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Northaw Great Wood & Brent Reservoir

19 - 20 November 2005

Observers: Alistair Simpson & F. Simpson

Highlights: Grey-cheeked Thrush, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Peregrine, Water Rail & Yellow-legged Gull.


Saturday 19 November 2005
Northaw Great Wood, Hertfordshire
Blue sky, max 7, hard overnight frost.

Northaw Great Wood 2005 Alistair Simpson

Train from King's Cross to Cuffley in Hertfordshire (site within the LNHS recording area), 40 minutes on the Hertford North line. A 35 minute walk to the country park. After seeing the Grey-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) at the crack of dawn on Tueday morning in poor light, I decided to go back today and get some photographs. Bad move. By the time we arrived today there were around 200 birders all cramming for a view and the bird was not being very cooperative. After a couple of hours we had brief views of it hopping through the leaf litter and over mossy logs in the dense coppiced woodland.

Walked the rest of the 2.5 mile yellow trail finding several Nuthatch, Marsh Tit (4), Treecreeper (10+), Goldcrest, Jay, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Stock Dove, Carrion Crow, Redwing, Greenfinch, Robin, Magpie, Wren, and Dunnock.

Came back to the site late afternoon by which time most people had left. Following another brief view of the thrush, it was not until 1615h in the fading light that bird provided us with best views of the day. Looking down the small trail it regularly frequented, it appeared hopping around with a Robin and approached to within 10 metres. However, it was too dark to photograph.

Northaw Great Wood 2005 Alistair Simpson  Northaw Great Wood 2005 Alistair Simpson  Northaw Great Wood 2005 Fraser Simpson



Sunday 20 November 2005
Brent Reservoir  The Welsh Harp
Blue sky, max 6C, hard overnight frost.

Wembley 2005 Fraser Simpson

Brent Reservoir in north-west London is around 20 minutes walk from Hendon Central station on the west branch of the Northern Line or around 10 minutes from Hendon overground station. From Sunny Hill we walked there in a leisurely 35 minutes. From this point you can view parts of the Northern and Eastern Marshes which are best of birds and away from any sailing/boating activity. A good path goes north along the western bank from Cool Oak Bridge and most of our time was spent viewing the Northern Marsh.

Cool Oak Bridge
Usual scrum of Canada Geese, Coots, Mallard and Feral Pigeons - popular spot for bread-feeding locals. A pair of Little Grebes, a few Tufted Ducks and a single Great Crested Grebe.

Northern Marsh
Highlight of the day was a 10 minute-long airshow courtesy of a fantastic immature, female Peregrine and a squad of 20 or so Carrion Crows which continuously followed and mobbed the falcon. The chase was never one-way and the Peregrine frequently turned and half-heartedly tried to take a corvid from above and below, particularly a white-winged individual with plumage aberrations. Following some pretty cold nights with hard, ground frost, the area around the north end was beginning to freeze over. Black-headed Gulls and a few Common Gulls congregating on the ice. Good numbers of wildfowl with a few hundred duck: Tufted Duck (160), Pochard (9), Shoveler (c50), Gadwall (c30), Teal (c60), Mallard, and Ruddy Duck. A Water Rail was observed feeding on some open mud on the opposite bank, where the Silk Stream comes in. Also two or three Snipe around the island. A female Sparrowhawk zipped low over the marsh. Kingfisher calling as it flew aroung a willow overhanging the water - another 'scoped on the other bank. Also Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan and Canada Goose on the water. Three Ring-necked Parakeets regularly flying back-and-forth over the tall trees in York Park. Grey and Pied Wagtails occasionally flying over.

Scrub around Woodfield Park and Hendon Bowling Club
Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2-3), Green Woodpecker (pr), Jay, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit (15+), Chaffinch, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Magpie, Redwing, Fieldfare (4 o/h) and Stock Dove (2 o/h).

Eastern Marsh from Cool Oak Lane viewpoint
Large numbers of gulls around the tern rafts. Mainly Black-headed Gulls with a few Common, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls. Two adult Yellow-legged Gulls picked out. Coot (200+), Great Crested Grebe (c20), Little Grebe (8).

Northen Marsh, Brent Reservoir 2005 Fraser Simpson  Tufted Ducks, Brent Res 2005 Fraser Simpson  Great Crested Grebe, Brent Res 2005 Fraser Simpson


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