here all 3 times, though only briefly)
1 YELLOW WAGTAIL moving around area
Usual 3 (2 Male, 1 Female) PIED WAGTAILS
1 WHEATEAR at S sloped side
1 SWALLOW over
A few LINNETS
1+ YELLOWHAMMER


At the horse paddock at the E end...

2 HOUSE MARTINS over the flood meadow - First of the year.
2 SWALLOWS still visiting shed
Local GREYLAG X CANADA GOOSE Hybrid on the flood meadows


At the dung piles between horse paddocks 1/3 way from the W one...

A RED ADMIRAL Butterfly
Usual PIED WAGTAILS visiting from horse paddock



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Female KESTREL at Two Waters

2 (Pair) LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS at Corner Hall.

BRIMSTONE BUTTERFLY & 2 HERRING GULLS over at B&Q, Corner Hall.

HEMEL MEGA: 2 WHITE WAGTAILS, Male YELLOW WAGTAIL, 2 SWALLOWS, 2 (Pair) LAPWINGS & MEADOW PIPIT at Water End.


Had a good quick visit to Nettleden Road at Water End this morning before work.


Starting at the horse paddock at the W end of Nettleden Road...

2 WHITE WAGTAILS joined the usual 3 PIED WAGTAILS in the paddock. Like Monday's bird [> HERE <] they flew in, fed for a bit, then carried on their journey NW together. Though rarely seen around the Hemel area & what I would consider a local MEGA, I think in reality they are probably often overlooked, the areas they seem to like are under-watched, & they seem to be a bird I only see if I go to a spot where I think the habitat is good at the right time of year (such as ploughed fields or horse paddocks - this area has both side by side) & sit & wait until they come through, stopping to feed for a while, before moving on minutes later.

A stunning Male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew around the paddock a few times but I couldn't find it once landed, though could hear it a few times. Later seen flying to fields on other side of road. When I first arrived I also saw a Yellow Wag up high mobbing a BUZZARD up with a RED KITE over these fields (the Rape field & cerial(?) field below Highpark Wood) which I think was the same bird.

An interesting lone SWALLOW Species flying strongly ESE which both sounded & appeared similar to Red-rumped Swallow, though I was looking directly into the sun so I'm not sure what it was.

2 (Pair) LAPWINGS were in the paddock, though later relocating to the flood meadow.

At least 1 LINNET & 1 YELLOWHAMMER about as well as the regular scattering of SKYLARKS.

A GREEN WOODPECKER called from Heizdin's Wood.


...then at the horse paddock at the E end of Nettleden Road...

2 SWALLOWS were feeding & often visiting the wooden shed for up to a minute at a time.

A MEADOW PIPIT with a particularly pronounced supercilium, especially behind the eye, kept popping up along the wire fence.



Monday, 14 April 2014

HEMEL MEGA: WHITE WAGTAIL at Water End


WHITE WAGTAIL at horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.

Record shots of WHITE WAGTAIL at Water End.




























Flew in from S at 8.30 to join usual 3 PIED WAGTAILS at horse paddock then fed for 10 minutes not straying more than a meter or so from its preferred lump of horse dung (pictured), before continuing its journey N at 8.40.



Saturday, 12 April 2014

RAVEN & 3 SWALLOWS at A414 near M1 NE of Leverstock Green.


RAVEN flying over fields near A414 near M1 E of Leverstock Green & 3 SWALLOWS following road NW there.



Friday, 11 April 2014

2 BUZZARDS, 3 SPARROWHAWKS & KESTREL all up together around Two Waters - inc. unusually large Female SPARROWHAWK.


Sequence of record shots of very large Female SPARROWHAWK at Two Waters / Boxmoor.

14 CARRION CROWS around Corner Hall

RED KITE over Apsley / Boxmoor

RED KITE at Piccotts End

2 LAPWINGS & C.4 BROWN HARES on fields at Nettleden Rd, Water End.

2 SWALLOWS & YELLOW WAGTAIL at horse paddock at W Nettleden Road, Water End.


2 SWALLOWS low across ground through N at horse paddock a W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - First of the Spring.

YELLOW WAGTAIL calling over horse paddock a W end of Nettleden Road, Water End - 2nd this Spring & at same location.

Also GREEN WOODPECKER heard nearby.



Thursday, 10 April 2014

LITTLE EGRET at W side of Boxmoor still. Also KESTREL, BLACKCAP & CHIFFCHAFF Singing, & ORANGETIP Butterfly.

2 BUZZARDS over Apsley / Boxmoor

WILLOW WARBLER Singing at NE Gadebridge Park


4th WILLOW WARBLER Singing in Hemel today, & close to other 3 at Piccotts End. - best day count I've ever had & First one I can remember actually in Gadebridge Park. There certainly seems to be a wave of them coming through the area at the moment & I bet there's more around waiting to be found.



WILLOW WARBLER Singing at Piccotts End village


3rd WILLOW WARBLER Singing in Piccotts End area today & this Spring.

4 JAYS, & HYBRID CANADA X GREYLAG GOOSE with Canadas heading SE from pools, at Piccotts End.

WILLOW WARBLER Singing from hedge at field W of Piccotts End village - N of Gadebridge Park.


2nd WILLOW WARBLER Singing in Piccotts End area today & this Spring.

2 (Pair) NUTHATCHES collecting nesting material at tiny wet woodland S of Piccotts End Pools.


2 (Pair) NUTHATCHES collecting nesting material at tiny wet woodland S of Piccotts End Pools.

NUTHATCH collecting nesting material at Piccotts End Pools
- surprisingly well camouflaged & pretty hard to spot against the big old Birch trees.



WILLOW WARBLER, LINNET, HYBRID CANADA X GREYLAG GOOSE, & 2 BROWN HARES at Piccotts End Pools.


WILLOW WARBLER Singing at green to N of Piccotts End Pools.

LINNET & HYBRID CANADA X GREYLAG GOOSE at the pools.

2 BROWN HARES at meadow NW of the pools approaching Water End.

2 BROWN HARES at meadow NW of Piccotts End Pools.




3 LAPWINGS & 2 BROWN HARES on fields on S side of Nettleden Road, Water End.


3 LAPWINGS & 2 BROWN HARES on fields on S side of Nettleden Road, Water End.

Also plenty of SKYLARKS & a few YELLOWHAMMERS about mainly around horse paddock at W end of road & GREEN WOODPECKER heard nearby.

SKYLARK feeding in horse paddock at W Water End.



Wednesday, 9 April 2014

REEVES' MUNTJAC at S end of Howe Grove, Highfield.


REEVES' MUNTJAC along top fence-line of horse paddock at S end of Howe Grove, Highfield.



HEMEL MEGA: CETTI'S WARBLER in area around canal behind Kings Langley Fishery near Nash Mills!


CETTI'S WARBLER in area around canal behind Kings Langley Fishery KLAS, near Nash Mills where the canal widens. Moving around area including visiting fishing lake, singing every few minutes & showing on-and-off. At one point sang in Hawthorn just above me on tow-path. Managed the dodgy record shots below when it sat up in a gap in the foliage for 3 seconds. I was tipped off by Samuel Perfect yesterday & the bird has been present since 1st of April at least.  The habitat in the area looks quite good for Cetti's. This bird represents the First local record!

Also WILLOW WARBLER, C.3 BLACKCAPS & CHIFFCHAFF all singing in same area.

A KINGFISHER was also in the area.

CETTI'S WARBLER across canal from Kings Langley Fishery.

CETTI'S WARBLER across canal from Kings Langley Fishery.



WILLOW WARBLER Singing at canal behind Kings Langley Fishery


WILLOW WARBLER Singing at canal behind Kings Langley Fishery KLAS, near Nash Mills - First one in Hemel this Spring?



Monday, 7 April 2014

MEADOW PIPIT at Nettleden Road, Water End

YELLOW WAGTAIL low SW over horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End.


YELLOW WAGTAIL low SW over horse paddock at W end of Nettleden Road, Water End (probably flew from dung heaps beside road in field to NE) - First one of the Spring.



27 LINNETS, YELLOWHAMMER, CHIFFCHAFF & BLACKCAP Singing, RED KITE, BUZZARD, 2 (Pair) STOCK DOVES around Nettleden Road, Water End.