Wednesday, 29 April 2009

29th April











A short walk along the River Ash to see if there were any damsels and dragons. None were observed but birds were in good supply. 2 lesser whitethroats added to the year list, as a pair of bullfinches called from dense vegetation, before flying past. Willow warblers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and whitethroats were all vociferous, as were green woodpeckers, dunnocks and robins.
Orange tips, small whites, peacocks and speckled wood butterflies were evident.

Evening wander 28th April
















A wander along Hoecroft Lane to Millennium Wood between 4.30 and 7.30pm last night. Regular chiffchaff and blackcap numbers (c 5 of each) but a noted increase in common whitethroat numbers. I counted 6 singing males, with 2 at Brick Kiln Hill opposite the Nags Head. Green woodpeckers called and a solitary great spotted woodpecker drummed east of the wood. Blue tits were nesting close to the pond but the hoped for cuckoo did not call. Upon my return 4 linnets were observed on Brick Kiln Hill, where a blackcap has also taken up residence.
Plants along Hoecroft Lane included flowering ground ivy, garlic mustard, red and white campion, primulas, rosebay willow herb and the ubiquitous bluebell, with a particularly fine show on Brick Kiln Hill.
Photos today show white and red campion blooms, along with a fine display of bluebells on Brick Kiln Hill, an overhead view of a fly past drake mallard and a nest building hornet (probably, need to check). Note the darker strip on the wood where the insect has chewed the wood to make its nest.









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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Quick wander in fading light and weather


An evening walk up Chapel Lane, round Westland Green and back via footpaths across Ash Valley G.C. gave up most of the usual suspects. 20+ linnets in one tree near New Road on the golf course was a good find, whilst blackcaps and chiffchaffs sang. Yellowhammers chirped from telegraph posts and the regular finches and tits were observed throughout the walk. Light was very poor, with heavy grey clouds, so songsters remained fairly quiet and no butterflies were recorded. I still await my first 2009 cuckoo for the parish!
Grateful to Chris Lowry, Little Hadhamite, for forwarding me this cracking swallow photo. This was taken at Lordship Farm on our Dawn Chorus walk on 18th April.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Allotment birding

Spent an hour and a half preparing the ground for more vegetables that are presently growing in pots at home (lettuce, beans, marrow, courgette, aubergine and a selection of herbs). In the process I listened to birds singing as well as those flying overhead. Following species were observed or heard between 6.00 - 7.30p.m.
willow warbler 2+
chiffchaff 2+
wood pigeon 20+
rooks 10 +
carrion crows 7+
greenfinch 1
chaffinch 3+
green woodpecker 1
blackbird 2
yellowhammer 3+
robin 2+
blackcap 1
wren 1
starling 5 over
magpie 2
skylark 2+
tawny owl 1 calling at 7.15 pm
great tit 5+
blue tit 7+
long tailed tit 3+
A wonderful spot, tucked away and far from ther madding crowd. Last year, unusual sightings on this spot were cuckoo, hobby and merlin. With all the scrub hawthorn present, whitethroat, garden warbler and lesser whitethroat will all be recorded singing in the next few weeks. Hopefully, a spotted flycatcher may also be seen. A first for my village list.
Also of note was my first speckled wood butterfly for 2009. An immaculate specimen, sunning itself in the dappled light that can be found on the edge of the path and scrub. A typical SW habitat.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Dawn chorus walk 18th April
















A 4.30 start at the village hall before setting off up Brick Kiln Hill to Millennium Wood. Over Acremore Street and round to Bush Wood before a break at the golf club and round the back of the golf course, into Westland Green and down to the village hall via Queer Wood. Some 7 miles in total that offered 38 species of bird. Highlights were good numbers of warblers singing: chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat and willow warbler along with an unusual sighting in the shape of 2 great black backed gulls heading up the Ash Valley. 11 of us enjoyed a superb sunrise as we listened to robins, blackbirds, song thrushes and green woodpeckers in Millennium Wood. Yellowhammers appeared everywhere as goldfinches, chaffinches and greenfinches were all recorded. A moorhen called from the Ash opposite the pub as dunnocks and wrens burst into voice.Magpies and the usual corvids were seen, but disappointingly no little or tawny owls called. A common buzzard and kestrel were the only birds of prey.
A super walk in good company. Shall now think about organising another walk, for whole families in late May early June.Perhaps a picnic at Millennium Wood may be worthwhile.
Photos show the sunrise and a pair of lesser black backed gulls at Bush Wood. The final photo looks very strange with a strong shadow being cast across the head , neck and chest of the bird. The one depicting two birds shows just how sychronised their flying can be.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Morning walk 17th April
















Set off at 8.45 this morning in very poor light and light drizzle. Called walk off early after reaching the golf course via the ridge footpath and Ash Valley due to conditions. However, recorded a reasonable 32 species for the 2 hours.Unusually for this time of year, 4 black headed gulls were seen heading west over the golf course. Here also were yellowhammers, pied wagtails, chaffinches (4 on the 17th green) a solitary northbound swallow and a couple of parties of starlings, totalling 14 in all. Willow warblers (5) chiffchaffs (5) and blackcaps (6) called from scrub, whilst another swallow was recorded at The Ford. A single common buzzard rose from its usual roosting woodland, rising into the murky sky as green woodpeckers called and a solitary stock dove headed north. Of most interest was a willow warbler that had not sorted out its song. Known as a "mixed singer", these birds tend to have mixed up the chiffchaff call with that of the usual willow warbler call. This particular bird began with the familiar chiffchaff call and completed the verse with the downward scale of a regular willow warbler. Several explanations for this have been offered with a probable one being that the bird in question over wintered with chiffchaffs in Africa and learned that part as a spot of mimicry. The bird is shown here in two shots, along with some splendid cowslips, a great tit and a singing dunnock, taken at the Ford.

Norfolk trip 15th April









































































































































A day out to the north Norfolk coast offered a change of habitat. Without anything startling turning up I recorded over 70 species. Photos below show a few of the birds. Unfortunately the light remained poor throughout the day so not a great opportunity to take photos. However, these are some of the better lit ones and a selection of the birds as I visited Cley, Holkham, Titchwell, Warham Greens and Holme bird reserves.
Photo 1 washing coot
Photo 2 sedge warbler
Photo 3 2 ruff
Photo 4 ruddy duck
Photo 5 pheasant
Photo 6 nest building coot
Photo 7 mute swan
Photo 8 lapwing
Photo 9 little egret
Photo 10 grey lag goose
Photo 11 egptian goose
Photo 12 egyptian geese
Photo 13 & 14 black tailed godwit
Photo 15 black headed gull
Photo 16 avocet

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter weekend round up
















Plenty of time working on the allotment limited my walks, but still able to record birds as I toiled. My first swallow was seen overhead on Good Friday, April 10th and this was followed by two more firsts for the year on the 12th. Firstly, 2 willow warblers were calling around the allotment and then later in the day, a garden warbler was heard singing from the back garden.
A morning walk on the 14th offered more chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps. Over three of each species were heard around the gravel pits in Caley Wood. Here, the female Canada goose remains on her island nest and 5 drake mallards were evident.
One of three grey heron sightings was made over the golf course, the next near the Ford and finally one heading south over the garden. Perhaps the same individual. A pied wagtail and a green woodpecker were busying themselves on the 18th green where a song thrush could also be heard. A great spotted woodpecker drummed and called in woods near the club house where also yellowhammers and the usual finches and tits could be observed. A check for the local roosting barn owl proved negative, with the final bird of the walk being 3 skylarks singing in fields south of the Ford.
Photos added here depict a good evening moon rising behind the chapel, the first bluebells in Caley Wood and a distant shot of a chiffchaff and the grey heron.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Long walk in the south of the parish. New finds for the year.











A long walk today, beginning at Tesco’s roundabout, from where I headed south of Bury Green, past Harvey’s Wood and on to the footpath that runs adjacent to Great Hadham Golf Course. The trip was completed by picking up the footpath that appears on Acremore Street. A good selection of birds was recorded with two sightings of pairs of bullfinches, a pair of blackcaps and a total of 11 chiffchaffs. However the highlight was watching 38 golden plover rise from a ploughed field and circle for 5 minutes before alighting out of view. First record for the year of these birds. I suspect a migratory party heading north to their breeding grounds. Also, numbers were supplied by a party of 20+ linnets in a stubble field. A most vociferous song thrush was heard along the path near Bury Green.
New for the year were a small tortoiseshell butterfly, near the golf course and an orange tip butterfly in the grounds of the Chapel near The Ford. A super walk of some 6 miles, with some parts new to me. Well worth visiting again this spring and certain grassland rides look a good habitat for butterflies, as well as birds.
Photoa added show the small tortoiseshell butterfly (rather a faded specimen) a male blackcap. an inquisitive chiffchaff and the flock of distant golden plover.

Tuesday 7th April: Church End and Albury Road




Tuesday 7th April Church End and Albury Road.
Another morning venture north of the A120 offered good views of common buzzard, red legged partridge and a calling male nuthatch. Although warm, only 2 peacock butterflies were seen. Most standing water in this area seems to hold good numbers of mallard and moorhen, with yesterday’s coot still in residence. Yellowhammers called from the hedgerows, as did green, gold and chaffinches.
Today's photos depict a male yellowhammer and some wonderful cowslips

Monday 6th April: new bird species







A morning walk through Muggin’s Wood and over the A120 around the back of Hadham Hall to check on the ponds and lake. New species in the shape of a coot was recorded, diving on a small pond behind the hall. From this spot the first blackcap of the year was recorded, singing from dense undergrowth. A nuthatch called along the Causeway to the Hall and several chiffchaffs were in good voice. A pair of reed buntings sat in the hedgerow near the irrigation lake, which held 5 drake mallards. Skylarks and green woodpeckers called as I headed back through the church, admiring the wood anemone, now in full bloom. A pair of grey wagtails was observed from the A120 bridge, looking south. I suspect a breeding pair.
Photos attached show the coot and a grey wagtail as well as the wonderful wood anemone as well as a view of the church

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