Wednesday 2 September 2015

Whinchats like buses!

The chances of finding or seeing good/rare/scarce migrant birds in Hemel Hempstead or, indeed, on the Box Moor Trust (BMT) land that I spend a lot of my time monitoring, are pretty slim, unfortunately. That’s not to say that it’s impossible, and there are a few hot-spots in the surrounding countryside which fuel my hopes for local surprises. When Wheatears can turn up on your suburban-housing-estate doorstep (as one did in Oct 2012), you can’t really rule anything out! And, never let us forget the Turtle Dove that spent a day at the BMT Brickworks in 2009. Anyway, it’s been a good 24 hours for birding within range of Hemel.

Water End/Nettleden Rd: Having recently remarked on the lack of passage Whinchats, it felt quite surreal to find 4 of them in a corn field, just north of Hemel, this morning. Add to that a Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a well marked Lesser Whitethroat, more than a dozen Swallows, a couple of Yellowhammers and a sprinkling of Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches, Starlings and Pied Wagtails, all without moving an inch, and you’ve got a mighty decent spot to plant your scope. The Lesser Whitethroat was a nice surprise and I was just about to check it wasn’t anything more interesting when a couple of walkers arrived, curious as to what I was doing. Of course, by the time I got back to the bird, it was nowhere to be seen.

Yellow Wagtail, horse paddock, Nettleden Rd

3 of the 4 Whinchats in the corn field adjacent to the horse paddock on Nettleden Rd

All this was on the back of seeing my first Hertfordshire Wryneck yesterday evening, in Wheathampstead. Wrynecks are extraordinary looking birds, a member of the woodpecker family, but I have yet to get a really good view of one. Still, I did manage a record shot this time, which is an improvement on the Ivinghoe bird I saw a couple of years ago.

Wryneck, Wheathampstead, skulking in the bushes!


  1. Wow! You've been busy. What a great set of birds! We've had a spotted flycatcher, willow warbler and hobby down at ML this week, (I missed them) and 11 Common sandpipers and 2 green last week. ( I did get to see those) - lots going on! Now where's that osprey!

    1. It's great to hear the headlines from ML, Martin. I shall be crossing my fingers for your Osprey ;o)


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