It started in 1994 when a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) newsletter intended for a neighbour was posted through her letterbox in Bushey by mistake but, 21 years later, Janet Reynolds is still a member of the charity’s Watford group as well as being on its committee, and enjoying her membership to the full.

“Before taking that programme to where it should have gone, I read it and thought ‘This looks interesting’,” remembers Janet, who has been the group’s secretary since 2003. “I went along to the first meeting they had after that and haven’t stopped going!

“I used to like bird watching as a teenager but there’d been a long lapse where I wasn’t actively doing it. But my love for it has been rekindled and grown from there.”

Janet, along with scores of other bird watchers and nature lovers, regularly attends the group’s Wednesday evening talks from a visiting or resident wildlife expert, plus goes on its popular local walks and coach trips to places like Norfolk, Suffolk and Dorset, and joins in with the regular bird nest box-making projects to supply local parks and golf courses with homes for their feathered friends, all to raise funds for the RSPB.

Next Wednesday evening she will be joining the group in celebrating its 40th anniversary, at an event that includes a presentation on Patagonia by long-standing members Andy and Mel Jardine as well as various other forms of entertainment, a birthday cake and drinks served in special celebratory mugs.

Janet puts the group’s longevity down to the members – some of whom have been coming along for more than 30 years – and the variety of activities they take part in.

“We’re a very friendly group and everybody is really committed,” she says. “We have a good programme of talks and trips, and everybody will do as much as they possibly can to help.

“Everybody’s welcome to any of our meetings, walks or coach trips, and to our anniversary meeting next week,” Janet continues. “We’d love to welcome more members.”

  • Watford RSPB celebrates its 40th birthday at The Stanborough Centre, Stanborough Park Church, St Albans Road, Watford on Wednesday, June 10 at 8pm. Details: 01582 792843, 


Bentley Priory

The bird list includes buzzard, spotted flycatcher, bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker and stock dove. Summer brings whitethroat, garden warbler, blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff while winter brings redpoll, siskin, fieldfare, redwing and goldcrest. Summerhouse Lake is good for mandarin and, in winter, goosander, smew have been seen, but rarely. Since 2008 ring necked parakeets have been present on the reserve.

Cassiobury Park

In spring whitethroat, blackcap, chiffchaff and garden warbler are present. In winter siskin, redpoll, water rail and thrushes are regularly seen. Nuthatch and treecreeper are reliable and since 2008, little egret (occasionally) and ring necked parakeets have been recorded.

Croxley Common Moor

Resident birds include green woodpecker, kingfisher, grey wagtail and reed bunting. In spring/summer the list of warblers includes chiffchaff, blackcap, willow, sedge, reed, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat. Grasshopper warbler has been heard reeling each year since 2005 with hobby and cuckoo seen regularly in May. Migrants include meadow pipit and whinchat. Common terns are seen over the river and the canal. Year round, kestrel, sparrowhawk, buzzard and red kite fly over, while winter brings the thrushes, siskin and redpoll.

Merry Hill, Bushey

Over the seasons the following birds are present: buzzard and red kite rarely, kestrel, jackdaw, skylark, meadow pipit, reed bunting, stonechat, bullfinch, yellow hammer, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, mistle thrush, redwing, fieldfare and wheatear on passage.

Stockers Lake, Rickmansworth

Wintering ducks include goldeneye, gooseander, smew, shoveler plus all the usual species. In spring the warblers include sedge, reed, blackcap, willow, whitethroat and garden. The heronry has up to 70 breeding pairs and common terns nest on the rafts provided. At Springwell Lake in spring, cuckoo and cetti’s warbler can be heard and seen. Stockers Field on the other side of the canal should be checked for little ringed plover, little owl and lapwing.

Whippendell Woods

The diversity of habitat supports a variety of birds with five of the tit species, three of the finches, spotted flycatcher, goldcrest, tree creeper and nuthatch with siskin and repoll in the winter. Tawny owls breed in the wood and are usually on the dawn chorus list. All three woodpeckers breed in the wood and there are also badger setts.