Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Portland Bill Trip 29.03.11

A super day was had at Portland Bill on Tuesday 29th March. Travelling down on the Monday evening with Gary we arrived at the bird observatory around 8pm and after a chinese meal and a few pints in the 8 Kings we settled down in the lighthouse before an early start. Rising at 5a.m we wandered down to The Bill in darkenss before first light gave us skylark, cormorant and shag. A purple sandpiper entertained us before we headed off to West Cliffs. En route a few wheatears and black redstarts were observed but due to the weather conditions (warm, dry and still) the hoped for migrants didn't show. From the cliffs we watched 1000 guillemots in rafts along with razorbills. A few kittiwakes and fulmars mingled with the great black backed and herring gulls. After a while we headed back to see what was about in the observatory garden; not a lot so off to Radipole Lake and Lodmoor RSPB Reserves. Once we had negotiated the jam that was Weymouth we wandered around Radipole. Plenty of chiffchaff and willow warblers along with the regular water fowl. However, a hooded merganser near the centre was a highlight. This bird has been present for 3 years and still the status remains unknown. It may well be a vagrant from North America as when it first arrived it was cautious and remained in a storm drain. Now it comes to bread and fights with the mallards. A super bird to see.
Off to Lodmoor and several black tailed godwits in summer plumage was a highlight. A solitary bullfinch and grey plover increased our day list before we headed back to Portland for our second attempt to find the hoopoe in the quarry. No luck so back to the Obs to catch up wuth anything new. No good news so down to The Bill where the sea was quiet before we finished off with a wander to the cliffs and over The Common to the Admiralty Fence. 2 rock pipits were our last tick before the journey home. An excellent day with 70 species recorded during the whole day.
Photos from the top:
  • oystercatcher (Lodmoor)
  • peacock butterfly (Lodmoor and the only butterfly of the day)
  • pochard (Radipole)
  • Quarry (Portland and no hoopoe)
  • dunnock (Lodmoor)
  • greenfinch (Lodmoor)
  • pale herring gull (Radipole)
  • magpie (Radipole)
  • moorhen (Radipole)
  • rock pipit (The Bill)
  • shag (West Cliffs))
  • shelduck (Lodmoor)
  • teal (Lodmoor)
  • willow warbler (Lodmoor)
  • 3 of the hooded merganser (Radipole)
  • purple sandpiper (The Bill)
  • robin (Radipole)
  • guillemots and razorbiils (West Cliffs)
  • female tufted duck (Radipole)
  • lighthouse (The Bill)
  • male tufted duck (Radipole)
  • hooded merganser (Radipole) 




















Dawn Chorus Walk. 27.03.11



6 of us met at the village hall at 5.45a.m. on the day the clocks went forward. We set off for a trip around Hadham Hall, Bury Green, Millennium Wood and Hoecroft Lane. The birds began singing as soon as we set off with our first highlight being a barn owl near the primary school. 2 canada geese settled noisily upon the lagoon east of the hall whilst goldcrests were heard in the conifers within the boundary of Hadham Hall. 2 flyover greylag geese were a real surprise, only the 2nd parish record before we stooped for coffee at Sue's. We were all most grateful. Other noteworthy birds were grey heron, buzzard and one of the first chiffchaffs for the parish. However, the real surprise was at the end. Upon walking down the path at home 8 lesser redpoll were observed in trees at Ford Field. Again a 2nd parish record. Photo above, thanks to Graeme for this excellent shot, along with 2 of the canada geese in very poor light.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

new bird for 2011: 26th March

Another new bird for the year was recorded today whilst selling my book at the Farmers' Market. A chiffchaff was heard singing in the hedge that runs adjacent to the River Ash near the car park. Tomorrow morning is my first dawn chorus wander, meeting at the village hall at 5.45a.m. Maybe a few more migrants will be encountered. Photo today shows a spring pair of collared doves in the back garden.

Friday, 25 March 2011

25th March: a day of firsts

Aday working at Ash Valley Golf Club gave three firsts for 2011. To begin with a comma butterfly was seen around the club house and then, at 2.00pm a willow warbler was heard singing in the nearby coppice. As I was watching the warbler a large white butterfly went past. The 20C temperature obviously encouraging spring movement. Pleasing to see and hear.

Book published

Book Launch last Sunday at the Nag's Head, Little Hadham went well with over 70 people crammed into the small bar. Plenty of copies sold and am now happy to send copies to those who would like to order 1. email your address and I shall deliver it. Altenatively I can put it in the post if too far away.
Copies available for £8.00 with £1.50 p and p.
Otherwise, they are available at the Nag's Head, Little Hadham, Ash Valley Golf Club, Queen's Head, Allen's Green or Prince of Wales, Green Tye.
The book details all bird sightings from 2008 onwards along with all records of mammals, moths, butterflies, damsel and dragonflies as well as amphibians, other insects and reptile and plants. Also includes a guide to local walks, recipes for wild food and herbal remedies that can be made from wild plants growing in the parish.
By next week also to be found in Stortford library and hopefully, Waterstones. With these 2 venues I cannot guarantee the price.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sunday walk 13.03.11 + 1st brimstone butterfly of the year

A wonderful wander over to the school, along the A120 and then taking footpaths to Albury End. The undoubted highlight was seeing 3 fallow deer heading west from woods near Albury. several photos here. These were the first proper sightings I have had of this uncommon local species. Previously, a fallow stag had been observed in a field at Cradle End, but this had unfortunately been hit by a car and had to be destroyed.
The first lesser periwinkles were flowering adjacent to the footpath leading to the A120 from Chapel Lane.
Birds were everywhere, with over 150+ chaffinches in fields near Albury End. Over 14 singing skylarks recorded over the whole walk. The A120 rookery opposite the school holds more than 30 nests with constant calling and coming and going with nest building material. Photo above. 20 linnets were also feeding in fields near the traffic lights and finally a calling tawny owl in Muggin's Wood and a female sparrow hawk chasing pied wagtails in the farmyard of Home Farm, Chapel Lane.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Diary Dates

2 dates for any local readers: Firstly: my book launch. This will be at the Nag's Head, Little Hadham on Sunday 20th March as from 8.30pm. The book (Natural History of Little Hadham 2008 - 2010) will be available for purchase at the hugely discounted rate of £5.00 for this evening only.
All welcome.
Secondly, my first dawn chorus walk. Sunday 27th March, meeting at the village hall car park at 5.45a.m. The same day as the clocks go forward!! All welcome, but please email or phone me to let me know that you intend to come along so as we don't set off without you. Should be back at the car park by 9.30a.m.

Common buzzards 11.03.11

Whilst at work at Ash alley Golf Club 3 common buzzards were first heard and then observed high over the club house. They wheeled around, with signs of courtship display before heading off to the woods south of the club.
Wonderful sight as all three were seen gliding and turning together. Other birds around the club house were 200+ early morning fieldfares, the usual green woodpecker and a selection of local dunnocks, robins, great, long tailed and blue tits.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

8.3.11 Acreman Street, Harvey's Wood, Millennium Wood and Hoecroft Lane

Another early, 6.00a.m. start in misty and frosty conditions. 27 bird species were encountered including 4 drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers along with at least 6 green woodpeckers.  I spent time around Harvey's Wood where there is a barn owl present, but I suspect the misty conditions were not conducive to early morning hunting. skylarks were in fine voice (3+) along with yellowhammers, song thrushes (2), chaffinches (6+) and goldfinches (4)
Photos attached show the light conditions, which were no good for bird shots, but a very colourful sunrise, nevertheless. The sunrise over the bench is at Bury Green whilst the ghostly mist over the woods is Muggin's Wood

Tawny Owl

Whilst driving home, between Bury Green and Cradle End, I encountered a tawny owl sitting on a road sign. The headlights from the car caused it to remain put as they will have messed up its night vision. Unfortunately, no camera, bit only the 4th I have actually seen in the parish. However, around Brick Kiln Hill they are calling throughout the night, with at least 4 being vociferous last night.
Photos depict snowdrops and local spring bulbs whilst the last attacment is of the early flowering germander speedwell. These were all taken locally, around Chapel Lane the previous afternoon.

2.3.11 To Much Hadham and back

A 6.00am start along the ridge footpath to Winding Hill and then returning via the golf club and New Road. In all, 29 species of bird recorded with 3 black headed gulls, 500+ fieldfares, 1 early common buzzard and 200 starlings being notable. Also on view, the dunnock shown above, several redwing and 2 red legged partridge.
However, the highlight of the walk was encountering this huge paw print in the mud near Bush Wood. The coin is a standard £1.00, so this gives an indication of the size of the claws! I expect it is just a very large dog, but have forwarded this photo to experts. Be interesting to see their prognosis.

27.02.11 Ash Valley G.C.

An early morning wander over the golf course and through the bridlepath adjacent to Chapel Lane. Highlight were 2 grey partridges in New Road whilst everything else was as you were. Green woodpeckers appear to be all over the course, at least 5 birds seen and/or heard. A kestrel was hovering in fields north of Chapel Lane along with a small party of yellowhammers.2 photos from the walk. The first dog mercury is now pushing through the undergrowth and next to the 17th green, a hare shot past me. Their numbers are increasing upon the course, with 3 seen regularly. Last year, I estimated 5 breeding pairs, so time for a survey of this marvellous mammal is now in order.

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