Tyttenhanger GPs

From Londonbirders

Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits is one of Hertfordshire’s best birding areas, situated in the shallow Colne Valley between St Albans and Hatfield (map; grid reference TL194052). The site stretches from Colney Heath in the north to the Willows Farm Village theme park (near London Colney) in the south. The site supports a range of wildlife habitat, and its wide variety of birds includes resident Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer at Tyttenhanger Farm. The site has also become the county’s foremost wader site.



Sand and gravel extraction has taken place on the site since 1982, and the site now features several flooded gravel pits. The main pit of interest to birders (to the east of the River Colne) is still used by Lafarge Aggregates Ltd as a source of water for washing the sand and gravel extracted from an active quarry south-east of Coursers Road. A noisy conveyer belt carries sand around the south and west sides of the pit.


The site includes flooded gravel pits, areas of active quarrying, shallow pools, mudflats, parkland, open farmland and two small areas of coniferous and deciduous woodland. The River Colne runs south through the centre of the site. The main lake of interest to birders is the easternmost lake, on the east side of the River Colne. Its continuing use by Lafarge means that the water level can fluctuate considerably. The south-east of the lake is shallow. Two flooded gravel pits to the west of the River Colne are used for angling. South of the site is the Willows Farm Village theme park, which has a shallow lake. Coppice Wood, an SSSI, contains a good range of woodland species. Garden Wood was formerly used for paintball games and may become more attractive to wildlife now this activity has ceased.



The site attracts a wide range of bird species. A detailed guide can be found at the Herts Bird Club website.

In winter the gravel pits generally support small numbers of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, with occasional Shelduck, Pintail, Smew and Goldeneye. Waders include Green Sandpiper, Snipe and Jack Snipe, with Lapwing usually present and Golden Plover often in large flocks on nearby fields. The area around Tyttenhanger Farm holds a flock of Tree Sparrows (generally to be found in the hedgerow on the north side of the horse paddock). Along with other finches and buntings, including Brambling, these are attracted by feed put out by a shooting syndicate for Red-legged Partridge. The site also attracts irregular visits from Merlin and Peregrine, and Common Buzzards are seen regularly.

In spring the wintering waders are joined by Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Rarer visitors have included Temminck’s Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Avocet and Stone Curlew. Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail are regularly seen in the fields and on the sandy banks. Common Tern arrive to breed on the shingle and Black Tern are often seen on passage. Hobby frequently visit the site and Osprey occasionally pass through. Hirundines are seen regularly and the commoner warblers can be seen or heard over the whole site.

In summer Redshank, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Lapwing breed. Most of the common warblers also breed around the site. Yellow Wagtail have occasionally bred in the area.

In autumn, Green Sandpiper are again regularly seen and waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank may pass through. Migrant passerines include Whinchat.


A large Buddleia bush next to the bird hide attracts Red Admiral, Comma, Painted Lady, Small White, Peacock and Gatekeeper butterflies. Another butterfly seen in past years is the Brown Argus. Dragonfly species include Brown Hawker, which are particularly conspicuous.



The site is a mile or so north of the M25 at Junction 22. Turn off to the Bell Roundabout and take Coursers Road into Colney Heath. At a crossroads turn left along High Street and then fork back along Church Lane. Park at the end by the water works (TL 198058) and follow the footpath south-west into the site. Alternatively, from the Bell Roundabout, take Barnet Road into London Colney. Turn right to park in Lowbell Lane or cross the River Colne and turn right to the small car park at Riverside. From either parking place, head for the river and follow the footpath that leads north under the A1081 and past Willows Farm. Avoid the car parks around the fishing lakes (reserved for anglers and with a history of theft from vehicles) and at Willows Farm Village (reserved for visitors to the farm and customers of its shops).

London Colney is connected to nearby conurbations (St Albans, Hatfield, Watford and Barnet) by five bus routes: 84, 602, 632, 658 and 659. Route and frequency information is available from the website of London Colney News. Colney Heath can be reached from Brookmans Park station (Thameslink) by three bus routes: 200, 304 and 826. The 304 continues to St Albans and the 826 to Hatfield.


The site has 24-hour free public access on a network of generally well-marked public or permissive footpaths. The access points mentioned above allow entry to the site along the Watling Chase Trail national path, which passes north-south through the area. Access can also be gained from the A414 on the site’s north-west boundary and from Coursers Road on the south-east.


A rudimentary hide has been erected on the south side of the eastern lake, but at some distance from the water’s edge. Willows Farm Village has a cafe and a branch of In Focus, the binocular and telescope specialists. Shops at Colney Fields Shopping Park (near the M25 junction) include a Sainsburys Superstore and a branch of Marks & Spencer.



Friday 2nd January 2009

1: Mallard. 2: Tufted Duck. 3: Pochard. 4: Shoveler. 5: Mute Swan. 6: Canada Goose. 7: Grey Heron. 8: Coot. 9: Moorhen. 10: Cormorant. 11: Water Rail. 12: Common Snipe. 13: Lapwing. 14: Great Crested Grebe. 15: Gadwall. 16: Lesser Black-backed Gull. 17: Common Gull. 18: Black-headed Gull. 19: Great Spotted Woodpecker. 20: Green Woodpecker. 21: Robin. 22: Wren. 23: Dunnock. 24: Tree Sparrow. 25: House Sparrow. 26: Reed Bunting. 27: Yellowhammer. 28: Chaffinch. 29: Red-legged Partridge. 30: Pheasant. 31: Collared Dove. 32: Feral Pigeon. 33: Woodpigeon. 34: Brambling. 35: Greenfinch. 36: Blue Tit. 37: Great Tit. 38:Long-tailed Tit. 39: Goldcrest. 40: Kestrel. 41: Sparrowhawk. 42: Goldfinch. 43: Nuthatch. 44: Treecreeper. 45: Carrion Crow. 46: Rook. 47: Jackdaw. 48: Starling. 49: Pied Wagtail. 50: Blackbird. 51: Redwing. 52: Fieldfare. 53: Siskin. 54: Mistle Thrush. 55: Song Thrush. 56: Jay. 57: Skylark. 58: Magpie. 59: Shelduck.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

60: Teal. 61: Little Owl. 62: Buzzard. 63: Jack Snipe. 64:Red Kite.

Tuesday 6th January 2009

65: Herring Gull. 66: Wigeon. 67: Golden Plover. 68: Greylag Goose.

Wednesday 7th January 2009

69: Bullfinch. 70: Kingfisher.

Friday 9th January 2009

71: Coal Tit.

Monday 12th January 2009

72: Great Black-backed Gull. 73: Little Egret.

Tuesday 13th January 2009

74: Meadow Pipit. 75: Green Sandpiper.

Wednesday 14th January 2009

76: Woodcock.

Friday 16th January 2009

77: Stock Dove.

Saturday 17th January 2009

78: Linnet. 79: Peregrine.

Tuesday 20th January 2009

80: Ruddy Duck.

Saturday 24th January 2009

81: Grey Wagtail.

Tuesday 10th February 2009

82: Little Grebe.

Wednesday 11th February 2009

83: Goosander.

Wednesday 18th February 2009

84: Tawny Owl.

Monday 23rd February 2009

85: Ringed Plover.

Tuesday 24th February 2009

86: Egyptian Goose.

Saturday 28th February 2009

87: Redshank.

Thursday 5th March 2009

88: Oystercatcher.

Friday 13th March 2009

89: Pintail.

Saturday 14th March 2009

90: Wheatear.

Monday 16th March 2009

91: Chiffchaff.

Friday 20th March 2009

92: Little Ringed Plover.

Saturday 21st March 2009

93: Sand Martin.

Wednesday 25th March 2009

94: Swallow.

Friday 3rd April 2009

95: Blackcap.

Tuesday 7th April 2009

96: Willow Warbler. 97: House Martin.

Wednesday 8th April 2009

98: Common Tern.

Monday 20th April 2009

99: Common Sandpiper. 100: Whitethroat. 101: Sedge Warbler.

Friday 24th April 2009

102: Whimbrel.

Saturday 25th April 2009

103: Garden Warbler. 104: Greenshank.

Monday 27th April 2009

105: Yellow Wagtail.

Tuesday 28th April 2009

106: Hobby. 107: Cuckoo. 108: Swift.

Wednesday 29th April 2009

109: Reed Warbler.

Friday 1st May 2009

110: Lesser Whitethroat.

Wednesday 13th May 2009

111: Dunlin. 112: Black Tern.

Monday 29th June 2009

113: Wood Sandpiper.

Friday 10th July 2009

114: Black-tailed Godwit.

Saturday 18th July 2009

115: Marsh Harrier.

Friday 7th August 2009

116: Mediteranean Gull. 117: Sanderling. 118: Little Tern.

Monday 24 August 2009

119: Yellow legged Gull.

Saturday 29th August

120: Whinchat.

Monday 31st August 2009

121: Spotted Flycatcher.

Monday 14th September 2009

122: Redstart.

Monday 21st September 2009

123: Glossy Ibis

Saturday 3rd October 2009

124: Stonechat.

Saturday 31st October 2009

125: Goldeneye.

Thursday 11th November 2009

126: Lesser Redpoll.

Saturday 28th November 2009

127: Red-crested Pochard.

Wednesday 2nd December 2009

128: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

NON COUNTABLES Ruddy Shellduck. Bar-headed Goose. White-cheeked Pintail.



Wednesday 2nd January 2008

1: Mallard. 2: Long tailed Tit. 3: Shoveler. 4: Gadwall. 5: Tufted Duck. 6: Pochard. 7: Teal. 8: Coot. 9: Moorhen. 10: Grey Heron. 11: Mute Swan. 12: Jay. 13: Dunnock. 14: Magpie. 15: Lesser Black-backed Gull. 16: Black-headed Gull. 17: Common Gull. 18: Blue Tit. 19: Great Tit. 20: Meadow Pipit. 21: Skylark. 22: Kestrel. 23: Blackbird. 24: Cormorant. 25: Lapwing. 26: Chaffinch. 27: Yellowhammer. 28: Tree Sparrow. 29: House Sparrow. 30: Jackdaw. 31: Carrion Crow. 32: Reed Bunting. 33: Common Pheasant. 34: Red-legged Partridge. 35: Robin. 36: Wigeon. 37: Stonechat.

Saturday 5th January 2008

38: Green Sandpiper. 39: Canada Goose. 40: Great Crested Grebe. 41: Pied Wagtail. 42: Starling. 43: Redwing. 44: Fieldfare.

Monday 7th January 2008

45: Song Thrush. 46: Brambling. 47: Rook. 48: Kingfisher. 49: Wren. 50: Herring Gull. 51: Goldfinch. 52: Woodpigeon. 53: Feral Rock Dove.

Tuesday 8th January 2008

54: Mistle Thrush. 55: Stock Dove. 56: Collared Dove. 57: Goldcrest. 58: Sparrowhawk.

Saturday 12th January 2008

59: Green Woodpecker.

Wednesday 16th January 2008

60: Grey Wagtail. 61: Nuthatch. 62: Little Owl. 63: Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Tuesday 22nd January 2008

64: Siskin. 65: Treecreeper. 66: Coal Tit. 67: Greylag Goose.

Wednesday 23rd January 2008

68: Common Snipe.

Wednesday 30th January 2008

69: Bullfinch. 70: Common Buzzard.

Thursday 7th February 2008

71: Water Rail. 72: Shelduck. 73: Golden Plover.

Wednesday 13th February 2008

74: Great Black backed Gull

Thursday 14th February 2008

75: Lesser Redpoll.

Thursday 21st February 2008

76: Ring necked Parakeet

Saturday 23rd February 2008

77: Ringed Plover. 78: Little Grebe.

Sunday 24th February 2008

79: Curlew. 80: Linnet. 81: Yellow-legged Gull.

Thursday 28th February 2008

82: Redshank.

Thursday 6th March 2008

83: Oystercatcher.

Saturday 8th March 2008

84: Grey Partridge.

Saturday 15th March 2008

85: Bewick's Swan. 86: Chiffchaff. 87: Wheatear. 88:Greenfinch

Wednesday 26th March 2008

89: Red Kite.

Thursday 27th March 2008

90: Dunlin. 91: Barn Owl.

Friday 28th March 2008

92: Sand Martin.

Thursday 3rd April 2008

93: Little Ringed Plover.

Saturday 5th April 2008

94: Swallow.

Saturday 12th April 2008

95: Willow Warbler. 96: Sedge Warbler. 97: Blackcap.

Monday 14th April 2008

98: Whimbrel.

Wednesday 16th April 2008

99: Common Tern. 100: Ruddy Duck.

Thurseday 17th April 2008

101: Avocet. 102: Cuckoo. 103: House Martin.

Saturday 19th April 2008

104: Greenshank.

Monday 21st April 2008

105: Ring Ouzel. 106: Common Whitethroat.

Thursday 24th April 2008

107: Common Sandpiper. 108: Blue-headed Wagtail.

Monday 28th April 2008

109: Swift. 110: Mandarin.

Wednesday 30th April 2008

111: Black Tern. 112: Hobby. 113: Egyptian Goose.

Thursday 1st May 2008

114: Whinchat. 115: Lesser Whitethroat.

Friday 2nd May 2008

116: Garden Warbler.

Saturday 3rd May 2008

117: Reed Warbler.

Sunday 11th May 2008

118: Goosander. 119: Spotted Flycatcher.

Tuesday 13th May 2008

120: Garganey.

Friday 16th May 2008

121: Sanderling.

Wednesday 21st May 2008

122: Little Egret.

Saturday 9th August 2008

123: Mediterranean Gull.

Wednesday 20th August 2008

124: Ruff.

Saturday 30th August 2008

125: Turnstone.

Saturday 6th September 2008

126: Peregrine.

Friday 3rd October 2008

127: Common Redstart

Sunday 19th October 2008

128: Goldeneye.

Wednesday 5th November 2008

129: Jack Snipe.

Thursday 6th November 2008

130: Tawny Owl.

Wednesday 19th November 2008

131: Woodcock.

NON COUNTABLES Barnacle Goose.


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