Places to see birds

Tring Reservoirs

Tring Reservoirs
Kestrel by Jodie Randell

Tring reservoirs are situated in the Tring Gap in the Chilterns, at about 100 m above sea level. They were built in the early Nineteenth Century to supply waters for the Grand Union Canal. They were declared a National Nature Reserve in 1955. Wilstone, the largest and most important of the four reservoirs, is now managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Tring sprang to prominence in the Nineteenth Century when Julian Huxley observed and documented the elaborate courtship display of the, then beleaguered, Great Crested Grebe. The rest is history and large numbers now frequent the reservoirs, especially in winter, when they are sometimes joined by the rarer Black-necked or Slavonian Grebe.

The water is dominated by wildfowl with large numbers of both dabbling and diving duck species to be seen along with Mute Swan and the inevitable Canada Geese. Amongst the hundreds of common species of duck, such as Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Pochard, one can usually find a few less common; Goldeneye, Pintail, Ruddy Duck and even the odd Garganey can sometimes be found amongst the hundreds of Teal. Depending on the water level muddy margins and islands can provide feeding for waders, usually on passage in Autumn or Spring. Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper have all been seen by the group over the years.

The concrete banks at the edge of the water are frequented by Pied and Grey Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Common Sandpiper, all searching for insects hiding in the many crevices. Kingfishers can also be found, usually flying low over the water, but sometimes perched on the edge of the banks watching the water below.

The hedgerows and scrub are also worth watching. Foraging flocks of tits may be joined by Goldcrest or over wintering Chiffchaff or Blackcap. But a thorough examination may well produce a little Owl roosting motionless on its favorite perch.

In late Summer and early Autumn Hobby can often be seen hunting dragonflies over the reed bed which may house a Bittern during the Winter months. It is the diversity of the habitat that gives the reservoirs at Tring such a large number of different species and makes the area one of the best bird watching sites in Hertfordshire at any time of the year.

Site Notes by Fred Twilley

Species seen at Tring, October 2000
Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Barnacle Goose, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Dunlin, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Sparrow Hawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Starling, House Sparrow, Pheasant, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Swallow.
Butterflies: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady.
Moths: Yellow Underwing Moth, Southern Hawker.
Mammals: Weasel, Grey Squirrel.