23rd April 2015
It has been an excellent spring for Ring Ouzels and one of their traditional sites at Hatfield Aerodrome, now Ellenbrook Fields, was no exception with up to four birds present. I waited a couple of days in the hope that the number of birders on site had died down a bit before trying my luck. Unfortunately, as pre-warned, they were very flighty and had been spooked just before I had arrived by someone who seemed to think you could just walk up to them. I did eventually manage to find just one male, but it was very wary and I only managed a few rather poor record shots.
Anyway, now that I am here, time for a look round this rather superb habitat. Not surprisingly with all this grassland a Kestrel was on patrol, stopping every few yards in search of lunch. Whitethroats were also well represented, although on this occasion not quite as showy as one would like. What was pleasing , however, was a pair of Linnets setting up home in one of the many large patches of Brambles.
Thankfully some of the other birds on show were far more cooperative than the Ring Ouzels, like this pipit which was sitting near the top of a small sallow and stayed put as I edged close and closer, allowing me to get within about 10 yards. Fantastic. I had assumed that, being in the middle of an area of grassland in Hatfield this would be a Meadow Pipit, but getting home and looking at the photos on the PC, the fine streaking on the flanks, the stouter bill and the short curved hind claw gave rise to suspicions. Having sought expert advice it can now be confirmed as a Tree Pipit, a very good record for Hertfordshire.
But the star of the show today was the cracking male Wheatear which had commandeered the top of the large earth mound. Fortunately it did eventually come down and pose down to about eight yards on a post, certainly the closest I have ever got to a Wheatear which tend to be a bit flighty.
So OK, not too successful on the Ouzel front but what a lovely site, a couple of very cooperative birds and a most unexpected Tree Pipit. I think I'll be back.