Monday, 5 December 2016

Wander back from town

After a Costa coffee I set off in sharp, frosty conditions with bright sky, looking forward to some bird photography. However, very little on show and what I did see was too distant for worthwhile shots. Great and blue tits abounded along with robins, dunnocks and a few long tailed tits. Several flyover jays and plenty of wood pigeons were about the sum total for the whole 4 mile wander.
Posing blue tit
However, the walk was saved along the path from Green Street to Millfiled Lane. Across the field I noted 1, then 2 foxes playing near the field edge, before they bounded off into the long grass. A couple of long distant fox photos are always pleasing.
Distant pair of foxes
As I approached a gap in the hedge, I noted a 3rd fox rooting around in the brambles close to a ditch.
Unaware of my presence

Heard the camera from 40 yards away
I used the bend in the footpath to slowly approach the gap in the hedge, hidden from the foxes view. Of course, she could hear me and was not present when I crept around the corner. However, foxes are by nature, inquisitive creatures and I knew she would be somewhere close watching me. I slowly found a space in the undergrowth and only had to wait a few minutes.
As expected, she came out to see what was going on.
 Rather disappointingly, there were a few bramble shoots across the face and obscuring the eyes, so I needed to move. She had her gaze firmly on me and wasn't going to move anymore into the open. Chatting quietly to her, I moved a yard or so to the left and managed some pleasing shots in good light.
Better shot

Quick change of camera settings to highlight the fur colour.
After about 30 seconds she was gone into the undergrowth and I carried on, spotting common gull, yellowhammer, jays, skylarks and a solitary meadow pipit. A quiet walk with a definite highlight. Whilst I appreciate that these mammals can be destructive to chicken farmers etc I fail 100% to comprehend the desire to rip them to pieces with hunting dogs. So much more pleasant to see then looking this healthy in a rural setting and not the mangy ones that can be spotted emptying fish and chip wrappers from bins in the town. Clearly, by the state of the coat and the brightness of the eyes, this is a very healthy young vixen and it was a privilege to watch her in her habitat, not mine.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Western Conifer Seed bug


Sent from my iPhoneCame across this W.C. Seed bug whilst gardening in Little Hadham on Tuesday. Only my 2nd record in the parish, so good to see. Looking for a good hibernation site, I suspect.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Red Kite

Whilst wandering up to Little Hadham Place to check for leaf miners yesterday afternoon, I chanced upon one of the local red kites. The light was good so a few photos. Unfortunately, the closest it came was when I had the sun directly between me and the magnificent bird. However, a few pleasing snaps.







Flyby male kestrel, too

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Norfolk Day

A not too early start and then a queue due to a serious accident near Mildenhall meant I arrived at Holkham Bay at 10.15. Leaving the car in Lady Anne's Drive and immediately registering wigeon and pink footed geese, I set off, firstly through the woods for firecrests but only goldcrests heard and seen. I headed to where a large flock of shore lark had been reported. They were still present, but distant so not really worth taking photos. In total I estimated around 80, the largest flock I have seen since the 1990's, so a great start to the day. The light was fantastic as I headed to the dunes for a sea watch.
Lady Anne's Drive wigeon

Brent geese at Holkham Bay

Distant shore lark

As close as I wanted to get!
The sea was full of common scoter, with a solitary red breasted merganser whilst several red throated divers were seen further out. As usual, sanderling ran around in the surf and oystercatechers roosted on a rapidly disappearing sand bar. Meadow pipits and skylark overhead. A flyby gaggle of brents.
easterly herring gull

few of the 100's of common scoters
Sanderling flock


Sanderling

And another sanderling
After several hours enjoying the beach I headed back to the car and off to Cley. After a pastie I checked the 3 main hides in the middle of the reserve but very little of interest, so continued to Sheringham with a view to finish the day with a sea watch as the tide would be high about half an hour before dusk. Turnstones, as usual on the promenade lent themselves to a few photos but no sign of purple sandpiper in its usual winter haunt outside the Funky Mackerel cafe. Very little of note out to sea, so a change of plan. I headed back to Cley beach where I could sea watch and check the area to the west for short eared and barn owls. Nothing really happened so eventually packed up and headed home.
Jackdaw at Holkham

Cley scrape from Daukes Hide

drake teal at Cley

Solitary black tailed godwit in fading light

Black headed gull at Sheringham

Confiding turnstone, Sheringham

Looking west from Sheringham promenade

Leaf Mining Days

Last Sunday, 6th Nov, we met up in Millennium Wood for a leaf mining search. Leaf mines are marks left on leaves from where moth, fly and beetle caterpillars and larvae eat their way around the leaf, between the 2 layers. By autumn these tracks have become clearly visible as the leaf fades to autumnal colours. 10 children, accompanied by adults, spent an hour wander ing around the wood, collecting bags of leaves to be checked. Between Graeme Smith and myself we managed to identify 20 species of micro moth from the leaves discovered.
To identify these firstly you need to know the tree from which the leaf was taken and then each caterpillar makes a track that is often specific to that species. www.leafminers.co.uk is a most helpful site to help with identification.
I then spent time in local woods where I have run moth traps to add to the year list. Still have several larger woods to check in the next few days, before all the leaves disappear.
Millennium Wood path

Guelder rose berries

Glorious morning in the wood

Leaf mine on hazel of Phyllonorycter coryli, the nut blister moth

On hazel, Phyllonorycter nicellii

Stigmella aceris on field maple

Several species have mined this hazel leaf.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Waxwing Photos

Last Sunday a solitary first year female waxwing showed up in Bishop's Stortford. I managed to get a few photos in dreadful light but today I had time to return and, in brilliant light managed a pleasing set of shots.











Sunday, 30 October 2016

Moth update

Few new moths on to the macro list: pale November moth, Feathered thorn and Sprawler take the macro list to 252 for the year.
Trap was left on Brick Kiln Hill on Saturday night and took nothing but a garden spider, male common earwig and a slug. Friday night I netted Westland Green and took a November moth agg and Millennium Wood gave up 2 Brick. Friday night the trap was left in the graveyard at the bottom of our garden and, again, empty. Tonight, it will be in a neglected wood for a few hours, being collected at 10.45 as I have a busy day tomorrow.
First Feathered thorn of the year

A male with antennae like this

First Sprawler of 2016. Still struggling with depth of field with my new macro lens.

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander