Where to go bird watching in Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 11:26 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:30 15 January 2019
Ever fancied going birdwatching in the county but didn’t know where to start? Here’s a guide to get you out with your binoculars this winter
Hertfordshire is blessed with many nature reserves, woodlands and lakes – all key habitats for birds. Here’s a who, what and how to get you started on a birdwatching adventure, whether you’re a fledgling or an old bird.
What to read
• Birds of Hertfordshire
by KW Smith, CW Dee, JD Fearnside and M Ilett (Hertfordshire Natural History Society, £38)
• The Breeding Birds of Hertfordshire
by KW Smith, CW Dee, JD Fearnside, EW Fletcher, RN Smith and AJ Harris.
(Hertfordshire Bird Club, £22)
Clubs & groups to join
• Herts Bird Club
Promoting the study and recording of birds in Herts, this long-standing and well-respected group also encourages a wider interest in natural history and the conservation of habitats. It publishes a bi-monthly bulletin, sightings archive and books and conducts surveys and field events.
There are 10 RSPB groups in Hertfordshire. All groups have monthly meetings and arrange coach trips to bird watching sites as well as walks and talks.
• Ringing groups
In 2015 19,000 birds were ringed in Hertfordshire, providing invaluable information on species. There are three clubs in the county, Tring Reservoirs, Rye Meads and Maple Cross. Details on bird ringing surveys and how to get involved can be found on the British Trust for Ornithology website. bto.org
Where to go
• Amwell Gravel Pits
Part of the Lea Valley, the area attracts a diverse range of wildlife. It’s known for wintering wildfowl such as smew and goldeneye, and has plenty of breeding species including both waders and passerines.
• Tring Reservoirs
One of the county’s most important birding sites, Tring Reservoirs was the site of England’s first breeding black-neck grebe and the UK’s first breeding little ringed plover. The four reservoirs attract large numbers of wintering wildfowl. Recent rare sightings include caspian tern, white-winged black tern and alpine swift.
• Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits
Flooded gravel pits, shallow pools, mudflats and open farmland make Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits in St Albans an ideal place to spot redshank, lapwing, little ringed and ringed plover, which all breed here. The surrounding fields host lapwing and golden plover in winter. Last year the handsome diving duck, red-breasted merganser, was seen.
• Rye Meads
Trails and hides make Rye Meads in Hoddesdon a favourite of walkers and bird watchers. Spot kingfishers on the sandbanks while common terns can be found nesting on the rafts. See snipe, green sandpipers, shovelers and tufted ducks in the winter months.
• Stocker’s Lake
More than 60 species of breeding birds have been recorded at Stocker’s Lake in Rickmansworth and wintering ducks including shoveler are common visitors. It has the largest heronry in Herts.