Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday 29th March
















A pleasant wander in increasingly improved weather between 10.00 - 1.15. In all 35 species of birds recorded with woodpeckers being prominent. A sparrow hawk circled over Bush Wood whilst 2 kestrels were observed. Firstly near Caley Wood a female flew overhead and the second (a male) was seen hunting along the Ash valley. A treecreeper was photographed on the byway heading south from Chapel Lane. A party of 35+ migrating siskins were heard and then seen over the golf course and a canada goose was sitting on a nest in Caley Wood. Chiffchaffs were ubiquitous, at least 8 were heard calling and a pair of bullfinches were observed on the byway. A solitary stock dove headed east near The Ford and long tailed tits were seen to be gathering feathers from the hedgerow that borders the 1st fairway. These are used to line their dome shaped nest, not much larger than a tennis ball. The nest is made of moss and feathers with a tiny entrance hole. A very complex structure.
5 hares crossed a ploughed field whilst rabbit and muntajc were also recorded. Photographs today depict the treecreeper, a pair of mallards, canada goose and the first leaves on a Caley Wood sycamore.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Millennium Wood afternoon 21.03.09






To complete the day I wandered to Millennium Wood, via Muggin's Wood and returning down Hoecroft Lane. Two new species for the day were added, in the form of fieldfare and kestrel. Having earlier suggested that the former had probably migrated I came across a field containing 35+ fieldfares, joined by 10+ redwings, 10 greenfinches, 24 starlings
However. also of interest were two new sightings. A comma butterfly, shown here, was a first for 2009 whereas a stoat, seen around the dry pond in Millennium Wood was a first for my recording period since Jan 2008.
Other birds of note were: chiffchaff, long tailed tits, green and great spotted woodpecker.
In all, for the day, I recorded 40 species of birds along with the regular mammals and several flowering plants.
Photos show a moorhen at The Ford, fieldfares near the polo field and 2 shots of the comma butterfly. Note the white on the underwing. This patch gives the butterfly its name.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Dawn chorus walk: Saturday 21st March




The first early get up of the year, with 7 of us meeting at the village hall car park at 5.00pm. There was a frost and mist but the birds begun to sing as we made our way through the village towards Acremore Street and on to the Ridge footpath. A little owl called and the first rooks, blackbirds, robins and dunnocks broke the silence. Skylarks sang above the fields from the ridge path and long tailed tits, yellowhammers and great tits were heard in the darkness along the hedgerow. Green woodpeckers “yaffled” in the distance as we approached Bush Wood and a great spotted woodpecker was heard calling and drumming. By Winding Hill a brief search for goldcrests proved successful and with the time now approaching 6.15am we were able to watch the silhouette moving in the conifers. Collared doves and wood pigeons seemed to be the first birds to take to the air and chaffinches, goldfinches, carrion crows, jackdaws and great tits soon joined them.
Across the river and up the path to Lordship Farm gave distant views of 2 black headed gulls heading north and a jay flew from an oak. 2 pied wagtails were seen near the road before we arrived at the golf club for coffee and sandwiches. A welcome break and time to notice just how cold we were. Upon emerging from the club house the sun was up, birds were visible in good light and we made our way to Caley Wood. Yellowhammers were seen in the hedgerow, along with blue, great and long tailed tits. Search for treecreepers did not produce any, but mallards and moorhens were seen near the pit. A lone stock dove fed on a field, as did a solitary redwing. The latter was in fine plumage and soon to be moving to its breeding grounds in Scandinavia. A sparrow hawk darted for cover as we came to Westland Green where a skein of 5 canada geese flew overhead. Song thrush and greenfinch were recorded singing here, as was a chiffchaff, close to The Green. Over Chapel Lane and down the side of Queer Wood offered us views of common buzzard (fleetingly) and woodcock. 4 hares were noted behind Lodge Farm before a house sparrow made the last addition to the list of 38 species.
A super walk with good company. It will be interesting to compare this list to the one made next month when I shall organize another Dawn chorus walk, meeting at the village hall car park on 18th April at 4.30am. Please contact me if you would like to come along.
Photos attached show the sunrise over the River Ash, pied wagtail and yellowhammer, plus an alert hare near Queer Wood.

A long evening walk: 20.03.09







A long evening walk: 20.03.09
With my first dawn chorus walk planned for tomorrow morning, I thought it wise to have a scout around to see if there was anything of note. Consequently, a walk up Chapel Lane, through to Caley Wood and returning via the golf course. A total of 31 species were seen, with highlight birds being; 40 pied wagtail on a ploughed field, 3 linnets over the golf course and the regular woodcock roosting in Caley Wood. A solitary fieldfare was seen, perhaps the last record of the spring. A tawny owl called from deep inside Caley Wood and only mallards and moorhens were witnessed on the pits. There was plenty of long tailed tit activity, with them now less likely to be in large parties, remaining in pairs. With little nature available for photographing, I include 2 sunset snaps and a large movement of corvids, mainly jackdaws and rooks.

Evening walk: River Ash 18.03.09


A longer wander this evening, completed in darkness! I took the footpath along the river Ash before heading on to the Ridge footpath to Acremore Street. In all 28 species were recorded, including; common buzzard, yellowhammer, moorhen and song thrush.
A total of 10 hares were seen, including a quiet party of 6 in one field. A photo shows one here.

Evening stroll 16.03.09







A pleasant evening stroll along Hoecroft Lane and down Brick Kiln Hill. In fading light with a super sunset, the usual fare were recorded with a few remaining fieldfare being of note as their numbers have recently dwindled as most migrate to Scandinavia. In amongst a small roost of these winter thrushes were several redwings.
3 pipestrelle bats were observed in Chapel Lane, testament to the fine weather during this week. Yellowhammers sang from the hedgerows as did robins and blackbirds. Photo shows a good sunset, a young rabbit and a jay about to land in a large oak.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

3 Firsts for 2009
















A gloriously sunny morning walk up Chapel Lane to Westland Green to check on the gravel pits and then on to the golf course and home. The fine weather proved to be just the stimulus for butterflies, with both brimstone and peacock being observed. Both firsts for the year. The peacock, shown here has clearly emerged from hibernation, judging by its batterered condition whereas the fast moving brimstonealso coming out of hibernation was found to be in pristine condition. A third first was added in Caley Wood when a singing chiffchaff was heard and then observed. 2 more were recorded later near The Ford.

A common buzzard glided south over the golf course where 3 green woodpeckers were witnessed. Redwings were seen in good number (25+) and two parties of fieldfares were recorded heading south west. A woodcock was flushed from undergrowth in Caley Wood just before I emerged on to the golf course, where I was greeted by a kestrel and 3 singing skylarks. No sign of yesterday's meadow pipit, so presumably a migratory bird heading north.

As well as the peacock, photos here show a male house sparrow, a singing dunnock and a symmetrical view of the pits in Caley Wood.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Saturday 14th March



A walk across the golf course to the club house and along the River Ash at noon today. Highlight was catching up with a meadow pipit on the golfcourse. Only the 3rd record for this species and 1st for 2009
Another unusual sight was that of 3 male kestrels heading north in a group, occasionally play fighting as they entered Brick Kiln Hill airspace. Also, green woodpecker on the golf course and the apparently resident mallards along the river south of The Ford. Corvids in their hundreds were enioying the newly ploughed field adjacent to New Road as skylarks sang overhead. Magpies seemed in good number, as did yellowhammers, with a particularly superb male seen on the gorse on the 6th fairway.


Photos here show the distant meadow pipit.

Evening walk: 10th March











A wonderfully lit evening stroll to Millennium Wood this eveing gave great views of a hunting barn owl. This was observed over the polo and cricket fields at the top of Hoecroft Lane.
A tawny owl was seen in Millennium Wood and plenty of roosting fieldfares recorded in trees along Hoecroft.
Tits and finches were abundant and a solitary song thrush sang in the wood. Both green and great spotted woodpeckers were recorded before dusk turned to darkness, offering great sunsets and a full moon as shown here.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

4th March; Long walk











I set off, with picnic, at 11.00am with a view to cover all my local areas. I headed up Chapel Lnae, through footpaths to Westland Green and to the pits at Caley Wood. A break at the golf course before heading east to the River Ash and then on to Bush Wood and along the Ridge path. The trip was completed with a trip along Hoecroft Lane and then returned home via Brick Kiln Hill. In all 40 species were observed, nearly half my total for the area since 2008. Highlights were the first reed buntings and linnets of the year. The former were in a party of 40+ yellowhammers and chaffinches along Hoecroft Lane whilst the linnets were heard in Bush Wood. A group of 6 with 2 singing males.The fieldfares south of Chapel Lane are still present in big numbers, joined by 75+ starlings and 35+ redwings. In all I would estimate the flock to be 300 strong. Quite a noise. A superb goldcrest was seen in a hedgerow, unfortunately not keeping still long enough for the camera. However, a dunnock, robin and long tailed tit were considerably more obliging, as shown here.

A male bullfinch was observed and the mandarin ducks remained shy on the pits. 5 common buzzards were recorded in total, with 3 in a party circling over Bush Wood, where I enjoyed my picnic. 2 woodcock were flushed from Caley Wood as I made my way to the pits. From here moorhens and mallards could be viewed along with the drake mandarin. From the bench I watched a marsh tit move alng the shrubs. 2 singing skylarks were recorded and the 40th species was a black headed gull heading south to roost at around 3.30. A most enjoyable 4 hours.

Saturday 28th February; Morning Walk


A brief circuit along the River Ash, west towards the golf course and then along New Road. Skylarks (2) sang overhead and a stock dove headed east. Yellowhammers were in good voice and a party of 11 long tailed tits were recorded along the river. A pair of mallards were on the river, the male shown here. Both great spotted and green woodpeckers were heard and observed whilst a group of 6 black headed gulls wended their way north.

Thursday 26th February


An evening walk up Acremore Street gave a few sightings in the hour I was out. 6 reed bunting circled overhead on the return journey and yellowhammers were calling from most hedgerows. Fieldfares were apparent overhead, with a general movement north east. A mistle thrush watched from a treetop as robins, chaffinches and dunnocks all appeared to be in good evening voice.

A photo here, looking up Acremore Street from the west of the war memorial village green.

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