Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Unusual garden sighting 25.08.09


As I was sitting in the garden, preparing shallots for pickling!, my attention was drawn to some noisy house martins. As I looked up a hobby shot low over the garden chasing the martins. I shot indoors and just managed to get this one distant photo as it continued to follow the 15+ martins south.

Another early morning start 21 .08.09










































































































I set off early again, 7.15am to try and improve on the yellow wagtail photos. Unfortubnately they were still at a distance. A long walk through to lunch time saw me along tracks east of Bury Green, Danebridge and down to Bish Wood before enjoying a coffee at the golf club before searching the higher ground of Ash Valley for migrants. Nothing of note was recorded in amongst the 29 species seen.The highlight bird was finding an immature willow warbler that posed for the camera near Lordship Farm. I include a good set of photos of this confiding bird, along with several local views, a juvenile goldfinch and a common blue butterfly discovered in small numbers near New Road. Also, a southern hawker was snapped near the golf club, resting in roadside hedgerow.

New species and rare bird 20.08.09
















A walk from Brick Kiln Hill around the polo fields finally offered me sightings of an expected migrant in the shape of a yellow wagtail. 6 birds were present, feeding around the horses, catching the insects that were disturbed by the movement of the horses. Further along, in Acremore Street a wood warbler was first heard, and then seen in a large ash tree. Only the second recording of this species, the first being almost a year ago on the 15th August 2008. Again a migrant, heading south. It would not cooperate for the camera, remaining in dense vegetation, but an rare bird for Hertfordshire nevertheless. Photos here show a female great spotted woodpecker: note the use of the strong tail feathers to support it, a wood pigeon caught in sunlight and several shots of the yellow wagtails.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tescos, Green Street and Millennium Wood: 18.08.09




A pleasant morning wander gave views of 24 species of bird, with highlights comprising of 3 juvenile bullfinches near East Wood, a reed bunting along Hoecroft Lane and a chiffchaff in Millennium Wood. Hawker species dragons were observed, but not identified to specific species as they resolutely refused to settle whilst I was present. Large numbers of speckled wood butterflies were witnessed, especially in the dappled light that was offered in Hoecroft Lane. 2 photos above: firstly a speckled wood butterfly and then a humble wood pigeon.

Chapel Lane,golf course and River Ash walk 14.08.09











A long walk in fine weather gave up 26 species of birds and 7 sp of butterfly along with several southern hawker dragonflies. The highlight birds were grey partridge, the same pair photographed earlier in the month, a whitethroat, a common buzzard and a pair of bullfinches. A grey heron flew south over Brick Kiln hill as I wandered back to the ford.The usual butterflies were recorded, with both whites and gatekeepers supplying the numbers.
Photos here, show a red admiral with a comma (above). Note the "comma" white mark on the left hand butterfly, hence its name. Also indian balsam, an invasive plant brought from the Himalaya and now common all through southern England, usually near wet ground such as the River Ash as well as a peacock and painted lady butterfly (below)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Welcome phone call 13.08.09






















An afternoon phone call had me heading towards Hadham Park today. Steve Mardell rang me with news of grass snakes in a local pond that has been observed feeding on young moorhens. Although too late to catch sight of the devouring, I did manage to get a few photos of the snakes. Two were seen, with reports of several smaller specimens seen earlier. Whilst there I also recorded common darter, ruddy darter, (shown here) blue tailed damselfly and breeding common blue damselflies, shown here in the "wheel position". The blue being the male and the browner creature being the female held by the head. As we discussed the amount of buzzards present within the parish, a solitary adult appeared on cue. Many thanks to Steve for taking the time to call me. As recently reported in the parish news, I had, until today, not witnessed grass snakes in the parish although had received several reports from Church End area.
The photos shown here depict the larger female, still bulging having eaten the moorhen whole! (Click on photos to enlarge.) The green neckband being diagnostic for this species. I suspect the moorhen to be no more than 3 day old, judging by photos taken on Steve's mobile phone. Also today, I received reports of a southern hawker dragonfly laying eggs in a garden pond and signs of nocturnal activity in a garden that is suspected to be the work of badgers.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Tescos to Hadham Hall and The Ford 10.08.09





























A most pleasant wander between 9.00am and 11.30 this morning. Whilst not too much was recorded on the bird front, with highlights being a grey heron, common buzzard and female bullfinch, the weather did offer good views of common blue butterflies, and a selection of dragon and damsel flies. A brown hawker hunted over the small pond east of Hadham Hall and on the large lake, several common darter dragonflies were seen and photographed. The male being the brighter red and the female being the yellow type seen here on reeds. Also, azure damselflies were breeding all around the lake, one photograph depicts this, with the bright blue male holding the female by the head!
Also shown, several photos of the common blue butterfly, the female being brown.

River Ash walk 07.08.09







A wander along the Ridge footpath and then towards the Ash Valley gave good views of several birds not seen regularly. Firstly, 2 lesser whitethroats were first heard and then seen in hedgerow along the Ridge path. A common buzzard mewed overhead and 2 little owls called from an oak tree adjacent to the river. One then flew out over the field and into thick vegetation. A solitary mallard headed south as I walked along the footpath near the river. Here, I startled 2 grey partridges who then proceeded to lure me away from the chicks that I could hear in the long grass. Their broken wing act was most impressive and gave me unusually great views to get a few photos of this hard to photograph bird. The main one shows the adult male in full pomp, standing erect and threatening. They have been known to attack intruders and as they're a scratching bird I didn't fancy getting involved with their extremely sharp claws!
A southern hawker dragonfly was also registered on the ridge footpath.

North Norfolk for a couple fo days











A brief stay in North Norfolk, staying at the Dun Cow pub in Salthouse proved a success with the highlight bird being my first UK great spotted cuckoo. Other notable species being wheatear and rock pipit. On the return journey, 4 common cranes flew over the road whilst we were close to Lakenheath




A few photos of general views, a pied wagtail near Kelling and a common blue butterfly, of which there were many. However, not nearly as many as there were 7 spot ladybirds. A population explosion near Sheringham meant that there must have been over 100 million of the creatures. Everything was covered in them and the following day parts of the north Norfolk coast path was just orange as they piled up on the ground

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