Monday, 31 December 2012

Summary of the year

Be warned this is very long!!!

I would say this year has been my most productive year of birding ever. I have learnt a lot, from identification to the habits of birds. I have also learnt how to use my camera and hopefully bring nice pictures to my blog.
This year has been a good one for Great-white Egrets coming locally as close as the Chess Valley which is only a 5 mile bike ride away from me. More Great White Egrets came to places in Hertfordshire such as Wilstone Reservoir, Amwell and a fly over some where else. The year has been very productive in Hertfordshire, which has allowed me to add a fair few species to my life list. The Year in Herts started with a local and long staying Snow Bunting which stayed on Marsworth. This was a nice bird to see locally and was a life tick when I first saw it in 2011. Now that 2012 has come to a close, this baffles me that I had never seen a Snow Bunting before the end of 2011/ beginning of 2012. This is because over this year I have spread out more over the country to see more rare or scarce birds. I have traveled from Portland to the top of Norfolk. This may not seem much to a keen twitcher but for me without a driving license this has been like travelling around the world. The traveling has only been possible due to Chris who kindly takes me most weekends with him and his friends Paul and Brendan. Without this car polling my life list would be half the size (and I wouldn't have eaten so much chocolate either). The last major twitch of the 2012 was my twitch to see the (American) Buff-bellied Pipit this was a very nice bird to see especially saying how close it came. And that brings me onto my top 10 birding trips of 2012 (that is if your still reading). I remember at the beginning of 2012 I told myself that I should write up more on my blog and with 66 posts this year I think I succeeded.

My top 10 birding trips of 2012 was a very hard choice and took me a while to narrow it down to 10. I won't write a description of the 2 after ten just say which they were and where I went.

Under 10

13. The dip of the Hooded Merganser and Penduline Tit was an odd day. To read the post click here.
12. A probable Woodcock in Kings Langley was a nice surprise to read the full post click here.
11. Catching up with a Wryneck at last was very nice. To read the full post click here.

Top 10

10. A trip to Kent with my father turned out to be the right choice. It gave me a long awaited tick, a Shorelark. It was accompanied with a second one and three Snow Buntings. They all showed well and allowed me to take some decent pictures. To see the full post click here.
9. A usual trip in the autumn migration with Chris, Brendan and for the second half Paul ended up with me getting two life ticks. The first was a Great Northern Diver at a lake near by up the M4 this took us a good half an hour before we were shown it and after we went in search of a better viewing point. We then picked up Paul and headed down to Dungeness to see the Palla's (Leaf) Warbler which had been staying there for a few days. We managed to get that and we headed over to the Isle of Sheppey were we caught up with a Merlin, Marsh Harriers and a Barn Owl all in all a successful day. To read the full post click here.
8. My mother was eager to see my brother who was and still is now studying down in Cornwall and this called for my mother to drive all the way down to Falmouth to see him. On the way down I had organised to see two birds which I had researched about on RBA before leaveing. The first was a Hoopoe which I managed to catch up with  in Somerset near Bristol. It was bad weather but I managed to get some decent photos. The next stop was the Lesser Yellowlegs which was in Ernesettle which I dipped. When I arrived my first trip was to the Lizard. There I saw a flock of up to +10 Choughs!!! Unfortunately this wasn't a year tick because I had got it a few months before when we had taken Samuel down with all of his luggage a few days before he started university. On that same trip we also stopped off to see the Short-billed Dowitcher in Dorset. But now back to the real story. After the Lizard I had a small amount of time that I stayed in the self catering cottage. But then my brother was free in the weekend and we headed down to Land's End to see if we could find a Richard's Pipit. We were fruitless in our search but on our way down I located a pair of Purple Sandpipers on the beach next to Saint Micheal's Mount that was the last outing of that trip. To read the full post click here.
7. When a Slavonian Grebe was reported in Wilstone after being thought to be a Black-necked Grebe and somehow also miss IDed as a Red-necked Grebe I decided I couldn't miss it. A Slavonian Grebe in Hertfordshire is a Mega. On a Saturday My Dad was kind enough to take me to see it. It showed well and allowed everyone to get a good picture. To read the full post click here.
6. A Great White Egret  as close as 5 miles away is a must see bird. Me and my brother agreed with this and we headed off to see it as soon as we got the news which unfortunately was a little late. We headed over to the Chenies and I located it almost immediately. It showed well for scope views but good photographs were very hard to obtain. I had also seen one early that year in Wilstone (its hard to get board of Egrets). To read the full post click here.
5. A Sabine's Gull was the first scarcity for the autumn migration in Herts and me and my brother needed it for our list. We got the news one day late so we were desperate to get to Startop's where it had been seen. Luckily my mother offered us a lift and we were there by 17:30 its hard to think in these times that it was still light around then. When we got there we were met by a small crowd of birders looking at a very showy Sabine's Gull. Photos were hard to get with the light but the Sabine's Gull would fly to close for me to get a good picture amazing!!! To read the full post click here.
4. A Little Bittern in Hertfordshire was a very nice surprise and livened up my normal fruitless summers birding. My brother tried to get it three times and only got it the third time where as I went and got it the first time. It showed incredibly well and there were amazing photographs all over Rare Bird Alert and Herts Bird Club and I had just got my new lense so I headed over there with high hopes. They were fulfilled and I came home happy. To read the full post click here.
3. Buff-bellied Pipits had been poping up all over the country this year and at one point I think if i'm not mistaken I counted 8 in different places over the country (on rare bird alert)!!! When one was seen in Berkshire I almost thought it was a joke. When it was reported again and again I began to believe that it was actually there and I set off as soon as I had a weekend to see this amazing bird which had flown from America. When I arrived at the reservoir where it was I had to walk half the way round to get to it. When I eventually arrived I saw the pipit for the first time in my life. It was very energetic and was constantly running along the bank. By the time it was time for me to go the I had already gone half the way back to the car park following the pipit. The raised bank didn't help with the photographs but the fact that it was only about 6 feet away and at some points and arms width away from me helped me obtain some decent pictures. To read the full post click here.
2. Numbers 2 and 3 should be tied because there about the same. Near the end of the summer holiday me and my mum went to Portland. For me it was to see the birds and for my mum it was to relax. The trip was very enjoyable and I had got some decent pictures and it had began to be a holiday for me to relax as well but then when news came in of a Long-billed Dowicher at Lodmoor which was not far off the mode was completely broken and we were at action stations. But then my mum decided she wanted to have lunch. This was a catastrophe but she was the one who could drive and I had to do what she said. When we had finished eating (I say we but it was my mum eating salad and I was running around like a headless chicken trying to get my stuff ready) we headed off for Lodmoor. After a while of searching I found a small group who found it. I had a good look and then took some pictures. A few days later I was informed it was a Short-billed Dowitcher. I wasn't sure if I should take it off my list but then my brother wanted to see it and we went down again this time we IDed it correctly as a Short-billed Dowitcher. To read the full post click here.

We have now arrived at my number 1 bird trip of the year brace yourself here it comes.
1. A trip to Norfolk and a Surprise Baird's Sandpiper. This was the single most best trip of the year as well as probably ever. It is to longer trip to recap so i'm going to copy and paste my post here.


Yestarday I went to Norfolk with Chris, Brendan and Paul to twitch the Pectoral Sandpiper and the Red-breasted Flycatcher but the day turned out to be better then that. On the trip we also did a day list.
We left at around 6 o'clock from Garston on Saturday. I took us under 3 hours to get to our first destination which was Holme for a Red-breasted Flycatcher, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Barred Warbler. We decided to go for the Red-breasted Flycatcher first because the Barred Warbler had been staying for almost 3 weeks. It took us about quatre of an hour to walk to the place and when we arrived it only took about 5 minutes before the RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (life tick) showed itself.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

After showing itself for about half a minute it went back in. After that I didn't see it again but instead a Bonxie (year tick) and Brambling flow over my head. We left after a while and decided to do some sea watching. After a few minutes we had already found a skua but we were unsure of what it was straight after that a RED-THROATED DIVER (year tick) flow past quite close in. Because the sea had been quite successful we stayed a bit longer and saw a ARCTIC SKUA (life tick). We then moved on to see the Barred Warbler. Again after standing next to the right bush it poped out after 2 minutes. The BARRED WARBLER fed in front of us and gave us amazing views.

Barred Warbler

After this we headed off towards Titchwell for a Pectoral Sandpiper. When we arrived we walked around the area and found some SpoonbillsDunlinsa Little Stint, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits and some Ruff. After that we decided to look for the Pec Sand but before we could someone began to ask about a Baird's Sandpiper. After a while we found out were it was and we headed off in that direction of the reserve. We managed to find the BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (life tick) amongst some Ringed Plovers. We saw it for a about 5 seconds before it went behind something then suddenly the ringed plovers flew and the Baird's Sandpiper with them and after that it was no longer seen. I was very lucky to see it. After that we headed to the sea. this time the sea was a bit more calm and we only saw a lot of Gannets some Eider and a GUILLIMOT (year tick). We also saw some Pink-footed Geese fly over. We then walked around the reserve trying to get all the common species for our day list. After that another report of a male Red-breasted Flycatcher came up on Brendans pager. We headed over there so as to see the different plumages and we almost saw the MALE RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER immediately that was 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers in one day wow. We then went to wells wood which is next to the beach. In the woods we found a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER (LIFE TICK) and a FEMALE PIED FLYCATCHER (LIFE TICK) amongst the tit flocks.

Female Pied Flycatcher

As well as those two we saw a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.
On the way back to Garston we stopped off at the brecks. A Sparrowhawk and some Rooks were the only birds to be seen.

Here is the daylist (thanks to Chris Sharp for writing it)
1 Mute Swan Titchwell
2 Pink-footed Goose Titchwell
3 Greylag Goose Titchwell
4 Egyptian Goose Titchwell
5 Shelduck Titchwell
6 Wigeon Titchwell
7 Gadwall Titchwell
8 Teal Titchwell
9 Mallard Norfolk
10 Tufted Duck Titchwell
11 Eider Titchwell
12 Common Scoter Titchwell
13 Red-legged Partridge Norfolk
14 Pheasant Norfolk
15 Red-throated Diver Holme
16 Little Grebe Titchwell
17 Great Crested Grebe Titchwell
18 Gannet Holme
19 Cormorant Holme
20 Little Egret Holme
21 Grey Heron Norfolk
22 Spoonbill Titchwell
23 Sparrowhawk Brecks
24 Buzzard Warham Greens
25 Kestrel Holme
26 Moorhen Norfolk
27 Coot Norfolk
28 Oystercatcher Titchwell
29 Avocet Titchwell
30 Ringed Plover Titchwell
31 Golden Plover Titchwell
32 Grey Plover Titchwell
33 Lapwing Norfolk
34 Knot Titchwell
35 Sanderling Titchwell
36 Little Stint Titchwell
37 Baird’s Sandpiper Titchwell
38 Dunlin Titchwell
39 Ruff Titchwell
40 Snipe Titchwell
41 Black-tailed Godwit Titchwell
42 Bar-tailed Godwit Titchwell
43 Curlew Holme
44 Greenshank Titchwell
45 Redshank Holme
46 Turnstone Titchwell
47 Arctic Skua Holme
48 Great Skua Holme
49 Black-headed Gull Norfolk
50 Common Gull Titchwell
51 Lesser Black-backed Gull Norfolk
52 Herring Gull Titchwell
53 Sandwich Tern Holme
54 Common Tern Titchwell
55 Guillemot Titchwell
56 Stock Dove Norfolk
57 Woodpigeon Norfolk
58 Collared Dove Norfolk
59 Great Spotted Woodpecker Holme
60 Swallow Holme
61 House Martin Norfolk
62 Meadow Pipit Titchwell
63 Pied Wagtail Norfolk
64 Wren Holme
65 Dunnock Holme
66 Robin Holme
67 Wheatear Titchwell
68 Blackbird Norfolk
69 Barred Warbler Holme
70 Yellow-browed Warbler Wells Woods
71 Chiffchaff Holme
72 Goldcrest Holme
73 Red-breasted Flycatcher Holme and Warham Greens
74 Pied Flycatcher Wells Woods
75 Bearded Tit Titchwell (heard)
76 Long-tailed Tit Norfolk
77 Blue Tit Norfolk
78 Great Tit Norfolk
79 Coal Tit Wells Woods
80 Nuthatch Wells Woods
81 Jay Norfolk
82 Magpie Norfolk
83 Jackdaw Norfolk
84 Rook Brecks
85 Carrion Crow Norfolk
86 Starling Norfolk
87 House Sparrow Norfolk
88 Chaffinch Norfolk
89 Brambling Holme/Wells Woods
90 Greenfinch Norfolk
91 Goldfinch Norfolk
92 Siskin Wells Woods
93 Linnet Titchwell
94 Lesser Redpoll Wells Woods
95 Canada Geese Titchwell


1. Woodpigeon
2. Blackbird
3. Magpie
4. Carrion Crow
5. Herring Gull
6. Black-headed Gull
7. Oystercatcher
8. Sanderling
9. Brent Goose
10. Turnstone
11. Kestrel
12. Blue Tit
13. Moorhen
14. Robin
15. Mallard
16. Teal
17. Great Crested Grebe
18. Grey Heron
19. Lesser Black-backed Gull
20. Mute Swan
21. Coot
22. Pochard
23. Gadwall
24. Wigeon
25. Tufted Duck
26. Canada Goose
27. Fieldfare
28. Pied Wagtail
29. Snow Bunting
30. Cormorant
31. Jack Snipe
32. Chaffinch
33. Great Tit
34. Long-tailed Tit
35. Skylark
36. Starling
37. House Sparrow
38. Redwing
39. Ring-necked Parakeet
40. Common Gull
41. Mistle ThrusH
42. Feral Pigeon
43. Dunnock
44. Greenfinch
45. Jackdaw
46. Goldcrest
47. Wren
48. Little Egret
49. Great Spotted Woodpecker
50. Coal Tit
51. Nuthatc
52. Crossbill
53. Stonechat
54. Marsh Harrier
55. White-fronted Geese
56. Meadow Pipit
57. Hen Harrier
58. Reed Bunting
59. Merlin
60. Black-tailed Godwit
61. Curlew
62. Redshank
63. Shelduck
64. Green Sandpiper
65. Bar-tailed Godwit
66. Golden Plover
67. Green Woodpecker
68. Knot
69. Grey Plover
70. Dunlin
71. Barn Owl
72. Stock Dove
73. Peregrine
74. Avocet
75. Short Eared Owl
76. Lapwing
77. Buzzard
78. Song Thrush
79. Great Grey Shrike
80. Red-breasted Goose
81. Goldeneye
82. Little Grebe
83. Red-breasted Merganser
84. Eider
85. Rock Pipit
86. Pintail
87. Shoveler
88. Bearded Tit
89. Snipe
90. Sparrowhawk
91. Willow Warbler
92. Blackcap
93. Common Tern
94. Nightingale
95. Red-legged Partridge
96. Yellowhammer
97. Linnet
98. Ring Ouzel
99. Wheatear
100. Little Owl
101. Whitethroat
102. Whinchat
103. Swift
104. Turnstone
105. House Martin
106. Little Gull
107. Black-necked Grebe
108. Shag
109. Swallow
110. Yellow Wagtail
111. Hobby
112. Arctic Tern
113. Little Tern
114. Stone-curlew
115. Barnacle Goose
116. Ruff
117. Water Rail
118. Bittern
119. Little Grebe
120. Sand Martin
121. Sedge Warbler
122. Woodlark
123. Redstart
124. Nightjar
125. Ringed Plover
126. Little Ringed Plover
127. Turtle Dove
128. Little Bittern
129. Corn Bunting
130. Garden Warbler
131. Sand Martin
132. Sabine's Gull
133. Red-backed Shrike
134. Whimbrel
135. Mediterranean Gull
136. Common Sandpiper
137. Greenshank
138. Black Redstart
139. Dartford Warbler
140. Grey Partridge
141. Spoonbill
142. Common Scoter
143. Osprey
144. Spotted Redshank
145. Short-billed Dowitcher
146. Little Stint
147. Chough
148. Gannet
149. Red-breasted Flycatcher
150. Brambling
151. Great Skua
152. Red-throated Diver
153. Arctic Skua
154. Barred Warbler
155. Baird's Sandpiper
156. Guillemot
157. Pink-footed Goose
158. Sandwich Tern
159. Yellow-browed Warbler
160. Pied Flycatcher
161. Siskin
162. Lesser Redpoll
163. Chiffchaff
164. Goldfinch
165. Greylag Goose
166. Egyptian Goose
167. Rook
168. Raven
169. Pheasant
170. Fulmar
171. Red Kite
172. Great Black-backed Gull
173. Kittiwake
174. Collared Dove
175. Tawny Owl
176. Kingfisher
177. Grey Wagtail
178. Reed Warbler
179. Lesser Whitethroat
180. Marsh Tit
181. Treecreeper
182. Jay
183. Bullfinch
184. Great White Egret
185. Long-eared Owl
186. Wryneck
187. Slavonian Grebe
188. Shorelark
189. Hoopoe
190. Purple Sandpiper
191. Waxwing
192. Great Northern Diver
193. Pallas's Leaf Warbler
194. Hawfinch
195. Buff-bellied Pipit

Black Brant

Cetti's Warbler
Thank you for reading if you've got this far well done. And now you can sit back and relax.

Here are my top 10 favorite photographs of the year.

Isle of Harty

Richmond Park

Little Bittern
Stockers Lake

Common Darter
Isle of Harty


Black-tailed Godwit



Purple Sandpiper
Marazion Bay

Buff-bellied Pipit
Queen Mother Reservoir

Sunday, 30 December 2012


After seeing my brothers success at he Tring reservoirs I decided to make a trip here myself. The trains were not working properly so my mum offered to take me there but I then had to walk to Tring Station to get home. On the way to the reservoirs I saw some birds flying around or sitting in the trees. But then i saw one bird with a distinct crest on its head this could only mean one thing. I told my mum to stop and when I got out of the car there it was a nice chubby Waxwing. It allowed me to take some pictures but then after a fair amount of time it flow off. It was almost effeminately one Waxwing out of a flock near by.

I was fruitless in my searches for my target birds at the reservoirs.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Great White Egret in Chenies

Today me and my brother decided to head off for the Great White Egret in Chenies. We left around midday and arrived about half an hour later in Chenies. When we arrived I looked down from where we had been told to look from. As I looked down I saw a large white bird flap its wings. I showed my brother and we soon identified it as a GREAT WHITE EGRET! We cycled to a different viewing point so as to see it more clearly. When we looked over it was beginning to walk toward a bridge which was very close by. We walk over there and had a good look at it.

Great White Egret

We then moved on towards the cress beds where my brother located a Water Rail and a Green Sandpiper. On the way we saw a flock of 9 Siskin. After that we headed back for our bikes and had another view of the Great White Egret.

Great White Egret in flight

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A decent day in Kings Langley

today as the title suggests wasn't a bad day It started of with +3 Waxwings flying over my school which is the Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley. And it ended with me taking my dog for a walk and hearing a Tawny Owl.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Video of Buff-bellied Pipit

Here is a video of the Buff-bellied Pipit.

Buff-bellied Pipit

To read my full summary of the day click here.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Today my mum and dad gave me a lift to see the Buff-bellied Pipit in Berkshire. When I arrived I bought a permit and headed straight for the Pipit after about half an hour of walking I arrived and I had my first views of the BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT (lifer). As we (there was a large crowd of people) watched the bird it came as close as 6 feet!!! The light conditions and the raised bank made it hard to get a decent photo but here are my attempts.

Buff-bellied Pipit

Pied Wagtail

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bramfield and Therfield Heath

Today at 9:30 me and Chris headed off to Bramfield to see some Hawfinches. When we arrived the last they had been seen was about an hour before. We stayed at the front of the church yard for a while until someone inside the churchyard called us over because they had found one. As soon as I got there the bird flew off and I only saw it in flight. We then headed round the back of the church yard where we waited. After about 5 minutes of waiting I saw something large move in a tree it hopped from one tree to another slowly making its way towards me I then saw the huge bill and the orange plumage of a HAWFINCH (life tick). I showed Chris and by this time a few people were on it. Due to so many people being underneath it, it decided to fly over to another tree from this tree I could see it very well but due to the fog the colours were dulled down. It stayed in the tree for little longer then two seconds and then flew off. After that me and Chris located another few before we left (at one point we saw three together in flight). Before leaving we went around the field behind the church were we located another single Hawfinch, two Lesser Redpoll, A few Nuthatches and a few Fieldfares. After that we headed back to the car. When we got to the car we were not sure were to go next because nothing else of much interest had been seen near to Bramfield we then remembered about the Great Grey Shrike which was overwintering in Therfield Heath so we set the Satnav for there and headed off. Half an hours car trip later we arrived. We walked to the heath, on the we saw a few Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Red-legged Partridges and a few flocks of Corn Bunting. When we arrived at Therfield Heath Chris checked for were the Great Grey Shrike had last been seen and we found out it was only around the corner when we located the correct place we scanned for a while but we were fruitless in our efforts. We then headed back to the car and went home.

A picture just for the sake of having one on this post.
And its a Dunnok

Friday, 7 December 2012

Woodcock in Kings Langley

I just took my dog out for a walk to the common today. It was around dusk which is about 4:15 now a days.  When I got onto the common something suddenly came over the woods very quickly. It was about Feral Pigeon size and was flapping its wings very quickly as well as not keeping to a straight line. All these things only pointed to one bird a WOODCOCK this is a first for Kings Langley. But like my brother Samuel I didn't get enough features on it to tick.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

101st post and a local Waxwing flock.

Well I forgot to celebrate my 100th post so I decided to say that this was my 101st post now since I started my blog in march 2011. I hope I haven't been boring you with my posts and I hope to make my writing more interesting soon. Luckily to celebrate my 101st blog post I saw a flock of 5 WAXWINGS fly. I was walking down to do my community work which was assigned by my school when I saw a flock of 5 chubby birds fly over it was almost immediately followed by the unmistakable call of a Waxwing. This is my first local record of the year and I look forward to being able to see more.
In the last two weeks I have been out with my friends and I haven't had time to go birding so hopefully I can post something from this weekend with some pics.
See you then.