Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Last walk of the year





New Year's Eve found me along the Ridge to Bush Wood, across the River Ash and over the golfcourse. In all 30 species were recorded, the highlight being a party of 11 siskins that headed over the 17th fairway in a northerly direction. My attention was drawn to them by their musical flight calls. A small scandinavian finch, the male being bright yellow and black with the female looking rather similar to a female yellowhammer. Only the second record of these this year, so pleasing to finish the year on a high note. Also, 5 splendid bullfinches, a sparrow hawk over the fields adjacent to the Ridge path, 4 mallards high over going east, 2 coal tits by the Ash and a party of over 100 fieldfares in fields by the golf course. A great spotted woodpecker called as I popped into the clubhouse for a warming coffee and a solitary skylark headed over west. Only one photo shoot as the light was poor. Shown here a series of shots of a fieldfare.

Muggins Wood, Hoecroft Lane to the A120




A mid morning walk along Hoecroft Lane and round Muggins Wood to the A120 and then back to Brick Kiln Hill and the Ford. In all a selection of the residents were observed, none making themselves photogenic. Shame as the light was good albeit in sub zero temperatures. Highlight of the walk were several goldcrests along Hoecroft Lane. I have seen them here before but their numbers have now increased to 5+. Sign of the climate at present that these tiny birds are gathering together to roost in bundles to keep themselves warm. Also seen were: 3 lesser black backed gulls, loafing on the fields, along with a solitary herring gull. Yellowhammers called and fieldfares moved overhead.
Photos depict ash keys against a cold blue sky and a tractor ploughing, east of Muggin's Wood, which I suspect will have attracted the gulls later on in the day.

Norfolk trip 29.12.08



























A day trip to North Norfolk in bitter cold. I visited Cley Next the Sea, Salthaouse and Holkham Freshwater Marsh. After several days of easterlies it was calm, consequently the birding was rather hard going with only 65 species witnessed during the 8 hours walking and watching. I show here a selection of the photos taken. Nothing unusual, but still great to be there and to watch 14,000 pink footed geese coming into roost at Lady Anne's Drive, Holkham still remains a superb sight, even after witnessing it for over 30 years.
Photos here, from the top depict
  1. crescent moon over Holkham
  2. roosting pink footed geese
  3. pink footed geese coming into roost
  4. sunset over Holkham freshwater marsh
  5. turnstone doing it what it is named after
  6. black headed gull
  7. redshank at Cley
  8. snow buntings in coordinated flight
  9. 2 male teal
  10. male stonechat
  11. mute swans
  12. female stonechat
  13. rather plump coot

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Garden watch 28.12.08
















Whilst preparing the seasonal turkey curry and turkey stock, I left the turkey carcass in the garden and watched as a series of birds fed on the meat or the nut feeders. After several nights of heavy frost, the birds were eager to feed rapidly, preparing for another cold night. The more food, the more enrgy and the better they will survive the minus temperatures.





In all, the garden list was: blue tit, jackdaw, wren, lesser black backed gull (over heading east), wood pigeon, greenfinch, chaffinch, robin, coal tit, blackbird, starling, collared dove, house sparrow and great tit. A few photos here, taken as I sat outside.
Photos here depict a female greenfinch, jackdaw, female blackbird, male blackbird and starling.





Long morning walk 28.12.08











An early start in -2c to head for a complete circuit of my patch. Beginning by heading south along the River Ash, up to Bush Wood and around to Winding Hill, Much Hadham. From here I came out on to the road near Lordship Farm and on to the golf course. Here, a sausage sandwich and coffee were most welcome. Afterwards, I headed west, round the back of Caley Wood where I observed Cornwood gravel pits and then along the footpath back to Chapel Lane. In all 3.5 hours. A good total of 38 species were recorded. Highlights were a little owl, unfortunately to far into vegetation for photography, 2 moorhens, 4 cormorants (east), 3 herring gulls over the golf course, 9 black headed gulls north at 8.15am, a solitary marsh tit and several goldcrests. In all 3 kestrels were seen, one shown here, along with the resident common buzzard carrying prey. A nuthatch called from trees along the Ash valley and 9 mallards were noted on the main lake in Caley Wood.
In all a super walk. Additional photos depict a festive robin, sunrise over the ridge near Bush Wood, creating a fine silhouette of a horse and a good shot of a fieldfare.

Barn Owl 20.12.08
















A late afernoon walk south of the village proved successful as I discovered and photographed the local barn owls. A superb sight, with one catching prey within 5 minutes of hunting. Photos here, in poor light, show the bird resting and hunting as well as carrying a vole off.
Also on offer, several lesser black backed gulls headed south, a kestrel was also observed. Fieldfares were frequent but no redwings. A common buzzard, the local resident, was een soaring again. In all 24 species were recorded with yellowhammers ubiquitous and several moorhen calling from the River Ash.

The barn owl today was my 82nd species for the year.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

14.12.08




An evening walk south of the Ford in search of a reported barn owl. I didn't connect with the bird but managed to record good sightings of common buzzard and a flock of goldcrests. Also over as I sat waiting were many fieldfares and redwings. A solitary fox eyed me with suspicion as I kept my eyes on where the owl was last reported.
In all 18 species were recorded during the hour and a half wait, including a green woodpecker and many long tailed tits. A couple of photos here of the buzzard as it soared overhead.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday 7th December
















A superbly clear and cold morning, -4C as I left the house at 8.15am. Again, no real highlights but great to be out and about after a week of darkness and dampness.
Several black headed gulls were working their way north up the Ash valley as I headed towards Millennium Wood, Hoecroft Lane and back home. A highlight was watching and trying to photograph a goldcrest in Hoecroft Lane. Infuriatingly, the bird didn't make it clear of the branches, causing too much "noise" for the camera's focussing system. However, a fortuitous shot is shown here, although impossible to spot to species.
A reed bunting, female, was seenat MW whilst yellowhammers, redwings, fieldfares and the usual tit sp were found along the hedgerows.
Photos depict a cold rabbit on the cricket field, the frozen River Ash, thawing frost and a distant view of St Cecilia's from Muggin's Wood. along with the lucky in focus robin shot. Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Saturday 6th December








A morning wander up Chapel Lane, though Alder Wood and returning via Ash Valley Golf Course. In all, 27 species were recorded, with the highlights being 2 male bullfinches in Alder Wood, a sparrow hawk over the golf course and 3 kestrels witnessed at the top of Chapel Lane, coming from Queer Wood. Linnets were seen over fields near the Ford and redwing and fieldfare appeared to be ubiquitous. The resident garden goldcrest was observed in the conifer, both calling and feeding amongst the needles.
Photographs attached here depict the River Ash, actually flowing south of the Ford. A testament to the amount of rain of late. Also, a house sparrow in a wild cherry tree and a dunnock posing on a stump.

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