Local bird records - 2003
by - Rupert Pyrah
Summarised below are my records for the 98 species I recorded in 2003 in OS square TL20 centred on Brookmans Park.
This covers the area from Hatfield Aerodrome to Little Berkhamsted to Northaw to South Mimms. I have also summarised (number of weeks recorded and maxima) my records from the BTO Garden Birdwatch survey for the commoner garden species.
Rather than counting the number of months each species was recorded, I have now provided a percentage of the total months 1996-2003 in which each species was seen, as a guide to the chances of seeing the bird.
Little Grebe (34%)
In TL20, a pair was present at Pond Wood, Potters Bar on 23 May, with one adult on 28 June. Presumably breeding was attempted here as in previous years, but success was unknown.At a small pond at Hatfield Aerodrome, an adult with 2 young was seen on 21 June, a single adult was seen on 27 July, and an adult was seen with one young on 25 August - presumably a second brood. The only records from TL20 outside the breeding season were of 5 at Hatfield Park on 29 November and 8 there on 13 December. No visits were possible to this site earlier in the year, so it may well breed there.
Great Crested Grebe (3%)
The only records for TL20 were of a pair at Hatfield Park on 29 November, with a single bird there on 13 December.
Seen most months as a fly-over in TL20, most frequently in the 1st quarter. Three were roosting at Gobions Pond, Brookmans Park on 29 March, while a party of 16 over Brookmans Park on 7th Sept was notable. Also recorded at the Broadwater, Hatfield Park (3 on 29th Nov, and 5 on 13th Dec).
Grey Heron (77%)
Single birds seen every month in TL20 at a variety of sites, not necessarily near water. One record of two birds - at Brookmans Park on 26th Sept. No evidence of nesting within TL20.
Mute Swan (40%)
Fairly uncommon owing to lack of open water in TL20. A pair and a third summer bird were present throughout 2003 at Oakmere Park, Potters Bar. Of the four cygnets born in 2003, a fox killed two, a dog killed one, and the fourth was taken into care at Egham. A pair is also present at Hatfield Park (breeding status unknown). The only other records from TL20 were of 3 at Essendon (where a pair bred in 2002) on 12th Oct, and a single bird at Gobions Pond, Brookmans Park, on 22nd Feb.
Canada Goose (94%)
Known to breed at four sites in TL20 in 2003. At Oakmere Park, Potters Bar there were c30 on 26th Jan, 16 on March 30th, 37 (23ads+14 juvs) on May 17th, 43 (inc one juv.) on July 20th, 17 (inc one juv.) on 10th Aug, but none on subsequent visits in 2003. At Essendon golf course a pair with five young was recorded on 21st May. A flock of 25 was grazing there on 28th Dec. At North Mymms Park, two pairs were present, one of which had a brood of seven. At Gobions Pond (BP), monthly maxima were: - Jan - 15, Feb - 10, Mar - 10, Apr - 10, May - 10, and then in June there were 13 (two pairs with broods of five and four respectively). Mobile flocks of up to 40 birds were regular in the Brookmans Park area from late Summer, considerably down on last yearís autumn flocks - perhaps evidence of culling.
Mandarin Duck (11%)
All records are given.In TL20, at Oakmere Park there were two pairs on 30 March, a single on 17 May, a female on 20 July, and a pair on 27 Sept and 4th Oct. At Hatfield Aero there were 3 on 9th March, a single on 29th April and 5 on 25th Aug.
The only record for TL20 was of 11 at Hatfield Park on 13th December.
Counts for Hatfield Aero / Coopers Green/ Beech Farm were lower than last year when up to 70 were recorded. Monthly maxima were: - Feb - 24, March - 6, Sept - 7, Oct - 27, Dec - 35 (14th).
In TL20 can be encountered on any stream or pond. At Oakmere Park, several pairs bred. Maximum counts were c115 on 31st Dec and c135 on 4th Oct. At Redwell Wood Farm (nr North Mymms Park) c240 were present from end July to early November, although numbers had dropped to 58 by 23rd Dec. At the new pond at the Coursers Lane sparrow site, there were c140 on both 13th July and 5th Oct. At Hatfield Park there were c115 on 13th Dec. At least four broods were produced at Gobions Pond, with a maximum site count of 25 on 27th Dec. At Essendon three broods were noted on 21st May.
Tufted Duck (5%)
The only record for TL20 was 11 on 13th Dec on the Broadwater, Hatfield Park.
Red Kite (2%)
One over North Mymms Park on 1st Feb.
Sparrow Hawk (95%)
Common raptor seen every month in TL20. Recorded 17/52 weeks hunting in or over observerís garden. Twelve records from North Mymms Park with two birds on three occasions, and a family party of four on 24th Aug. 11+ records from Brookmans Park / Water End including a family party of five on 3rd August. Three records from Beech Farm, two from Tyttenhanger, and three from Hatfield Aero / Beech Farm.
Common Buzzard (33%)
Recorded every month except June and August in TL20. There were 18 records in total for 2003, suggesting that the population growth of recent years may have come to a halt. There were 12 records from North Mymms Park including four records of two birds and one of three on 24th August. There were two records from Brookmans Park, and one record of two birds over Potters Bar on 28th Sept.
Kestrel was recorded on at least 38 occasions in TL20 in 2003.
North Mymms Park (19 records) probably holds two pairs, with three birds being seen on five occasions. A probable juvenile was seen on 30th July. Elsewhere in TL20, there were 15+ sightings in the Brookmans Park / Water End area, and four around Essendon. There were 11 sightings in the Beech Farm / Hatfield Aero area, with four birds being seen on three occasions in July-August, including a probable juvenile on 27th July.
There were 24 records in TL20 from May to September 2002. The first date was one at Brookmans Park on 20 May and the last was at North Mymms Park on 21 September. There were 16 sightings in total from Brookmans Park - all of single birds. There were six sightings from North Mymms Park including four together hawking for dragonflies on 30th July, but no juveniles were seen at the site this year. Single birds were also seen at Essendon (18July), and Welham Green (31 May).
A juvenile flew over Hatfield Aero on 14th December.
Red Legged Partridge (55%)
In TL20 Small coveys were seen regularly around Essendon (max. of 11 on 28th Dec), Wildhill, North Mymms Park (7 on 2nd Sept and 4th Oct), west of Brookmans Park, north of Botany Bay, Colney Heath, and around Redwell Wood Farm (max covey 12 on Sept 26th )
Grey Partridge (3%)
All Herts records are given. A covey of 22 was seen near North Mymms Park on 21st Sept, which was surprising as I have never seen them there before or since, despite the site being regularly visited.
Very common with numbers supplemented for shooting. Most of the birds being released in the North Mymms Park area now seem to be of a black-plumaged variety. A single male visited the observerís garden in 3/52 weeks.
Very common on small ponds throughout TL20. Maximum site counts include: - Oakmere Park, Potters Bar - 22 on Oct 4 (3+ broods). Pond Wood, Potters Bar - 5 (1 brood). Essendon - 13 on 2nd Feb (1+ brood). Water End - 4 (1+ brood). Gobions Pond & Wood. Brookmans Park - 20 on 23rd Sept (4+ broods). Hatfield Park - 12 (undoubtedly breeds).
Maximum site counts and minimum brood numbers in TL20 were: - Oakmere Park - 14 on 20th July (3 broods). Essendon - 9 on 2nd Feb and 18th July (2 broods). Gobions Pond - 11 on 3rd Aug (3 broods). Hatfield Park - 25 on 13th Dec (undoubtedly breeds on Broadwater).
Golden Plover (20%)
All records are given. In TL20 the greatest numbers were seen at Hatfield Aero with 3,500 over on 8th Feb, and at least 1,500 on 30th November. Also at the site were 65 on 9th March and 280+ on 14th December. At North Mymms Park the only records were in the last quarter with 85 over on 8th Nov, 16 on 19th Dec and 260 on 23rd Dec. An unusually early record was of a single bird over Brookmans Park on 27th Aug.
In TL20 there was evidence of attempted breeding at Brookmans Park (one pair held territory from 8th March to the end of May), Little Heath (displaying pair on 4th May), and at Hatfield Aero (a handful of pairs). Success is unknown in all cases. The only 100+ flocks were 500 at Hatfield Aero on 8th Feb, and 250 over North Mymms Park on 7th Dec.
Common Snipe (7%)
My only records for TL20 were of 1 over Brookmans Park in October; and at Hatfield Aero one on 30 Nov, four on 14 Dec and six on 21 Dec.
All records given. At North Mymms Park there was one on 25th Jan and one on 23rd Dec.
On 14th Dec one was flushed from Hatfield Aero by a Peregrine.
Black Headed Gull (77%)
In TL20 the commonest gull, but no records after 24th March until 1st July. No 100+ flocks were noted in TL20 apart from c120 feeding with a larger number of Common Gulls at Brookmans Park on 22nd Nov. However, the provision of meat scraps has led to it becoming an increasingly common garden visitor being recorded 25/52 weeks with an average weekly maxima of 10.9 (8/52 and 5.9 in 2002).
Common Gull (52%)
Quite common in Winter in TL20, although the only 50+ flocks noted feeding were 50+ at little Heath on 9th Feb and 200 at Brookmans Park on 22nd Nov. Not recorded in the square after 16th March until 14th Sept.
Lesser Black Backed Gull (88%)
Recorded all months in TL20, usually as single birds or pairs. The maximum count was of 12 over North Mymms Park on 11th Aug.
Herring Gull (59%)
An uncommon visitor to TL20, recorded mainly as a fly-over in Winter. The only flock in double figures in the square was of 30 over Brookmans Park in steady rain on 9th Feb.
Common Tern (21%)
All records for TL20 are given (not known to breed in the square). At Essendon one was foraging at ponds on the golf course on 29th April. At Brookmans Park two on 3rd May, one on 12th June, and one on 19th July. By all accounts Common Terns are regular visitors to Gobions Pond. At Dame Alice Owenís School (Potters Bar), two over on 5th July, and one over on 19th July.
Stock Dove (89%)
Common in mixed wood / farmland in TL20. Two pairs nested in Gobions Wood, Brookmans Park. Small flocks are regularly seen around Brookmans Park including 19 on 20 April, 40 on 7 October, 25 on 22 October, and 30 on 5 November. 40+ were seen at Redwell Wood Farm on 10 February, and c130 were present on 30 March.
Wood Pigeon (100%)
Abundant. Common garden visitor, being recorded all 52 weeks, but usually in ones and twos. Numbers of 100+ were recorded on all eight visits to North Mymms Park from 2nd Jan- 1st March inclusive, with a maximum of 400 on 25th January, including a single flock of c280. To put this in perspective, most Summer counts at the site were in the region of 20-40 birds.
Other 100+ records from TL20, included 130+ at Brookmans Park on 18th Jan, and 100 there on 8th March. At Hatfield Aero, there were 100+ on 11th Jan and 800+ on 9th March.
Collared Dove (100%)
Very common though not often seen away from villages and farms. One of the commonest garden visitors, being recorded all 52 weeks. The average weekly maxima was 11.1 (8.1 in 2002) with a maximum count of 24 in w/c 16th November.
Turtle Dove (2%)
My only Herts record in 2003 was of one feeding with Collared Doves on the lawn of my garden in Brookmans Park on 17th May.
There were more records than in 2002. Calling birds were heard at Essendon, Brookmans Park (where it was largely absent in 2002), Bulls Lane - Welham Green, Woodside Lane - near Welham Green, North Mymms Park (inc. two calling birds on 14th May), and Queenswood School (between Brookmans Park and Northaw). My first record was on 29th April and my last on 1st June. Two (probably a pair) were seen at Brookmans Park stationon 16th May.
Little Owl (38%)
Recorded from four sites in TL20 during 2003. 1) East of Essendon (TL283 083) - one on 12th Oct. 2) North Mymms Park -eight records including 2 birds on 2nd September and 4th Oct. 3) Redwell Wood Farm - two records. 4) Between Brookmans Park and Water End (TL238 038) - five records including 2 birds on 19th July.
Tawny Owl (34%)
In TL20 records fell into two periods - Jan to March, and Nov to December. Calling birds were heard from Gobions Wood Brookmans Park, and Brookmans Park golf club, with two heard from the observerís house on March 16th. At least two were heard regularly in the vicinity of Northaw Great Wood and Well Wood. Outside TL20 my only record was of two calling at Haultwick on 8th February.
Short-Eared Owl (3%)
Two were seen at Hatfield Aero on 11th Jan, and one on 8th Feb.
Common Swift (35%)
First sighting was of 22 over Essendon on 29th April, and the last was of 1 over Water End on 21st August. The only large count in TL20 was of approx. 130 (inc. one party of 100+) over North Mymms Park on 3rd July. Swifts were recorded over my Brookmans Park garden in 14 weeks with an average weekly maximum of 7.7 (2002= 13 weeks, average maximum 9.1).
There were 17 records from TL20 - eight from the Gobions Wood area ( although only one of these was during the breeding season), seven from Water End (where it almost certainly breeds), and one each from Oakmere Park Potters Bar (30th March), and Pond Wood Potters Bar (28th June).
Green Woodpecker (100%)
Very common in TL20 wherever there is unimproved grassland. Juveniles were seen at Essendon and North Mymms Park (where there are probably at least three pairs). Maximum counts by site included Essendon-5, North Mymms Park-7, Redwell Wood Farm-2, Brookmans Park-4. Birds were also recorded at Water End, Colney Heath, Pond Wood - Potters Bar, and Hatfield Park.
Great Sp. Woodpecker (100%)
Very common in local broad-leaved woodland. Maxima by site included Essendon -2, North Mymms Park -6, Gobions Wood -5 (inc. adult visiting a nest-hole), the area between Brookmans Park and Water End -5 (inc. an adult with two young on 14th June), Northaw Great Wood - 4, and Pond Wood Potters Bar -1. Also an occasional visitor to garden in Brookmans Park, being recorded 11/52 weeks ( 5/52 in 2002).
Lesser Sp. Woodpecker (30%)
Recorded on at least five dates in the second half of June in the observerís Brookmans Park garden with two birds present (probably adult + juv) on one date in w/c 22nd June. My only other Herts record was of a male in Cangsley Wood, North Mymms Park on 12th January.
Not a single double-figure flock was noted anywhere in TL20 in 2003, apart from the good numbers still present at Hatfield Aerodrome (for how much longer?). There a still a few pairs around Essendon, with nine birds (most singing) counted on 29th April. Around Brookmans Park, birds were singing at the Bradmore Lane site from 3rd April, but my best estimate is that numbers have fallen to three pairs (five in 2002). There was also a singing bird at Little Heath, and three singing birds on arable fields between North Mymms Park and the A1(M). The largest party noted on Autumn passage was a mere six birds over North Mymms Park on 18th Oct. Up to nine birds were present on set-aside at Brookmans Park from Oct-Dec, but this seems to have been the only regular site holding skylarks in the second winter period. At Hatfield Aerodrome, counts included 18+ (8th Feb), 11+ (29th April), 15 (21st June), 11 (25th Aug), 50 (11th Oct), 55+ (30th Oct), 45+ (14th Dec), and 22 (21st Dec).
Numbers seemed lower in previous years. The only parties of 20+ birds noted in TL20 were of 65 on 2nd Sept at North Mymms Park, and 35 at Brookmans Park on 3rd Sept. The next largest party was of 19 at North Mymms Park on 28th April. Small numbers were recorded over my Brookmans Park garden in 16/52 weeks with an average weekly maximum of 2.6 birds (2002 = 15/52 weeks with a maxima of 3.0 birds). Swallows seemed to depart earlier than usual.
House Martin (52%)
After a very poor year locally in 2002, there seemed to be higher numbers in 2003. They were recorded over my Brookmans Park garden in 16/52 weeks with an average weekly maxima of 9.6 (2002 = 16/52 weeks with an average maxima of 4.3). Few large parties were seen however - the largest being 50 over Essendon on 20th Sept and c45 over Brookmans Park on 19th July. Only four other parties of 30+ birds were seen in TL20. A pair nested successfully in Brookmans Park village centre.
Tree Pipit (16%)
All records given. At North Mymms Park there was a single singing bird on 14th May and 17th June.
Meadow Pipit (67%)
Only recorded in Summer in TL20 at Hatfield Aero / Beech Farm. Otherwise the last date was of 4 over North Mymms Park on 5th April, and the first date was of 9 over the same site on 13th Sept. All 20+ counts are given: At North Mymms Park - 23 (5th Jan), 72+ over (21st Sept), 29 over (26th Sept); at Brookmans Park -25 (5th Oct); at Hatfield Park - c50 (13th Dec). Small numbers are regularly encountered in the winter months. At Hatfield Aero / Beech Farm there were 28+ (11th Jan), c25 (8th Feb), c20 (21st June - probably breeding), c65 (11th Oct), c40 (30th Oct), c20 (14th Dec).
Yellow Wagtail (14%)
All records are given. At Coursers Road 1 was present in a rape field on 5th May. Nine were feeding amongst cattle at Redwell Wood Farm on 24th Aug.
Grey Wagtail (51%)
There were 20 records from TL20, with sightings for all months except May and June. Observations by site were: North Mymms Park -5 (inc. a pair on 25th Jan). Brookmans Park -5. Water End -6, including a pair on 29th March. Bred here in 2002.
Dame Alice Owens School, Potters Bar -2. Potters Bar station - one record of two over on 7th Nov. Hatfield Park - one record of two single birds on 13th Dec
Pied Wagtail (98%)
Common in local villages, especially where livestock are present. Garden visitor in hard weather (recorded only 7/52 weeks in observerís Brookmans Park garden). The only double-figure flocks recorded were of 14 at North Mymms Park on 4th Oct (and 13 there on 18th Oct), and a post-breeding flock of 21 at Dame Alice Owens School, Potters Bar on 5th July. A party of 9 was at Hatfield Aero on 8th Feb.
Regular visitor to observerís Brookmans Park garden where it was recorded 50/52 weeks. Some idea of its abundance can be gauged from the maxima recorded at regularly visited sites:- Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 38 on 3rd May; North Mymms Park - 15 on 5th April; Fir & Pond Woods - 16 on 23rd May; Brookmans Park west to Water End - 20 on 10th May.
Common visitor to observerís garden, where it was recorded 51/52 weeks, though no more than 3 individuals were present at any one time. Maximum counts from regularly visited sites included: - Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 6 on 25th October; North Mymms Park - 11 on 25th Sept; Brookmans Park west to Water End - 10 on 30th Aug; Beech Farm / Hatfield Aero - 15 on 11th Oct.
Recorded all 52 weeks in garden, with a maximum of 3 at any one time. A pair with two young were seen here in w/c 6th July and thereafter. Maximum counts from regularly visited sites included: - Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 24 on 6th April; North Mymms Park - 28 on 25th Jan; Brookmans Park west to Water End - 18 on 30th Aug; Fir & Pond Woods - 22 on 23rd May.
All records are given. One at North Mymms Church on 24th Aug and a juvenile at Brookmans Park on 7th Aug.
All records are given. At North Mymms park a male on 15th March, and at Beech Farm / Hatfield Aero, there were two pairs on 11th Jan, a male on 8th Feb, a pair and a female on 9th March, and a male on 11th Oct.
Abundant, especially in winter. Recorded in garden all 52 weeks, with a maximum count of 24 on 13th January. The average weekly maxima for 2003 was 7.4 compared with 6.2 in 2002. Maximum counts from regularly visited sites included: - Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 22 on 3rd May; North Mymms Park - 30 on 1st March; Brookmans Park west to Water End - 21 on 18th Jan.
The last and first dates were 60+ at Brookmans Park on 6th April and four at Hatfield Aero on 11th Oct. 20+ counts by site included: - Essendon - 40+ on 28th Dec. North Mymms Park - 40+ on 12th Jan, 80 on 15th Feb, 95 on 1st March, 52 on 19th Dec, 48 on 23rd Dec and 100+ on 30th Dec. Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 30 on 8th March, 40 on 29th March. Brookmans Park west to Water End - 27 on 18th Jan, 40 on 22nd Feb, 80+ on 8th March, 110 on 29th March, and 60+ on 6th April.
Song Thrush (94%)
Numbers locally seem to have picked up over the last few years from a low in 1997. An occasional visitor to the observerís Brookmans Park garden, being recorded 11/52 weeks (11/52 in 2002 also). One was observed carrying food on 4th April. Maximum counts at frequently visited sites were: - North Mymms Park - 10 on 1st March. Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 8 on 1st June. Brookmans Park west to Water End - 5 on 29th March
Seen more frequently than Fieldfare but in smaller numbers usually. The last sighting was of 10 at Brookmans Park on 29th March, and the first was of 2 at Water End on 5th Oct. Eighteen records of 20+ counts. Counts of 30+ were recorded at: - North Mymms Park - 68 on 12th Jan and 63 on 25th Jan. Water End - 44 on 18th Jan. Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 30 on 9th Nov. Brookmans Park (west) - 120 on 8th March, 75 on 25th Oct, 40 on 9th Nov and 65 on 6th Dec. Hatfield Park - 50 on 29th Nov.
Mistle Thrush (94%)
Regularly seen in ones and twos. The only sizeable party was of 18 individuals at North Mymms Park on 11th August. The next highest count was of 8 at the same site on 18th Oct.
Grasshopper Warbler (1%)
My first record ever in TL20, with a reeling bird in North Mymms Park on 17th June.
Lesser Whitethroat (33%)
For the second year running numbers seemed very low. The first record was at Essendon on 29th April, and the last was at Brookmans Park on 7th Sept. Singing birds were at Essendon, North Mymms Park, Brookmans Park (3), South Mymms.
Common Whitethroat (43%)
First and last dates were 28th April and 2nd Sept - both North Mymms Park. Maximum counts by site were: - Essendon - 4 singing on 29th April, with a family party of 5+ seen on 18th July.North Mymms Park - 6 on 17th June. Brookmans Park - 3 on 14th June. Tyttenhanger - 9 on 5th May (not all singing). Beech Farm - 8 on 21st June (not all singing).
Garden Warbler (21%)
North Mymms Park held exceptional numbers in 2003. An evening visit on 14th May, yielded a total count of eight (probably seven singing). With two additional territories held in other parts of the park, there could have been a double-figure number of males holding territory. Elsewhere, records were scarce (all are given). At Essendon one on 21st may and two on 18th July, at Brookmans Park one on 3rd May.
All records were from April to September with no winter sightings in 2002. The first date was of 1 at Brookmans Park on 1st April and the final record was of 1 at North Mymms Park on 29 September. BTO Migration Watch counts were very healthy with maximum counts (not all singing males though) by site as follows: - Brookmans Park - 12 on 10 May. Essendon / Little Berkhamsted - 12 on April 24 and 11 on May 22. Fir & Pond Wood - 8 on 12 May and 7 on 30 May. North Mymms Park - 11 on 3 May and 8 on 3 June.
The first record was of one at Tyttenhanger on 23rd Feb, which might have been of the Scandinavian race. Probably the first genuine Summer visitor was one observed at Home Covert (Beech Farm) on 9th March. Breeding was proven at North Mymms Park where a family party of 4+ was seen on 30th July, and at Brookmans Park where a family party of 6+ was seen on 9th July. Maximum counts for frequently visited sites (mostly singing birds) prior to young appearing were: - Essendon - 7 on 29th April. North Mymms Park - 7 on 28th April. Brookmans Park (Gobions) - 10 on 3rd May. Brookmans Park west to Water End - 5 on 10th May.
Willow Warbler (51%)
The last date was of one at North Mymms Park on 26th Sept. Numbers seemed to be holding up where there is suitable habitat, with a preference for birch scrub. Maximum counts excluding passage were 8 in North Mymms Park on 28th April, 3+ at Colney Heath, 2 at Essendon on 21st May, and 4 at Beech Farm / Home Covert on 21st June. 10+ were noted at North Mymms Park on 24th Aug, but they undoubtedly included passage birds. However they were scarce outside core habitat. Notably, Willow Warbler was not recorded at Pond Wood in 2003, nor at Brookmans Park apart from several records of birds on passage from 16th Aug - 7th Sept.
Common wherever there are conifers. Regular garden visitor, recorded 37/52 weeks. Maximum count at North Mymms Park was 9 on 2nd Jan, and at Brookmans Park 6 on 7th August.
Spotted Flycatcher (19%)
All records are given. First record was of a pair at Essendon on 21st May. At St. Maryís church North Mymms, there was one on 6th June, two on 11th Aug, one on 24th Aug, and three on 2nd Sept of which at least one was a juvenile. On 11th Aug, another individual was observed elsewhere in the park at Hawkshead Wood, where breeding has probably occurred in previous years. A probable passage bird was seen at Brookmans Park on 30th Aug.
Long Tailed Tit (99%)
Reports that they had a poor year seem to be borne out locally. Regular visitor to garden, apart from May- end of August. In 2003 was recorded in 23/52 weeks, with a highest count of 11 in w/c 31st Aug. Average weekly maxima was 5.4. In comparison, in 2002 the respective figures were 30/52, max count of 25, and average weekly maxima of 6.9.
Marsh Tit (81%)
Seems to be fairly common locally, being present in small numbers in most established broad-leaved woods. Recorded from at least eight sites in TL20 in 2003. At North Mymms Park, they were recorded on 13/31 visits (max 4 on 12th Jan), and at Gobions Wood on 9/19 visits (max 3). Elsewhere, they were recorded at Essendon, west of Brookmans Park, Pond Wood (3+ on 30th March), Home Covert Hatfield Aero, Hatfield Park (4 on 15th Dec), and at Northaw Great Wood where an estimated 7 individuals were seen.
Coal Tit (99%)
Common, especially where there are conifers. Regular visitor to Brookmans Park garden in ones and twos, being recorded 51/52 weeks (42/52 weeks in 2002). A pair with three young visited a feeder w/c 1st June. Maximum counts at regularly visited sites were of 6 at North Mymms Park (23rd March), and five at Gobions Wood (6th Dec).
Blue Tit (100%)
Abundant. Recorded in garden all 52 weeks, with a maximum party of 38 in w/c 24th August. Numbers were however lower than in 2002. Average weekly maxima fell from 8.1 to 6.5 in 2003.
Great Tit (100%)
Very common. Recorded in garden in all 52 weeks with a maximum count of 5 during the breeding season when juveniles were regularly observed. Again numbers were lower than in 2002, with the average weekly maxima falling from 2.8 to 2.6 in 2003. At least 20 were observed feeding on beech mast in Northaw Great Wood on 31st Dec.
Common in broad-leaved woodland. Recorded in Brookmans Park garden 22/52 weeks (7/52 in 2002), though only once prior to August. Maximum counts from regularly visited sites included 4 at North Mymms Park (5th Aug and 23rd Dec), 7 at Gobions Wood (25th Oct). 8 were counted at Northaw Great Wood on 31st Dec.
Tree Creeper (88%)
Common in all types of mature woodland. The maximum count for Gobions Wood was of 4 with a tit party on 6th Dec. Recorded on 11/31 visits to North Mymms Park, and 10/19 visits to Gobions Wood. Recorded once in observerís garden in 2003, two being present in w/c 3rd Aug.
Common in all woodland types in TL20. Occasional Brookmans Park garden visitor, being recorded 17/52 weeks. The maximum party size was six, seen between Brookmans Park and Water End on 29th March. An estimated count of 12 birds was made at North Mymms Park on 4th Oct.
Very common, especially around fields with horses. Recorded in garden all 52 weeks, with an average weekly maxima of 3.0 (2.7 in 2002). The largest flocks noted were of 16 on 6th March, at the Royal Vet College, Brookmans Park, and of 17 at Gobions Wood on 27th Dec.
Very common in TL20, and a fairly regular garden visitor (30/52 weeks). There were eight counts of 50+ birds in TL20, usually with other corvids. At North Mymms Park, there is a resident colony of 30+ birds at the church. Maximum counts were of 200+ (inc. a flock of 175) at Water End, 110+ at North Mymms Park on 25th Jan, and 120 there on 1st Feb (inc. a flock of 100+).
Uncommon in TL20 with no rookeries known in the square. All flocks of 40+ are noted. At Potters Bar there were 40 on 8th June. At Redwell Wood Farm / Coursers Fields, 50 on 25th Jan, and 50+ on 1st Feb.
Carrion Crow (100%)
Very common in TL20 and a regular garden visitor (32/52 weeks). 55+ were at North Mymms Park on 4th Oct.
Very common around villages, particularly where there is livestock. Common visitor to Brookmans Park garden, recorded in all 52 weeks, with a maximum of 50 in w/c 24th Aug, and an average weekly maxima of 22.7. The corresponding figures for 2002 were 52 weeks, 50 and 19.2. We have only recorded double-figure numbers since we began providing meat scraps in late 2001. The first juveniles were observed in the garden on 14th May. A flock of just over 100 was present around Brookmans Park station throughout August and Sept. Other 100+ counts were of 200 roosting at Tesco, Potters Bar on 27th Sept. 100 were at Gobions Wood on 6th Dec and 120 at Brookmans Park on 20th November.
House Sparrow (100%)
Recorded 51/52 weeks in observerís Brookmans Park garden with a maximum of 16 in w/c 23rd Feb. The average weekly maximum was 4.5 compared with 4.6 in 2002. However, since recording good counts in the first winter period, numbers have fallen markedly with no more than six being recorded at any one time since March. Small colonies survive in most of the surrounding villages.
Tree Sparrow (19%)
At Redwell Wood Farm (nr Coursers Fields) there were three in maize on 7th December.
Very common, especially in winter. Garden visitor all 52 weeks, with a maximum count of 22 on 21st Dec, and an average weekly maxima of 7.2. Corresponding figures for 2002 were 52 weeks, max of 31 and an average weekly maxima of 8.7. The number of 50+ counts was lower than I expected. At North Mymms Park there were 51 on 5th Jan, 55+ on 15th Feb, c60 on 1st March, 50+ on 4th Oct and c60 on 8th Nov. At Water End, on stubble containing spilt grain, there were 65+ on 25th Oct, 60+ on 9th Nov, and c85 on 6th Dec.
All records given. Three over Brookmans Park on 15th Oct.
Very common visitor to my Brookmans Park garden where it is the commonest finch. Recorded all 52 weeks, with a maximum count of 25 in w/c 14th Dec, and an average weekly maxima of 8.6 (9.7 in 2002). The largest counts away from human settlement were surprisingly low - at North Mymms Park there were 16 on 21st Sept, and between Brookmans Park and Water End there were 12 on 3rd Sept and 5th Oct. No double-figure flocks were recorded on farmland.
BTO reports that it is becoming a more regular visitor to gardens were borne out by my own records. They were recorded 19/52 weeks, with a maximum of 4, and an average weekly maxima of 1.8. In 2002 the corresponding figures were 8/52, 2 and 1.3. Otherwise it seemed a very poor year for Goldfinches with few sizable parties seen. All double-figure counts are given. At North Mymms Park there were 10 on 3rd July and 20 on 26th Sept. However I did not record Goldfinch there at all between mid-January and mid-June. At the Royal Vet College, Brookmans Park, there were 12+ on 18th Jan, 18 on 30th Aug, and 27 on 3rd Sep including a high proportion of juveniles. At Hatfield Aero there were 12 on 14th Dec.
Common garden visitor (feeding on unshelled sunflower seeds) during the first winter period, being recorded 13/52 weeks, with a maximum of 38 on 10th March, and an average weekly maximum of 13.2 (2002= 9/52, 13 and 5.1). The last record was of one on 9th April, and not recorded again in my garden until 31st Dec. The first records of the autumn were of 3 at Beech Farm on 14th Sept and 5 at Essendon on 20th Sept. All double-figure flocks, excluding garden visitors are given: - At Gobions Pond (where it favours the alders) there were 90 on 1st Jan, 18 on 9th Feb, 10+ on 8th March, 10 on 9th Nov, and c60 with Redpolls on 6th Dec.
Seemed to be quite a good year for Linnets, with several winter flocks associated with set-aside and stubble. Breeds locally in small numbers, particularly around Essendon. All 20+ flocks are given: - Essendon - 30 on 18th July. North Mymms Park - c40 on 16th Feb, 1st March and 15th March, rising to c60 on 5th April. A different flock of c110 was feeding on a newly ploughed cereal field on 4th Oct. Brookmans Park - 75 on 22nd Feb, 50 on 8th March, 85 on 29th March and 6th April, and 50+ on 3rd Sept. Water End - 45 on 6th Dec. Hatfield Aero - 35 on 14th Sept, 55 on 11th Oct, and 35 on 30th Nov.
Lesser Redpoll (33%)
Compared with 2002, numbers were much reduced. 19 records in total, mostly from the Oct - Dec period, with only one flock in double figures. Essendon - one on 12th Oct. North Mymms Park - one on 5th Jan and two on 15th Feb (last record for first half of 2003). Brookmans Park - single birds on 15th Oct, 28th Nov and six dates in December. 5 on 25th Oct, 2 on 9th Nov, and 18 on 6th Dec including a party of c15 feeding in alders at Gobions Pond with Siskins.
Quite common locally, wherever there are tall hedges and thick scrub. Rare garden visitor in winter (two records for my Brookmans Park garden - both first half of Jan). 62 records for Herts were noted in 2003, so Iíve detailed the larger counts for some of the sites. Essendon - 8+ on 28th Dec. North Mymms Park - 20 records including three pairs on 25th Jan. Brookmans Park (Gobions area) - 14 records including a party of six on 9th Feb. Brookmans Park west to Water End - 12 records including 7 on 30th Aug. Also recorded in TL 20 at Pond Wood, and Hatfield Park.
Numbers have fallen heavily in TL20 over the last five years. Only ten records of double-figure counts in all Herts. Redwell Wood Farm - 12 on 5th January, 30 on 15th Feb, and up to 25 on 7th and 19th Dec. Brookmans Park - 11 on 8th March. Singing birds were recorded west of Brookmans Park, Essendon, Little Berkhamsted, Redwell Wood Farm, and Welham Green, and between North Mymms Park and the A1.
Reed Bunting (20%)
All records are given for TL20, bar those from Hatfield Aero which have been aggregated with those for Beech Farm. There were two singing males at the Bedwell Park Golf Club, Essendon on 29th April, and a pair was recorded by the mere in Pond Wood, Potters Bar on 28th June. At Beech Farm / Hatfield Aero there were counts of 5+ on 8th Feb (8 birds), 29th April (7), 21st June (9), and 11th Oct (5). 2nd winter numbers seem to be very low - some visits to Hatfield Aero recently have yielded no sightings at all.
Monk Parakeet (1%)
A single bird was observed at Oakmere Park, Potters Bar on 23rd Nov. According to D.Gompertz, the warden of Fir & Pond Woods Nature Reserve, it could well have been the bird that regularly visits his bird-table.
The following presumed escapes were noted in 2003: -
Goshawk A Goshawk wearing jesses was observed being mobbed by a Buzzard in North Mymms Park on 12th Jan. I heard it was subsequently recaptured.
"Budgie-type" An all-white budgie-type bird was seen at Brookmans Park on one occasion in May.
The following fourteen species were seen in previous years, but not in 2003.
Hen Harrier - last seen 2002 - 1%
Redshank - 2002 - 1%
Jack Snipe - 2001 - 1%
Yellow-Legged Gull - 2001 - 1%
Greater Black Backed Gull - 2002 - 2%
Barn Owl - 2000 - 1%
Long Eared Owl - 2002 -1%
Sand Martin - 2002- 10%
Whinchat - 2002 - 4%
Wheatear - 2001 - 2%
Sedge Warbler - 2002 -1%
Pied Flycatcher - 1996- 1%
Crossbill - 2002 - 5%
Hawfinch - 2002 -1%
Finally, a description of the avifauna of North Mymms Park can be found on the Herts Bird Club website.
Local bird records 2002
Illustrations of local birds - page one
Illustrations of local birds - page two
Illustrations of local birds - page three
Illustrations of local birds - page four