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Birding Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire (often abbreviated to Herts) is a county in southern England, bordered by Bedfordshire to the north, Cambridgeshire to the northeast, Essex to the east, Buckinghamshire to the west and Greater London to the south.

Elevations are high for the region in the north and west. These reach over 240m in the western projection around Tring which is in the Chilterns. The county's borders are approximately the watersheds of the Colne and Lea; both flowing to the south; each accompanied by a canal. Hertfordshire's undeveloped land is mainly agricultural and much is protected by green belt.

Hertfordshire is a relatively under-watched county and over the years has shown that it can turn up decent birds just like any other county - Paddyfield Warbler, Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Falcated Duck, Yellow-browed Warbler and Solitary Sandpiper are just a few examples.

Among the most popular birding sites are the reservoirs near Tring in the west of the county. Many of Hertfordshire's best birds have been found there. The reservoirs are famous for the first British record of breeding Little Ringed Plovers back in 1938 and other ornithological highlights include Britain's first Marsh Sandpiper in 1887 and England's first breeding record of Black-necked Grebe in 1918.

In the east of the county is the Lea Valley, (shared with Essex) where some more top sites are located, such as Amwell and Rye House Marsh/Rye Meads. One last site well-deserving of a mention is Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits near St Albans which has, in recent years, proven itself as a place to watch. The county has several RSPB Members Groups, some of which have an online presence.

Top Sites

Amwell Gravel Pits

Satellite View

Amwell underwent extensive restoration following the ending of gravel extraction (still going on nearby) and the plans continue. The restoration has produced an excellent quality site for wildlife, not just birds. Otters have been introduced into the area with some success. The site, being part of the Lea Valley, is noted for its wintering wildfowl (including Smew and Goldeneye) but there is also a diversity of breeding species, both waders and passerines included. (Grid reference is for the entrance at the north of the site).

Tring Reservoirs

Satellite View

Tring Reservoirs were the site of England's first breeding Black-necked Grebes (1918) and the UK's first breeding Little Ringed Plovers (1938). They still form one of Hertfordshire's foremost birding sites. They are most noted for good numbers of wintering wildfowl. Recent rarities include Caspian Tern, White-winged Black Tern and Alpine Swift. (Grid reference is for the car park at Wilstone Reservoir)

Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits

Satellite View

Tyttenhanger is another site undergoing restoration following gravel extraction. Recently it has become the county's foremost wader site with Redshank, Lapwing, Little Ringed and Ringed Plover all breeding. Unfortunately there is work going on to flood the area used by these breeding waders and make the area a large fishing lake. However, consideration is being given to wildlife and it is hoped that the site doesn't lose too much of its value. Yellow Wagtails also breed. Nearby fields host good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover in winter. This site played host to a drake Lesser Scaup in 1997.


Gareth Watkins


County Recorder

Alan Gardiner

199 Watford Road, St Albans, AL2 3HH

01727 863945


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 307

County Bird - Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes

Useful Reading

The Breeding Birds of Hertfordshire

K.W Smith, C.W. Dee, J.D. Fearnside, E.W. Fletcher, R.N. Smith, A.J. Harris (Illustrator); Hardcover - 316 pages (1993) Hertfordshire Natural History Society

ISBN: 0952168502

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Herts Bird Club

The Herts Bird Club publishes a bi-monthly bulletin on county birding and has a popular website which features much of this.

The Hertfordshire Breeding Bird Atlas

Edited by C Mead, K Smith and K Baker - 128 pages, line illus, maps [Illustrated by K Baker]. Hertfordshire Breeding Bird Atlas 1982

ISBN: 0950795100

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Forums & Mailing Lists

Bishop's Stortford Bird Group is a Restricted Group with 61 members. Bishop's Stortford Bird Group


Mailing Group & Sightings

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.


Bishop's Stortford & District Natural History Society


Bird Group - Monthly MEETING - 20:00, Bricklayers Arms, Hadham Road. First Monday of every month, unless Bank holiday, then held on second Monday…

Friends of Tring Reservoirs


Friends of Tring Reservoirs is a local conservation organisation formed in 1993 to promote the conservation of this important Site of Special Scientific Interest. With Over 400 Members, FoTR has become a significant voice in the local environment…

Hertfordshire Natural History Society


Hertfordshire Natural History Society was founded in 1879, having previously been called the Watford & District Natural History Society. From that date to the present, there has been a continuous pursuit of natural history study across the County…

Herts Bird Club


Jim Terry, 46 Manor Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1QY. 020 8905 1461. The website of the Herts Bird Club, focusing on the Hertfordshire birding scene. Featuring the latest news from the county including the club`s bi-monthly bird report…

Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust


Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is a local charity supported by people who care about protecting wildlife, including over 21,000 members...

RSPB Hemel Hempstead Local Group


This is the website of the Hemel Hempstead RSPB Local Group which was formed in 1972. The Group is run by volunteers and aims to publicise the RSPB in our local community, to recruit new members, to raise funds and to engage in our fascinating hobby of bird watching. Money raised by the group is used principally to help the RSPB to help in the vital conservation work that it undertakes…

RSPB Hitchin & Letchworth Local Group


Welcome to the Home Page of the Hitchin & Letchworth Local Members Group. We are a group of RSPB members who meet on a regular basis for talks on a wide range of Natural History subjects and trips to a variety of sites in the south of England in search of Britains birds. We cover the north of Hertfordshire, including the towns of Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston, and many of the villages in between. However, anyone is welcome to join us at any of our meetings, and you do not have to be a member of the RSPB to come along…

RSPB Chorleywood & District Local Group


Chorleywood & District RSPB Local Group was started in 1976 after a series of talks in Chorleywood Library by David Elcome who encouraged his mature students to start a local bird watching group. The Group has gone on from strength to strength since then and currently has a membership of about 150. We welcome new members both to our indoor meetings and our field events. We meet at the Russell School, Brushwood Drive, Chorleywood on the third Thursday of the month at 8pm. Membership is £3 and entrance to the talks is £2.50 for members and £3.50 for non-members. We welcome anyone whether they are a member of the group of not…

RSPB Harpenden Local Group


The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and have occasional day-trips to local nature reserves. So, if you would like to have fun and meet like minded people contact us and help make a difference for birds and wildlife…

RSPB Hemel Hempstead Local Group


This is the website of the Hemel Hempstead Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.

RSPB Potters Bar & Barnet Local Group


The Potters Bar and Barnet Group has a membership of approximately 1,800 members who are drawn from the area around Potters Bar, Barnet, Brookmans Park. The Group organises regular events and outings including visits to European sites…

RSPB Southeast Hertfordshire Local Group


The group covers Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Hoddesdon, Ware, Hertford and surrounding areas. Others come along from Bishop's Stortford, The Hadhams, Buntingford and Harlow. In all, the group has annual contact with over 2000 RSPB members…

RSPB St Albans Local Group


Peter Antram's home page incorporating news about the St Albans Members Group of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the charity that takes action for birds. Their programme of events includes talks on bird and general conservation issues and free birdwatching walks in and around the county of Hertfordshire.

RSPB Stevenage Local Group


The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and have monthly day-trips to local nature reserves. So, if you would like to have fun and meet like minded people contact us and help make a difference for birds and wildlife…

RSPB Stort Valley Local Group


Meeting place: Bishop's Park Community Centre, Lancaster Way, Bishop's Park, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

RSPB Watford Local Group


The Watford Members Group of the RSPB was formed in 1974, and exists in order to further the RSPB's national objectives within the local community. Their programme enables members to learn more about birds in Britain and abroad and to see birds - in company with fellow enthusiasts - in a wide variety of habitats. They extend a very warm welcome to anyone interested in bird protection, whether keen birders or determined twitchers, or members with more general interests.

Rye Meads Ringing Group


The Rye Meads Ringing Group is an amateur group whose mission is to study the birds of Rye Meads, particularly by trapping and ringing them. (This is what the Americans call banding).

Tring Ringing Group


News on the activities of the members of Tring Ringing Group. Tring Ringing Group is a group of bird ringers loosely based around Tring. The group was set up in 1993 and currently has about 16 members. We have four main sites at Tring, Wendover and near Aylesbury. Our blog contains reports from members (including a couple who have moved to Germany and now report from there). See our website for more information.


Ornithology at The Natural History Museum


The Bird Group, in the Department of Zoology of The Natural History Museum, is located at Tring, Hertfordshire, on the site of The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, bequeathed to The Natural History Museum in 1937. The bird collections were moved out from London in the early 1970s and are housed in part of the original Rothschild complex and in a purpose-built four-storey building. Probably the biggest collection of bird skins in the world.


Cassiobury Park


Satellite View

To gain a Green Flag Award a park or green space must be welcoming, safe and well maintained, with a strong involvement from the local community.

Lee Valley Park


Satellite View

Covering a thousand acres on either side of the River Lee between Waltham Abbey (Essex) and Broxbourne (Herts) River Lee Country Park is a unique patchwork of lakes, waterways, green open spaces and countryside areas all linked together by paths, walkways and cycle tracks. The River Lee Country Park abounds with wildlife throughout the year and is the perfect venue for informal, outdoor recreation.

Maple Lodge


Satellite View

Maple Lodge is a 40 acre nature reserve consisting of lakes, marsh, hedgerows and wooded plantation. The reserve is in Maple Cross near junction 17 of the M25. It can be accessed by members any time of the year. The Reserve is basically a man-made wetland habitat consisting of two old gravel pits and a sludge settlement area formally used by the nearby sewage treatment works. Some refuse dumping also occurred on part of the site and during the late 1950s and early 1960s an area in the east of the Reserve was planted with poplars. In 1982 the Maple Lodge Conservation Society was formed and granted a licence by Thames Water (the owners of the land) to manage the site on a day to day basis. In managing the site the aims are to preserve a diverse habitat and to create and maintain an enhanced open water and mud habitat.

Nature Reserves


Bird and Nature Reserves in Herts…

RSPB - Rye Meads


Satellite View

During the winter, shovelers, gadwalls and tufted ducks can be seen on the open water and green sandpipers often frequent the scrapes…

Stockers Lake


Satellite View

Stockers Lake is a nature reserve formed from old flooded gravel pits. Entrance is free. Use the Aqua-drome car park-follow signs to Aqua-drome on south approach to Rickmansworth. The lake forming the Aqua-drome water sports and sailing centre is Bury Lake, which does attract large numbers of birds but most are there to take advantage of food provided by the public. Swans, Canada Geese, Mallard, Tufted Ducks, Coots form the bulk of the birdlife.

Ver Valley


Satellite View

Explore the beautiful rolling countryside of the Ver Valley through a new series of eight circular walks and the linear trail.


At Home With Urban Nature


Creating a nature friendly family garden on a budget, attracting wildlife to our new home. Supporting local wild animals of town through simple backyard conservation. Identifying the new species to visit or colonise our green space. Appreciating the natural neighbours sharing our urban habitat....

Ephraim's Bird Blog


Ephraim Perfect’s BLOG of a 15 year old’s adventures in birding in Herts and beyond…

Hemel Birding


I've had an interest in birds & wildlife all of my life & I started birdwatching with my Dad as a toddler, using Grandad’s old bins at Wilstone Res. I started drawing birds as soon as I could hold a Crayola & developed an interest in photography at an early age, producing countless prints of brown blobs in bushes or dots in the sky with my compact…

Hemel Nature


Documenting surprising sightings, fascinating findings, & exciting encounters, with birds, wildlife, & other nature, around Hemel Hempstead...

Ian Bennell's Birding Blog


Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron…

Jim's Birding Blog


A diary of birds and birding trips…

Little Hadham Birding


A record of the wildlife in and around Hadham Ford as from January 2008. Please feel free to leave any comments or email me with details of interesting bird, mammal, butterfly, moth and dragonfly sightings…

The Grumpy Ecologist


A grizzled old ecologist/birder, usually to be found roaming around the Lee Valley and occasionally further afield. Fortunate to be involved in the management of some of the UK's finest nature reserves and always looking for ways of improving them for birds…

There was one here earlier!!


Birdwatching and I have enjoyed, if that's the right term, an intermittent relationship from a very early age. A country upbringing, combined with a pair of birthday binoculars and regular weekend walks as a small boy led me to notice increasingly the small twittering creatures that inhabited the trees and hedges of my ramblings….

Other Links

Bird Feeding Station


At the Bird Feeding Station we have a real passion for wild birds. We have years of experience of caring, feeding and encouraging birds to our own gardens. Now we want to share our knowledge to help the declining bird population and to help people enjoy watching and interacting with wild birds in their own gardens…

Birdline East Anglia


What's about? Simply phone 09068 700245. Please report your bird sightings to phone/text 07941333970 or e birdnews@birdlineeastanglia.co.uk - Calls to 09068 700245 cost 60p/min from a BT landline other networks may vary…

Naturenet Herts


Lists info on parks & reserves etc.

Royston Wildlife


Welcome to Royston Wildlife, a web site set up to provide a personal view of the natural history associated with the town of Royston (North Herts) and its environs. On the face of it, Royston would seem unlikely to have a diverse and interesting natural history. For a start it is not situated either by or near a river or lake. Secondly, the land surrounding Royston is intensively farmed. Nevertheless, there is plenty of interest here for the naturalist.

Photographers & Artists

Artist - Ernest Leahy


I am a self taught artist and have painted wildlife for over 30 years. All my paintings are original works of art - I do not sell prints. I normally paint in watercolours but occasionally use acrylics, pastels, and ink for illustrations. most of my work is based on field studies and many of the paintings are started on site…

Photographer - Andy Bright


My pics are displayed at hi-res 800x600….and are all taken via a digital still camera and a spotting scope. The album site also includes pics and text descriptions of digiscoping techniques. i.e. camera to scope attachments.

Photographer - David Plant


This website is dedicated to my photography. I first got interested in nature when I lived in South Africa. My first passion was birds, something I have indulged in all over the world. Then this moved onto nature and wildlife in all their various forms…

Photographer - Jim Middleton


I have been taking wildlife photos for about 3 years now and have the urge to share a selection with you. My intention is for the site to evolve over time into a decent sized library of good quality nature photographs…