Monday, 30 December 2013

Year Review; Part 3: July - September

July:
By the time July came along it was obvious we were in for a reasonable summer. The temperatures were up, moths were becoming much more prevalent as well as the butterflies and, as usual for July, the birds had all be disappeared. Most records therefore pertain to insects.
A dedicated butterfly/bird recording walk on the 2nd realised 27 species of bird, with evidence of breeding moorhen, coot, garden warbler and blackcap. 5 species of butterfly were noted including this two; a small tortoiseshell and a speckled wood.

 On the 3rd, a new moth for the garden, this splendid phoenix. This was an expected visitor but nonetheless most welcome as was the beautiful hooktip shown below which was the 100th moth species for the garden in 2013. Things were slowly picking up.

The 5th of the month saw me, once again, on the North Norfolk coast where I bagged over 70 species. Not too bad for the time of year and included this sedge warbler and avocet chick.

 The weather was certainly heating up, which was what was required because on the following Sunday (7th) I had planned and organised a village butterfly walk. Some 9 folk arrived in full sunshine. In fact, it was so warm we decided that the original route, taking in a pub but some 7 miles in length, was too long as we expected to be finding plenty of butterflies. Off to Westland Green where we eventually caught up with 10 species including this ringlet. However, the highlight was a rapid flypast by a clouded yellow. Also, we came across 6 spot burnet moth, this broad bodied chaser. a bee orchid was found on a footpath crossing the golf course. All in all, a superb session.


Notable moths over the following few evenings were 2 new parish records, a pale oak beauty (top) and lilac beauty (bottom) Both good moths and they helped take my total for the parish to in excess of 260 macro species.

On the 13th, Wendy and I set out to complete the North Norfolk footpath, Hunstanton to Cromer, some 47 miles. We spent 3 days on this, raising £750 for a local children's charity. Based at The George in Cley we covered the Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale on the Friday (12 miles) B. Deepdale to Cley on day 2 (22 miles) and then the final leg on the Sunday (15miles) In all I recorded over 70 species of birds, plenty of butterflies, including this, my first Norfolk  dark green fritillary. A surprise awaited us as we wandered along Warham Greens stretch, a common toad obviously intent on visiting Wells Next the Sea. Another good butterfly was found in Wells Woods and again, a first for me in Norfolk, a white admiral. The barn owl, shown below, greeted us over fields as we completed day 2 towards Cley. Good bird to see after 10 hours of walking. A great 3 days. The final photo shows a confiding lesser whitethroat, seen at Holme.




 
The 16th was probably my busiest night, with over 250 moths of 35 species including a new record for me, this bordered sallow as well as a regular but uncommon Herts moth, a waved black, shown below. A few nights later, I also added oak eggar to my garden list, a large female roosting on a garden post near the light trap.


on the 24th I went off to Broxbourne Woods for a midday butterfly hunt. Whilst not scoring with the hoped for purple emperor, I did get silver washed fritillary as well as the regular white admirals and purple hairstreaks. Finally,on the 28th I checked out local waters for dragons and damsels and walked into a swarm of common blue damsels, a mating pair shown below.

The last day of July meant, Camargue time, so off to Luton airport for the short hop to Nimes. I arrived in excellent walking temperatures and on the 1st day recorded loads of typical birds for the area as well as this red veined darter in the town of Saintes Marie de la Mer, where I stayed.
Rest of the details of this trip below.

August:
I began August in The Camargue, where I walked many miles and saw a few new birds for me in this area. A squacco heron as well as a black crowned night heron were pleasing finds along with numerous wood sandpipers etc. Clouded yellow butterflies were ubiquitous.In all, a super 3 days with over 80 species seen including many wonderful beeaters.
squacco heron

greater flamingo

night heron

black winged stilt

wood sandpiper.
Back in Little Hadham I scored with brown china mark and vapourer at the moth trap. The former was particularly pleasing as, having put in a small pond, it was good to get a water based moth to the garden so rapidly after completion of the pond. The vapourer was found roosting on the patio door, well away from the trap, so a fortuitous discovery.

With the continued warm weather I was also pleased to encounter a painted lady butterfly on the garden buddleia, the first, and surprisingly, only record during 2013 for me in the parish.

By the time the 13th came around it was designated as another North Norfolk day. I set off to Horsey, but missed the roller by a few minutes but scored with a distant red necked phalarope from the now disappeared North Hide at Cley Plenty of other good birds were also seen in an 83 species haul. Highlights included a wryneck at Salthouse and then a self found Citrine wagtail at Muckleborough Hill. All in all, well worth the visit, with an avocet, wryneck, incoming greylags, redstart and distant red necked phalarope shown below.




This took my year list to 183 and this was soon increased when I returned to the Norfolk coast the following week for a day with Gary. we visited Kelling water meadows to begin with, bagging several wood and common sandpipers before setting off to Cley, Titchwell and finishing off at Ouse Marshes in the Fens. Here, 3 common crane were the surprise as we searched unsuccessfully for a blue winged teal.
On the 21st, I scored with a flyover hobby in the parish as well as adding several new moths for the year. Shown here also a blue bordered carpet and a local migrant hawker dragonfly.


The 25th was blowing hard with most inviting easterlies which brought huge numbers of migrants to Norfolk. However, I was unable to get away from the village and all day waited for the rain to cease so I could get out to see what had been knocked out of the sky. The next day was dry and I was soon off. Arriving at the irrigation lake I heard a green sandpiper. Distant but definitely bird 101 for the parish. Within 10 minutes a female/1st year redstart appeared all too briefly in willows, bird 102. Soon afterwards a first year/female pied flycatcher. Bird 103! Incredible half an hour. I spent all day grilling every bush but never managed a redstart photo even though it showed very briefly deep in a willow.

 
 
Later in the week I returned to this site and got a distant common sandpiper, only the 2nd record for the parish. I finished off with a trip to North Norfolk. Plenty was on offer, without anything being new for the year. Another redstart shown here along with a chinese water deer noted at Titchwell.


 
All in all, a superb month.
 
 
September:
September started with a 3 day trip down to the bird observatory at Portland. Always a great place to stay and fingers crossed for weather that would bring in migrants. Unfortunately this was not the case but it didn't stop me adding several to the year list: namely, raven, peregrine, tree pipit, shag, balearic shearwater, nightingale and a solitary pomarine skua. This took my total for 2013 to 197.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with thick fog. This didn't bode well but it lifted and sea watching plus trips to various island sites as well as Lodmoor, Ferrybridge and Radipole meant I had a great time. I took the trap out to Culverwell where I took, in pouring rain, a total of 8 vestals. All good stuff.
little owl; obs quarry

ringed kestrel with assistant warden Joe Stockwell on the patio of the obs.

spotted flycatcher, obs garden

garden tiger

wheatear, The Bill

Clouded yellow, Suckthumb quarry

Rock Pipit, The Bill
Back home, a wander around on the 10th gave another opportunity to see my 2nd common sandpiper in the parish whilst also coming across a humming bird hawkmoth in the garden. This splendid creature stayed for the best part of the week, but never in enough sunshine to manage a good quality fast photo.


The following day I managed a brief walk and came across the first local ruddy darter of the year. A regular insect around the River Ash in early autumn. 
Later on, on the 14th, I was booked to give an illustrated talk to the members of Hornchurch RSPB local group. Consequently, I spent several hours enjoying a walk around Rainham Marsh Reserve on the Thames. Here, albeit a foggy day, I saw plenty. A spotted redshank (below) was surely the highlight as well as many regular birds: hobby, kestrel, snipe etc. A water vole appeared to be very happy to pose for some photos. Also, a lapwing, shown here, decided to show off with some upside down flying. Very spectacular.


Finally, for this month, I had a local wander on the 26th of the month where I managed to record many regulars for the parish, including this comma butterfly. Dew was hinting that autumn was on its way and many spiders' webs did indeed look autumnal.

The final instalment will be prepared over the forthcoming days. I find it amazing at how quickly time has flown this year, plus the range of species and creatures I have seen by just wandering around a local parish in East Hertfordshire. A real treat and privilege.



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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