Herts Rare Birds Panel secretary

MIke Ilett

Mike was born in Hertford and has birded since he was about 12 years old in local woods and gravel pits around the county town. He discovered Amwell in 1979 whilst walking back from Rye Meads RSPB to Hertford and has been birding there on and off ever since. Rare Hertfordshire birds found by Mike include Great Reed Warbler, Corncrake and Great Northern Diver at Amwell, Montagu’s Harrier in North Herts and a number of semi-rare Herts birds. He also proved the first breeding of Raven in Hertfordshire for 160 years. Mike was county recorder for approximately five years. He is a keen British lister (currently having seen approx 470 species in the UK) as well as widely travelled outside the UK with a world list approaching 4000 species. Mike is co-author of Birds of Hertfordshire published in 2015.

Herts Rare Birds Panel member

Tony Blake

Tony grew up in Bushey and has been birding in Hertfordshire since the late 1970s. He now lives just over the county boundary in Edgware, but his regular birding is in Hertfordshire where he is a WeBS counter. He has been a member of the Rare Birds Panel since 2003 and was county bird recorder from 2006-2010. He has birded all over the British Isles, from Shetland to Scilly and enjoys chasing rarities whether locally or nationally. He has watched birds in many countries in Europe, including during periods working in France and Belgium, has made many trips to Spain and undertaken birding visits further afield in Senegal, Hong Kong, Ecuador and Thailand.

Herts Rare Birds Panel member

Jack Fearnside

Jack has enjoyed seeing rare birds since 1963 when a Western Bonelli’s and two Melodious Warblers turned up on a ringing course at Dungeness. Born in Hertfordshire, much of his birding has been spent in the county, but rarer birds have taken him from Scilly to Shetland. He has birded much of Europe, North, South, East and West Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia. He has spent considerable time birding in North and Central America, particularly the USA where he has birded 23 of the contiguous States. Jack’s design work has brought him into close contact with birders such as Bryan Bland, Peter Grant, David Fisher and Steve Rooke. His second business, since 2000, is a bespoke birding tour company, in partnership with Gary Elton, mainly aimed at North American and other overseas birders visiting Britain. Jack served on the Herts Bird Club committee and edited the Bird Club’s Bulletin for nine years. He is a co-author and designer of The Breeding Birds of Hertfordshire (1993) and Birds of Hertfordshire (2015) and is co-author of the book Birds at Tring Reservoirs. Jack holds a ringing licence, is a member of the Maple Cross Ringing Group and helps to run a Constant Effort Site at Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Herts Rare Birds Panel member

Alan Gardiner

Alan joined the panel in 2016 on taking over from Ken Smith as Herts County Bird Recorder. He lives in Chiswell Green.

Herts Rare Birds Panel member

Roy Hargreaves

Roy was born in Lancashire and moved to Hampshire at an early age. From there he moved to Tring in 1988 and made Tring Reservoirs his local patch before unpacking. Since 1988 he has worked for BT in software development and is currently a Data Migration Specialist. Since 2004 he has largely worked from home and this has allowed him to walk down to and round Wilstone Reservoir on most mornings before work. As a result he has been able find several notable Hertfordshire birds of which Icterine Warbler, Richard’s Pipit and Red-footed Falcon are probably the most memorable. When he is away from Tring Roy loves to visit Shetland in the autumn and when travelling further afield has been to many countries, including less-visited ones such as Angola. He is also a moderately keen British lister and has seen over 500 species in Britain, but these days puts most of his efforts into trying to increase the list of species he has found at Tring Reservoirs. Roy also takes part in national surveys both at the reservoirs and on a nearby square for BBS. He also took part in the Timed Tetrad survey in 2007 to 2011. Roy has always had an interest in bird identification and many years ago wrote identification articles for Bird Watching magazine and particularly likes LBJs and the challenges they can present. Roy joined the Panel in 2015.

Herts Rare Bird Panel member

Barry Reed

Barry lives in Ware, goes birding almost every day and keeps a close eye on the birds at Amwell NR. He has found many county rarities and has an impressive knowledge of Herts rarities and their historical context. He has a special interested in gulls. He is one of the Top 20 Listing Birders in the UK and has been birding all over the world.