Friday, 22 February 2013

Year List

great white egret, Dungeness

Siskin, Amwell

tree sparrow and reed bunting, Dungeness

tawny owl, Little Hadham
Ones in red are ones I missed out on in 2012.
Thought it about time to list birds seen this year. A good start to 2013 without seeing anything hugely uncommon. Total far in excess of last year's by this time.
great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, teal (10sp) wigeon, pochard, tufted duck, scaup, goldeneye, smew, red kite, common buzzard, kestrel, moorhen (20 sp) coot, lapwing, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, collared dove, wood pigeon, dunnock (30sp) robin, blackbird, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, jay, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow (40 sp) house sparrow, starling, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin, reed bunting, waxwing, fieldfare, redwing, pied wagtail (50 sp) egyptian goose, great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, mistle thrush, wren, bullfinch, red legged partridge, yellowhammer, stock dove, pheasant (60sp) green woodpecker, nuthatch, marsh tit, song thrush, tawny owl, little grebe, barn owl, little owl, woodcock, sparrowhawk (70 sp) coal tit, little egret, red throated diver, guillemot, razorbill, common scoter, gannet, kittiwake, brent goose, turnstone (80 sp) great northern diver, tree sparrow, oystercatcher, shelduck, pintail, cetti's warbler, stonechat, marsh harrier, snipe, great white egret (90 sp) water rail, dunlin, golden plover, snow bunting, dartford warbler, linnet, greenfinch, redshank, ring necked parakeet, ringed plover (100 sp) pink footed goose, chiffchaff, lesser redpoll, meadow pipit, grey partridge, great grey shrike, merlin, caspian gull, green sandpiper, skylark (110 sp) grey wagtail, brambling, little stint, fulmar, curlew, spotted redshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, knot, whooper swan,  (120 sp) sanderling, grey plover, avocet, ruff, corn bunting, long tailed duck, purple sandpiper, shore lark, hen harrier.

Therfield Heath

An early start found me at the Prince Of Wales for Gary before 7a.m. A short drive to Therfield Heath, parking at Royston rugby club before a wander up to the Icknield Way to try and photo the Great Grey Shrike. Kestrel, common buzzard and mistle thrush noted as we walked up the slopes. After a half hour fruitless search, we heard great tit alarm calls and turned round to find the GGS at the top of a tree. Some record shots before it flew off to alight on the power lines. After this it disappeared into a thick hedge and out of view. A few shots here, distant and in poor light.




 
 
 
Other birds of note were common buzzard (2+,) a  very distant circling red kite (photo 4 looking toward Duckpuddle Farm) a distant hen harrier over conifers at Grey's Farm, a solitary brambling over and good numbers of chaffinches, yellowhammers, black headed gulls and winter thrushes, predominantly fieldfares, goldfinches, a flock of 75+ linnets and a couple of wrens.
A great start to a Friday, albeit cold. A hot coffee at the Silver Ball cafe on the A10 brought feeling back to hands and faces.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Another moth

After an exceptionally warm day, a very cold and frosty night meant I had little expectation of finding any moths at the trap. However, this rather uninspiring (both in colour and name) Early moth was discovered.
Today has been even sunnier and warmer so maybe some emerging moths. However, the temperature has once again dropped markedly, so it may well mean they will not be on the wing and attracted to the garden light trap.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Norfolk Day

A 5a.m. start for a whole day birding in Norfolk. No particular plan, just a wander and see what was about. In all a pleasing 87 species were recorded for the day and whilst nothing was stunning there was plenty that made it more than worthwhile.

Hunstanton Dawn

Hunstanton common gull on a frosty morning
A 7.00a.m. start to proceedings at Hunstanton Cliffs gave a good view of a common gull (above) along with a quick shot of an out to sea fulmar as well as land based birds such as goldfinches, pied wagtails and a selection of gulls.
Spot the black headed gull

knot and sanderling

Knot (and sanderling)

Knot

Sanderling

brambling

early morning Titchwell
A short drive found me as the only person at Titchwell RSPB  reserve. Super birds were seen, including: water rail, brambling (below) siskin, a surprise little stint mingling with dunlin west of the footpath, spotted redshanks. However, upon reaching the beach I primarily noted the smell of rotting shellfish! Millions of razorshells had been washed up in a strong tide and now, cleaned by gulls were rotting away, much to the pleasure of 1000's of knots, 100's sanderlings and 10's of turnstones.
A jay was also witnessed balancing upon the feeders near the visitors' centre
jay on feeder

However, the highlight for me was coming across a fairly common bird that offered an opportunity for a reasonable snap. A spotted redshank with reflections, courtesy of the good light.
Spotted redshank

same bird



redshank for comparison. Note short bill.
 

Having covered most of Titchwell Reserve, adding whooper swan, black tailed godwit, 30+ avocets, ruff, a single guillemot (distant over the sea) pintail, grey plover etc, I left for Choseley drying barns. Here, 12 corn buntings, numerous house sparrows, yellowhammers and chaffinches were noted before a quick stop at Holkham for Great spotted woodpecker and another spotted redshank.
Then onto Cley, where I renewed my membership and enjoyed some pastry in the shape of a Cornish pasty along with the obligatory double espresso. On the reserve I noted a few new birds for the day (pochard, bar tailed godwit, marsh harrier and starling) before a walk along the East Bank to Arnold's. Here were plenty of waders with ringed plover being a new one for the day. A little grebe was also noted in a drain ditch. However, some good opportunities to photo a little egret were on offer, if you didn't mind crawling through reeds!



Then, on to the car park where a purple sandpiper was feeding near the Eye Pool. I have never seen one of these feeding in a field, its usual habitat being rocks close to breaking waves. Whilst here, I popped up on to the sea defence to check towards Blakeney and found a long tailed duck in one of the channels. At this point I met a few folk who had been to some of my RSPB  talks, so good to catch up with them.
After this, I whizzed around to Salthouse beach car park. The regular turnstones didn't move for anybody, offering close up photos. Whilst here, I also recorded a flock of mobile snow bunting and over the dunes, a single shore lark, heading towards the Muckleborough collection and Weybourne.

confiding turnstone

late afternoon looking back towards Salthouse

After this, with light fading, I thought a quick wander around Kelling Heath would give up a few birds. A dartford warbler was heard whilst kestrel, fieldfare and redwing were added to the list.
A super day.
Kelling Heath sunset
 
Finally, a few random photos of other birds where the photos worked. Good for folk who are trying to sort out tricky waders in flight, plus a few extras.



mainly golden plovers

What can you see here?

Not too friendly!


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Chapel Lane wander

Wonderful weather today, clear blue sky and temperatures pushing into double figures. Time for a woodland based walk. Consequently, up Chapel Lane and along wooded footpaths to Westland Green and return via the golf course. Plenty of buzzards about, with 3 seen soaring over Valley Fields.
3 common buzzards west of Little Hadham
A nuthatch called from the top of a dead tree (below) whilst the wispy sound of a treecreeper could be heard, but not found. A welcome patch of snowdrops brightened the verge and male great spotted woodpecker drummed its territorial call. Over to the north of Chapel Lane 2 little owls could be seen roosting in the oaks; their usual haunt and there appeared to be signs that a barn owl had roosted in the tree where it nested last year.
Nuthatch

spot the nuthatch

super snowdrops.
 

Over the golf course a couple of green woodpeckers were digging about and a few lesser black backed gulls flew south, heading to their Amwell nature reserve roost for the night. The photos being a testimony to the good light and clear sky.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

More pale brindled beauties

Only moths, once again were 4 pale brindled beauties. However, of interest was the first of the form monacharia. In London about 60% of p.b. beauties are of this form but this proportion drops markedly in the rural south east. In the north west is makes up the majority of the numbers trapped. The usual Hertfordshire form shown below, along with an unusual flight head on view.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Warmer evening

With a rise in night time temperatures, I switched the moth trap on; more in hope than expectation. However, I was rewarded with 2 early arriving pale brindled beauties. Nothing else put in an appearance. The two are shown here, displaying variations in markings and colour. However, the 4 blotches on the edge of the wing are clearly visible and a good indicator to species. Only other parish moth record was a dotted border, found on the pub wall Tuesday night. First of the year.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Walk around East of the parish

A wander around Cradle End, Millfield Lane and Brick Kiln Hill this morning may well qualify as the least successful birding walk for quite a while. Snow had fallen over night and was still falling in useless flurries but the temperature was warm and so more slush than snow.
footpath near Cradle End

corner of Stocking Wood


Green Street pheasant under garden feeder
Bird list in total for 4 miles of walking: great tit, blackbird, jackdaw, carrion crow, jay, magpie, blue tit, greenfinch, wood pigeon, pheasant and 30+ fieldfares.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Barn Owls

An afternoon wander gave good, if distant, views of the resident barn owls. I have observed these for over 2 years and they have remained faithful to the same treehole throughout. I needed a load of pellets for some forthcoming science shows in local schools and today the owls supplied me with over 25. All good size, so plenty of fun for the children next week.

 
Other birds of note:  a wren and fieldfares. No birds at all on the local waters, maybe a sign of the forecasted weather for later this week and early next. No coots, mallards etc. Very strange to find all the ponds totally devoid of waterfowl.

Walk back from town


A wander back through Cradle End, Green Street and Millfield Lane gave views of only regular birds: long tailed tit, goldfinch, yellowhammer, corvids etc + 15 fieldfare. However, a quick check on the River Ash gave great views of what I had hoped for, a grey wagtail. The conditions of this habitat were perfect so a bird I expected to see. A wait of ten minutes was all that was required before this stunning male arrived. Shallow river, exposed vegetation and mud, just what this species requires.
A new bird for the year.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Quiet in the garden

All very quiet in the garden this week with only a few moths due to the low temperatures and regular frost. Tonight, just another pale brindled beauty, albeit an immaculate specimen, probably just emerged.

Also of note, a cock pheasant appears to be a regular visitor, seen here searching around under the bird feeders for seeds.
 
 
Finally, a correction on the recently reported Agonopterix sp. Now thought to be the common, but new for the garden, Agonopterix heracliana.

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