Friday, 20 February 2009

Surprising discovery 20.02.09
















A long walk in increasingly fine temperatures today. Journeyed up Chapel Lane through to Caley Wood gravel pits. Here, I was in for a huge surprise. As I entered the wood the regular sound of mallards could be heard. With my attention fixed on the largest pit, I failed to check a smaller one on my left. Suddenly 6 duck rose, calling their unusual alarm call: mandarin ducks! My 84th species for the area. They flew overhead, circling the lake before alighting briefly, but my presence once again forced them into the air. This time they returned to the other side of the pit, where the trees grow from the edge. Here, they did what they like to do best and hid in the vegetation. After an hour wait, no sign, so I left them without managing a successful photo. I returned 4 hours later and managed to get a poor snap of a male, behind the willows.
Also, whilst in the wood, I flushed a woodcock, whilst on the lake were 2 canada geese, 10+ mallards and several moorhens. A great spotted woodpecker called as a common buzzard mewed overhead; the resident bird.
Before this excitement I had encountered 195+ fieldfares with 25+ redwings. Presumably a pre migratory group.
As I had a coffee at the golf club a grey heron breezed its way northwards and yellowhammers called from the hedgerow. On my return for the mandarins, I registered a kestrel and a pied wagtail, taking the day’s total to an impressive 38. Other highlights included a pair of bullfinches, a coal tit and a solitary mistle thrush.
Photographs attached show a singing dunnock, the first signs of cuckoo pint pushing through in Chapel Lane, a green woodpecker, a poor record shot of one of the manadarins, this one a male and a brown rat keeping a close eye on me










Thursday, 19 February 2009

Allotment Work: 19.02.09

The warm temperatures tempted me to the allotment for some digging and eventually managing to get my garlic, some early shallots and spring onions into the still damp ground. Whilst toiling with the heavy clay I heard my first great spotted woodpecker drumming this year, indicating its territorial rights. Also in the two hours I was there, gold, green and chaffinches were seen as well as long tailed, blue and great tits. Robins were inquisitive as starlings thronged overhead. Corvids and wood pigeons took to the skies frequently and 2 black headed gulls were also noted.

Ridge path to Bush Wood: 18th February







Having returned from Poznan, I went out for a local walk in considerably warmer climes. Birds sang all around the village, with robins, dunnocks, chaffinches and blackbirds being most vociferous. A party of fieldfares flew overhead in an easterly direction; perhaps the rise in the temperature telling them it was time to a make their way back to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia. A skylark sang as I walked towards Bush Wood as many yellowhammers were heard. A pair of linnets called overhead and a moorhen squawked from the River Ash behind Lordship Farm. 4 mallards were enjoying the flow in the Ash.
Upon returning home I discovered a roost of 37 goldfinches in the back garden. Today’s photographs depict a singing dunnock at the Ford, the end of the hazel catkins and a view of the River Ash south of the village.

Poland visit: 16th - 18th February













































A two day visit to Poznan for a day’s bird watching and a chance to catch up with friends at Poznan University. I was taken out by Irek, from the biology faculty, to woods and the river valley north of the city. This was my third days birding with him in two years. Very useful to have a local guide as he knows all the routes. Our target bird was the crested tit, a bird I have searched for in vain on several continental visits. After a walk of 2 hours in forests adjacent to the River Warta, Irek pointed to the undergrowth, where a crested tit was hurriedly feeding. At last: my first sighting of this species. Brief glimpses confirmed the species but it remained camera shy. I managed one poor “record” shot but had more luck photographing a middle spotted woodpecker, crested lark and tree sparrows. Later on we heard another calling in amongst a group of mixed tits, but they were high in the conifers and difficult to view. A visit to a lake on the outskirts of the city added mallard, coot and great crested grebe along with mute swans. All these were concentrated into a small pocket of free flowing water, with the majority of the huge lake being frozen solid. The temperatures dropped to 10 degrees below zero, so the ice was thick enough for people to skate and ice sail. Photographs shown here:
1. waterfowl concentration on frozen lake
2. River Warta
3. Tree sparrow
4. main road through the forest
5. Middle spotted woodpecker in snow
6. another middle spotted woodpecker
7. crested lark
8. crested tit
9. jay
10.frozen fish ponds

Valentine's Day wander







An afternoon walk up Chapel Lane, through the footpaths to Westland Green to check on the gravel pits in Caley Wood. A skylark was heard singing over fields towards the golf course and two bullfinches were observed in the undergrowth along the footpath. A green woodpecker called overhead as a party of fieldfares was recorded feeding in horse occupied field. A common buzzard mewed over Caley Wood as my arrival at the pits signalled time for 10 mallards to fly from the frozen water. As I headed back a lone chaffinch was singing, competing with a song thrush. The usual songsters were in fine voice; dunnocks and robins were predominant, joined by a single blue tit. A photo of one of the robins is shown here, along with a view through the trees at Alder Wood and a panorama looking north east from the golf course.
Photos here, show a singing robin, a view looking north east over the golf course and a view through Alder Wood

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Long walk











I set off at 9.00am, with a route planned that would encompass Muggins Wood, Millennium Wood, Bury Green and then on to Tescos and back via Green Street and Millfield Lane. In all 28 species recorded. A solitary redwing was seen on the snow at Muggins. This is the first record of this migratory thrush this year. Usual finches and tits were abundant whilst an overhead northerly herring gull was a little more unusual. Fieldfares were in good numbers and also, to round of the thrush family, a mistle thrush, song thrush and numerous blackbirds were observed. Several great spotted woodpeckers were seen as too were a solitary sparrowhawk and the pied wagtail depicted here. A good walk in bright yet snowy conditions. The second day of school closure.
Photos attachedshow the piedwagtail, a view of Little Hadham church from east of Muggins' Wood and a view looking towards The Ford from Brick Kiln Hill

Snow walk 02.02.09 8.00am - 12.00 noon
















A wander through good snow along the Ridge path to Bush Wood, Winding Hill, Much Hadham post office and then returning along the River Ash. Light was poor, but views were superb with new covering of 6 inches plus of crisp snow. Not many birds about, with gold, green and chaffinches utilising the nut feeder in the garden. A moorhen was recorded along a ditch and a kingfisher was heard at Winding Hill. A pale morph common buzzard was observed near Ash Valley golf course and many yellowhammers noted. A superb male bullfinch was photographed along the ridge, but poor light led to a disappointing photo. Several gulls, both great and lesser black backed, headed north. A grey wagtail was seen at the Ford whilst a confiding pied wagtail was recorded in the garden.
Photos today show the garden at 6.45am, the River Ash looking south at The Ford, Brick Kiln Hill activity, a view towards Bush Wood on the ridge path and the goldfinches on the garden feeder

Sunday, 1 February 2009

1st February: a new species











A walk to The Old Crown at Much Hadham for an excellent roast lunch offered the first sighting of a kingfisher along the River Ash near Winding Hill. Seen briefly on the outward walk and heard on the return journey. A superb sight and one that highlights the quality of the water in the river. Also, 2 common buzzards, 35+ fieldfares south of the Ford and the usual tit and finch numbers along with huge numbers of corvids and pigeons.
Upon arriving at home my new seed feeder has already been discovered by 2 gloriously plumaged goldfinches. With the skies becoming heavier with the forecasted snow, no good photos were taken of the birds.
However, an ancient yew tree in a back lane in Much Hadham was most photogenic, with the trunk having twisted itself into amazing shapes that depicted gargoyles and tortoise heads. See photos attached. One also reminded me of a Picasso type face, looking, as he used to paint them, from sideways on.
The kingfisher takes my total of bird species to 83. I shall endeavour to find time to get along this stretch of the river and see if I can manage a few photos

31st January Westland Green







A mid afternoon wander around Westland Green, the disused gravel pits and Caley Wood offered a rare sighting of a distant but superb red kite. This was only my second record of this bird, so most pleasing. Heading east towards Little Hadham, it was keeping low whilst being mobbed by corvids from all sides. Also seen were 19 pied wagtails, in one flock, feeding on the plough behind Caley Wood. Good numbers of mallards were registered on the pits along with several moorhen. A kestrel was near the golf course and a marsh tit (only 4th record) was seen in the hedgerow not far from Alder Wood. A solitary great spotted woodpecker was feeding at a garden nut feeder and a large party (15+) of long tailed tits breezed through Caley Wood. Photos show the pied wagtails, a view looking south east from Caley Wood and the male kestrel.

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