Sunday, 31 March 2013

1st sign of spring

A pleasant wander around the west and then south of the parish gave views of plenty of the regular birds. However, the 1st chiffchaff of the year was seen and heard near Westland Green.
1st chiffchaff of the year

chiffchaff
A little further on a pair of treecreepers were found on an old oak, constantly calling to each other. Overhead 1 of 8 buzzards seen was also busy calling.
treecreeper

treecreeper
Near the golf club on Chapel Lane a red kite was circling on thermals along with 3 common buzzards and a sparrow hawk.
red kite over Ash Valley G.C.
All in all, over 30 bird species seen, finishing off with the rather strange sight of 2 mandarin duck wandering around a sheep field. These headed off south down the River Ash. In trees around this point were 50+ starlings and 25+ fieldfare. A little further on, a check of the local rookery showed that 20 nests are occupied this year. Plenty of corvids about.
Mandarin

mandarin

mandarin flypast


Little Hadham rookery

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Barn Owl

This afternoon I received an email letting me know that lesser redpolls and siskins were feeding at a garden feeder in nearby Wellpond Green. Mandy and Anton kindly permitted me to pop up to get a few photos, but, as is often the case, the birds failed to show whilst I was present. Good cup of tea, though.
However, on the way home I noticed a white patch in an old oak tree and sure enough, it was a barn owl. Few photos here as it headed off hunting. All taken in fading light. Hopefully, the finches will reappear for a photo session tomorrow.




Friday, 29 March 2013

Anglesey Abbey

A Good Friday visit to a very busy Anglesey Abbey. The gardens were wonderful and I suspect worth a visit in May for breeding passerines. On the wander around the spectacular winter gardens a sparrow hawk, great and blue tits were heard. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming and calling whilst goldcrests and long tailed tits were heard in the many well established conifers. The quarry lake held just one moorhen and blackbirds and song thrushes enjoyed the ground covering vegetation and bamboo stands. Several empty nests were seen, especially in the large wisteria and espaliered pyrus that were attached to the Abbey itself.







Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday morning wander

My usual Monday morning check around the parish. Today, from town to home via Bury Green and Clinton's Farm. Cold wind and light snow underfoot with poor light conditions. Very little about and what there was present reminded me of December, not late March. Fieldfare and redwing were still visible, albeit in small numbers. Dunnock, house sparrow, wood pigeon, blue and great tit were fairly ubiquitous whilst at the River Ash at Hadham Ford long tailed tit, robin, chaffinch and more house sparrows were sheltering in the hedge. A common buzzard around Bury Green, and both great spotted and green woodpecker. However, no chiffchaff or hoped for wheatear. 2 kestrels were seen, one near Cradle End, Plantings Wood whilst the other on Hoecroft Lane at the top of Ford Hill. In the lane here, evidence of a new badger sett being dug, with the sandy soil tipped all over the lane.
blue tit

moorhen

ice breaking mallard

great spotted woodpecker

View of Little Hadham at The Ford

robin

house sparrow

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cold wander

A short walk, in freezing conditions today. The barn owl was in its usual place and 2 tufted duck and a solitary coot were recorded. A few blackbirds, collared doves, corvids and wood pigeons completed the list. With a (hopefully) change in the weather this week, before another forecasted cold snap next weekend, it is time to get out and start checking higher ground for ring ouzels and wheatear. Both species now recorded on the south coast, so a few days and they will be making their way through Hertfordshire. Photo here of the barn owl, hunched up from the cold.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New moth for the garden

2 Grey Shoulder-knot

Grey Shoulder-knot

A visit to the moth trap this morning gave views of 4 March moths roosting on the sheet. However, of more interest were 2 Grey Shoulder-knot moths that were inside the trap. Amoth that hibernates and can be found through Autumn and then re-emerging in March and April. These are the moths that will lay the eggs for the next generation that will appear in Autumn. They normally hibernate in cracks in trees, especially oaks but can also be found tucked away in corners of garden sheds. This is my first record of this species in the garden; species number 254.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Superb bird walk

lesser redpoll

lesser redpoll

1 of 7 meadow pipits

spot the little owl

ploughed field warming up.
After the fog had lifted I ventured out in good temperatures and a clear blue sky. Plenty of bird song and after 400 yards from the house I had little owl, great spotted woodpecker and the regular tits and finches. In all, 40 species for the walk which, when you consider that my village list for 2013 is only 60, it shows what a lot of birds were about. Highlight was undoubtedly a solitary lesser redpoll seen on the edge of Queer Wood, with a few linnets. Only the 3rd parish record for this bird. Soon after a mandarin flew over, diving down into a flooded area of an inaccessible coppice. Treecreeper, nuthatch, 7 meadow pipits and goldcrest were also registered. A bullfinch was heard, as was a tawny owl. 3 common buzzards overhead as I wandered back home down Chapel Lane. A most relaxing wander.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Late afternoon wander

Goldfinch roost, late afternoon

goldfinch

pair of tufties, Hadham Hall lagoon.
 
Having heard of 2 suspected shoveler seen heading over Stortford and maybe in the direction of Hadham Hall lagoon, I thought it worth a quick check. Squally and cold conditions didn't make the wander too pleasant. However, a good flock of goldfinches were seen roosting at Hadham Hall whilst at the lagoon 4 tufted duck (2 pairs) and the resident little grebe were all I got. Good number of mixed gull flocks were heading south down the Ash Valley, probably to the gull roost at Amwell. Poor weather conditions have scuppered my plans for a good walk today, so shall plan an early morning wander tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A new moth species for the year

March moth (Alsophila aescularia)
A visit to the garden trap this morning, in blustery and very wet condtions, was a success in as much as two moths were roosting inside. Firstly, a March moth as shown above. Secondly, an equally common moth, a hebrew character. This was the first of the year for the garden and will now probably be found in the trap every night through until the end of May. Hopefully, with the weather coming from the south and west there may be an increase in night time temperatures and therefore a wider selection of spring time moths.
Hebrew character (Orthosia gothica)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Year lister and uncommon bird

This morning, a walk to the car gave views of a solitary lapwing heading south over the house. Only 3rd parish record for this uncommon Hadham bird. First sighting since 2009.
2 yellowhammers
Later, a walk to Much Hadham to pick up the car after some repairs. A barn owl was noted at 4pm, hunting over fields to the south of the parish whilst also of interest 2 of the regular mandarin flock flew over fields. First sighting of this bird in 2013. Due to perpetual rain, no photos taken. Also, a flock of 12+ yellowhammers was good to record. Let's hope some stay to breed as this area is well populated with these buntings all winter, but only a few stay to sing and build a territory.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

North side of the parish

A walk from Hadham Hall to town and then a bus ride back. Glorious weather, clear blue sky, light smattering of snow and reasonable temperatures. A fox was seen running for cover over fields whilst at the lagoon the resident barn owl was present along with 6 tufted duck (4 drakes) and 2 little grebes. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming as a song thrush flew through Newspring Wood. Skylarks were in both good number and good voice and a reed bunting (male) was seen briefly on the footpath to Hadham Lodge. Yellowhammers, robins, blackbirds and wrens were singing, so all in all, a wonderful walk.




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Little Hadham Wander 13.03.13

A wander back along footpaths from the town to home this morning. Great light, slight breeze and freezing temperatures. Not too much on show, with a kestrel seen hunting over Brick Kiln Hill, a green woodpecker in Millfield Lane and usual tits, finches, corvids and dunnocks. A check on the River Ash in the village gave views of the pair of mallards that seem to have taken up residence but no sign of the recent grey wagtail. A bullfinch was heard near Plantings Wood whilst skylarks called from the sky and robins from the hedgerow. Although not many birds, a most pleasant wander.
male kestrel

Dunnock at The Ford

Mallards on the River Ash

Village pub, the Nags Head!

Footpath security

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