Sunday, 28 September 2008

Surprise over the allotment 28.09.08


Whilst continuing the autumn jobs at the allotment I heard a familiar cronk sound, looked up and managed to capture a superb grey heron heading south, being mobbed by jackdaws. Also on offer were the same as yesterday, with the tawny owl calling, a chiffchaff and a rather late garden warbler. The latter should now be well on its way south, so a good record for late September. Green and great spotted woodpeckers were seen along with linnets, goldfinches and greenfinches.

Several large white butterflies and a single comma were also witnessed.

Early Sunday walk 28.09.08






An 8.15a.m. start in superb weather. Bright light and no cloud cover with temperatures reaching 17C. I ventured out along the ridge path to Bush Wood, returning along the Ash valley. In all 29 species were recorded with the highlight being a little owl in hedgerow to the south of the Ford. Unfortunately, too distant for a reasonable photo, but great to watch. My attention was drawn to the area by a large number of birds descending on one particular hawthorn bush. A scan with the binoculars showed the owl to be roosting on outermost branches of the bush. Moorhens were recorded along the Ash where also 3 superb male bullfinches were observed. Dunnocks, reed buntings and yellowhammers crowded the hedges close to Bush Wood and jays were recorded in large numbers (12+) feeding on acorns. Skylarks flew over the recently ploughed fields along the Ridge path.

However, as I approached the road 2 swallows headed south; maybe my last sighting of the year.

A comma butterfly showed well enough to be photographed, as shown here. Other photos depict 2 rooks, a silhouette of a teasel head and a flock of corvids. What I particularly like about this shot is, due to the strength of the light, their shadows have been captured on the ploughed field. This gives the impression of many more birds than there actually is. The last shot is a rather shy dunnock.

Allotment birding 27.09.08



An afternoon, in glorious sunshine, was spent working on the allotment. General harvesting and tidying was the order of the day. However, did take breaks to watch what was passing through, ending with an impressive list. Highlights were a calling tawny owl at 2.30p.m., a common buzzard, a chiffchaff and 3 skylarks. The buzzard had clearly lost its patience with a carrion crow that had been mobbing it; last seen with the buzzard chasing the smaller crow and frequently trying to attack it with talons to the fore. In all 20 species were recorded. For such a small area, this was most pleasing to record.

2 small tortoiseshell butterflies and a large white were also recorded. Photos here show the pampas grass that grows nearby looking its best in the sunshine.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Autumnal wander 7.00am.






An early start (7am) found me wandering along the River Ash and over the golf course to Caley Wood and back in thick fog. Visibility down to 10 yards early on. I questioned my sanity, thinking I may discover some grounded migrants but this was not the case. However, golfers driving off into the unknown made me realise I was not alone in testing the difficulty of following a hobby when sight was hugely restricted. I thought, at least I can hear the birds. Suspect good numbers of golf balls to be found around the course this afternoon.

Bird numbers were low but a pair of reed buntings along New Road was a good find. Jays called as did rooks, crows and jackdaws. Tits moved in the hedgerows along with chaffinches and dunnocks. The main song was that of robins and a single chiffchaff was heard, again along New Road. The colours were autumnal, with berries, leaves and bushes showing huge numbers of dewy spiders' webs, as shown below.

Several gorse bushes on the golf course were showing their bright yellow flowers. September common poppies (papaver rhoeas) showed well in fields opposite South cottages.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

17.09.08 2nd evening walk to Bush Wood



After last night's success in relocating the merlin (female or 1st year bird) I set out with a view to trying to photograph the specimen. A distant falcon, being mobbed by crows turned out to be a kestrel and no merlin was seen. However, as last night, a good passage of swallows, house martins with several sand martins were witnessed over Brick Kiln Hill and a chiffchaff called from woods along Acremore Street. Several linnets flew over the bean field and jays called from the oaks. 2 stock doves headed east whilst an alarming moorhen along the Ash alerted me to the presence of a large dog fox. 1 southern hawker dragonfly was seen as I sat on the bench at Bush Wood enjoying a bottle of 4.6% Old Hooky! Still quiet on the bird front with little else of note and disappointing visible migration. Photos here show a sleepy rabbit and a fly past magpie.

round up to 14.09.08






Busy harvesting crops from the allotment over the weekend so not too much time out birding. However, managed a walk around Brick Kiln Hill on the 11th, where a cracking sunset was photographed. Bird wise, good movement of swallows and martins, mainly heading south west whilst several green and great spotted woodpeckers were recorded. In the garden, on sunny spells, butterflies fed on the buddleia. Red admiral, small tortoiseshell and large white shown here.
Also shown here are the starlings flying over Chapel Lane before their roost in the local conifers. Numbers increase each evening, with now over 100 birds. A photo of them on the chapel roof shows the difference between a juvenile (brown unmarked head) and the darker adult.

Tuesday 16th September



A dusk walk along the ridge footpath to Bush Wood and then returning along the River Ash. Highlight was relocating the recently discovered merlin, now hunting over the recently harvested bean fields. It was witnessed chasing (unsuccessfully) a small flock on linnets. Unfortunately, too distant for worthwhile photos. Good movement of swallows and martins, with 150+ being recorded. Whilst sitting at Bush Wood a party of 8 swallows shot past, heading north east!
Also viewed were several reed bunting. These were the first of autumn and all were roosting in the hedgerow along to the wood. 3 hares were observed in the cropped fields and tawny and little owls were heard as I approached Hadham Ford. Several jays argued from the oaks and upon my return a female garden cross spider was photographed in the garden, a particular September creature.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sunday short wander

A brief wander around the local environs at midday gave up most of the resident birds. 2 chiffchaffs called from scrub on Brick Kiln Hill along with a blackcap. A pheasant ran off along the empty River Ash and the usual crows and jackdaws were evident in the stubble fields. Overhead a flock of martins called, moving south west. Numbers in excess of 200 were counted. Most were house martins, with about 25 sand martins mixed in.
Several wrens, great tits, blue tits and long tailed tits called from the hedgerow along the Ash whilst a small party of starlings settled near New Road.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

03.09.08 new mammal species

A quick walk up Chapel Lane and around Queer Wood, in good evening light, offered little in the bird world. Small parties of stock doves were enjoying the spilt wheat in the stubble fields along with tens of wood pigeons. A lone lesser black backed gull weaved its way south in the strong breeze a a couple of goldfinches headed north. House martins were still busy feeding their brood under the guttering of Home Farm.
However, a field mouse was noted on the footpath south of Chapel Lane. A first recording of this as it scuttled along the footpath in front of me.

Tuesday 2nd September






Back to school day but not before a quick check of local birds around the chapel. I was pleased to be able to take a few more shots of the leucistic jackdaw on the chapel roof, showing that it is probably a first year bird, judging by the plumage as shown in the photos. It remained with other jackdaws and was still present when I left.

Later on I took an evening walk past Muggin's Wood and on to Millennium Wood. A southerly breeze was blowing with light drizzle so there was a small possibility of some migrants passing overhead, but this was not the case. 4 lesser black backed gulls headed south as all the usual suspects were seen and/or heard. A wonderful sky was photographed whilst a muntjac posed for a photo on the path in Millennium Wood. A few birds of note: 12 swallows swooped low over a recently harvested wheat field and a party of long tailed tits were heard along Hoecroft Lane.

01.09.08: new bird species



A wander up to the allotment in the early evening offered more than I had expected. As I rounded the corner on the path up to the patch a small falcon, brown wings and body with a vaguely striped tail shot out of a tree, flying low to the ground before rising steeply into an oak. It remained here for 5 minutes, giving good views to the naked eye. No camera or binoculars. A merlin, the smallest British falcon. This was either a female or 1st calendar year bird, probably the latter. A good sight and 1 that I had only expected a 10% chance of encountering.

Also, in the sunny afternoon I managed to snap a ruddy darter and small tortoiseshell on the garden fence, both shown here.

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