Friday, 31 October 2008

Last walk for October and new species











An 8.00 am start along the Ash valley, up to Bush Wood and back along the Ridge Footpath this morning. Good numbers of birds, with the now regular 1000's of crows, jackdaws, rooks and wood pigeons. Also increased numbers of the winter thrushes, redwing and fieldfare.
However, the highlight was recording the first siskins of the year. A flyover party, low heading east from Acremore Steet. Suspect the numbers of these small, flocking Scandinavian finches to increase as the year ends. The numbers of winter arrivals is indicating a bumper year for such, with a good possibility of waxwings making an appearance.
Skylarks appeared to be on an easterly movement, with double figures being recorded overhead. A sparrow hawk was observed being mobbed by jackdaws, several kestrels hovered and a common buzzard was noted over the Ridge from the Much Hadham road. 2 Black headed gulls and 3 lesser black backed gulls wove their way north east, maybe towards Stansted airport lagoons In all, 35 species were recorded, with the strangest being a female blackcap, observed in the hedgerow along the ridge. The vast majority of this species migrate south for the winter, with only a handful risking staying put. Chiffchaffs have also started to remain as residents, more so than blackcaps, so a good record.
Photos depict a silhouetted and somewhat confused green woodpecker, a redwing showing how it came to be named so, some autumn colours and a heavily moulting goldfinch




Thursday, 30 October 2008

Norfolk trip photos





























A 3 day camping trip to North Norfolk gave me a chance to observe birds not seen around Little Hadham. Report link: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=126435
but some photos here. In all, a pleasing 96 species were recorded, with a few obvious omissions which would have made it over the century. Click on each photo to enlarge.
From the top, they are:
  1. knot
  2. oystercatcher
  3. shoveler
  4. looking west from Sheringham
  5. turnstone
  6. stonechat (male)
  7. brent geese
  8. starling roost
  9. stonechat (female)
  10. redshank
  11. teal
  12. dunnock
  13. black tailed godwit
  14. juvenile herring gull
  15. turnstone
  16. turnstone
  17. black headed gull upper wing
  18. black headed gull underwing

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Garden watch and afternoon walk




A session just watching the garden birds this afternoon led to a list as follows:
great tit, coal tit, blue tit, starling, jackdaw, collared dove, rook, carrion crow, wood pigeon, blackbird, chaffinch, dunnock, and goldcrest.
Later on, a walk over the golf course added a kestrel, more goldcrests, yellowhammers and great spotted and green woodpeckers. Meadow pipits have returned to the golf course for their winter stay, viewed from New Road and a solitary herring gull headed south over the course.
Hundreds of wood pigeons and assorted corvids filled the sky. The leucistic jackdaw still remains in fields south of the Ford. As the clocks have gone back, the sun was setting by 4.30pm, signalling the end of my after work walks until spring.
Photographs here show local and common garden birds: collared dove, great tit, a blackbird enjoying a windfall and dunnock. Also, several photos showing autumn colours and sunset.

Friday, 24 October 2008

24.10.08 Long Walk











A walk around the whole patch between 9.00 - 2.15 today, with a picnic being taken at the golf course in sunny weather.However, still drizzling when I set off, accompanied by the local calling tawny owl. Long tailed tits everywhere, mixing with a flock of blue tits, great tits, goldcrests and 2 marsh tits was good to watch although vegetation too dense for worthwhile photographs.
In all 39 species were recorded. A large female sparrow hawk flew in front of the golf club clubhouse and a smaller male was observed at Caley Wood. A song thrush was photographed, as shown here, along with goldfinches and a greenwoodpecker.
Gulls, both lesser and greater black backed headed north in the early morning light and skylarks called above the fields along the Ridge Footpath. Here also 11 grey (English) partridges were seen and heard. Redwings and fieldfares were ubiquitous, as were chaffinches and yellowhammers. Wood pigeon numbers must have been in excess of 3000, whilst crows, rooks and jackdaws also added another 500+. A bullfinch was seen, briefly, in Alder Wood whilst a nuthatch was heard in Caley Wood.
A late comma butterfly was observed near the golf course.
Today's snaps show a green woodpecker, several autumn colour shots, a skulking song thrush, and a late flowering red campion.

Evening Wander 21.10.08




A three quarter of an hour search of trees, shrubs and bushes on Brick Kiln Hill proved successful. The first autumn fieldfare was recorded heading west, whilst in excess of 400 crows, jackdaws and rooks headed south to roost. 25+ lesser black backed gulls followed as the light darkened along with a lone 2nd year herring gull. A hoped for owl photograph was, however, not feasible although 2 tawnys called from near Muggin's Wood
Sunset photos taken from the hill near Field House.


Brief wander 18.10.08. Redwing return







A short walk on Saturday morning along the River Ash to the golf course and back. Usual suspects with plenty of corvid activity. Several lesser black backed gulls headed north from their night roost and a party of goldfinches were observed feeding in an ash tree. Green woodpeckers called and skylarks chirped from high.
Photos today depict 2 of a long tailed tit, one at take off point. The others show a late flowering poppy in the garden and the leucistic jackdaw mingling with rooks and other jackdaws, south of the village.
However, highlight was coming across a flock of 35+ redwings in the sheep field south of the ford. Newly arrived, these thrushes migrate to the UK for winter, having bred in Scandinavia and Russia. A male bullfinch was also recorded from this field. Upon returning home, 3 goldcrests were watched in the garden trees.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sunday 12.10.08



After the splendid Harvest Supper at the village hall, I took myself off for a wander up Chapel Lane, though Westland Green and over Ash Valley G.C. before heading home along the lanes and Ash valley. 22 species were recorded, the highlights being a male bullfinch in the hazels at the top of Chapel Lane, goldcrests in the conifers at Lodge Farm and a single common buzzard low over the golf course club house. The latter depicted here, being mobbed by a carrion crow.
Skylarks appeared to be moving west, with several parties overhead. A group of 8 black headed gulls also worked their way over the course in a southerly direction.
However, my attention was more drawn to the insects on this gloriously warm midday. A migrant hawker dragonfly hung around long enough to be photographed, as did a superb comma butterfly. I suspect a newly emerged individual , judging by the pristine state. 3 peacock butterflies were observed, 2 small whites and even more amazingly, a male brimstone. This flew up Chapel Lane and had obviously just emerged. A butterfly more associated with the first sunny days of spring! The warmth triggering its hatching. Too fast for a photo, unfortunately. A female common darter was also photographed on the ground near Caley Wood adjacent to the 2nd green on the golf course.
Later in the evening 4 tawny owls, 1 little owl were heard calling from the garden along with barking foxes and a howling muntjac. Must be the impending full moon.
Also shown here are a tree full of rooks, (with 1 carrion crow), a misty view looking south east from Chapel Lane and the colours of the hedgerow from the same spot. Also along Chapel Lane the vegetation near Lodge Farm was particularly photogenic, as 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