Saturday, 7 November 2015

Forget 1D, 9D touches down in Hemel

Hemel (BMT): I know how eager you all are to keep up with the minute movements of Little Egrets in Hemel Hempstead. No comparisons to paint drying, please. This is serious observation. In all weathers. As someone built to thrive in temperatures more commonly occurring in the Caribbean than Hemel Hempstead, I have no complaints about the crazy mild start to November (16°C yesterday & today!). The incessant rain is less compelling and, yesterday, it was supposed to dry up by the afternoon. Indeed, it was dry when I pulled on my wellies and zipped up my waterproof. Two minutes into setting out along the River Bulbourne, across Bulbourne Meadow, and the drizzle embraced me.

An immature Grey Heron and one of the regular un-ringed adult Little Egrets were feeding in the shallows, below the Willow. Further upstream, on Station Moor, the other regular un-ringed adult Little Egret was foot-waggling its way across the river. Fast forward some 20 muddy, murky minutes, upstream, and I was looking at another 5 Little Egrets all gathered together on Fishery Moor. I couldn’t quite believe it and, at some distance, (through air that was more liquid than gas and rain-spattered spectacles), I did momentarily dare to dream they might be grounded Spoonbills or Great Whites. With fantasies well and truly snuffed out, I went through the flock and found that two birds were colour-ringed. One was the caught hind-toe bird, GR24085, hatched and ringed this spring in St Albans; the other was a new arrival: RBM; LAON(9); RAYN(D). This bird was ringed by Barry Trevis on 9th June 2014 as a chick, in the first ever nest at Verulamium Park in St Albans. It had 3 siblings. In Autumn that year, it was spotted by Roy (of recent Long-eared Owl fame) at Startop’s End reservoir, Tring. Finally, the bird was observed in December 2014, in the Chaulden area of Hemel. As to where it’s been for the last 11 months, that's anyone’s guess!

Video still, showing colour-rings of new Little Egret on Fishery Moor, 06/11/2015

9D with the 3 other un-ringed birds, all new in

5 Little Egrets, 06/11/2015, Fishery Moor, looking east to Fishery Road in the background

I should have known really. On the worst of weather days, a new colour-ringed Little Egret calls in to cheer me up. This time, it brought 4 of its un-ringed mates with it, so impressed was it with my commitment to the cause. There’s no denying that their presence made going out in filthy weather just about worthwhile.

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. Interesting eh?!

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

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