Saturday, 31 August 2013

Saturday round up

A late afternoon wander around Hadham Hall where Hadstock was going on proved fruitful in that I scored with both green sandpiper and common sandpiper. Very poor record shot of the latter below, only 2nd parish record. Not too many other birds, 8+ chiffchaffs, 1 willow warbler, 3 linnets, 4 little grebes, several yellowhammers, a green woodpecker and goldfinches.
The moth trap was busy this morning, with over 100 insects, many being setaceous hebrew character and large yellow underwing. However, first centre barred sallow, frosted orange and purple bar of the year shows that autumn is, regardless of the temperature, well underway.
Many wasps in the trap made it difficult to extract the egg boxes without being stung. Just the one sting this morning.
Hadham Hall lagoon looking towards Hadham Hall (south west)

distant common sandpiper

purple bar

frosted orange

centre barred sallow
So, the end of a most productive birding month, with 3 new parish records (green sandpiper, redstart and pied flycatcher along with a good selection of year listers: the latter 2 above + citrine wagtail, arctic skua, wryneck, lesser whitethroat, grasshopper warbler, red necked phalarope, whimbrel, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, med gull, curlew sandpiper, common crane, red crested pochard and garganey. My year list now stands at a reasonable 189 species. Should, with some decent birding weather and a few trips out, hit the 200 mark this year.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Incredible Norfolk Day

Another day to spend wandering around North Norfolk. I left at 4.30 and soon came across thick fog as from Ely to Hunstanton. A mixed blessing as it may well have caused a good fall of migrants, but if it did not lift early on then birding would be somewhat hampered. As it was, it lifted as I arrived at Titchwell before 6.30 and immediately was into good birds. On walking along the footpath several sedge and reed warblers were amongst the bushes. After recent days, all worth checking. 21+ curlew sandpipers and 3 little stint were amongst several thousand waders on the Freshwater. A  check for Yankee sandpipers drew a blank so off to the beach. Several superbly plumaged grey plover and a few skua sp far out but apart from these just the regular sanderlings, gulls and assorted waders. Back to the car, via stopping off to have a look at the moth traps. A splendid canary shouldered thorn amongst a reasonable haul of usual early autumnal moths. Only other sighting of note: a chinese water deer  in the vegetation on the west side of the footpath.
In the car park met with 3 Stortford birders. We exchanged stories before they set off for the reserve.
lifting fog, Titchwell 6.30a.m.

Pheasant greeting on entry

gadwall

grey heron

curlew sandpiper

curlew sandpipers

Freshwater


chinese water deer

Wheatear, Titchwell beach

little stint and dunlin

ruff

linnet

reed warbler

incoming greylags
After Titchwell, I headed for Burnham Overy where many unusual warblers had been seen over the weekend. No news today, but still worth checking. In the dunes plenty of wheatear, all females or 1st years, with a couple of redstarts and a whinchat. News of an icterine came through so some clever so and so thought he would shout it out to all and sundry. Great, I was just about to get a good redstart photo. Not happy and as the warbler was over a mile in the other direction it was of no interest to me at that time. I was enjoying where I was. I wandered back to the car wishing I had given him a piece of my mind, but, as it happened, I kept that for later. How I love twitchers who just chase birds around that have been found by others! My pleasure is in finding them, although I will go to see a good bird if local.
Chiffchaffs, lesser whitethroat, pied flycatcher and assorted tits went on to the list before I set off for the Glandford red backed shrike. Rather distant behind Cleyspy, but good to see. A year lister. Then, off to Salthouse car park for the wryneck at Gramborough Hill. I found this reasonably easily and immediately the big lens boys turned up. They must have walked straight past it. Very briefly the wryneck showed well on the shingle before disappearing into undergrowth. At this point, you could still study it with binocs and/or telescope but it wasn't playing ball for the camera. I was horrified when not one, but three of the photographers (not birders) got out their mobile phones and played, at great volume) wryneck calls. The bird looked around, stopped feeding and wandered out in search of a fellow migrant. This happened twice by which time my patience was stretched and I let rip with  diplomatically put comments on the fact that all birders should respect the welfare of the bird and that by playing calls the migrant was not feeding and using up much required energy in looking for a fellow wryneck. This bird had arrived Sunday and had probably been bashed around Saturday in windy and wet conditions. It needed a break and chance to refuel. However, they got their photos!
 
wryneck

looking for a fellow wryneck

calling for a fellow wryneck

spot the wryneck?
Anyway, before I vented anymore of my spleen, I left. 2 birders commented "well said" as I did so. Off to Sheringham for a peaceful spot of individual sea watching. I arrived to be greeted by thick sea mist, so left and parked at Weybourne beach car park. The stretch between here and Kelling often throws up good birds and affords sea watching opportunities. Wheatear, another whinchat and another pied flycatcher were noted along with a large party of pied wagtails. With the recent influx of citrine wags I thought it was worth checking through them. Not easy as there were 20+ and mobile. However, one was frequently being chased by others and then went up and called. Sounded similar to yellow wagtail, but clearly wasn't. A citrine! First for me since one at Kelling Water Meadows many moons ago. I met up with a local birder just as a couple walked over the Muckleborough Collection land. Never seen anyone birding here, but this chap, Moss, had permission. He had also got onto the citrine and we watched it for a while. It appeared to have a ring on the right leg, a very worn and dull ring, strange as it appeared to be a 1st year bird! Anyway, news folk were notified and within 20 minutes people were wandering along the beach. Once we had shown them where it was I left. I had forgotten that the car park was pay and display and I had only put on an hour. £25.00 owing to NNDC! Worth it as I also added stonechat, fulmar, arctic skua and gannet to the list. By now it was getting on for 5p.m. so I thought I would finish off with a walk down the East Bank to Arnold's.



heat haze and distance don't lend themselves to crytsal sharp shots. Honestly, a citrine wagtail.

camera shy whinchat.
 
As I walked along the east bank I watched 2 very dark 2nd year marsh harriers along with regular fare. However, at Arnold's were good numbers of wader including bar tailed godwits and a greenshank. Highlight was, after missing out on the dunes at Burnham Overy, a most confiding redstart by the sluice. Also here, an inquisitive weasel. I couldn't help but fire off loads of shots of the redstart as I just sat still on the bank.

female redstart







All in all a fantastic day, finishing at gone 7pm. A meal in The Swan at Hilborough en route home meant I was back indoors just after 10pm. A long but most enjoyable trip, with 3 year listers taking my total to 189. Hopefully, a few days at Portland Bird Obs next week may see me past the 200 mark as I am fairly sure, shag, balearic shearwater and raven will be easy along with some decent migrants. Just need to keep an eye on the weather and hopefully, will need to pack my waterproofs..
Species list:
little grebe, fulmar, gannet, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, spoonbill, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose (10 sp) shelduck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, teal, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, pheasant (20 sp) moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling (30 sp) turnstone, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, little stint, common sandpiper, redshank, spotted redshank, greenshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit (40 sp) curlew, whimbrel, snipe, ruff, arctic skua, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull,  (50 sp) common tern, sandwich ter, wood pigeon, stock dove, collared dove, wryneck, skylark, sand martin, swallow, house martin (60sp) meadow pipit, pied wagtail, citrine wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, redstart, wheatear, whinchat, stonechat (70 sp) blackbird, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, sedge warbler, reed warbler, willow warbler, chiffchaff, pied flycatcher, great tit, blue tit (80 sp) red backed shrike, magpie, jay, jackdaw, carrion crow, rook, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet (90 sp) goldfinch, greenfinch, reed bunting, yellow hammer and, finally, near Lakenheath, flyover tawny owl. Total 95 species. Excellent.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Incredible morning birding

After the heavy and continuous rain of yesterday I thought it maybe worthwhile checking several places around the parish for migrants. Little did I know what was going to be found. I thought maybe a wheatear at Ash Valley Golf Course, or even a ring ouzel. All I got here was a calling willow warbler. However, a first for the parish this year. I checked all likely trees etc for skulking migrants but only unearthed a few chiffchaffs and goldfinches. So, off to Hadham Hall and the ponds and lagoons. Here there is good willow cover and usually turns up some willow warblers and chiffchaffs. As I arrived I heard a green sandpiper call. A new bird for the parish. After trying to improve on distant photos I watched as it flew high in a southerly direction. Anyway, a few record shots. Within 20 minutes I was wandering past a willow and out popped a female redstart. Another parish record. I spent an hour with this bird, waiting for it to show for a photo, but to no avail. 3 trees along I heard another call: a pied flycatcher! My 3rd parish record for the morning. Incredible, considering I have seen one new bird this year and none for the previous three and a half years!
willow warbler

willow warbler

distant green sandpiper

green sandpiper

female or 1st year pied flycatcher.
Other noteworthy birds came and went. 2 teal were only my 3rd parish record. a flyover cormorant is not an everyday sight in Little Hadham. Plenty of chiffchaffs and 3 more willow warblers. 4 little grebes on the water and plenty of yellowhammers and goldfinches knocking about. 2 green woodpeckers and the resident barn owl also went on to the list.


yellowhammer

cormorant

teal
With 3 new birds for the parish, my list now extends to 103 species. I had expected to get green sandpiper and, with luck, redstart but had never imagined a pied flycatcher turning up. Shall be back out at Hadham Hall first light tomorrow to see if anything else has arrived or if these 3 are still about.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Good moth night

A haul of 76 macros this morning gave several new for year and one new for my parish records. Firstly, an oak hooktip was roosting on the sheet last night, fridged and id'd this morning. A new moth for me.
Also this morning, year listers; feathered gothic, double striped pug and iron prominent. Also there were, among the plentiful yellow underwing varieties, a brimstone, old lady, magpie, uncertain, square spot rustic and a fair few setaceous hebrew characters. Many micros, including: mother of pearl, pyrausta aurata, crambus lathoniellus, water veneer, 25+ emmelina monodactyla and crambus pratella.
All in all, in excess of 100 specimens.
oak hooktip

magpie


double striped pug

pyrausta aurata


feathered gothic

iron prominent

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tescos via Hadham Hall walk

An early start at Tescos before a walk through the north side of the parish. As yesterday, few birds about but  several coal tits calling and a nuthatch were around the drive to Hadham Lodge. A red legged partridge and chiffchaff were on recently cultivated and harvested fields. However, at the lagoon east of Hadham Hall 4 little grebes, 2 juveniles and acouple of moorhen were on the water. However, after a few minutes I noted a falcon, distant, over the trees. A hobby which came a little nearer, permitting a few record shots. Several ruddy darter dragonflies were on the wing along with some common blue damselflies.
A common hoverfly was found on some bind weed, a Syrphus ribesii whilst a shaggy parasol fungi wwas found along nut walk en route to the parish church.


hobby

hobby

hobby

hobby

ruddy darter

Syrphus ribesii

shaggy parasol

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