My first local wildlife sighting of the new decade was of a hibernating small tortoiseshell butterfly that had taken up residence in the house and decided to flutter from one bedroom to another on the 1st! A walk around my local patch on the 4th provided me with a couple of interesting sightings - one of an uncommon but increasing species in Hertfordshire (a raven, seen over Therfield Heath) and one of a very common species in Hertfordshire that is exceptionally rare on my local patch (mute swan). The four mute swans that I saw on the pond at Hatchpen Farm trebled the number that I've ever seen within two miles of my home and the other two were only seen, individually, in flight! Other decent early January sightings included corn bunting (30+ seen along the Icknield Way on the 3rd), a marsh tit seen in Reed village on the 4th, ten grey partridge seen on Greys Farm, also on the 4th, and a 'flyover' cormorant, seen from the A10 near the 'Silver Ball', on the 7th. However, there was no sign of and no reports of hen harrier or merlin.
Two of Four Mute Swans at Hatchpen Farm, 4th January
The wintering golden plover flock (200+) was up in the air when I next walked up the Icknield Way towards Therfield on the 13th. Ploughing operations at Greys Farm attracted a large, mixed flock of gulls that included at least five herring gulls - it is unusual to see so many of this species together in the area. A week later I did the same walk: golden plovers were again in the air as I headed towards Therfield, perhaps flushed by a low-flying light aircraft. On my way back I saw a peregrine heading rapidly towards the field where the plovers normally rest, out of my view. I expected lots of drama, but.... nothing, not even a call! A flock of over 100 fieldfares was feeding in the fields to the east of the Icknield Way. There was no sign of redwings here, but I did encounter a flock of around 90 of these birds in trees to the south of Church Hill on an otherwise drab and disappointing walk right across The Heath on the 23rd. One of the redwings briefly sang, introducing me to a tune that I've never heard before.
Gulls and Rooks, Greys Farm, Therfield, 13 January
'Record Shot' of Peregrine in Flight, Therfield, 20 January
Fieldfare, Therfield, 20 January