Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Morning moths

2 moths at the trap this morning, both previously recorded this year. A pale brindled beauty (photo 1) and a spring usher (photo 2.) With the up turn in the evening temperatures recently it has been worth running the trap. As yet, no micro moth records. A few more warm days and temperate evenings should put this right.
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Amwell 27th Jan

A quick visit to Amwell earlier in the week gave views of usual suspects: grey heron, scaup, cormorant, goldeneye etc but the reported glaucous gull had already left the roost. Photos here of a vociferous great tit and song thrush.
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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Therfield Heath

A wander around Therfield Heath yesterday morning was most productive. After a mile walk, where I recorded no more than robin, wood pigeon and carrion crow, I came to the Icknield Way. From a vantage point across a field I observed the over wintering great grey shrike. After only a matter of seconds it was flushed by a farm vehicle and flew directly overhead. Whilst trying to find it again I noticed a kestrel put up a 200+ flock of linnets which were immediately attacked by a swift merlin. Excellent to see. Another flock of linnets, + chaffinch and bullfinch were noted, this one at least 750 strong. Very mobile, so difficult to go through to check for corn bunting, brambling and yellowhammer. Photos show just some of this flock. I plan to return with scope for a more complete check of the area. The heath can be found just south west of Royston, with the GGS in and around TL348396. Seems, as usual for this species, prefer the uppermost branches of the hedge, so not too difficult to find if it is present.
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Village wander

A quick wander back from the town this morning, giving very few birds until the last 400 yards, where I got a year lister in the form of 4 meadow pipits feeding in the snow on the village hill and surprisingly, my first village greenfinch of the year. Apart from these, just regular tits and finches, a kestrel, corvids etc.




Year list now 105 and my village list already up to 53. Last year the annual total was 79, so looking good to beat this.
Photos:
  • 2 of fieldfare
  • distant meadow pipit
  • looking downhill towards the village from Muggin's Wood
  • redwing feeding by the River Ash

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Back to the past

This morning, a wander along my old patch. Haven't visited this area for
several years and a place I tried hard to have turned into a nature
reserve in 2005/06. In the time I birded the towpath from Pig Lane,
Twyford Locks in Stortford to Spellbrook Locks I recorded 103 species
including breeding barn owl, 4 grasshopper warblers and several good
dragonfly sp. Now notice a series of signs showing Herts and Middlesex
wildlife trust have bought the land and are managing it. Excellent to see.
Today I managed a good selection of birds including 20+ siskins, 15+
lesser redpolls, 7+ little grebe plenty of wrens and thrushes along with
corvids and GSW's. No hoped for kingfishers or grey wagtails but most
unexpectedly, a chiffchaff.







Both chiffchaff and lesser redpoll year listers.
Photos from top
  • very distant chiffchaff
  • cormorants
  • 3 of little grebe struggling with a fish that was almost too large
  • 2 views of the River Stort.
  • New sign, very pleasing to see.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snowy wander

A glorious wander from Stortford back to the village this morning.Not too
many birds about, but 7 bullfinches in Millfield Lane were good to see.
Fieldfares, blackbirds and robins appeared ubiquitous. However, just
carrion crow, jackdaw, chaffinch, blue, great and long tailed tits were
the only other birds observed. A little owl was heard near Hoecroft Lane.
Photos here of a pair of superb foxes that I came across in the lane
through Green Street. Also, distant female bullfinch, view along Hoecroft
Lane and several village views from Brick Kiln Hill looking towards the
Nag's Head and Chapel Lane.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

At Last!!! 100th bird for the parish

I set off in minus temperatures with a view to check an area of the parish
not visited for a fortnight. Included would be the lagoon behind Hadham
Hall. Upon arrival I noted both barn owls sunning themselves at their tree
hole and also 8 adult mute swans on the water, a parish record. The water
was half frozen. Also, a single tufted duck and little grebe, but in the
distance 2 more ducks: wigeon; a new bird for the parish list, making the
total exactly 100. A wait of 34 months had ended. Photos of the bird here.
Also several fieldfare but not a lot else due to the freezing temperatures.
Now to move on to 101 etc and hope that I don't have another 3 year wait.
Photos from the top;
8 mute swans
barn owls from a distance
bullfinch near village hall
frozen dragonfly pond
ice
several of the wigeon pair

Photos from Kent trip

Photos from last week's Kent trip (Dungeness, Oare Marshes and Sandwich
Bay bird observatory.)
photo 1 tree sparrow
2. great white egret
3. greylag.
4. house sparrows.
5. pintail
6. smew
7. stonechat
8. tree sparrow and reed bunting

Friday, 11 January 2013

2 days in Kent

As I was giving a talk on Developing a Local Patch to the members of Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, I took the chancve to spend a little time birding in Kent. After a 5.15 start on Thursday, I was at Dungeness beach for first light and it was immediately apparent that the sea was full of Great crested grebes (1000+) and the sky full of auks (7000+) About 70% razorbills. Also, a few gannets, red throated divers and a solitary great northern diver. In the gull department, the usuals + several kittiwakes.
After this a trip to the RSPB reserve for a coffee and great views of tree sparrow, great white egret, smew, snipe and several other year listers. Then, off to Sandwich for the talk and a few pints in the pub before an early start. This morning myself, the warden and several locals went off to track down a dartford warbler near the golf course. After about half an hour we found it, albeit eleusive, consorting with 2 stonechats. Then, further up the beach a party of 7 snow buntings whilst a flyover group of linnets made their way on to the year list. Finally, a stop at Oare where pintail, redshank, pink footed geese and greenfinch made the list whilst I also had great views of marsh harrier, scaup, lapwing and p-lenty of regular wildfowl.
In all, the following were new for the year:
red throated diver, guillemot, razorbill, common scoter, gannet, kittiwake, brent goose, turnstone, great notrthern diver, tree sparrow, oystercatcher, shelduck, pintail, cettis warbler, stonechat, marsh harrier, snipe, great white egret, little grebe, water rail, dunlin, goldenplover, snow bunting, dartford warbler, greenfinch, linnet, redshank, ring necked parakeet, ringed plover, pink footed geese. Photos to follow

Another new moth for the Year

A spring Usher was taken on 9th January, albeit having been a very cold night. Very quiet on the moth front at present, so this was a pleasant surprise. A common moth for Herts at this time of the year. Photo to follow.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

2nd moth of the year

A pale brindled beauty moth at the trap this morning. Only the 2nd species of the year after 2 winter moths on a wall New Years Day
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Misty wander

A walk to the north west area of the parish gave views of little owl, sparrowhawk and woodcock. All new for the year. 3 nuthatches, 4 great spotted woodpecker and a common buzzard were also good to view.
Year list after 6 days:
Great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, teal, wigeon, pochard, tufted duck, scaup, goldeneye, smew, red kite, common buzzard, kestrel, moorhen, coot, lapwing, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull, collared dove, wood pigeon, dunnock, robin, blackbird, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie, jay, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, house sparrow, starling, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin, reed bunting, waxwing, fieldfare, redwing, pied wagtail, egyptian goose, great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, mistle thrush, wren, bullfinch, red legged partridge, yellowhammer, stock dove, pheasant, green woodpecker, nuthatch, marsh tit, song thrush, tawny owl, little grebe, barn owl, sparrowhawk, woodcock, little owl.
So far 70sp.
Photo: a rather distant treecreeper and a pale brindled beauty, my 2nd moth sp of the year following winter moth on the local pub wall New years Morning.
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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Hadham Hall wander

A quick late afternoon wander to Hadham Hall lagoon. Usual suspects in the form of little grebe, tufted duck , barn owl and mallards. Few coot for the village list, too.
As I returned along nut walk I came across a patch of winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) the first flowers of 2013.
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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