Monday, 29 March 2010

1st Dawn chorus walk: 28th March















14 brave souls met at the village car park at 5.45am (on the morning the clocks went forward!) for a 6 mile wander along local footpaths to listen and hopefully observe the birds. The route taken was through the village to Ford Hill whereupon we took the ridge footpath to Winding Hill, Much Hadham before crossing the River Ash and heading to Ash Valley G.C. for a morning coffee. Following the break, we headed uphill to Westland Green, around the lanes and then descended via the footpath that runs adjacent to Queer Wood back to the village hall. In all, just under 4 hours.
Not too many special or unusual birds were recorded, but a calling chiffchaff at Westland Green, plus another at the village hall were 1st recordings for the year. Robins, song thrushes and blackbirds sang in the village and on the footpaths yellowhammers and chaffinches were heard as well as soaring skylarks. A pair of canada geese gave a good fly past, followed by a lower group of 5 (shown here.) A nuthatch called as we were near the golf course and a pheasant ran for cover (shown here.) Faith enjoyed the whole trip, being the youngest to join in an early morning wander and became the official carrier of the binoculars. Other birds seen/heard were wren, greenfinch, great spotted woodpecker, jackdaws, carrion crows, rooks, wood pigeons, fieldfares, collared doves, goldfinch, solitary herring gull, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, pied wagtail and green woodpeckers. A common buzzard was heard "mewing" but not seen. Unfortunately no owls or other birds of prey were encountered.
A wonderful start to the day, in great company. I now am planning the 2nd dawn chorus wander for April 18th, meeting at the village hall at 5.00a.m. and then a walk around Bury Green, Cradle End and Ford Hill. By this time there should be more to hear and see. I look forward to sharing the morning with as many as can make it. Other photos show the glorious sunrise we were treated to along the ridge.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Albury Wander 27.03.10















A morning walk to spend time covering a tetrad for the BTO breeding bird survey element to the bird atlas that they are compiling. This recording process requires the recorder to walk for one hour, noting all species, number and make habitat notes for suitable breeding sites. After the hour, a return journey for the same length.
Between 10.30 - 12.30 I recorded 35 species with numbers being supplied by the corvid family: rooks 72, carrion crow 57, and jackdaws 43 along with 60 linnets and 270+ wood pigeons. All the waterfowl recorded last weekend at Albury pond were still present as well as 3 yellowhammers. Still no chiffchaff heard or seen, but tomorrow's dawn chorus walk may well offer the opportunity for the first record for 2010.

Today's photos show silhouetted starlings on the chapel, a common buzzard plus pussy willow flowering and a horse chestnut bud beginning to open. Also, sunrise west of the village.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Damp Saturday walk 20.03.10 but 99th parish species.






















Out by 10 am this morning, heading across country to the A120 and then on to Albury End for some bird atlas roving records.

200 fieldfare and 100 redwing in trees opposite the A120 vets' surgery was a good start, followed by a common buzzard, long tailed, blue and great tits. As I approached Albury End I scanned the local man made pond and to my surprise, 10 tufted duck (5 pairs) had arrived since my last visit. Also, several resident mallard, the 2 regular coots but even better, a pair of little grebes, a pair of canada geese and 2 greylag geese. New record for the parish. 99th bird species and first new bird for 2010!

Other notable sightings, in the persistent drizzle included 4 linnets, 4 red legged partridge (shown above) a solitary black headed gull followed by a lesser black backed gull and 1 common gull.

In all 32 species for a 2 hour walk.

Photos show a splendid silhouette, the A120 rookery, some of the tufted duck, partridge and canada goose as well as 1 distant shot of the 2 greylags.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Evening wander 18.3.10


Set off 4.00pm along the river valley, up to the golf course and around the woods. Whilst enjoying a can of fine Tanglefoot ale at the well placed bench by the 2nd green, a single woodcock flew out, heading north east. Good views but much too fast for a photo. Other birds of note were 2 pied wagtails and a nuthatch at Westland Green, a single fieldfare on the golf course where I also watched a hunting male kestrel. Poor light limited photography, managing to get this single shot of a singing robin, joining in the evening chorus along with blackbirds, song thrushes and calling blue and great tits.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Early morning wander: 16.03.10











Good walk with much to see. In all 33 sp of birds, a record high for 2010. Highlights were a cormorant at the lagoon shown here flying off), a reed bunting at Hadham Hall, 3 skylarks (2nd photo) along with a goldcrest near St Celia's church.
Apart from these more unusual sightings, a good selection of the regulars was also in attendance. 13 common gulls near Hadham Hall headed north as I moved them on, a song thrush was in fine voice in the school grounds and green woodpeckers yaffled in Muggin's Wood. 2 pied wagtails were on a farm house roof as a solitary great spotted woodpecker headed over the Causeway. Moorhens and coots were at their usual stations in the standing water at the hall and 2 red legged partridges were noted on the fields fromBrickKiln Hill to the school.
Further afield, my first brimstone butterfly of the year was seen by Bishop's Stortford Cricket Club at 1pm

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Saturday 13.03.10 local wander




A short hour wander around the local environs (River valley, golf club and Chapel Lane) gave views of 28 resident species. A warmer morning gave me the idea that I may encounter a brimstone butterfly, but it soon became overcast and still under 10C so no luck.
A calling nuthatch started the walk, heard in the garden. A solitary bullfinch dived for cover along Chapel Lane whilst gold finches, and greenfinches were heard and seen near Westland Green. Skylarks (3) sang above the 6th fairway and green woodpeckers seemed to be everywhere. A single great spotted woodpecker was seen at Alder Wood, but no sign of last weekends siskins.
Highlight was good views of an adult hare, found in the field at the top of Chapel Lane. shown above.
Spring showed in the form of appearing Lords and Ladies (Arum italica) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), both shown here along with a long tailed tit on a feeder in Westland Green.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Longer walk: 09.03.10 Bury Green/Cradle End/Green Street

A long 2.5 hour walk this morning, beginning at Tesco's car park, and then off round the back of Bury Green TL460209 and then south west along the path to TL 444200 before taking the track to back to TL 443211 and then north and east to Green Street before picking up footpaths that eventually ended at Tesco's again.
In all 29 species with the two highlights being birds that you could associate with the sea! Firstly, in the distance, a line of 3 cormorants heading north east (shown here) and then a single common gull (shown below showing diagnostic large white mirrors on the primary feathers and greeny/yellow legs) in fields near Millfield Cottage. A singing yellowhammer is also depicted here.
Several jays were recorded, along with a minimum of 4 singing skylarks. 3 mallards flew over and a moorhen called from one of the many flooded ditches. At Cradle End a nuthatch called from the woods as I counted in excess of 25 yellowhammers in the hedgerow.
Near Bury Green an early morning common buzzard flew off as great spotted woodpeckers drummed and green woodpeckers called. A good wander in still cold conditions.










Monday, 8 March 2010

08.03.10: Brick Kiln Hill







A quick wander around Brick Kiln Hill at The Ford before breakfast this morning gave up over 20 species of birds. The usual songsters were in good voice on a clear, bright but icy morning. Chaffinch, robin, dunnock, great tit, blackbird, song thrush, collared dove and wood pigeon were all heard and seen as well as a small party of long tailed tits. A large flock of black headed gulls, 47+, headed north along the Ash Valley.
Interesting note was observing a male chaffinch attacking its own reflection in a car wing mirror. Photo here shows the blurred chaffinch whilst the other 2 show a singing chaffinch and part of the black headed gull group.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Unusual bird at Hadham Hall lagoons 07.03.10







A morning walk to the lagoon this morning gave brief flight views of a snipe, flushed from the ditch on the north side and then watched flying high in a southerly direction. Only the 2nd record of this bird in the parish. Otherwise a quiet morning, with 2 coot and 6 mallards being all that was on offer at the lagoon. Further waterbirds (2 coot, 4 mallards and 5 moorhens) were observed on the ponds around the hall and a lesser black backed gull glided south and high. A yellowhammer sung from the hedgerow. A clear but cold day offered sights of the usual residents and a little owl flew from an oak along the Causeway near the church. 3 great spotted woodpeckers were heard drumming as a small flock of house sparrows chirped from the holly on the Causeway.

Further afield, whilst gardening in Much Hadham, I disturbed a hibernating red admiral that flew off north west. This was reported to the Herts Butterfly conservation group (see: http://www.hertsmiddx-butterflies.org.uk/ and click on sightings and news. It transpired to be the second county sighting of this species for 2010.
Today's photos show a view, looking south from the partially frozen lagoon, a coot and a moorhen on the Hadham Hall pond.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Morning Walk 06.03.10
















A mid morning wander up Ford Hill, along Hoecroft Lane to Millennium Wood and back. Very few birds on show, with a little owl, single lesser black backed gull and numerous fieldfares being noteworthy. Great and blue tits were singing, along with robins and dunnocks. A party of 9 long tailed tits were recorded in the hedgerow by the River Ash bridge at The Ford and several yellowhammers were in the hedges adjacent to the cricket field.
Photos show hazel catkins, an interesting sky reflected in the pond on the polo field, water in Millennium Wood pond and a view looking north west across The Smithy, with Albury End and the church in the distance.

2nd dawn chorus wander 03.03.10




An early wander along the Ridge footpath to The Lordship and back gave views of 28 species, with out anything unusual turning up. A moorhen was seen along the River Ash and a solitary stock dove headed north followed by 14 lesser black backed gulls and 6 black headed gulls. 4 great spotted woodpeckers were drumming and over 175 fieldfares were seen in the sheep field south of The Ford


Some of the fieldfares are shown here, plus a view from the Ash Valley, looking east.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Weather change 02.03.10
















Having reported continued poor weather, Tuesday saw a change for the better, with blue skies and temperatures racing into double figures (just!)
Consequently, I was out at 6.00am listening to birds in the gloom. The undoubted highlight was coming across a party of 25+ siskins on Ash Valley Golf Course adjacent to the exit of the footpath from Alder Wood. These were busily feeding in.... alders. A great sight, not often recorded this winter. A few poor shots of birds feeding, shown here (photos 1,2 and 4).
Also: 6+ drumming great spotted woodpeckers, 5 linnets near the 6th fairway, several fieldfares and redwings and all the expected birds singing, i.e. robin, great tit, dunnock, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, greenfinch and yellowhammer. 4 skylarks were heard and seen near the River Ash.
Other photos show the sunrise at Westland Green and1 of the golf course linnets.

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