Monday, 31 December 2012

Year round up for parish

Clearly, the wettest year on record which has severely hit the wildlife of the parish. Butterfly numbers were worryingly low and I expect it to take 2 good years to get the numbers up to average. Also, dragon and damselfly numbers low and in all 237 species of moth trapped within the 12 months. None in good numbers. Again, take a good year or two to repair the damage. Bird wise, 79 species recorded within the parish and, yet again, nothing new for the year. Parish total still on 99, so 78.25% of the bird species found this year.
Highlights. Photo 1; jersey tiger on 17th August
Photo 2; siskin.
Photo 3: mute swan (only 3rd parish record)
Photo 4; garden nuthatch.
Photo 5; green brindled crescent
Photo 6; brimstone butterfly
Photo 7; herald moth
Photo 8; red kite.
Photo 9; spotted flycatcher
Photo 10; regular hawkmoths.
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Last village wander of 2012

A wet and breezy wander home from Stortford via Cradle End, Green Street, Millfield Lane, Millennium Wood and Hoecroft Lane. Exceptionally muddy with only a few birds observed. Flock of 20+ goldfinches in Green Street, (photo) whilst a bullfinch and Jay added colour in Cradle End. 85+ corvids near the polo fields and a sparrowhawk over were highlights. However, birds not seen were more significant. 1 fieldfare, no redwing and no woodpeckers was very unusual for this time of the year. Need to keep an eye open for esp. green woodpeckers as they appear to have left the parish. Haven't seen or heard one for a fortnight or so, which is worrying for such a bird. It has no migratory hard wiring at all, so very puzzling.
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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Couple of village wanders

A short walk up to Hadham Hall lagoons yesterday. Very little about. 9 tufted duck, 2 coots and a pair of mallards on the water was the best on offer whilst 2 lesser redpolls, 10+ siskins and 30+ goldfinches were feeding on thistles near Church End Farm. Photo of the path leading to the church, known as Nut Walk.
This morning the wind had died down but a drop in temperature was noted. A common buzzard (photo) was seen over Queer Wood and a meadow pipit was firstly heard and then seen (last photo.) Other birds were jays, lesser black backed gulls and red legged partridge.
Don't think I have ever known Hadham to be so birdless. Very few fieldfares and no redwings.
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Full moon

A super moon lit the whole village last night. A photo here taken from the garden using a 300mm lens.
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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Herts trip

An early start (6am) saw the 3 of us (myself, Graeme and his colleague Steve) heading across county for a day's birding. First stop, after the essential coffee break near Hemel Hempstead, was Wilstone Reservoir, one of 4 stands of water that make up Tring Reservoir complex. A bitter wind, mist and freezing temperatures greeted our arrival. We headed to the hide, spotting coot and pochard in the gloom. From the hide mute swans, shoveler, gadwall, teal etc were seen but the light was too poor for photos. We returned to the car and headed to Startops, Marsworth and then Tringford Reservoirs. Little was added here apart from pied and grey wagtail. We then checked out the yews in the local cemetery where we heard goldcrest and saw skylark and mistle thrush. Over the road we checked the rest of Wilstone, getting great spotted woodpecker and heard treecreeper. (Photo 1 shows an elusive treecreeper, snapped in Much Hadham last Sunday) After this we headed off to Rickmansworth and Stockers Lake. Both the temp and light had improved, if only slightly. Here finches such as siskins were seen as well as calling ring necked parakeets (photo 2 courtesy of Graeme.) Around the back of the lake 12 red crested pochards were found (photo 3) and over 7 goldeneye (photo 4.) We returned to the car, checking Inns Lake for reported goosander, but none were seen. Along the M25, via another coffee break to Tyttenhanger. En route we had several red kites and 2 golden plover over the motorway. The sky was darkening as we watched goldcrest, greenfinch, great black backed gull and buzzard around the main lake. No tree sparrows were noted before another day tick, a green woodpecker. Then, in persistent rain we headed off to Hertford, firstly checking for waxwing in the town and then nearby Bramfield village for hawfinch. Missed on both!! However, we had great close ups of a female sparrowhawk, as a young girl wandered through the churchyard with it on her gauntleted hand. Excellent to see.
We were back in Stortford by 4.30, 165 Hertfordshire miles and 60 bird species. A super day even if we missed out on some good birds. Last 2 photos, wigeon at Tring and black headed gulls on ice at Stockers.
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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Waxwing

After a brief wait of 5 minutes parked in a quiet estate in Hertford I was rewarded with great views of at least 6 waxwings. There looks to be a fair supply of berries so I anticipate they will remain for a few days yet. This bird increases my year list to 185 species. Still several to get this winter (goosander, brambling, corn bunting, water pipit etc) Maybe my Herts birding trip next Wednesday, with fellow birder, Graeme, will add to this list, but suspect 200 is too far away. However, amazingly, still haven't seen a marsh tit this year! So, 190+ a possibility!
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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Allbury wander

A snowy and cold walk over the A120 to Albury and back. Very little bird movement apart from a large 75+ flock of goldfinches. Plenty of corvids on the ground, 2 common gulls and 4 coot on Albury pond. Reasonable numbers of fieldfare, photo 1 but few redwings. Other photos of a lone oak and the back garden yesterday at 6.30a.m.
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Amwell a.m.

A pleasant wander on a foggy morning around Amwell NR. Not too much on offer that was out of the ordinary, but 100+ siskins with a few lesser redpolls were good to watch. (Photos 1,2 and 3) a pheasant, magpie and water rail were at the viewing point, but the highlight was a passing through chiffchaff. Too fast for a photo. On the water all the regulars: mute swan, tufties, coot, g c grebe, gadwall, teal, mallard, shoveler, pochard, cormorant and several goldeneye, including this flyover drake. Other photos, general views and a feeding goldfinch that was mixing with the siskins.
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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Barn Owl pellets

Quick wander to find some barn owl pellets for a school session this coming Wednesday. Found several under the regular roost. Both owls were visible in their hole; photo 1 a distant shot. A confiding robin and 8 male tufted duck on the lagoon. 10+ black headed gulls and some mallards on the frozen moat at Hadham Hall.
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Friday, 30 November 2012

Local wander

A superbly clear and sharp morning was too good to miss, so I was out before 8.30. A common buzzard and 2 little owls were seen within 100 yards of the house. A good start. Later 2 goldcrests were found along a footpath along with greenfinch, nuthatch, fieldfare and redwing. A check of some conifers for a possible firecrest didn't give up anything but another half mile or so found me going through a large flock of small warblers. Sadly, all were goldcrests. A kestrel was seen over the golf course and then, as I was listening to skylarks, I heard a meadow pipit call. Photo 1 and 2. A seldom seen bird for the parish. Almost immediately, my eyes were drawn to 3 gulls sitting on the fairway. Common gulls, again, an irregular Little Hadham visitor. (Photos 3 and 4.) A great spotted woodpecker was found in a small coppice (photo 5 and 6.) A male, diagnostic feature being the red on the back of the neck. Photo 7 is a view looking south west from the highpoint of the golf course.
A few fungi were found. Photo 8 could be orange scale head. This is a hallucinagenic mushroom, called big laughing gym in Japan. However, it could be Marginate pixy cap, a deadly poisonous mushroom! The other fungi is an unidentified bracket fungus.
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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