Purple patch for St Albans’ prime birdwatching spot

Black redstart photographed by David Hatton (Art16)

Black redstart photographed by David Hatton (Art16) - Credit: Archant

A well known birdwatching spot on the outskirts of St Albans has had an outstanding run of scarce migrant species in the last few days.

The gravel pit complex is next to Tyttenhanger House.

The gravel pit complex is next to Tyttenhanger House. - Credit: Archant

On Saturday, birdwatchers flocked to Tyttenganger Gravel Pits near Colney Heath, where a drake garganey, a black redstart, and a whinchat were offering excellent views simultaneously.

Only the garganey was still there by Sunday morning, but the early-rising regular Tyttenhanger birdwatchers found a Temminck’s stint, a very scarce wading bird, feeding alongside a common sandpiper and a dunlin.

Sadly for late-arriving twitchers, the stint was chased off by little ringed plovers before 8.30am.

Black redstarts are common in mountainous parts of southern Europe, but much rarer in Britain, especially in inland counties such as Hertfordshire.

Whinchats breed in upland parts of Britain, usually on heather moorland, but occur in Hertfordshire only as scarce passage migrants.

Birdwatchers at Tyttenhanger have also enjoyed a Caspian gull, and several skulking but vocal lesser whitethroats in recent days.

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