Over the last 4 years I have recorded the number of months
in which each species has been seen or heard in the 10 km square TL20. The geographical
area is bounded by Hatfield Aerodrome at the north-western corner, Ridge to the
south-west, Northaw to the south-east and Little Berkhamsted to the north-east.
The majority of records are from an area no further than 2.5 miles from Bradmore Green
in the centre of Brookmans Park.
A total of 90 species has been noted over this period. Each species name is followed by
the number of months it was seen in 96, 97, 98 and 99 followed by a total for the 4-year
period. This gives an approximate idea of the likelihood of seeing the bird in the area.
Naturally this does not take into account species, which may be common, but are with us
for only part of the year.
(The following are listed by species. It is hoped pictues can
be added but we are still waiting for permission from Collins the publishers - Editor)
Grebe : 2,0,1,4 = 7.
Single individuals at Gobions Pond until this year when a pair raised 2 young at the new
pond opposite the North Mymms War Memorial.
Crested Grebe : 0,1,0,0 =1.
One individual on River Lea east of Hatfield in October 97.
Singles or pairs flying overhead - usually early mornings Nov-March. In 99 occasionally
seen on Gobions Pond.
:6,10,7,10 = 33.
Singles can be seen anywhere in area. Often flying overhead or stalking mice and
amphibians in pasture. Recorded as breeding within the 10km square by Atlas of British
Breeding Birds 1988-91 , but site of heronry unknown.
5. Mute Swan :
Pairs or family parties have occasionally been seen in Bedwell Park, Essendon or on
Gobions Pond. Reportedly also on lakes at Brookmans Park Golf Club. Breeding site unknown.
6. Canada Goose :
Population appears to be expanding rapidly. Over 90 were observed in late Sept 99 feeding
on stubble between Hawkshead Road and Brookmans Park. 2 pairs with 9 young were on Gobions
Pond, 27th June.
7. Teal :
One male on Gobions Pond in Nov 97.
8. Mallard :
Common resident, breeding on Gobions Pond.
9. Tufted Duck
: 0,0,1,1 =2.
Atlas of British Breeding Birds 88-91 (ABBB) records species as breeding in 10km square.
However I have only recorded it twice - at Bedwell Park, Essendon and on the new pond
opposite North Mymms War Memorial.
Probably the commonest bird of prey in the area, visiting gardens to take small birds.
: 0,0,1,1 =2.
Two records -both from North Mymms Park- single birds in Dec 98 and Nov 99. May be seen
more commonly in future as it expands its range eastwards.
12. Kestrel :
Most likely to be seen over areas of rough grassland to the west of Brookmans Park where
it hunts voles. Pair raised 2 young in North Mymms Park in 1999. Declining as agriculture
becomes more intensive.
13. Hobby :
Has become notably commoner in recent years. Seen in several locations including Brookmans
Park, North Mymms and Potters Bar between May and September. Almost certainly breeds
14. Red Legged Partridge
: 0,5,3,3 =11.
Small parties are most likely to be seen in the fields between Wildhill and Essendon. Also
occasionally around Colney Heath.
15. Pheasant :
Quite common but not in the large numbers found elsewhere.
Very common .
17. Coot :
One or two pairs breed at Bedwell Park and Gobions Pond (where numbers seemed to have
decreased this year).
Plover : 0,0,0,2 =2.
A flock of approx. 350 flew over North Mymms Park on Nov 7th this year. A small
group of 5 birds flew over Brookmans Park on Dec 2nd.
: 8,4,8,6 =26.
Usually seen in small flocks outside the breeding season. Approx 100 birds over Water End
on Dec 11th was the biggest group seen this year. Two pairs attempted, but failed, to
breed on the large field to the south of Bradmore Lane this year. Unfortunately the
Lapwing is in serious decline as a breeding bird in Herts owing to modern agricultural
20. Snipe :
One flew over Brookmans Park on Dec 18th this year.
Three records - all in the winter months. A very shy and elusive bird which might turn up
in any patch of damp, undisturbed woodland.
22. Black Headed
Gull : 9,9,9,10 =37.
The commonest gull locally but rarely seen April - June when it returns to the coast to
23. Common Gull :
Second commonest gull in winter, but rarely seen outside Oct-March. Big flocks of
150+ birds can be seen most winters on the fields adjacent to the Vet College playing
24. Lesser Black
Backed Gull : 7,9,11,12 =39.
The gull most likely to be seen in the Spring and early Summer. Mostly encountered singly
or in small groups. Seems to be on the increase.
25. Herring Gull
: 6,8,3,7 =24.
Usually seen in the Winter months and the most infrequently observed of the four gull
species noted. Not as common as it used to be.
Tern : 0,2,2,3 =7.
Occasional visitor to Gobions Pond during the Summer months.
27. Stock Dove :
Relatively common but often overlooked. Breeds in Gobions Wood. Small flocks of up to 30
birds can be encountered in Autumn and Winter in the fields on either side of Bradmore
Lane - often in the company of Wood Pigeons.
28. Wood Pigeon :
Abundant, particularly in Winter.
Dove : 12,12,12,12 =48.
Very common around all local villages.
For the last two years I have only come across the Cuckoo in North Mymms Park. It seems to
have disappeared from the rough grassland to the north of Gobions Wood. Yet another
species under threat from modern agriculture.
31. Little Owl
Infrequently heard in North Mymms Park - mainly in Autumn.
32. Tawny Owl :
Breeds around Brookmans Park and probably in most suitable woodlands in 10km square. Heard
much less in 1999, compared with previous years.
Eared Owl : 0,0,0,1 =1.
One bird seen at Hatfield Aerodrome on Dec 29th this year. Up to six were reported at this
34. Swift :
Very common from the 2nd week in May to the third week in August. Probably breeds in
Potters Bar and Hatfield.
: 3,4,4,7 =18.
Most frequently encountered near the North Mymms Pumping Station at Water End where it may
have bred for at least the last two years. In Winter it can be found on any small stream
and at this time of year it can also be seen regularly in Gobions Wood.
36. Green Woodpecker
Common. Often seen in grassland to north of Gobions Wood.
Spotted Woodpecker :12,12,12,12 =48.
Very common. Often visits gardens.
Spotted Woodpecker : 2,6,4,5 =17.
Elusive and probably commoner than it appears. Seen regularly in my Brookmans Park garden
in Spring and early Summer when it draws attention to itself by calling. Also seen in
Gobions Wood, Water End and North Mymms.
A few pairs still breed in fields around Brookmans Park - e.g. Bradmore Lane. Largest
numbers are seen in October when European birds pass through on migration.
Martin : 0,1,0,1 =2.
According to the Atlas of British Breeding Birds, the Sand Martin breeds in this 10km
square. However the only birds observed have been passage migrants. Several were seen at
North Mymms Pumping Station on Oct 2nd this year.
: 7,6,7,7 =27.
Common from around April 20th where there are cattle and unsprayed pastures. Last record
for 1999 was on the relatively late date of Oct 17th.
Martin : 6,6,6,6 =24.
Common Summer visitor arriving about 10 days after the first Swallows. Nested at United
Reformed Church, Brookmans Park - 2nd brood not leaving the nest until Sept 18th. Overall
number of nests seem to have decreased over the last four years.
43. Tree Pipit :
Only found on southern edge Hawkshead Wood, May-August. Two singing birds in 99.
44. Meadow Pipit :
Only recorded Sept-April, although it has bred in the 10km square. Heavy passage
from mid-Sept to end-Oct when attention is usually drawn by its peesp call
overhead. A few can be found in Winter in rough grassland throughout the area.
Wagtail : 1,1,1,1 =4.
Only seen on passage in May or, more usually, September. Migration route seems to
follow the course of Mimmshall Brook. Two records in 99 on 5th and 12th Sept, both from
North Mymms Cricket Club. Atlas of British Breeding Birds 88-91 recorded it as breeding in
our 10km square, but it now appears to have been lost.
Wagtail : 2,0,2,7.
Can turn up anywhere in Winter where there is running water. Infrequently noted
until 1999 when a pair was regularly seen near Water End suggesting it may have tried to
Wagtail : 10,12,12,12 =46.
Common. Often seen among horses at Vet College or around the Green in Brookmans
48. Wren :
Very common in gardens, woods and hedgerows.
49. Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow)
: 12,11,12,12 =47.
50. Robin :
Abundant, particularly in Winter when numbers are augmented by migrants from Europe.
: 0,0,1,0 =1.
Two records - both on the same day in late August 98. Only likely to be observed on
passage, near rough grassland or sparse scrub.
: 12,12,12,12 =48.
: 6,6,4,6 =22.
Oct-March visitor. Flocks can build up to 300+ birds, especially in the fields south of
Folly Arch and near the Vet College. Will visit gardens to feed on fallen apples in harsh
Thrush: 11,9,11,12 =43.
Seen quite often on woodland/pasture edges, but by no means common and rarely seen in
gardens (by this observer). Its difficult to believe that only 60 years ago the Song
Thrush was commoner than the Blackbird.
: 7,6,6,6 =25.
Common visitor from early Oct to early April. Can form large flocks, often in the company
of Fieldfares. Also visits gardens in harsh weather.
56. Mistle Thrush : 11,11,11,11 =44.
Quite common and probably nests in Gobions Wood among others.
57. Lesser Whitethroat : 3,2,4,4 =13.
Quite common but elusive visitor from May to early Sept. The best place to find this
species has been the area to the rear of the rail station, but now that much of the scrub
has been ripped out it is unlikely to be as productive in future.
58. Whitethroat : 5,3,5,5 =18.
Common visitor from end of April to September. Whereas the Lesser prefers taller
hedgerows, the Common Whitethroat is more partial to brambles and smaller hedges.
59. Garden Warbler : 0,1,3,2 =6.
Surprisingly uncommon in the area. Only found in the Cangsley Wood area of North Mymms
Park - where two individuals were singing on May 25th.
: 4,5,6,9 =24.
Very common summer visitor - the woods on the north-east side of Gobions Pond are a
particularly good place to find this species. In 1999 the first male was recorded singing
very early, on March 27th; and a male has visited this observers garden regularly in
December to take peanuts and bread. Another sign of global warming!
61. Chiffchaff : 4,8,8,8 =28.
Very common summer visitor to most woods in the area. First song recorded on March 14th
this year - again, earlier than usual.
62. Willow Warbler : 6,6,6,6 =24.
Common visitor from mid-April until about the third week in September. Again my first
record for 1999 was earlier than usual (April 5th). Numbers have significantly decreased
in recent years and it no longer appears to breed at one of its old sites at the
south-west end of Gobions Wood. However there are still good numbers in Hawkshead Wood.
: 12,12,12,12 =48.
Very common, particularly in gardens with Leylandii.
Flycatcher : 0,2,1,1 =4.
Quite rare locally. The only record in 1999 was of a pair near St Marys Church on
May 25th. They were not seen subsequently.
65. Pied Flycatcher : 1,0,0,0 =1.
Just one record - a male on April 13th 1996 to the north of the Vet College. This
species is rarely seen in Herts.
66. Long Tailed Tit : 12,11,12,12 =47.
Tit : 8,7,9,9 =33.
Quite common, especially in Gobions Wood where as many as three birds have been recorded
calling (pitchoo) simultaneously. They can also be found regularly in North
Mymms Park. The Herts Bird Report states that the very similar Willow Tit is commoner in
the county, which is surprising given that this observer has never recorded one in our
68. Coal Tit : 11,12,12,12 =47.
Very common, regularly visiting bird feeders.
69. Blue Tit
: 12,12,12,12 =48.
70. Great Tit : 12,12,12,12 =48.
71. Nuthatch : 11,10,11,12 =44.
Common in broad-leaved woodland e.g. Gobions Wood and Cuffley Great Wood.
Creeper : 11,9,8,11 =39.
Common but can be difficult to find. Like the Nuthatch it will visit gardens if there are
73. Jay :
Common in all woods in the area.
74. Magpie : 12,12,12,12 =48.
: 12,12,12,12 =48.
Very common with up to 200 birds forming flocks with other corvids after the breeding
season. There is a colony of about 40 birds at Saint Marys Church, North Mymms.
76. Rook : 5,7,8,10 =30.
Uncommon. During Spring and Summer the only places where Rooks can be seen regularly are
the grass verges at South Mimms Services. This is probably due to the planting of
autumn-sown cereals and/or heavy spraying with insecticides. The site of the nearest
rookery is unknown. The species has rarely been seen to the east of Brookmans Park. Rooks
are more likely to be seen in Autumn and Winter, possibly due to an influx of Continental
Crow : 12,12,12,12 =48.
Abundant , forming flocks of up to 100 birds.
78. Starling :12,12,12,12 =48.
Very common, especially in Winter.
Sparrow : 12,12,12,12 =48.
Still common but it is now rare to see flocks of 20+ individuals. Small colonies are
dotted around Brookmans Park, but they are not regular visitors to this observers
garden. As elsewhere in the UK the House Sparrow has decreased at an alarming rate in
Herts over the last 20 years.
80. Chaffinch : 12,12,12,12 =48.
: 0,0,0,1 =1.
Recorded once -at Woodside, December 99. One male and a possible female in a flock of
82. Greenfinch : 12,12,12,12 =48.
Common, especially in gardens.
83. Goldfinch : 10,12,12,12 =46.
Quite common on waste ground throughout the area.
: 7,8,6,6 =27.
Common visitor from mid-Sept to early April. A particularly good place to see Siskins is
Gobions Pond where parties can be found in the waterside alders throughout the Winter.
Numbers can vary from year to year - in 1999 flock sizes were smaller than usual with a
maximum of approx 30 birds on Dec 4th.
85. Linnet : 8,8,11,11 =38.
Singles and pairs can be seen throughout the year. Linnets seem to breed in small numbers
- particularly to the east of Essendon and around North Mymms. A notable flock of 120+
birds was present between the station and the Vet College in the Autumn of 98 , but
nothing like these numbers were seen last year.
86. Redpoll : 2,2,2,3 =9.
Seen occasionally in small parties from mid-Oct to end-Feb. Redpolls are particularly
attracted to silver birch scrub, so probably Cuffley Great Wood is as good a place as any
to find them. The Atlas of British Breeding birds records Redpolls as having bred in this
10km square between 1988 -91. I suspect they no longer do so.
Crossbill : 0,3,0,0 =3.
The Crossbill is renowned for its irruptive behaviour and 1997 was just such a year. A
party of approx 15 birds was seen in the vicinity of Hawkshead Wood between July and
November - and they may well have bred. No Crossbills have been seen locally since.
: 11,10,11,11 =43.
Quite common in thick hedges throughout the area, and will sometimes visit
gardens. Regularly seen in hedgerows to the north of Gobions Wood.
: 10,11,12,12 =45.
Quite common, particularly in the hedges to the west of Welham Green and Brookmans Park. A
good place to find Yellowhammers was the area to the south-west of the station.
Unfortunately the clearance of scrub in December is likely to have severely reduced the
number of potential breeding sites. Small Autumn flocks of 25-30 birds have been found in
this area in the past.
Bunting : 0,0,1,0 =1.
Just one record of a juvenile in pasture next to North Mymms Cricket Club in November 98.
Recorded as a breeding bird in our 10km square in the 88-91 Atlas, but site unknown.
The following species were recorded as breeding birds for 10km square TL20 in the 88-91
Atlas, but have not been seen in the last four years by this observer on any occasion.
Grey Partridge (was one of our commonest farmland birds, but now in steep
Turtle Dove (another species in serious trouble)
(only 3 pairs bred in all Herts in 94 or 95)
( UK numbers have fallen by 90% in two or three decades )
(reputed to breed in Cuffley Great Wood).
I would be very interested if anyone has any details for these or any other species not
Rupert Pyrah email@example.com