Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Be good to find this species roding in the area. Males tend to fly at tree height as from mid April, calling with a most distinctive sound. I suspect woods around here may hold resident pairs.
As the daylight increases in the mornings I will be out earlier, listening and noting the increase in bird species developing a territory. By the end of February many birds will have established a territory, or in cases like wren and dunnock that can have several females on the nest at the same time, several territories. By mid April the dawn chorus will be at its peak and then is the time for an early dawn walk. This can establish exactly which birds are in the area without actually observing them.
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Saturday, 26 January 2008
This morning, a rare bright and mild day, I set off to check previously aforementioned large finch flock on the south footpath some 600 yards before Winding Hill, Much Hadham. A walk along the River Ash gave 3 new species for the year. Firstly a superbly plumaged male bullfinch was noted in the hedge opposite Bridgefoot Farm. A walk to the "finch field" gave up usual corvids and pigeons along with good numbers of winter thrushes. No flock of finches were observed, they have obviously moved on. On the return walk I mused over what birds may be present over the ensuing months. The red brick shelter in one field looks good for an owl roost and swallow nestings, whilst the muddy riverbed looked like it should hold snipe. Within a minute, I flushed three snipe from the muddy patch on a meander. They flew high, circling before heading off east. Good bird to see and 4oth on the village list. The river level has dropped markedly since last weekend. I arrived back at Chapel Lane just in time to record a marsh tit on the feeder in the garden of one of the Ford cottages. Another expected species but all the same a pleasure to watch. In an attempt to find my camera the bird flew overhead on to bushes on Brick Kiln Hill. However, I shall venture down again as I suspect it feeds regularly on the nuts offered.
Whilst heading out of the village I called hello to a chap tinkering with his car, only to discover it was a chap I knew 20 years ago from Stortford. Not seen him for a fair while. Good to see you and Jill again, Andy.
Monday, 21 January 2008
On a dry and mild Sunday morning I set off on a new walk, taking in the area south west of home (see map to the right). A considerable amount of this area is Ash Valley golf course, but two footpaths cross the fairways, allowing good access to an area that I suspect will prove fruitful for spring migrants. It is an area of land that is around 90 metres above sea level and therefore able to offer sanctuary to migrating birds such as wheatear and maybe ring ouzel. Today's walk added 5 to the village list. Firstly, a flock of meadow pipits flew over the golf course. These were soon followed by the discovery of 3 reed buntings in a hedge adjacent to Caley Wood. The fungi photo above was taken in the damp wood.
I continued along the hedgerow south of the first holes of the golf course, flushing 4 red legged partridge. A reasonable flock of finches were feeding around a pheasant feeder just before I gained access to the road, crossed over and headed down to the River Ash, just south of Lordship Farmhouse. A footbridge crossed the swollen river. Soon I came across a large finch/bunting flock, probably numbering in excess of 200. Majority were chaffinches with over 40 yellowhammers. Others were goldfinches, greenfinches and a couple of reed buntings. A moorhen called from the adjacent field, making 5 new sp for the walk. I got back to the road at Bridgefoot Farm, where I chatted to the farmer, Mr Camp. I was after an allotment and had been told that he rented some out. Indeed he did and I now have my work cut out to prepare the allotment for sowing by Feb/March.
A splendid walk, realising 28 species of bird and one I must repeat soon as I need to get my telescope down to the finch flock to check if there were any other species mixed in. Brambling or siskin, perhaps? Finally, a muntjac deer, fearless, observed me as I made my way across the fields towards the road and farm
Photo below is taken, looking north along the Ash, with Bridgefoot Farm in the distance.
The photo below shows the junction of Chapel Lane at Ashford House and the Nags Head. In a small paperback book about the village there are several photos of this area going back to 1900's. One particularly shows flooding at the Ford in recent times. The book is by Stephen Ruff, available at Waterstones in Stortford.
Saturday, 19 January 2008
Friday, 18 January 2008
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Further along I encountered good numbers of winter thrushes; redwings heading north, calling from high. A lone skylark called, my first for the area. The hoped for yellowhammers were not to be found, instead a large party of long tailed tits, seen in the large oak tree at the top of Brick Kiln hill. A thorough search through these failed to produce any other species.
On my walk back to te village from the war memorial a lone sparrowhawk was working the side of the hill, scattering tits and finches. Mistle thrushes were watched in an open field, before I returned home, covered in mud. The whole area appeared to be awash. In all, a species count of 27. A few photographs and another map, pertinent to this walk will be added shortly.
In the evening, a chance encounter with both the local farmer and gamekeeper gave me the opportunity to seek permission to enter the private woods that surround the village. This was granted, so many thanks to Paul and Steve for this.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Monday, 7 January 2008
- Jono Forgham
- 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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/
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.
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