Thursday, 26 November 2015

Siskins on Blackbirds Moor

Siskins are resident in the north and west of the UK but, here in Hertfordshire, we have to wait until the winter to spot them. Smart, yellow and black and streaky, these small-billed finches favour the seeds of Alder cones during winter. For the past 3 years, I have been keeping my eyes peeled for them around Trust land but it wasn’t until this autumn that I first saw and heard them on passage migration. The great news is that a small flock are currently feeding in the Alders beside the canal on Blackbirds Moor. They’re best viewed from the canal path with binoculars, from the opposite bank. If you have no luck there, the birds are also occasionally visiting the Alders on Hardings Moor. They'll stay as long as there's food and then they'll be off somewhere new...

Keep your ears open for their whistling calls.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Little Egrets hit double figures

The wet weather continued into Saturday and so did the 7 Little Egrets on the Hemel moors. More importantly, 7 became 8 and we hit double figures, TEN(!), for the total number of individuals visiting the Bulbourne in the last couple of months.

For a brief spell, the rain stopped and the sun came out. 5 Little Egrets on Bulbourne Meadow, 7/11/2015

Yesterday, 5 birds had gathered on Bulbourne Meadow and 3 were hanging out on Fishery Moor. Amongst them were the same 2 colour-ringed individuals as the previous day. That meant, we’d gained another un-ringed bird, probably attracted to the site by the large gathering. It was also interesting to note that 3 immature Grey Herons were also on Bulbourne Meadow and at least 1 other immature bird, probably 2 more, were further upstream. The most I'd seen on previous visits were 2 immature birds.

So, we’ve had 6 un-ringed and 4 ringed Little Egrets frequent the moors in the last 9 weeks. That’s pretty good going for an area which experiences frequent disturbance from pedestrians, runners, dogs, etc.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

9 Little Egrets in 9 weeks & Fieldfares arrive

Yesterday, I think the awful weather was to our advantage as it grounded a flock of 5 Little Egrets, 4 of which were new in, on Fishery Moor. The 2 other regular adults were feeding downstream in their favoured areas, making a total of 7 Little Egrets on the moors yesterday afternoon.

The group of 5 Little Egrets, including 2 colour-ringed birds, on Fishery Moor, 06/11/2015

The group of 5 included 2 colour-ringed birds, one of which was new in: RBM; LAON(9); RAYN(D), BTO ring GR24046. This individual came from the first ever nest at Verulamium Park in St Albans, ringed on 9th June 2014 by Barry Trevis. It had 3 siblings. In Autumn that year, it was spotted at Startop’s End reservoir, Tring. Finally, it was observed at the end of last year, in December 2014, in the Chaulden area of Hemel. Where it’s been for the last 11 months is anyone’s guess!

Video still, showing the new colour-ringed bird

In the last 9 weeks, the Box Moor Trust land along the River Bulbourne has been host to at least 9 LITTLE EGRETS: 2 regular un-ringed birds, 3 un-ringed visitors (yesterday) and 4 ringed birds, the latest of which carried the number 9.

Ringed birds:
LAON(9); RAYN(H). BTO ring GR24085, first spotted 03/09/2015 (caught toe)
LAON(H); RAYN(F). BTO ring GR24083, first spotted 04/09/2015
LAON(H); RAYN(C). BTO ring GR24066, first spotted 20/10/2015
LAON(9); RAYN(D). BTO ring GR24046, first spotted 06/11/2015

In other news, I caught up with the Fieldfares at the beginning of last week. On Tuesday, there was a small flock of 11 at Westbrook Hay and another of about 10 in dense scrub at the Brickworks. These birds have likely come from Scandinavia, Finland or northwest Russia and do end up frequently associating with Redwings, as was the case at the Brickworks. Keep your ears peeled for that chack, chack, chack call.