Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Bus trip

Caught the 6.54a.m. as usual from the Nags Head this morning. Handy bus route and sensible time. Whilst waiting, the regular Great Spotted woodie drummed from opposite and a green woodpecker called. Wood pigeons, jackdaws and rooks were airbourne in the bright, frosty light. Blackbirds, robins and the usual song thrush sang and were joined by great tits, chaffinches and a single goldfinch. A kestrel was observed from the bus at the junction of the A120 and Millfield Lane. However, away from the village patch, a good sighting was made in Dunmow Road, Stortford as I walked to work. This was in the form of 2 greylag geese, heading west at 7.20a.m. An unusual flyover sight for the town.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

New addition to list



A long walk , in glorious spring like weather produced a good count of birds enjoying the warmer temperatures. The highlight was discovering a female stonechat. This was observed adjacent to the 7th and 8th hole of Ash Valley golf course. Good views were afforded before it followed the line of a ditch that runs across the course. Other notables were common buzzard over the valley, watched from Bush Wood and 2 large flocks of buntings, containing many yellowhammers (1 party of 25+, the other slightly less) and several male and female reed buntings. 12 skylarks were counted singing whilst 6 green woodpeckers and a solitary great spotted were seen or heard. The latter was drumming in its usual spot opposite the Nags Head. A coffee at the golf club gave up the first robin and dunnock of the walk. Goldcrests were heard in Alder wood, although not observed and a single kestrel also hovered over the course. In all, 28 species were observed and/or heard. The blackthorn (prunus spinosa) is now beginning to blossom as shown in the photo. The other photo was taken between Much and Little Hadham, looking north. The brick cattle shed can be seen where I waited, unsuccessfully last night for a possible barn owl.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Dusk wander



A pleasant wander this evening south of the village on an owl hunt. On my way a single yellowhammer was still requesting "a little bit of bread and no cheese" from its regular haunt near the golf course. The resident mallards occupied their usual space on the River Ash as a single green woodpecker flew from tree to tree in front of me. I sat opposite a red brick cattle shed for almost an hour. I thought a good place for a barn owl roost, but up until 6.15pm no such owl appeared. However, 4 tawny owls called from various locations, whilst 1 little owl screeched from near Ash Valley club house. Large numbers of corvids headed south and pheasants seemed to be having an on going argument, with 4 separate birds calling from hedgerows. As I walked back home a tawny owl watched me from an oak tree, whilst the little owl obligingly perched on a telegraph pole. More mimicry from myself persuaded another tawny owl to call. This was opposite Bridgefoot Farm.
I include a few photos from last weekend, especially Sunday that was bright and frosty. A short, early morning walk produced little of note. Just great to be there. The top one is the view towards Brick Kiln Hill, looking east at 8.00am, whilst the second is looking east later in the morning. This was taken from New Road, just before it joins the Little Hadham, Much Hadham road.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Waiting for the bus

Another mild but grey morning outside the Nags Head waiting for the 6.54. As yesterday, robins and blackbirds were singing, with the addition of a wren from the opposite hedge. The local pheasant called as carrion crows croaked from Muggin's Wood.
Over head, with the lighter mornings, the local corvids were off in a northerly direction. A count of 240 rooks and 325 jackdaws was made in the 8 minutes at the bus stop. I shall keep a count of these over the ensuing weeks, as many of the birds have now taken to the nests that are all around the Ford.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Dusk and Dawn

After a superb sunset, which I was unable to photograph as I was travelling home from work, I spent a little time listening in the garden. A reward was a calling Little Owl from somewhere around the war memorial green to the south of the village. This was at 9.00pm A tawny owl also called from towards Muggin's Wood. Too far to respond to my mimickery.
This morning I was awaiting the 6.54hrs bus and more birds are joining the throng of dawn singers. A pheasant called from the nearby woods as a greenfinch sang from opposite Ford cottages. 3 robins, 2 blackbirds and the regular song thrush were also in good voice. Great and blue tits were giving themselves away and a lone goldfinch sang from the treees behind Ashford House. The resident jackdaws were having their normal wake up calls and 2 carrion crows headed off north, through the mist, in a most purposeful manner.

Friday, 15 February 2008

North west walk with 3 new species


A cold and grey lunchtime walk up Chapel Lane and around to Queer Wood, coming back into the village at The Ridgeway. First up, with a small party of great and blue tits I heard a treecreeper calling. A patient wait of several minutes elapsed before I found him in an oak on the left hand side of Chapel Lane just after Home Farm. Great views but disappointing photo due to poor light. As I turned off the lane and skirted the golf course towards Bromley Lane, a calling male nuthatch attracted my attention. Again, a search through the branches paid dividends. 2 new species in 10 minutes. The 3rd addition to the list was a stock dove, flushed from a pheasant feeder near the path east of Queer Wood. Fieldfares and redwings called as they flew and good numbers (100's) of corvids filled the fields. A lone kestrel exited Queer Wood as 6 pheasant (all female) either ran or flew away. 3 moorhens were noted near Bromley Lane, a first for this walk.

As well as the treecreeper in Chapel Lane hedge, blackbirds, long tailed tits, wrens, robins and a dunnock were either heard or seen. A second treecreeper was heard and seen just before Queer Wood, consorting with a small party of long tailed tits. A single song thrush came from the hedge as I walked down towards Pathway cottages before I headed home. A wheezing greenfinch was heard from the chapel grounds. In all28 species of bird, plus usual grey squirrel and rabbits.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Valentine's Day wander



Having returned from a 3 day trip to Poznan, Poland, where I spent one day birding, see http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=107459 for report, I was out on my south east walk today. The usual finches, tits and corvids were all noted before I passed Field House. A particularly noisy song thrush attracted my attention as did some fly over black headed gulls and a lone jay. Once on the ridge towards Bush Wood I heard golden plover calling. A quick scan of the field with field beans just breaking through gave up great views of 11 of this super bird. They circled the field for 5 minutes, giving a glorious fly past where I could hear their wingbeats, before they gained height and headed off in a westerly direction. I suspect migrating birds, but may also be part of the flock of 250+ that have over wintered on the old aerodrome between Allens Green and Trimms Green. Further along, in not great light, I heard the first of three green woodpeckers. A kestrel came from Bush Wood (top photo shows the pond in this small coppice) as I sat on the bench for my picnic of olives and French cider. If a small olive grove appears here in years to come, you'll know why! Two hares trotted across the field as I watched more black headed gulls laze their way north.
Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) covered the floor of Bush Wood, with its small green flowers. A poisonous plant that spreads by having creeping underground stems. The name implies that it is a worthless version of the Annual Mercury which has medicinal uses.
As I dropped down to the River Ash, a grey heron rose from its banks. A new species and 50th for the year. The return walk up to Bridgefoot Farm added 3 moorhens, a party (charm) of goldfinches a great spotted woodpecker and a selection of familiar winter thrushes.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

South west walk



Spent Saturday wandering on my patch that encompasses the golf course and Caley Wood. Nothing new on offer but, due to the bright light and unseasonably warm temperatures, much was observed. A pair of kestrels were mating near Bridgefoot Farm and fieldfares seemed to be restless. Maybe time to move north they were thinking.


The resident mallard pair were observed on the Ash as a third kestrel was seen. Snowdrops added colour throughout the walk as singing great and blue tits were heard. In all 4 green woodpeckers were spotted and a great spotted woodie drummed from its favourite tree opposite the Nags Head. Later, in the garden, a flyby pair of Canada geese made an addition to my list for the year.

I watched, enthralled, as a golfer took her ball from the stream that runs through the course, dropped it, and then immediately hit it back into the stream! The frustration of golf seemed a strange pursuit as a pair of skylarks flapped by. Suspect a good breeding area for them on the golf course. A lone daylight fox was observed around the golf club buildings as I walked towards Lordship Farm. Later one, a pair of muntjacs stood stationary as I watched. The only other mammal seen was a grey squirrel.

First photo is a view from the lounge door. Brick Kiln hill past the chapel often offers great sights of a female sparrowhawk.
The labelled photo was taken from the corner of the golf course looking north east. The morning frost still visible on the northern side of the hedgerow.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Viewing west and south west from Muggin's Wood

Both these views were taken from the western side of Muggin's Wood. The footpath I use when returning from a north west walk around Queer Wood runs adjacent to the hedgerow seen on the right of the photo below Queer Wood.
On the second photo the footpath travels across the golf course and enters Alder Wood just to the left of the white house seen in the right centre of the photo. Again, click on the photo to enlarge for better viewing.

The Grove Millennium Wood walk



This morning, a blustery one, I ventured north east, before heading south east towards Bury Green. My target, having birded Muggin's Wood and surrounds was The Grove Millennium Wood (map reference TL448216). This is a splendid haven, adjacent to Bury Green Farm. Planted in 2000, with 2000 trees it also boasts a small pond holding bullrushes. Regular visits will be made here as it looks good for wild plants and therefore butterflies, moths and dragonflies. A sedge or reed warbler here would be a most welcome bonus to the village list. A picnic bench looks likely to offer evening sanctuary for a cold beer whilst observing the local wildlife.
The whole walk gave up 20+ species, but again, with nothing new. A mewing common buzzard was heard but not seen as I walked down Hoecroft Lane whilst a covey of 7 red legged partridge were flushed from a ditch alongside Muggin's. A reed bunting called from the hedge by the Ford along with usual finches and tits. A solitary adult lesser black backed gull winged south in comany with 14 black headed gulls. A lone herring gull was also noted from Brick Kiln Hill. A kestrel gave itself up from a tree in Acremore Street as I returned to the Green, just in time to witness a pair of mallards on the Ash. The season is moving on and certain of the regular garden birds are beginning to become more territorial, especially the male blackbirds and robins. The Chapel jackdaws are pairing off and inspecting likely nesting sites. High on the wanted list here are the Chapel chimneys, obviously a desireable residence.
Photos attached are of the signs in the splendid Millennium Wood. Click on the top one for a larger view to enable reading the information.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Late afternoon N.W. wander.


Having taken the school bird club out for a morning around Stansted airport lagoons and Hatfield Forest lake (38 species in all) I spent the last two hours of daylight on the north west route. Very quiet birding, with the highlight being a flock of 26 pied wagtails in a field north of Chapel Lane. Good numbers of house sparrows and chaffinches were observed around Home Farm barns and 2 green woodpeckers were noted. A lone muntjac was photographed near Westland Green.

A charm of goldfinches made their presence known in Chapel Lane and a flock of 50+ fieldfares headed west to roost. Large numbers of rooks ( 500+) fed on a field near Queer Wood as blue and great tits kept me company throughout the walk. A single great spotted woodpecker was heard to add to the 19 species seen. Becoming quite sharp as the temperature dropped with the setting sun.

This walk, although devoid of many birds at present, looks good for scrub birds, especially warblers later in the year. Several patches of unmanaged land should hold chiffchaff, willow warbler along with blackcap and whitethroat. Roll on April.

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