Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Year Review; Part 4; October - December

October:
The autumn and winter months are busy times for me, with 12 RSPB local group presentations and where possible, I try to fit in some birding before I arrive at the venue. With talks booked for Stevenage, East Grinstead, Hemel Hempstead, Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, Aylesbury and Thanet there would be opportunities to visit sites such as Tring, Oare, Dungeness etc. All good stuff.

The moth trap was surprisingly busy on the 1st, with this frosted orange being a new for year secies. Also new were blairs shoulder knot and black rustic.
A trip to Tring Reservoirs on the 5th gave up some good birds, including this feeding grey heron. Then onto Hemel Hempstead for a talk on North Norfolk.
The following day, Gary and I set off for another North Norfolk day. I scored with 3 year listers, a briefly seen yellow browed warbler at Titchwell, a red breasted flycatcher at the bottom of Garden Drove on Warham Greens and then common crossbill at Lyndford. The latter being my 200th bird for the year. Also noted on our travels were these two waders: curlew and ruff.

I noted a Nikon camera body in our local camera shop, a 2nd hand Nikon D2x, which I bought. Obviously eager to give it a test run, I set off, once again for Norfolk on the 19th, hoping for some migrants in Wells Woods. Nothing noteworthy were to be found but crossbills and blackcaps abounded. Other year listers were a grey phalarope at Cley, a ring ouzel along Garden Drove and several velvet scoter at Titchwell Beach. I finished off at Titchwell, getting some pleasing shots as I slowly mastered the basics of a very technical piece of kit. Here a chiffchaff, wigeon and blackcap. I was pleased with the camera results.


An evening wander locally didn't give up the hoped for barn owls, but I was treated to a spectacular sunset over Hadham Hall. Redwing and fieldfare were beginning to arrive although it was still surprisingly mild.
Another local walk on the 24th from the local town to the village, some 4 miles gave great views of a red kite and a female great spotted woodpecker.

Finally, for October, I decided upon visiting Dungeness the day of the "storm" 90mph winds along the coast by the power station meant it was difficult to set up the scope, never mind try to photo the gulls and cormorants passing. After the sea watch I headed to the RSPB reserve where this fox greeted my arrival before another year lister, glossy ibis.



A very late beautiful hooktip was taken towards the end of October. Up to 2006 no specimen of this species had been taken this late in the year. Over the next few days I had several before an even later, and this very small yellowshell moth broke all Herts records by being taken so late. Testimony to the cold and wet spring and warm and drier autumn that we were experiencing.


November:
On the 7th I was booked for a talk at Sandwich Bay Bid Observatory and so headed off for a day at Dungeness before making my way round to Sandwich after dusk. A much calmer day and one that gave year listers in the shape of barnacle goose and black necked grebe. Good birds were hard to come by, but still, as always, a pleasure to be there.Also, shown here, a great white egret which is becoming Dungeness' speciality bird. One that I believe will continue to spread across the south of England over the next 5 years.


The following morning I spent time with the Sandwich ringing group, where another year lister was seen. In amongst a flock of 40+ lesser redpolls were several mealy redpolls, some of which were trapped, ringed and released. Good to note differences close at hand.
On the 14th I thought it was time for a parish check. Usual fare all around with this common buzzard near the A120 being particularly good, along with one of many fieldfare.

On the 17th I was once again, off to Norfolk with Gary. Here, I added 2 more to the list in the form of red breasted merganser and slavonian grebe. Both were off Holkham Gap, but plenty of good birds off Titchwell and a walk through Holkham Pines was also good, although very little in the latter and certainly no sign of a hoped for firecrest. At Cley beach, we missed another red breasted flycatcher by minutes. Shown here, Titchwell golden plovers, Holkham pink foots and  a Cley black headed gull


Over the last few days of November I had another trip to Wilstone where I got my 2nd water pipit of the year as well a trip to Oare Marshes where I got year lister 211, a short eared owl. Also at this brilliant site, where I had seen spotted crake earlier in the year, I had barn owl and hen harrier.
A local walk around the village on the last day of the month didn't give up anything other than a small flock of siskin over the golf course, as well as the regular residents. Sunset photo of Oare Marshes, near Faversham.

December:
On the 2nd I popped out for a quick trip around Amwell. A first year male smew was present, but many birds moved off as the reed cutter boat was noisily in action.
On the 4th I took my last new moth of the year, this finely marked mottled umber, before the trap was packed away as I knew what few moths that would be about this month.
On the 5th I thought it was time for a walk along my old patch: the River Stort from Bishop's Stortford to Spellbrook village. I try to visit this area once a year as I covered the tow path here many times a week for 3 years, becoming familiar with all that went on along the 2 mile stretch. Today, cormorants were at their usual roost and the winter little grebes were still where they used to be. Plenty of storm damage to willows and no kingfishers were noted. Siskins in their usual alders but a large increase in mallard numbers, up for a handful to 24.


19th saw me whizzing off for a quick trip to Welney and Ouse Marshes, where there was poor light. Bewick's swan became species 212 and I was amazed at the number of plovers and godwits at Welney and the huge number of wigeon and teal at Ouse Marshes.
 
On the 21st Gary and I paid our last visit to Norfolk for 2013. Bit of a dipping day with no Richards pipit, parrot crossbills or 2 barred crossbills. However, great views of red breasted mergansers at Titchwell. Being the shortest day we were constantly battling very poor light so just a photo of some teal shown here and the damage done by the storm surge on the 6th. Salthouse beach road shown here, 100 yards short of the original car park. 2014 is going to be a busy time sorting out the damage all the way along the Norfolk coast.


On the 28th we both headed off for a few hours at Amwell. We both left our cameras in the car as the light was so poor. Consequently, we were treated to a great flypast by a peregrine falcon hunting the lapwing.
I finished the year with 2 walks, one to the west of the parish on the 29th in bright sunlight and heavy frost where this kestrel gave a flypast and then one to the east of the parish on the 30th in constant drizzle where little was noted until I returned home to find a female bullfinch in the garden. Not a common garden visitor, so great to finish the year on.
2013 has been a great year with 3 trips abroad, plenty of Norfolk visits plus several to Kent reserves as well as a few days at Portland. However, the most enjoyment I get is being out in the fields around the village, where, this year I recorded 76 species of bird out of my overall total of 103. My garden moth count now nears 300, so still plenty to look forward to in 2014, with trips to Sri Lanka and Poland alreasy planned. Should be fantastic.

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