Monday, 30 December 2013

Year Review: Part 2 April - June.

Part 2 of my review of the Year.

April:
As things moved into April it remained cold and wet. I was now quite concerned for moth and butterfly numbers as they had been dwindling for the previous 2 years and another late frost, plenty of cold and rain, would have proved very difficult for them to build up numbers. However, by mid July my concerns were no longer relevant as we had a good summer. However, numbers of spring moths remained low and it will be interesting to see how numbers manage this coming spring.

My first good moth of the month was taken on the 9th, this splendid oak beauty. By far and away the most striking of spring moths.
The following day (the 10th) I spent time at Wilstone reservior, near Tring before heading off to give an illustrated talk on the Birds of The Camargue at Watford. Here, in probably the best light of the year, I caught up with the wildfowl that prevails here. This splendidly plumaged teal being a good example. Also, another grey wagtail.
 

In the garden moth trap quaker numbers were increasing, with both common and small being taken. Here, a selection with the small quaker disappearing out of shot, stage left. The other 4 being common quakers.
The following morning a visit to the trap gave views of a new moth for garden records, a twin spot quaker, as well as 1st for the year, a satellite. Latter named after the two dots that are around the larger white markings, rather like a satellite around a planet.
 

On the 14th of the month I organised the first village dawn chorus walk of the year. 7 of us met at 5a.m. at the village hall and had a wander that took in several good habitats for song birds. In all, some 6 miles. A glorious sunrise awaited as I recorded the first blackcap of the year as well as this showy yellowhammer. In all we saw and/or heard some 33 species.
 

During this period I had been putting in a small garden pond and, on wandering down to the moth trap on the morning of the 16th I was most pleased to find a toad had moved in. My first record of such within the parish, so most welcome. Hopefully, it cleared up plenty of slugs before moving off as no mate ever turned up. A good record for the garden.

On the 19th, I picked up mates Gary and Dave for a whole day in North Norfolk. This turned into a sensational trip, with precisely 100 bird species recorded for the day and it added 12 year listers to my tally. Plenty of photos taken in great weather. Here, a water rail, pair of avocets and spotted redshank, all at Titchwell RSPB Reserve. We bagged the 100th bird near Fakenham on the journey home; a red kite.


 
Throughout the remaining days of April, I concentrated on the moths in the garden, plus one trip to Kings Mead near Hertford. Here, 1st whitethroat of the year on the 22nd and this flyby grey heron. Several moths were notable, including this herald (my first spring record) and first garden record of The Streamer. Both well marked moths, the streamer being the one below the orange coloured herald. The Streamer counted as moth species 257 for the garden.
 


May:
The first few days found me in The Algarve, firstly in Tavira and then on Lagos, with a day visit up to the Baixo Alentejo region. Here, the birding was magnificent, with much seen, including roller, black vulture, griffon vulture, lesser kestrel, black bellied sandgrouse, little and greater bustard and iberian grey shrike. Other noteworthy birds were montagu's harrier, golden oriole, black winged kite and greater spotted cuckoo.
The end of a trusted old hat, blown into the Atlantic!

serin

white stork


Iberian Grey Shrike

roller

black vulture

Back in Little Hadham, May continued to be unseasonably wet, which meant alarm bells were ringing re moth and butterfly numbers. On too many occasions, the garden trap was a wash out and numbers were dreadfully low.
However, as spring was in full flow, I decided on a plant survey wander. I find it difficult to bird and plant watch at the same time and so, on the 10th, I left my binoculars at home so as to concentrate on plants. As it was, I found nothing new but good numbers of the regular May plants, such as greater stitchwort, red campion, bluebell and cowslips. Also, ground ivy and white deadnettle were in flower. Greater stitchwort and cowslip shown here.


On the 18th, I made my first visit of the year to Amwell Reserve, some 8 miles south of the village. Always a good bird spot at any time of the year. On this occasion I ticked common tern (below) and little ringed plover as well as saw good numbers of regular waterfowl.
 

A drier morning on the 21st brought a few new for year moths to the trap, including this brimstone and poplar hawkmoth, but numbers still disappointing. Also in the trap, as they always are in mid May onwards, a superb cock chafer, shown here. Whilst looking fairly fearsome, they just make a lot of noise as they career around in what appears to be a display of very unorganised flight. I found one outside the local pub one evening around this time of year and took it in to show customers. The barmaid was considerably less than impressed as it escaped and battered around the pub for most of the evening, until re caught and thrown out.
 


 A wander around the village for newly arrived migrants gave up whitethroats, a singing lesser whitethroat, garden warbler, 5 chiffchaffs and this blackcap. What was most noticeable was the complete lack of willow warblers. Their numbers in Hertfordshire seemed to have dropped markedly within the last 4 years. Maybe they are just migrating further north?
 A walk through some local woods on the 28th gave views of a new plant for my village records, this early purple orchid. It was found in typical habitat, on the edge of a path through a well established deciduous wood and, upon mentioning it in my monthly natural history diary in the parish magazine, I was informed that they have been present at that spot for years. Something I shall check on next year, as a good plant to find locally.
 Eventually, as the days began to both warm up and become drier, I managed to start recording butterflies. This female orange tip visiting a greater stitchwort was one of many of this species. The other oft noted species was the speckled wood.
As an indication of the drop in moth numbers during the spring of 2013, it is worth comparing to 2012. In that year I had recorded 84 species of moth by the end of May. In 2013 it was a paltry 36! Many moths just didn't appear and so it will need a good spring in 2014 to help get their numbers back up. Just a question of wait and see.

June:
At last, June brought some most welcome warm days, t shirts and shorts weather and with it, a huge increase in insect flights.
On the 2nd I led a walk to Standon with several villagers. Of particular note was this yellow wagtail, found near Wellpond Green and this muntjac, on the green and Westland Green.


The following day I took myself off to RSPB Lakenheath Reserve, whre I bumped into a real rarity, a savi's warbler. Also present were golden oriole, bittern, reed and grasshopper warblers. A reed warbler (top) and whitethroat shown here.
 

Back at home, I had several good moth nights, with some new for year specimens as well as number 259 for the garden in the shape of this tawny shears, taken on the 8th. Other moths here, lime hawkmoth and marbled minor. These are both regular visitors to the trap in June.


On the 13th I took 21 moths of 8 species including this common white wave (top). A couple ofdays later, moth number 260 as a light brocade (below) appeared in the trap, along with over 88 other moths of 16 species. Slowly getting better.

Between the 18th and 25th we were away in Kefalonia. Not an island well known for its bird life, but all the same a wonderful place to visit. I did record a few good birds, such as this woodchat shrike along with other creatures, such as this ionian wall lizard, southern white admiral butterfly and a huge micro moth, the surreptious palm borer. The latter, first seen on the bonnet of a car and then recorded twice elsewhere turned out to be the first record for the island. I suspect there are plenty about, just that no one has contacted the Greek moth recorder!




Finally for this month, the first elephant hawkmoth turned up on the 27th, finishing a reasonably successful mothing month.
July - September to follow sometime over the next few days.

No comments:

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