Thursday, 28 May 2009

New butterfly species for the parish + invasion
















































































































































Another long walk today, again beginning at Tescos and entering the parish near Little Plantings Wood. Under the bridge and followed the footpath to Hadham Hall, the irrigation ponds and then back to Chapel Lane. New butterfly was recorded in the form of a small copper, shown below.
However, the main event was the huge invasion of painted lady butterflies that have migrated from the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. Reported numbers are beyond 10 million on the move! Today, I gave up counting after reaching 250, but estimate I saw over 1000 whilst out. They were everywhere! One shown below.
Other butterflies of note were:
orange tip 25+
large white 40+
small white 25+ including 1 tiny individual, presumed to be a male shown below. (plant petal is oil seed rape)
small copper 1
red admiral 1 (1st of the year)
small heath 2 (1st of the year)
common blue 5
Also, first silver y moths of the year. Up to 10 in one field near the A120. Again, shown below.
Azure damselflies were to be seen at the ponds behind Hadham Hall, with up to 50 present whilst I observed. One shown here.
Bird wise, quite quiet, with common buzzard, mallard, coot, grey heron, reed bunting and mistle thrush being added to the 36 species I recorded yesterday. A goldfinch posed on Hadham Hall roof and there were plenty of young coots, mallards and moorhens on the ponds.
Whilst searching the vegetation for moths and butterflies I also managed to photo a green shield bug and a soldier beetle of the order canthabis rustica, a common predatory creature. Also shown here is a male scorpion fly. Although it looks like a stinger, it is quite harmless.
Run the cursor over the photos and click on them to enlarge and see the species name.






























Wednesday, 27 May 2009

New species on long wander 27th May





























Starting at Tescos and soon entering the parish, I ventured to cover both sides of the Ash valley today. From Stocking Wood I took the path along the parish boundary towards Much Hadham G.C. before heading towards Acremore Street and down to the Ford. From hear, after a short break to recharge the camera batteries, I wandered up Chapel Lane, around the back of Caley Wood and back over the golf course footpaths. In all: 36 species of birds and over 45 species of flowering plant were recorded, along with a new species of butterfly for the parish and a new insect from the hemiptera order.
However, the highlight for me was recording the first turtle dove for the parish. One bird, "purring" as I wandered along the footpath south of Bury Green that eventually arrives at Danebridge. A fine sight, unfortunately shielded by vegetation to permit a worthwhile photo. Certainly a declining summer visitor, with only 4 records so far this year for the whole of the Stortford district.
Another new addition to the natural history list was a painted lady butterfly. This, too is a migratory species, moving north from North Africa and the Mediterranean coast. This was an expected sighting this year, with, I suspect, a major invasion underway. I am sure it will become a common sight this summer.
Other birds of note were a pair of bullfinches, linnets, good numbers of house martins and swallows, 5 singing chiffchaffs and 4 singing blackcaps but only 1 whitethroat and no willow warblers were heard or observed.
Plant wise the list is long with many new additions to my list: hedge mustard, ribwort, cat's ear, prickly sow's ear, bladder campion and narrow leaved everlasting pea were a few that I managed to record. Unfortunately, the damp and blustery conditions were not conducive to good plant photography, but I include several here.
A mirus striatus beetle was found on nettles, shown below. A striking insect, visible from May to August.
All in all, a successful day, considering the poor weather conditions. Hopefully a few day's sun will bring out more insects and have the birds singing again.
Photos today show the yellow wood avens plant, the elegant mirus striatus insect, cut leaved crane's bill (pink), bladder campion and the underwings of the painted lady. After half an hour of following and waiting, the insect had still not rested showing its salmon pink upper wings! Shown below are splendid specimens of field poppy and briar rose as well as an unidentified spider and a 7 spot ladybird.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Weekend sightings







The highlight of the weekend was recording a holly blue butterfly in the garden, the first for 2009. Other butterflies were also recorded, with large and small whites and green veined whites. A great spotted woodpecker was photographed at the garden nut feeder. Also in the garden, a first for me, was a resplendent male bullfinch. Unfortunately it stayed too briefly as I tried to get to the camera. At the allotment a kestrel was seen overhead along with good numbers of swifts. A juvenile starling was being fed by a parent in the garden this evening. More brimstone moths were evident around The Ford and a final first, a common blue damselfly seen patrolling damson trees on the allotment.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Weekend round up














































Highlight for theweek was recording my first cuckoo. This was on the 13th at Little Hadham cricket club, where it called and then gave a good fly over view.
A Drinker moth caterpillar was recorded near Acremore Street and a brimstone moth was found nin Ford Hill. Usual species continue to call with blackcaps, chiffchaffs, whitethroats and willow warblers all being evident. Bullfinches were apparent along Hoecroft Lane and skylarks sang over the golf course.
Plants are coming into flower, with yellow archangel, jacob's ladder, herb robert, red and white campion all being found in hedgeows and roadside verges.
Photos here show the Drinker moth caterpillar, brimstone moth, a male chaffinch, the blue germander speedwell in flower, pink herb robert, a green veined white butterfly and an underwing view of a speckled wood butterfly. Finally, a clump of hybrid campions, a cross between the red and white giving a large pink flower. These were found in the hedgerow along Acremore Street.
The green veined white butterfly was another new recording for the year.



















Saturday, 9 May 2009

7th May local birding on the allotment.


An hour watching from the allotment proved a great success, with both swift and hobby being recorded for the first time this year. Coincidentally, my first record of swift in 2008 was also the 7th May. Willow warblers, chiffchaffs, whitethroats and blackcaps also sang on my patch. A 1st year herring gull headed south along the Ash valley. From the village green opposite the Nags Head, I recorded an impressive 18 species in 30 minutes.
In all 27 species were heard and/or observed. Photo shows a male singing yellowhammer with a threatening sky behind.

Chapel Lane/Westland Green walk 6th May











An evening wander in good weather. New for the year were 3 house martins, recorded over Chapel Lane, heading north west. Also on offer were swallows, skylarks, a hunting kestrel, blackcap, common whitethroat and mallard. A great spotted woodpecker called from an old oak whereas green woodpeckers were heard on three occasions. One (a female as it only has a black "moustache", whilst the male shows red in the black) was photographed in long grass on the golf course. Shown here. A large white butterfly was the only insect of note in a list that contained 32 species of birds.
Photos attached show the green woodpecker, a young rabbit, jacob's ladder plant, found along lanes in Westland Green and a name carved in a holly tree. This carving was some 18 feet up the trunk and so could be anything up to 50 years old as holly are not fast growing trees.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Saturday 2nd May
















A long morning walk, beginning from The Ford and following the River Ash to Winding Hill, before spending some good time around the Henry Moore estate and Boure Lane, Much Hadham. In all, in the parish I recorded 25 species, with a mobbed common buzzard, several swallows and skylarks being the highlights. A green veined white butterfly was new for the year, but still no cuckoo! The great spotted woodpecker, nesting along the river was evident as were the yellowhammers, song thrushes and usual finches and tits.





Photos attached show the mobbed buzzard, a comma butterfly as well as the green veined white, a drake mallard on the Ash at The Ford and another buzzard, a darker specimen, seen over Much Hadham.

Evening walk 30th April







A short wander along the River Ash and on to the golf course footpaths along the 6th fairway gave good sightings of several usual residents. A common buzzard flew overhead along with yellowhammers, skylarks a solitary pied wagtail and 3 linnets. A fly over mallard was heading for the river as a song thrush sang from near The Ford. Blackcaps joined the chorus of regular singers, including blackbird, great tit, blue tit, chiffchaff and chaffinch.

Today's photos show a male blackbird on the chapel roof, a view north east from the golf course and a view of an oak, looking west.

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