Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday 28th July: new butterfly species





A morning walk in increasingly oppressive temperatures and humidity proved worthwhile as I photographed a green veined white butterfly. This specimen, shown here, was observed feeding on the nectar from the marjoram that grows wild along the banks of the River Ash south of the Ford. A common and expected butterfly, but good to record with the camera. Also, photographs of common darters in flight Again, a first for the year. One especially pleasing capture being of a pair ovipositing (egg laying) in the River Ash towards Lordship Farm. Note the red male holding the female as she dips her tail into the water, laying one egg at a time. This procedure can carry on for 3 - 6 minutes and the eggs normally hatch within 2 weeks, unless laid after September in which case they remain dormant (diapause) and hatch the following spring. The larvae take just one year to develop before emerging in the morning in late June and begin their adult life. Also pleasing was to capture the male in flight, shown here.
In all, 8 butterfly species were recorded, with a newly emerged, brilliantly marked peacock and a very worn and old small tortoiseshell also depicted.
A pied wagtail (juvenile) was photographed on the short course at Ash Valley G.C., where swallows fed over the 18th fairway and jays squawked from the nearby oaks. Fledgling kestrels were heard in several trees, with at least 4 examples of early, if not maiden, flights being observed. These were recognisable by their clumsy landing technique, i.e. flying into a tree and crashing into the leaves with wings open. No understanding of air brakes as yet!
On my return home I managed to get a snap of a holly blue feeding on the herbs outside the front of the house. This was my 3rd new record for the day, taking the species of butterflies observed around the village to a highly impressive 21.
To complete the set here, a carrion crow, in a state of untidy moult appeared unhappy to see me along New Road.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Morning walk 24.07.08






A brief visit along the Ash and up to the golf course this morning. Highlight was a newly emerged peacock butterfly, showing that the2nd emergence of certain butterflies is about to begin. Hopefully, over the next fortnight, there will be plenty of these species around along with some migratory species such as red admiral and maybe painted lady. Keep an eye on local buddlia bushes for these three colourful insects.

Skylarks sang over the wheat field and a family of green woodpeckers called from the sheep field opposite South Cottages.

I stumbled on a newly dead elephant hawkmoth, shown here. Plenty of these night flying creatures around, just hard to find and observe as they hide themselves away during daylight. A new plant, in the form of musk marrow (malva moschata) was photographed along the banks of the Ash whilst a teasel (dipsacus fullonum) showed it was just coming into flower,also on the Ash banks Finally a recently fledged robin called from the cherry tree at the bridge.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Westland Green 23.07.08





An evening visit to Westland Green produced several new sightings for the year. I was trying for more marbled white photos, but although present, failed to settle before heading off over the road and out of sight. However, I managed to photo a common green grasshopper that was singing in the vegetation and also snapped common bird's foot trefoil (lotus corniculatus.) This is the plant that the six spot burnet moth has as its larval food plant. Another photo of this moth is included here, showing the crimson underwing. Very noticeable when in flight. Finally, a photo of the fore wings of the wonderful comma butterfly. This one was being extremely territorial and endeavoured to chase any other butterfly away.

Easterly wander








A longer walk this morning, over Brick Kiln Hill to Millennium Wood and then on to Tescos and back. Good number of birds encountered, 30 sp for the whole walk, but no real highlights. A common buzzard was over Bury Green and the regular pied wagtails were observed at Little Hadham cricket ground. Plenty of swallow movement, esp. over the polo fields and M. Wood. Several chiffchaffs "wheeted" from oaks at Millennium Wood whilst one called the more regular chiffchaff song. A blackcap sang from the hedgerow in Millfield Lane. A photo of a swallow on wires was taken from this Lane.
The regular butterflies were present, with 2 views of a gatekeeper shown here, depicting the diagnostic 2 white patches in the eye spot on the fore wings. Also shown here, another view of a ringlet. A brown hawker dragonfly flew past as I entered M Wood.
Scarlet pimpernel ( anagallis arvensis) was recorded in amongst maize, set for pheasant cover and I also include a photo of field bindweed (convolvulus arvensis). This is a regular sight along the hedgerows.
Finally, a photo of oedemera nobilis, here showing the male with its bulbous green hind legs. The final photo shows a chiffchaff, unfortunately in poor light, although the temperature was high.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Unusual Hertfordshire butterfly







Set out this morning for a wander up Chapel Lane, around Westland Green and then through Queer Wood. Birds on the outward wander were highlighted by nuthatch and treecreeper, although neither offered good photo opportunities. Linnets showed in good numbers and an immature wren posed perfectly for the camera along the footpath off Chapel Lane.
However, upon arriving at Westland Green, intending to take the path over to Queer Wood I was distracted by an unusual black and white butterfly. I took a load of flight shots to confirm identification before carrying on the wander. After 25 minutes they (2 of them) failed to rest but I was pretty sure they were marbled whites. Swallows and swifts called from above as another migratory party of sand martins headed south. Finally goldfinches were enjoying the thistle seeds near Home Farm and gave a final photo opportunity.
Having confirmed the id of the marble whites I then returned and managed to get a few reasonable shots of them at rest.
Also observed were a single brown hawker dragonfly along with numerous skippers (Essex and Small) meadow browns and small whites along with a few large whites, gatekeepers, 1 comma and a smattering of speckled woods. One shown here.


Also photographed for the first time this year was a beetle: strangalia maculata also shown here along with a six spot burnet moth. The latter is a daytime flying moth.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Monday 21st July










My first day of holiday, so a long walk planned with plenty of time to stop and watch the world go by with a picnic and bottle of beer. I set off along the Ridge path to Bush Wood. En route recorded usual birds and butterflies. Huge numbers of meadow browns along with many small and large whites and a few commas and small skippers. Also, a first record of Essex skipper and little blue. The former near Bush Wood whilst the latter was discovered in long grass on the golf course. 3 common buzzards circled overhead, mewing and offering reasonable photo opportunities, as did the numerous meadow browns. A large party (17+) of long tailed tits made their way along the hedgerow as I stopped to snap the butterflies. At Bush Wood a session skirting around the periphery gave up great views of ruddy darter dragonfly. Two photos here, one showing the "wheel" position adopted whilst mating whilst the other depicts a male resting. I carried on to the River and over the golf course and into Caley Wood. Not much on offer here apart from numerous butterflies and the opportunity to collect several golf balls from the adjacent rape field, which was being combined. Swallows, swifts and kestrels were all observed over the golf course and a great spotted woodpecker flew overhead into Caley Wood. A green woodpecker (juvenile) was recorded on the 6th tee. Several chiffchaffs were heard and seen but in general warbler numbers were low, with a brief sight of a common whitethroat. Yellowhammers still sang from many treetops and hedgerows. In all 21 species of bird and 9 species of butterfly. The last being a small tortoiseshell that gave great photo opportunities on the footpath down to the River Ash from the G.C.

Photos here show the overhead common buzzard, along with three pictures of the Essex skipper. Compare with the previous post showing the small skipper, where the orange tips of the antennae are apparent. Also, a small white feeding on rose bay willow herb and 2 photographs showing the different markings found on the meadow brown butterfly. A new plant was photographed along the River Ash by the footbridge behind Lordship Farm. This was Indian Balsam (impatiens glandulifera). This is a common plant of riversides, introduced from the Himalaya; it grows to 7 foot tall, as the local examples were.

Saturday 19th July






An afternoon wander across the golf course to sit on the bench behind the 2nd green. Great vantage point with far ranging views to Epping Forest and Church Langley water tower and beyond. The photo above was taken looking south east. As expected little bird life but a small improvement in insects, esp. butterflies. I registered: meadow brown (100's) gatekeeper, small white, large white and small skippers along with plenty of cinnabar moth caterpillars on their food plant, ragwort, as shown here.

A few sand martins were beginning their migration south, feeding over the golf course with swifts and swallows. Linnets sang from scrub near the 3rd tee as depicted here and several common buzzards rode the thermals above. A mallard and a moorhen party were observed in the pond opposite the footpath through Alder Wood whilst a jay screamed from an adjacent oak tree. A typical July count of 22 species were recorded for the whole walk.
Also shown here are the wonderful camouflage that a green woodpecker has and the hind wings of a gatekeeper butterfly.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Millennium Wood wander 15th July


An early evening walk along the Ash and then back to the Ford for a walk up to Millennium Wood. 2 new species for the lists. The first came in the shape of a migratory adult common gull heading south; the second a brown hawker dragonfly witnessed along the dry Ash towards South Cottages. Neither offering photo opportunities of note.

Swallows were heading south over the polo fields as I entered M. Wood. Little on offer here apart from singing chiffchaff and a mixed flock of corvids, some 200 strong towards Bury Green. However, a photo call for a newly emerged comma butterfly, depicted here. The white marking on the hind wing giving the insect its name. Also, easily identifiable by its ragged wing pattern. A common butterfly for this region, nevertheless a pleasing insect to observe.
Definite signs of Autumn as far as the bird world goes. They tend not to have a summer, but complete their breeding, moult and the head south if they are migratory. The gulls, however, tend to move to autumn roosts as soon as the young are fledged, leaving them at the breeding grounds to follow on later in the year. Locally, with black tailed godwits arriving in a field in Sawbridgeworth from Iceland, it won't belong before the dirth of birds is over and several new species can be searched for. Top of the list will be the upland breeding wheatear, which should be seen at high areas locally, such as Ash Valley G.C. as well as the fields around Allens Green and Trim's Green.
Also of interest was the unusual sight of a first year grey heron alighting onthe chapel roof at the bottom of the garden. The local jackdaws and collared doves were most irritated by its presence and saw it off before I could reach for the camera.

Sunday 13th July

An unintentional walk from Bishop's Stortford Cricket Club to home this afternoon after my car decided to immobilise itself for no apparent reason. A common buzzard showed well as I walked down Brick Kiln Hill into the village. Typical: no camera. Usual suspects of birds and butterflies were on offer, with meadow browns being amazingly numerous. Good temperatures and reasonable light give me the hope that summer will arrive soon and there will be an increase in the insects visible locally.

Saturday 12th July



A morning walk, just locally, gave up little of note in grey skies that slowly burnt off to give a bonus of heat during the afternoon. I wandered along the River Ash south of the Ford, discovering several new insects but little else of note. Poppies (papaver rhoeas) were flowering prolifically and their pollen attracts many insects. Seen in these photographs are a hover fly species (syrphus ribesii.) A common enough species, but good to get a reasonable photograph of the specimen. Also noted were the pollen beetles that can infest any flowering plant. They are particularly fond of the parsley family in May and June, where they mix happily with soldier beetles in the pollen full florets. As well as these creatures, a photo here of oedemera nobilis, another pollen beetle, common at this time of the year. The male is easily identified by its bulbous electric green coloured hind legs. The example depicted here is a female. The final photograph shows a small skipper butterfly. Tricky to identify from other skipper species, but the just noticeable red/orange clubs at the end of the antennae are diagnostic of this particular 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