Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of the year overview: 31.12.09


A most successful year, adding many new species to the parish list. As far as birds ; 13 new species: kingfisher, teal, little grebe, mute swan, yellow wagtail, coot, wheatear, little egret, tufted duck, spotted flycatcher, mandarin, ringed plover and turtle dove. All good birds.
small copper, painted lady, clouded yellow an purple hairstreak were new butterflies, whilst emperor and black tailed skimmers were added to the dragonfly list.
All pleasing records and a few possibles for 2010:
birds: lesser spotted woodpecker, greylag goose, several duck sp, reed warbler
butterflies: white letter hairstreak
Be interesting to see what does occur and if the mud continues to show at the lagoon then the possibility of a migratory wader dropping in is feasible. In this case, almost anything is possible, from dunlin to godwits.
Happy New Year to all readers.
Above is one of my favourite photos from 2009, a grey partridge defending its young

on a footpath south of the Ford

Chapel Lane and garden watch 27.12.09







A morning walk up Chapel Lane, through the footpath and on to the golf course footpaths. A nuthatch called from the oaks on the footpath and several mistle thrushes flew overhead. Still large numbers of winter thrushes, with plenty in the garden feeding on the holly berries and the ornamental cherry. A single lesser black backed gull headed east.
Back at the garden, I counted 17 species, with many at the feeders and fruit trees. Shown here in a conifer are goldfinch, blue tit and female chaffinch



Christmas Eve wander: 98th bird species found.











A wander back from Tescos north of the A120 proved successful as I stopped to check on the lagoon. Here, a new bird for my parish list was evident: a little grebe. (shown above) This, the 98th species for the parish, had probably moved from frozen water to the lagoon which is presently ice free. Be interesting to see how long it stays.
Other notable birds were a kingfisher at the dragonfly pond (4th parish record), a solitary song thrush, several fine male bullfinches along hedgerows near Hadham Hall and a single kestrel. Numbers were supplied by fieldfares and redwings, both in excess of 100.
Other photos show a female great spotted woodpecker and the mute swan, still on the lagoons.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Village Nature Walk 20.12.09




In superbly bright conditions 8 of us set off through the village and on to the Ridge footpath, heading for The Bull in Much Hadham. Birding was tricky due to the cold but a highlight was seeing a little owl, albeit at a distance, roosting in a barn. Later, on the return journey, we got better but brief views.
Also a common buzzard, kestrel, skylarks and thrushes were seen along with over 1000 wood pigeon. Herring gulls and a single black headed gull flew overhead in a southerly direction and both coal tit and goldcrest were heard in the conifers near Winding Hill. We returned along the Ash Valley without adding too much to the list. A super walk in great company.
Photos show Vine House in Much Hadham and a female garden chaffinch.

19.12.09




An afternoon wander to Millennium Wood in good light. Unfortunately the cold exhausted my low camera batteries and consequently missed some good weather/sky shots. A few birds about with a kestrel being recorded over the polo fields. Very cold (-4C) kept the birds still in hedgerows but the number of thrushes continues to increase with over 100 fieldfare and redwing observed. A solitary moorhen on the pond by the polo fields. Photos show a shot looking north west to The Smithy and a garden dunnock.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Winter Walk 18.12.09























































































































An early start in snow and with a bright sky. Excellent walking conditions over untrodden snow. To begin, however, I spent half an hour doing a garden watch and recorded an impressive 17 species at or around the garden feeders. Blue, great and coal tits, chaffinch with gold and greenfinch, collared dove, house sparrow and robin were the regular visitors. Some photos below. On the walk the resident female sparrow hawk disturbed the roosting jackdaws and a party of 16 long tailed tits called from snowy hedgerow. A photo above. Redwing and fieldfare were in all available berry bushes and yellowhammers called from bushes around the River Ash. Skylarks called overhead and 2 mallards were flushed from the River Ash south of the Ford. Most of the photos show scenes from oer the golf course and along the Ash Valley. With more snow forecast maybe a repeat walk tomorrow. The final photo shows a redwing feeding on hawthorn.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

97th species for Parish: 15.12.09















A walk around the North East of the parish gave great views of a new bird. This came in the shape of a family party of 3 mute swans; the male (cob), female (pen) and 1 juvenile that is still showing 1st year plumage. All three are shown here, the cob being the larger with the brighter bill. Also on the lagoon east of Hadham Hall were 24 canada geese, a record high number and 1st for this patch of water.
A treecreeper is also shown below, one of two that were observed along the Causeway leading from the Hall.
Several skylarks were in the fields and the usual tits, finches, mallards and moorhens were about on a clear blue and sharp morning. Also depicted, a drake mallard, caught in the morning sunshine, the flotilla of canada geese and a hare that darted across the field near Hadham Hall.

Monday, 14 December 2009

14.12.09 South East of Hadham


A walk from Tesco's to the south east of the parish. As can be seen from the attached photo, conditions were far from ideal!
Highlight, however was coming across a party of 35 siskins in trees near Bury Green. Usual residents were seen, with 4 bullfinches adding colour, observed near Acremore Street. A group of 15+ yellowhammers were also recorded. Bird photography was not feasible due to the extremely poor light. In all, a disappointing 19 species were seen, with fieldfare and redwing being the most common.
I t should be noted that all my records not only get forwarded to the county recorder, but are also uploaded to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) who are carrying out a 4 year bird survey of the whole of the UK. The information gleaned will be printed as the Bird Atlas of the UK. Each part of the UK is split into tetrads and these are then split into 2km survey squares. All my records go to fill details for tetrad TL42 (F, G, K and L) I am also responsible for recording all data for square TL41Z which is the patch along the River Stort navigation from Spellbrook into the town centre. Nice to have a completely different habitat to study every now and again. Details of this survey can be viewed at http://www.hertsatlas.co.uk/ and at http://www.birdatlas.net

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ridge Walk to Golf Course 13.12.09


A morning walk before the rain today gave 23 species of birds along the Ridge footpath, across the River Ash and over the golf course.
Fieldfare and redwing were evident throughout the walk with good views of yellowhammer being had in hedgerows (shown above.)
A covey of red legged partridge were flushed from the same hedgerow as were a dozen pheasants. An irregular garden visitor was seen this morning: a coal tit at the feeders. A solitary great spotted woodpecker flew overhead and 3 green woodpeckers were recorded.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

North West parish corner 10.12.09




A morning walk in superb light began with a wander to Fox Earth Wood, over the A120 and up to Albury End, before doubling back. I then took footpaths that eventually brought me out at the traffic lights at The Ash. 30 species in all with several good

birds. Highlight was finding a pair of stonechat ( 1 shown above, albeit very distant!). Only 3 rd parish record and first of a pair. Last 2 observations come from Ash Valley Golf course, both winter records (Sept 2009 and winter 2008) Also, a common buzzard rose from a telegraph pole just as the camera focussed, a pied wagtail on a local rooftop, a single linnet overhead and massive numbers of jackdaws, rooks and crows. Former, well into the 500's and probably closer to 750! Large numbers of woodpigeons, too.Another good bird species was coming across 6 meadow pipits, but the strangest was an Australian black swan, feeding on grass adjacent to the recently constructed lake at Albury End. Shows potential this, with a bank of sedge. 2 mallards and 6 feral farmyard yuck ducks were alsop present.A good walk and an area I shall pay a little more attention to in the spring.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Evening owl watch 08.12.09




A couple of hours spent in fields south of The Ford watching owls was a partial success. 4 little owls were heard, with 2 showing themselves in the dusk. Too dark for worthwhile photographs. Plenty of other bird life present. 200+ jackdaws came into a large oak to roost, accompanied by several carrion crows. At dusk a lot of birds alarm called giving indication of their presence. Blackbirds, magpies, great and blue tits, moorhen, pheasant, partridge and yellowhammers were all heard. The culprit for causing all the fuss was eventually sighted running across the field; a stoat. The 2 little owls that flew from their roost also caused alarm calls to be sounded. Parties of redwing, fieldfare and goldfinches flew overhead and a male kestrel was making the most of the fading light. 21 species in all between 3.15 and 4.40.
Photos show a couple of views across the Ash valley.

Monday, 7 December 2009

River Stort Survey 07.12.09


As part of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) survey work for the bird atlas of the UK, I have an area around Spellbrook and Twyford Locks to cover. Today, I returned to continue this bird count in the area I used to bird regularly when living in Bishop's Stortford.
Unusual birds came in the shape of marsh tit, grey wagtail, little grebe, grey heron and cormorant. More frequently recorded birds were the tits and finches, with 6 bullfinches being observed ( shown above) along with good numbers of long tailed tits (shown below.)
In all, 28 species for the 2 hour walk which is about usual for the time of year. No lesser spotted woodpecker or siskins, which can be found in this area. Plenty of winter thrushes with fieldfares being most numerous.

East of the Ford walk: 07.12.09



An early morning walk today in an attempt to beat the forecasted poor, wet weather. However, grey skies were not conducive to photography.
26 species were recorded, all the usual suspects with good numbers of fieldfare and redwing. A party of 60+ starlings were seen on the golf course and 200+ jackdaws rose from a single tree near Westland Green.


The highlight bird was a treecreeper, heard and then seen along the footpath off Chapel Lane. Both herring gull and black headed gull lazed their way overhead as a jay was heard in Queer Wood. Both great spotted and green woodpecker were recorded as was a solitary yellowhammer.
Photos show 2 views of the footpath from Westland Green to Chapel Lane and one of the River Ash, now flowing well after the rainfall.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

6.12.09 North of the A120







A 2hour wander from Tescos to Hadham Hall and then back to The Ford was the order of the day. The highlight was coming across 2 large parties of wintering skylarks. One, near East Wood numbered in excess of 25 whilst the second group on a field east of Hadham Hall was more than twice the size. The largest group recorded in the parish so far.
Other birds were 11 common gulls behind the village school, 2 mistle thrush, 2 greenfinch (the first sightings for quite a while) 1 linnet and 1 pied wagtail.
The Hadham Hall large lagoon was devoid of birds whereas the other ponds held moorhen and mallard only.
29 species in all for the 2 hours. A strange sight for December was coming across a solitary 7 spot ladybird!
Today's attached photos show ashaggy parasol fungi, the pound coin giving an indication of size. Also, a view from near The Ford looking towards St Cecilia's church, Little Hadham and one of the more exotic mammals found around the village.

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