Monday, 30 December 2013

Yearly Review. Part 1. January - March

An overview of the main interest for 2013.

January:
A brief respite from the snowy conditions, whilst remaining cold gave me the opportunity to get around the village on several occasions, ticking off regular patch birds for the new year list. Nothing particularly noteworthy until, bang. On the 17th I headed out in icy conditions to the irrigation lake near Hadham Hall. It was partially iced and I immediately clocked my 100th bird species for the parish: a pair of wigeon.
The drake shown here. This was a big moment as I had been stranded on 99 species for 34 months, the previous bird being a gaggle of greylags over. I spent a while trying to improve on the photos but the birds were flighty. A record shot, as shown here, sufficed.
On the 11th I headed off to Kent for a day at Dungeness before heading to Sandwich Bay bird obs where I was booked to give a presentation on my local patch. At Dunge, I ticked great white egret and great northern diver, along with regular auks and seabirds. After staying the night at the bird obs, I birded the beach with Ian the warden, ticking snow bunting and dartford warbler.

On the 26th a flying visit to Therfield Heath near Royston gave brief flyover views of the overwintering great grey shrike, which I returned to in February for a few distant photos.
Moth wise: pale brindled beauty, winter moth and this spring usher were the only trapees at my Skinner trap in the garden.

On one of my snow walks I came across these two foxes and managed a few village shots. The one here showing Brick Kiln Hill opposite our local hostelry and the Lane where we live.



February:
The weather remained frequently snowy as February began. On the 8th I came across my first grey wagtail of the year just 200 yards from home, on the banks of the River Ash. Also, a check on the irrigation lagoon some 2 miles away gave views of both the barn owls that remained at this roost throughout the winter.


Another visit to Therfield, with birding mate Gary, gave better views, if still distant of the long staying Great grey shrike. Good selection of finches with 100's of linnets as well as a fine array of birds of prey.

My first Norfolk visit of the year was on the 18th, recording a pleasing 87 species for the day which boosted my year list to 120 by the end of the month. At Titchwell beach there had been a particularly high tide and consequently 10,000's of razorfish had been washed up. This offered a great opportunity for some decent wader shots. Here, knot and sanderling, with, also, a particularly fine little egret.




Village wise, I kept wandering along the 65 miles of footpaths within the parish, These 3 common buzzards were a great sight. In the garden moth trap, the new addition to the year list was this Early moth.


 
 A bird I have yet to see within the parish is a brambling. I have heard reports of them but when I have visited the site I have missed them, or just seen chaffinches. I'm sure I'll get one soon, but as yet, they remain elusive.
This photo taken at Titchwell on the 18th Feb.

March:
A month where we continued to have light smatterings of snow, but plenty of warmer days and nights. I spent the whole month checking the parish for first signs of spring and was rewarded with a few good birds, although nothing new for the village list. I completed over 9 survey days, covering the whole parish.
On the 15th I got only my 2nd record of lapwing, with a solitary bird over, heading to Amwell perhaps. Also, these 2 yellowhammers got onto the village year list.

The moth trap was slowly becoming a little busier, with both hebrew character (top) and March moth being trapped on the 16th.

On the 18th a check through local woods to the west of the parish gave me my 3rd record of lesser redpoll, whilst the 19th gave up my first new moth species for the garden, a grey shoulder knot. This took my garden total to 254 species. I began recording in June 2011.
 

On the 30th of the month I was driving home as the light faded only to watch a barn owl fly out in front of the car some 200 yards from home. I popped back with the camera to find this bird had returned to a roost used for the previous 2 years. I had checked this place several times without success, so particularly pleased to find it still present.

Finally, on the 31st I undertook a long walk covering some 18 miles. I recorded 38 species of bird including first red kite for the year as well as two flyby mandarins, again 1st for the year and finally my first spring migrant; this splendid chiffchaff. Also, a reasonably confiding treecreeper was noted, shown here, busily hunting the crevices of the bark.



April - June to follow.

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