Thursday, 29 May 2008

40 species in a day, and that's only birds!














Thursday 29th May and off on an extended walk. Weather forecast good (20C) before rain expected 4.00pm. Walked between 10.30 - 2.30 and counted a record 40 species of birds, plus new butterflies, plants and bugs. Great day.



Highlight number 1 was recording corn bunting, a pair on shrubs on the golf course. Interrupted my picnic! Whilst sitting on the bench next to the 2d green a common buzzard flew by, carrying prey. Soon disappeared from view so only a distant, hazy shot. Highlight number 2: a small heath butterfly on grassland near 2nd hole fairway. A species that's not easy to photograph. One included here, just enough to id from. This species rarely opens its wings when resting and/or feeding. Highlight number 3: common blue butterfly went past the club house as I left following a coffee. Again, too fast to manage a snap. Highlight number 4: 2 red kites viewed fro the Ash Valley. Both were circling over the Ridge footpath, north east from where I was below Bush Wood. Again only distant shots but enough to show diagnostic forked tail. What a morning!



Also found a forest bug, showing its superb camouflage and a ground beetle of the species (I think) pterostichus madidus. Also a male bullfinch along Chapel Lane, a family of newly fledged long tailed tits near Westland Green, feeding in holly, a treecreeper calling from the footpath south from Chapel Lane plus 1 speckled wood butterfly, 3 large whites, 9 small whites and 1 male brimstone. Disappointingly, no damsel or dragonflies. A male reed bunting showed well along the footpath parallel to the 1st hole, consorting with yellowhammers and goldfinches. Finally, a family of mallards were observed on theAsh, south of the Ford.



Oxeye daisy (leucanthemum vulgare) and red clover (trifolium pratense) both found in verges along Chapel Lane whilst foxglove (digitalis purperea) and common poppy (papaver rhoeas) were photographed on the footpath near the golf club. Amazingly, the last 2 birds I recorded to make the 40 were the humble starling and blue tit, both at Hadham Ford, where a blackcap was singing well. Even tried to be a little arty with the camera as the sunlight entering Caley Wood through the canopy was too good to miss.

Bush Wood, River Ash and Ridge Walk 27.05.08







After several days of continuous rain, the weather eventually changed and became a tad muggy. Good weather for emerging insects I thought and so it was.


31 species of bird were registered, with a new bird for the list being a group of sand martins, feeding over Chapel Lane in the evening. Also of note, a low flying cormorant headed south at 12.30 p.m. whilst a solitary lapwing headed north, observed from the bench adjacent to Bush Wood.Both good birds to see locally. The rest was the usual suspects, including warblers I the shape of common whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff. Woodpeckers are obviously breeding and the young great spotted could be heard from tree holes.


1 orange tip, 12 small whites and 7 large white butterflies were counted but the highlight was a scorpion fly (panorpa germanica) photographed in Bush Woods. There had obviously been an emergence of silver ground carpet moths as there were numbers in excess of 15, resting on hazel and elder leaves. Regular sightings of the beetle canharbis rustica were made. A small, flying beetle with red wings and black body. Easy to find on plants, especially the parsley family. New plants came in the shape of wood avens (geum urbanium) perennial sows ear thistle (sonchus arvensis) and herb robert (geranium robertanium) An azure damselfly was observed feeding along the River Ash, as was a spotted cranefly and Tetragnatha extensa spider. See attached photographs for these. A good 2 hour walk with an enjoyable beer at Bush Wood bench. Photographs are fairly explanatory, nothing rare, just firsts for the year. The colours on the spotted cranefly are particularly bright, a newly emerged specimen probably. The scorpion fly despite its name is harmless, the male having a mock sting on the ed of the abdomen rather like a scorpion. This photo of the spotted winged insect is a female. Note the large proboscis on this creature; click on photos to enlarge. The Tetragnatha extensa is making a tasty meal of what looks like a cranefly.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Sunday afternoon

After heavy drizzle all morning and most of the afternoon I managed to get out for a quick wander around Hadham Ford and Brick Kiln Hill. Green woodpeckers can always be found in the field opposite South Cottages and so it was today. My aim was to get some reasonable photos, but the grey light prohibited this. Good views through the bins but I shall wait for a sunnier day when the colours of the bird show at their best. Other birds of note were all the usual suspects. Chiffchaffs, blackcaps and common whitethroats a plenty. Starlings were constantly commuting from nests around the ford to the sheep fields and returning with beaks full of insects.
Too damp for any insect activity. Presently the rain is heavy so maybe another grey wander later in the afternoon.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Millennium Wood Walk 24.05.08





An afternoon and early evening session was spent at Millennium Wood. Good selection of regular birds with the unusual also being observed. These came in the shape of, firstly, 2 great black backed gulls wending their way north east and later a 2nd year herring gull travelling south. Willow warblers called from the trees in the wood, as did blackcaps, whitethroats and chiffchaffs. The resident reed buntings were seen in the bullrushes as a pair of bullfinches dived for cover in the undergrowth. Green and great spotted woodpeckers were heard and seen. A walk past Muggins Wood on the outward journey also gave up long tailed, great and blue tits whilst a walk along Hoecroft Lane on the return journey offered a cuckoo calling from a large oak. A common blue damselfly was recorded in Acremore Street and orange tips, large and small white butterflies seemed to accompany me . Several unidentified day flying moths were also seen but no dragonflies around the Millennium Wood pond, which appeared to be very dry.

Highlight, however was managing to get some good images of a fox that appeared to be too busy hunting to bother about my presence. Dog rose (rosa canina) was photographed near the wood and cuckooflower (cardamine pratensis) was discovered along Hoecroft Lane.

Friday, 23 May 2008

New species for the year






A walk in wonderful weather between 5.45 - 7.30pm gave up my 71st species for the year in the shape of several overhead house martins. A walk across the golf course and then through Alder wood gave 29 species in all, the highlight being a treecreeper in the wood. Several skylarks sang over the golf course, heard from Chapel Lane. Swallows and swifts appeared to have increased their numbers locally. New plants found were jacob's ladder ( polemonium caeruleum) and wild strawberry (fragaria vesca), should be fruiting in the near future. A single large red damselfly was seen resting on reeds in the River Ash, where also 3 orange tip butterflies were noted. Photographs addede today depict a mating large red damselfly, the red insect being the male in what is known as the "wheel position", a pied wagtail feeding on Chapel Lane, a singing whitethroat on top of conifers near Home Farm. Also there is flowering jacob's ladder, disovered in the verge near Westland Green and finally a distant shot of a singing male yellowhammer, seen at the junction of Chapel Lane and New Lane.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Allotment gardening 13.05.08. 70th species

A couple of hours putting seedlings in, hoeing and general preparation for more last night proved most fruitful.
The early highlight was being given great views of an immaculate male bullfinch, with his partner nearby. No camera, of course as the views were so good! Singing warblers were everywhere, with common whitethroats, the 1 lesser whitethroat and several blackcaps making themselves known. Usual green and chaffinches were also evident and my work was accompanied by the regular singing of a showy male yellowhammer. However, about 6.45pm my attention was drawn skywards by the sudden emergence of over 100 roosting jackdaws being flushed from an oak tree. Just in time, I observed a hobby wending its way northwards, directly overhead. Great views again. This constituted my 70th bird species for the year in and around Hadham Ford. A most creditable result for 4 and a half months.Where was my camera?
Butterflies enjoyed the hot evening weather, with usual sp. on show. i.e. orange tips (plenty) speckled wood (several) and a few peacocks and whites, both large and small. Don't want too many of these as I am just putting out my red cabbages and cauliflowers which are the usual larval food plant for both white species. Rabbits were also abundant.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Evening wander 06.05.08




A quiet and short time was spent on the allotment, where much was heard and some birds observed. Highlight was the first lesser whitethroat of the year; singing from atop a bramble bush. Unfortunately, not permitting good photo opportunities. However, a great tit and dunnock gave themselves for the camera as did a first speckled wood butterfly of the season. In all, there were 5 of these species, along with 12+ orange tips and 3+ peacock butterflies. A young rabbit was also photogenic whereas 3 young leverets were too far away for a quality snap. Also singing in the scrub were blackcap, common whitethroat and chiffchaff. Unusually, no willow warblers were heard. Green woodpeckers yaffled as the rooks, with young in the nest, screeched and called until dusk.

This morning, waiting at Hadham Cross lights, three swifts were observed overhead, again, a first for the year. Two new plants were photographed, both common species: common comfrey (symphytum offcinale); good to rub on bruises and scratches and upright hedge parsley (torilis japonica)
Photos shown here are of the speckled wood butterfly, great tit and dunnock with the young rabbit to complete the set.

Monday, 5 May 2008

2nd dawn chorus walk 04.05.08

A 4.15 am start from Chapel Lane with grey skies and poor light. A session sitting on the bench at The Ford gave up the usual species for here, with 2 flyover mallards being an attraction. Song thrushes and blackbirds competed for the volume whilst wrens, tits and finches added their own songs. Firstly, a walk to Millennium Wood where a reed bunting sang from the bull rushes, but not enough light for a worthwhile photo. I had with me my new zoom lens for my Nikon and was expecting good results, although much practice will be needed to get the best from this smart piece of kit. Yellowhammers and chiffchaffs also called at the wood, before I headed off down Hoecroft Lane and along the ridge to Bush Wood. A green woodpecker showed well along with plenty of hares and rabbits. Two muntjac were photographed on the bean field adjacent to Bush Wood. Here the 1st new species of May was recorded; a garden warbler singing from the corner near the bench. Also, the main surprise of the walk was heard, a solitary lapwing calling from the field before heading off south west, maybe to Amwell gravel pits where there is a small summer population. Common whitethroats and blackcaps also added to the cacophony as 5 pheasants and 2 red legged partridges were recorded in fields. A walk over the Ash towards the golf club gave the first swallows of the walk and a newly dug fox earth was discovered on the side of the road just before the entrance to the golf club. A pied wagtail flew over as I enjoyed a coffee and a jay had a disagreement with a great spotted woodpecker in trees next to the club house. Goldfinches flew over as I walked up New Lane before a splendid male orange tip posed for a few photos just south of the ford. Back by 9.00am. Good walk with 37 species being recorded in all. Still plenty of migrants to find, with the first house martins and swifts still to arrive. Both have been recorded locally so just a matter of time. Also expected will be hobby and lesser whitethroat. Finally, a family ofblackbirds, including two recently fledged birds were found in the Ford Field allotments. One young bird remained patient whilst I attempted to work out how the lens functioned. The result can be seen here. Upon returning to the garden a collared dove gave me the opportunity to pracitce some more with the lens.

Friday, 2 May 2008

First May walk

May 1st and a walk to Millennium Wood between 6.00 - 7.30pm En route saw and heard usual fare,with great views of a large female sparrow hawk and male kestrel towards Muggin's Wood. Long tailed tits called as I headed along Hoecroft Lane in steady drizzle. I arrived at Millennium Wood where all was quiet in the shower. However, the sun soon appeared and birds began to call. In the 45 minutes I was there the highlights were 2 bullfinches and a superb male reed bunting. The latter posing on the bullrushes that can be found in the pond. In all I counted:
pheasant (2), blackbird (3), blue tit (4), chiffchaff(4), carrion crow (3), rook (4), robin (2), green woodpecker (1), great tit (4), chaffinch (4), wood pigeon (16), stock dove (1), song thrush (2), starling (1), bullfinch (2), goldfinch (3), reed bunting (2), yellowhammer (1) and a solitary muntjac, plus numerous rabbits. Upon my return, 3 common whitethroats were observed on Brick Kiln Hill.
This wood certainly needs a regular watch during the breeding season as I am sure hot summer days will provide much in the way of butterflies and dragonflies as well as numerous bird species.

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