Wednesday, 28 January 2009

28th Jan: mid afternoon to dusk walk







A walk along the River Ash and up to Bush Wood this afternoon, returning as the early evening chorus was just beginning. Robins, song thrushes and a solitary mistle thrush were audible around the war memorial, with the local corvids heading for their roost as pictured here.
Starlings, blue and great tits and house sparrows were evident around the Ford along with collared doves and overhead wood pigeons. A kestrel flew over the road south of the village and a common buzzard was flushed from feeding on a dead fox towards Bush Wood. Yellowhammers called and an assorted finch flock (green and goldies) flew east to roost as a green woodpecker and fieldfares called from local cover.
The first signs of flora for spring were encountered in the shape of snowdrops. Certainly later this year than for the last 5 or 6. Most of nature appears to be late this year, due to the heavy frosts. I have yet to hear any woodpeckers drumming. Hopefully, a warmer spell will soon bring things up to speed.

Monday, 26 January 2009

More rain: Sunday 25th January




Perpetual rain restricted my movements but I did manage to get down to the River at the Ford in the evening to record the torrent that was rushing southwards. A visit later in the evening to Winding Hill showed that the water level was only just still under the bridge. Photos here, taken from the footbridge leading to Brick Kiln Hill.

RSPB garden bird watch 24.01.09

An hour spent recording visitors to the garden, with results being forwarded to the RSPB. Highlight was a great spotted woodpecker utilising the nut feeder as shown here. Blackbirds, great tits, blue tits, fieldfare, wren, robin, starling, jackdaws, wood pigeon, collared dove, dunnock, house sparrow, chaffinch and greenfinch were all seen. Plenty of other species, including gulls carrion crows and rooks were witnessed but were not part of the count as they were only in Chapel Lane air space and not visitors to the garden.
Just as I was completing the timed session a sparrow hawk shot past the window and over Ford Field. My 2nd record from the garden.

Saturday 24th January
















A mid morning walk, in good light and increasing temperature. I ventured up Chapel Lane and then on to the footpath round the back of Caley Wood. Here, I diverted into Cornwood gravel pits before heading off to the golf course for a coffee. I returned along New Road and on to the River Ash. Usual suspects were all on show and it was good to see the river flowing.
A song thrush was singing in trees adjacent to Chapel Lane as I took the footpath. Magpies and assorted corvids were all visible and fieldfares headed west overhead. A one kestrel hunted along the footpath hedgerow where a green woodpecker flew off noisily. Dunnocks were recorded in the same hedgerows along with a variety of finches mingling with the yellowhammer flock. A solitary great spotted woodpecker called from Caley Wood as I checked the pits. A good number of mallards, male resplendent in their mating plumage, were present but no other water birds were recorded. Long tailed tits and linnets were registered on the footpath that runs parallel to the 1st and 2nd hole. Overhead, black headed gulls, herring gulls and finally a flock of starlings, took the species count to 27.
Photos attached show a great tit, long tailed tit along with the River Ash and a couple of reflection shots from the pits. Ice still remaining on the surface being testament to the still wintery temperatures.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Saturday 17th January











A most pleasant walk in good, bright light saw me heading along the Ridge path to Bush Wood and then back along the Ash Valley. A check o the barn owl roost proved negative, but there are still signs of it roosting there, with plenty of owl pellets. This walk offered a good selection of birds with several being unusual sightings. A pair of canada geese headed south west over Bush Wood whilst a pair of marsh tits were feeding by The Ford. a solitary skylark called overhead and a single herring gull weaved its way southwards.
A superb pair of male bullfinches were noted south of the Ford and a covey of 4 red legged partridge were flushed near Acremore Street. A search for wintering woodcock in coppices and woods also failed to turn any up but a fox was startled to find itself so close to me. Numbers were again supplied by yellowhammers, with a party of over 30 near Bush Wood and another, slightly smaller group along the river.
Away from the walk a splendid fallow deer stag was recorded in fields adjacent to the A120 at Cradle End and a party of 10 waxwings were photographed in Bishop's Stortford. these have been present for 2 weeks, feeding on a rowan tree in a front garden near Parsonage Lane. Photos attached show the splendid waxwings, the fox, a goldfinch against a bright January sky and the first lamb of the year.




Thursday, 8 January 2009

Sharp night in Little Hadham


Popped out for a late night smoke into the garden last night. Air was sharp but surprised to read the temp shown on the northerly facing thermometer. See attached snap. Temperature read -14C!!
Just for the record, 10 waxwings were discovered in Bishop's Stortford this morning. No camera but brilliant birds to see. Directions can be found at
If you're local then pop along and watch these hugely colourful and trilling birds.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

First walk of the New Year
















Saturday 3rd Jan and my first walk of the new year. I headed off along Chapel Lane and via the footpath to Westland Green. At the back of Caley Wood are a few disused, small gravel pits that look good for certain spring species. Very overgrown so good for warblers as well as water fowl, perhaps. Certainly worth checking regularly. Kingfisher and coot may be added from here. Through Caley Wood gave the first good birds of the walk, where I observed Great spotted woodpecker, long tailed tit, nuthatch, treecreeper as well as great and blue tits. I spent time here hoping for a lesser spotted woodpecker, but to no avail. All of these birds were visible from next to the 2nd green on Ash Valley G.C. A bullfinch flew over head as I wandered over the course, spotting a distant, soaring common buzzard, making a species list of 23 for the short 2 hour wander.
Photos today show a confiding robin, several views as I walked through Caley Wood, flowering gorse on the golf course and a view of the back of the chapel at the end of the garden

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