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Where to go bird watching in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 11:26 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:30 15 January 2019

Spot kingfisher on the sandbanks at Rye Meads in Hoddesdon (photo: davemhuntphotography, Getty Images)

Spot kingfisher on the sandbanks at Rye Meads in Hoddesdon (photo: davemhuntphotography, Getty Images)

Archant

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

Birds of Hertfordshire by Ken W Smith, Chris W Dee, Jack D Fearnside and Mike Ilett (Hertfordshire Natural History Society)Birds of Hertfordshire by Ken W Smith, Chris W Dee, Jack D Fearnside and Mike Ilett (Hertfordshire Natural History Society)

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)

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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.

hnhs.org/herts-bird-club/home

• RSPB

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.

rspb.org.uk

• 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

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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.

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