Saturday, 17 October 2009

Long walk 15h October







A wander over Ash Valley golf course and along the River Ash (now totally dry) was the order of the day. Beginning at 7.15a.m. I was immediately impressed by the wonderful light on the autumnal trees. See photos. The bird of the walk was finding a large party of reed buntings along the hedgerow next to the 1st fairway. Redwings and fieldfares were arriving in good numbers and skylarks appeared to be everywhere. A nuthatch called from a tree near the club house where a male kestrel was photographed, perching on a flag on the putting green. 27 black headed gulls went north and several pied wagtails were heard overhead. 5 great spotted woodpeckers and 3 green woodpeckers were recorded along with numerous starlings, their numbers swelled by arrivals from Scandinavia. It seems that the last of the butterflies and dragonflies has now been seen; the frost earlier in the week bringing about their demise or sending them into hibernation.

Autumnal arrivals 8.10.09

Both fieldfare and redwings were heard over Chapel Lane on the morning of the 8th, moving westwards. Also of note, a chiffchaff was calling from the arden at 7.40am. A most unseasonal souind, more regulrly associated with April and May.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

New species at Hadham Hall lakes 07.10.09



A wander back from Tescos, north of the A120 offered views of the 96 species of bird for the parish. This came in the shape of a teal: UK's smallest duck. A photo shows the colourful wing pattern. It was found in company of several mallards on the partially drained lake. Along with this exciting discovery was a large skylark movement, with over 28 recorded heading south over fields east of The Hall. A solitary black headed gull remained from the group on Monday and singles of lesser black backed and herring were also recorded. A grey wagtail ( a fine male) was also seen at a pond near The Stables whilst a party of long tailed tits frequented hedgerows towards the school.
In an open field a large party of finches and buntings were observed, with a minimum of 26 yellowhammers and 23 chaffinches. One yellowhammer shown here.

Monday 5th Oct.












A brief walk to Hadham Hall lakes to inspect the drained pond for waders etc still proved fruitless. Skylarks appeared to be moving south, with 12 counted in 20 minutes. A field of loafing gulls was checked giving the following numbers: black headed gull 123, lesser black backed gull 4 and herring gull 2. The usual suspects were seen around the dragonfly pond before I moved to Millennium Wood. Little was recorded here apart from 4 mistle thrushes overhead and several noisy jays and the attached autumnal colours.

Monday, 5 October 2009

New butterfly species 04.10.09






A wander around the ponds and lake behind Hadham Hall offered superb views of a new butterfly species for the parish. This was in the form of a clouded yellow, a migratory butterfly that will have travelled north from France and the continent. A super find as it is an uncommon visitor to Hertfordshire. The record has been forwarded to the Herts Natural History Society.
The large irrigation lake is being drained at present, offering muddy banks that may attract waders on migration. Yesterday apart from the resident mallards and solitary tufted duck, a pied wagtail was all that was on show. A kestrel watched me from atop a telegraph pole and several black headed gulls lazed their way south. A party of linnets were around the small pond that held coot and moorhens.
Small white and red admiral were other butterflies seen, along with many ruddy darter dragonflies and a single migrant hawker.
Photos show the clouded yellow, the pied wagtail, the draining of the lake and a view down The Causeway footpath, leading from Hadham Hall to St Celia's church, always a pleasant walk through here.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

North Norfolk Walk 28th - 30th September

























With a few days available for a trip away, I headed off to Norfolk to complete the 47 mile coastal footpath. First day from Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale, where I pitched my tent, gave up 51 species of birds, with highlghts being: wheatear, marsh harrier, corn bunting whimbrel and 20,000 pink footed geese. Waders were frequently seen, especially curlew and the unbiquitous redshank. 12 miles completed.
Day 2 was the long day, beginning at Burnham Deepdale at 8.00am and finishing 22 miles later at Cley next the Sea. Another 27 species were added, with early morning sightings of barn owl, hen harrier, cetti's warbler and another wheatear being memorable. The walk finished at 6.15pm and I added tawny owl to the list as I returned to the tent via the superb coasthopper bus service that runs frequently along the coast road from Cromer to Hunstanton.

Day 3 , from Cley to Cromer. Only 13 miles but some hard yards (5 miles in fact) along shingle beach from Cley to Sheringham.
However, before setting off, I visited Titchwell reserve before picking up Wendy, my partner from Hunstanton busstation who was joining me for the final day. At Titchwell I added 12 species to the trip list with great views of gannets, woodcock, sanderling and bar tailed godwits. A summer plumaged grey plover was the bird of the morning until I got great views of bearded reedlings flitting and alighting on the reeds. Then off the Cley by car to start the final section. Another 9 species were added including curlew sandpiper, twite and snow bunting. A hobby was observed hunting near Cley bird reserve, as was a marsh harrier.
Eventually, we arrive at Cromer around 6.15 and a count of the bird species showed a total of 99. A quick search of the sea for another species gave up nothing, neither did a check on Cromer gardens for a greenfinch. However, an impressive total considering I wasn't stopping to search reedbeds or bushes, only recording what I saw as I walked. A pint at Cromer Pier finished the whole walk off most refreshingly, before the bus back to Cley to pick up the car and a return to Little Hadham.
I shall be giving a illustrated talk on this walk to Little Hadham and Albury Social Club on Tueday 10th November at the village hall. Please email me if you would like to attend so I can pass on extra numbers to the organisers.

Please click on photos to enlarge.







Hadham Hall Lakes 26.09








An early start to catch any migrants gave great views of several unusual birds. Chiffchaffs were still calling along with a solitary blackcap gave the impression it was spring. The warm weather certainly made it feel this way. At the large lake were 2 tufted ducks along with a record 9 mallards. On the banks was a grey wagtail and in the hedgerows a willow warbler. 6 lesser black backed gulls winged their way north and skylarks passed in a southerly direction. A count of over 24 in a 15 minute period. To add to the spring like day, a female common blue butterfly was photographed, shown above. Also shown, a grey wagtail, selection of ducks and one fo the overhead gulls.

Hadham Ford to Tescos 22.09

An evening walk across the fields via Millfield Lane, Green Street and Cradle End gave up few birds of note. Mistle thrushes appear to be settling back into their winter routine, but the highlight was a singing male blackcap near Cradle End.

Nature walk 20.09.09


A party of 14 of us met at the village hall at 10.30 and set off towards Standon, with a view to stop off at the Star for a lunchtime drink. En route birds were certainly scarce. A male kestrel was mobbed by several carrion crows and a few lesser black backed gulls were observed in fields near Broken Green Farm. The footpaths were in good condition so the walking was not strenuous. A chiffchaff was heard singing whilst gold and greenfinches made themselves known. Linnets flew across the stubble fields near Standon and a grey heron lazed its way towards Much Hadham. Several red legged partridges were seen as we approached Bromley Lane. Meadow pipits flitted across the golf course as we re entered Little Hadham parish and we finished off with sightings of the not so common common gull.
A wonderful walk in great company.

Chapel Lane and Ash Valley golf course 18.09




A good walk, with the highlights being a male stonechat by the 7th green on the golf course (only 2nd record) and another 2nd record in the shape of a spotted flycatcher. This was by the 2nd green. Chiffchaff, nuthatch, willow warbler and mistle thrushes were also birds of note in a list 29 species. Photos depict a chiffchaff and a green woodpecker

Hadham Hall lakes 13.09


A walk to the waters around the Hall gave little in the way of migration. Linnets were prominent in their winter parties and a great black backed gull headed north at 7.45a.m. A water pump near the largest lake is probably deterring birds from dropping in. However, it is leaving a margin of mud that may prove to be attractive to migrating waders in the next fortnight. A single tufted duck was recorded, only my second record for this patch

Brick Kiln Hill wander 12.09.09

A brief evening walk to check on any visible migration. Only usual suspe cts observed, with 7 swallows being the only migratory species.
1 large white and 1 speckled wood butterfly observed.

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