Thursday, 30 December 2010

End of Year round up

So, another year of nature watching around Little Hadham parish. New records for the year included just one bird; a pair of greylag geese in March whilst 2 new dragon and damselflies were discovered. A broad bodied chaser was witnessed along the dry River Ash valley on 11.07.10 and a single banded demoiselle was found at Caley Woods on 17.07.10.
The year ended with me completeing my book on the natural history of the area and should be published in mid January, 120 pages including all records, details of walks along with recipes using local wild food etc.
Bird highlights were my 2nd ring ouzel, a local merlin, a pair of lapwings entering Little Hadham air space along with a solitary snipe in fields near South Cottages. 2010 will be remembered for its very hot summer and very cold winter, with snow falling by November and basically staying until the end of December.
It was ayear when I began recording moth species, totalling 45 identified and several as yet, not. 2011 will be a year when I continue to broaden my knowledge of this area of natural history. 2011 also offers the chance for me to become involved in more scientific recording, with a bio diversity action plan to follow up as well as collating bird num bers through a variety of timed surveys. It is hoped to involve the local community, including the primary school in these ventures, with 2nd January put aside for a 3 hour yellowhammer survey. Lated in the year I intend to organise a village nature day which will involve all volunteers visiting a series of sites to record a selection of birds and insects, giving me a good insight into parish numbers on the same day at the same time. Other planned recording days will be to survey breeding species, such as cuckoo, barn owl and common buzzard as well as survey all birds at least once a month at specific sites.




Just to remind ourselves that it was once summer, I include a few warming photos from earlier in the year. From the top:
  • spring bluebells
  • comma butterfly
  • white plumed moth in flight
  • latticed heath moth
  • red legged partridge

Other highlights away from the village were trips to North Norfolk (92 sp of birds) Dungeness (86 sp) and The Camargue (78 sp) A few photos from these trips below.
  • dunlin (Norfolk)
  • snow bunting (Norfolk)
  • red kite (Camargue)
  • red veined darter (Camargue)
  • flamingoes (Camargue)
In all, I have recorded over 250 bird species for the year (207 in the UK) along with 14 British dragon and damselflies, plus another 3 in France as well as 21 species of British butterflies and 2 others from France.
It is hoped that I shall record the 100th bird species for the village in 2011, maybe waxwing, brambling, lesser spotted woodpecker or  a few duck species such as wigeon, shoveler, gadwall or pochard. iT will be interesting to see what 2011 offers.;

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Westwards walk this morning

Walked up Chapel Lane and then through footpaths to Westland Green before wandering over the empty golf course. Quiet birding with 2 nuthatches being the highlight. Jays were arguing and the now customary good numbers of winter thrushes.
The first garden redwing of the winter was observed and the pied wagtail was still wandering around on the patio.
Photos to follow

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Another walk from Tesco 21.12.10

Dropped off at Tescos and walked back home. This time via Bury Green, Millennium Wood and Hoecroft Lane. Usual residents about, with redwing, fieldfare and blackbird numbers continuing to increase. Well over 100 of each species observed. 6 yellowhammers flocked together in fields behind Bury Green, but apart from that all very quiet. An inquisitive pied wagtail walked up to the back door upon arriving home. Here, the thrushes and pigeons continue to devour the cherries in the back garden.

Photo shows a male Bury Green yellowhammer and beech leaves clinging on.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Good walk with pleasing results




A walk back from Tesco's at midday proved most successful, albeit in the last half mile when things began to happen. Firstly, a fox wandered across the field on Brick Kiln Hill, photographed from some distance, shown here. As I watched it run out of view, I became aware of a commotion going on in the large oak tree at the top of the hill. A scan through the branches revealed what I suspected, an owl. Blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and a single blackbird were mobbing it. After some minutes I had managed to get myself in a reasonable position to get some snaps. However, the little owl then moved to the other side of the tree.This meant another crawl through the snow until I shot several photos, shown here. As can be seen by one photo, it kept its eye on me. Finally, it moved off across the footpath and into a larch where it was hidden from view. Pleased to get these couple of record shots, made even better by the green of the boughs and coating of snow.
Other noteworthy birds were numerous fieldfare and redwing, yellowhammers and 4 red legged partridge. Final photo is a festive robin.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Back garden 18th Dec.




Just got back from a trip to town and Allen's Green. Drive back was great fun at 10m.p.h. Views here of the back garden looking towards Brick Kiln Hill

Lazy birding morning







A drive to Hadham Hall to check on the ponds and lagoon this morning; too cold for a long walk! As expected all frozen over but good numbers of birds in the trees around the hall. Highlight was a treecreeper, shown here along with good numbers of greenfinch, moorhen, blackbird, wood pigeon and jackdaws. Following on, I drove around the lanes, through Green Street where the hedgerows were full of redwing and fieldfare. Two other photos taken at Hadham Hall in temperature of -3C

Friday, 17 December 2010

Afternoon owl hunt 17th Dec.
















A walk along the Ridge footpath towards Much Hadham before returning along the Ash Valley looking and listening for owls. No success whatsoever although several usual roosts showed signs of residency by having relatively new pellets. However, a wonderful walk in superb light as shown in these attached photos.
A single bullfinch, 2 kestrels and a solitary yellowhammer were the highlights. Over 100 fieldfares and redwings were observed along with high numbers of blackbirds (35+)
4 red legged partridges flew across the horse filed south of the ford as the sun began to set and the temperature reached -3C.

Feeding in the garden 16th Dec.







An afternoon feeding frenzy took place in the back garden, with wood pigeons, blackbirds, blue tits and great tits feasting upon the cherries on the garden tree. Perhaps a sign of the forecast cold spell.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Wintering merlin seen again: 16th Dec.

The wintering merlin, first seen in mid October, was observed, briefly, on Ash Valley Golf Course, flying past the club house. It came across the putting green and then used a ditch to "get under the radar" of any finches that may be in the hedgerow along the side of the first hole.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Norfolk birding: Tuesday 14th Dec







































































































































Tuesday 14th Dec and a day trip to North Norfolk. Leaving Stortford at 5.00am in order to be on the reserve and beach at Cley for first light. First birds of note were a spoonbill and several thousand brent geese. A walk along the beach gave great views of snow bunting whilst ruff, dunlin, ringed plover and a curlew were found at Arnold's Marsh, east of the reserve. A coffee before heading into the hides where we saw plenty of expected duck before a trip to Salthouse beach for turnstone and a very confiding dunlin. From here we were off to Stiffkey Fen where kingfisher, greylag geese, a single pink footed goose, bullfinch. A goldcrest and marsh tit were heard but not observed. Then, on to Titchwell were a sea watch gave great views of common scoter (600+), 2 velvet scoter, 6 red breasted merganser, 5 goldeneye, 4 great crested grebe, 1 great northern diver, sanderling, bar tailed godwit along with merlin, hen harrier and peregrine over Thornham Marsh.
In all, 90 species for the day. Excellent stuff. Photos so far attached, from the top:
  • Cley Reserve North Scrape at first light: mainly shelduck and wigeon
  • Looking west towards Salthouse at first light
  • avocets, wigeon and shoveler on the North Scrape
  • looking west at dawn
  • next 3: snow buntings on the shingle, Cley beach
  • flyover brent goose
  • common gull
  • dunlin
  • black headed gull
  • turnstone: a confiding 1st year bird. Can be distinguished from an adult by the white tips to the feathers.
  • small flock of brent geese.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bishop's Stortford waxwings: 12.12.10











I received a report of several waxwings discovered in rowan trees in Primrose Close, Bishop's Stortford, so today, I spent a little time finding them and getting a few record photos. They were exactly as reported only their numbers had swollen to 20+. A super bird to see; they arrive in the UK from eastern Scandinavia every 4 - 5 years, usually due to a combination of poor berry crops in their breeding range coupled with a successful breeding season. This is indeed the case for 2010, with up to 10,000 arriving here from across the North Sea.
Judging by the amount of rowan and cotoneaster on the Bishop's Park estate, I suspect they will be present for a fortnight or so. Also discovered whilst watching these was a solitary lesser redpoll. I received a phone call later letting me know that the number had swollen to 3 redpolls. Hope the residents of Primrose Close are not too bothered by numbers of birders and photographers wandering around!

Sunday Morning Walk 12.12.10







A start at Tescos and then followed the footpaths around Stocking Wood, Bury Green to Acreman Street and then back to the village via Ford Hill. Not too much to record, 26 species in all with a winter party of 12 yellowhammers observed near Great Hadham G.C. Also, 5 bullfinches opposite Acremans house by the footpath gate, 1 flyover black headed gull, 2 lesser black backed and a solitary 2nd year herring gull.



3 photos attached show some distant shots of the bullfinches.

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