JANUARY started with a few Fieldfare and Goldeneye (up to 16 individuals), high numbers of Shoveler, a few Siskin and a hunting Peregrine. Later in the month 26 Wigeon and a Yellow Legged Gull were spotted.

FEBRUARY started wet and windy and on the 11th Storm Clara blew in followed by Storm Denis causing some damage to trees and the River Colne to rise. An escaped Carolina Wood Duck was seen near Stocker’s House and a single Goosander at month’s end with Storm Jorge and more rain.

MARCH arrived drier followed by showers and Coronavirus. Mid month 20 Wigeon were on the flooded field at the farm.2 Oystercatcher on the 7th, 3 Redpoll on the 8th and then with the pandemic kicking in confined to barracks. Fieldfares on the 31st.

APRIL saw Ringed Plover and the first Swallow on the farm plus a Whitethroat singing on the 11th. Cuckoo on the 17th opposite Cook’s wood. More waders at the farm and Greenshank on the 19th, followed by 3 Little Ringed Plover and 3 RuffSwallows were increasing, Lapwing were displaying and a single Dunlin was seen on the 27th. Towards month’s end Yellow Wagtails took our mind off the Virus with excellent birding.

MAY arrived with hailstones and heavy showers and a single Ringed Plover obliged at the farm. By the 2nd therte were two Ringed plover. Dunlin were still present. On the 4th Whimbrel arrived with four Wood Sandpipers. Migration interrupted on the 5th with a Barn Owl. On the 7th we were up to 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Little Ringed Plover. Water was receding on the 9th. It was a busy month with up to 8 Common Tern and 6 Calling Cetti's Warblers. Stock Dove were seen at the nest box and Greylag geese had juveniles. A rare Brown Argus Butterfly obliged while walking the cow meadow. Warblers were increasing in particular Cetti's and Garden but just a single Willow Warbler due to habitat loss.

JUNE arrived with the Willow Warbler predated by a Jay, 3 Kingfishers, 26 common Tern. On the 8th a rare Marsh Warbler arrived along the Colne. Linnets were at the farm. More rain on the 18th with Kingfisher feeding young. At the end of the month the Tern hide was vandalised.

JULY and Covid boredom was kicking in causing more vandalism from bored, ignorant people on the reserve. 18 Common Tern still present with numbers fluctuating due to Gull predation. A small passage of Hirundines on the 8th. Mid-month more vandalism to hides, temperatures increasing to 33c. More disturbance on lake with canoes etc. A single Barnacle Goose at month’s end was probably an escapee.

AUGUST hit 37c and no early records from lake. There was significant litter along the Colne from the lemming like public, isolated thunderstorms and most Common Tern chicks taken by Lesser Black Backed Gulls. A Hobby flew over on the 18th. Two Raven were over the West side of lake on the 21st. On the 27th a Great Crested Grebe was seen eating a crayfish.

SEPTEMBER gave us a proven breeding record of Common Buzzard as an adult fed a juvenile. A passage of Sand Martin (around 50) on the 14th, 5 Chiffchaff on the 19th. Two Stonechat on the farm.

OCTOBER and another Peregrine flew over plus we had significant rain from storm Alex flooding the Colne and boundary paths. A few Siskin, Redwing and Meadow Pipit, continuous rain. Contractors removing Japanese knotweed, month’s end a Merlin flew over the West of the lake.

NOVEMBER and on 13th Egyptian Geese, Stonechat and Redwing were on the farm. A single Goosander, while a Kingfisher caught a Dace on the Colne. Mid-month a few Fieldfare were showing with up to 80 walkers visting in an hour. A foggy end to the month.

DECEMBER - a single Great Black Backed Gull was showing, Stonechats  were on the farm and we had up to 61 Red Crested Pochard and 40 Siskin. Goldeneye were increasing and a single Barnacle Goose was present at the end of the month.

I would like to thank all the contributors, contracters, bailiffs, fishermen and birders who have contributed to this report in these difficult times, especially when the general public were overrunning the lake causing a degree of mayhem and destruction. The poachers were better mannered! In particular, the fishing bailiffs of the Colne and Stocker’s who were on the front line, however there was a disappointing response from the conservationists. We are all in this together so thank you all. List of contributors, in no particular order: D Jones, C Ashton, P Graham, G Hinton, S Middleton, Alan Gardiner, Ian Jackson, Pinner RSPB, the late Geoff Lapworth, J Thompson, Anna Marett, Steve Hughes, Roger Harbird, Ian Bryant,John Newson, P Luckhurst, Chris Sharp, Lee Evans, Roger Dewey, R Ness, Charles Ramsay, Graham Clark, Paul Ward, David Neal, M Searle, Simon Jones, Stephen Younger, P aul Lewis, Peter Harman, James Gibson, Gary Mason, Axel Kirby, Dale Ayres, Quentin Cobham, Sam Clare, Tony Atkins, Andy Longfellow, Richard Beeden, Tony Shine, Simon Hibbert, All members of North Harrow Waltonians and BACAS. Please forgive anybody not mentioned and please use Herts Bird Club for your sightings as the hides and lists are out of use since Covid in March 2020.

Steve Carter