Thursday, 26 September 2013

Round up

A while since I posted anything due to very little to report. Several local walks over the last week gave views of bullfinch, blackcap, chiffchaff, coal tit, nuthatch and treecreeper all around the footpath south of Chapel Lane. Very dense vegetation here, with birds feeding on elderberries. Sadly, I only managed a rather poor shot of a dunnock. The male blackcap posed until the camera was ready and then disappeared into hiding. Like wise the splendid male bullfinch.
A common buzzard over the local golf course this morning, along with several more chiffchaffs and a couple of skylarks. The warm temps encouraged a late comma to be on the wing.
juvenile goldfinches

comma

spiders web in iron gate

 
dunnock.
Local wild flowers were still in bloom, with these invasive and foreign imports doing particularly well in the Ash Valley. Indian balsam and russian comfrey. Also, in the garden, this poppy was deciding to open this morning. A view here looking north a few miles south of the village along the gently rolling Ash Valley.


indian balsam

opening poppy

Ash Valley

russian comfrey
A good moon over a few nights last week meant not too many moths, but this has picked up over the previous 2 evenings with a yellow lined quaker, brindled green and beaded chestnut all being new for the year. Annual total still short of 200, rather disappointing. However, still a fair few to take. Regular moths at the moment are large yellow underwing, setaceous hebrew character and lunar underwing. The micro moth, garden rose tortrix is also fairly prevalent at the garden trap.


yellow line quaker

brindled green


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Rainham Marsh Trip

As I was giving a presentation to Hornchurch local RSPB group last night, I thought a few hours beforehand at Rainham Marsh Reserve would be good. Weather was constant drizzle intermingled with heavier rain but some good birds nevertheless.
A whinchat and hobby were spotted upon leaving the cafe and then bearded tit at the dragonfly pond as well as several sedge and reed warblers. From the main hide at the west end of the reserve little egrets, pintail and little grebes were seen, with another fly over hobby. As I walked around I heard a spotted redshank calling from the long grass and then found one in a small pool. From the main viewing point were 2 common snipe, 1 jack snipe, a curlew sandpiper and another hobby along with a grey heron.
Near the cafe upon my return a strange silhouette could be seen flying along the river walk: a green budgie! Hobby food soon, I suspect.
However, the highlight was finding a water vole in one of the drains, peacefully eating and none too fussed by the attention I gave it.
confiding water vole

water vole

Grey day at Rainham Marsh

little grebe

kestrel going in for the kill

spotted redshank

upside down lapwing

aerial display from lapwing

distant hobby in very poor light

grey day, grey heron

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Local wander 11.09.13

Starting at Tescos, Bishop's Stortford I wandered home via Bury Green, Clintons and Acremore Street. I all, about 6 miles. Not too much of note: a yellow wagtail calling overhead being the highlight. Also, several bullfinches in the hedgerows and an incresed number of jays (8), + 1000's of corvids and woodpigeons. In all 23 species.
A few butterflies were still on the wing, a speckled wood, small heath and 2 large whites whilst also a ruddy darter was seen.
ruddy darter

speckled wood

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

buzzard, cormorants and hawkmoths.

A quick visit to Hadham Hall lagoons to check for any migrants. 2 cormorants overhead for starter; first time I have recorded two at this site. Also, a mewing common buzzard. In the willows were linnets, goldfinches, 2 willow warblers and a chiffchaff. The regular little grebes were about but no sign of last week's green or common sandpiper. Photo below of one from last week. Only the 2nd parish record.
 
common sandpiper

cormorants

common buzzard
Back home, I watched the skies for any southerly movement but nothing too noteworthy. A couple of lesser black backed gulls and the first autumn party of long tailed tits in the garden. However, flitting around the buddleia was a humming bird hawkmoth. An amazingly fast creature, that it proved very difficult, in fading light, to get any worthwhile shots. 2 here being the best of a bad job. Be helpful if this splendid moth turned up in far better conditions.

hummingbird hawkmoth


hummingbird hawkmoth
 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Portland Trip

fishing boats with gulls in attendance

Portland Bird Observatory

Day 1:

Leaving home at 4a.m. meant I arrived on Portland just after 7 and drove into thick fog. This, somewhat disappointingly, meant no sea watching, so I had a wander around The Bill and West cliffs. Shag and raven were new for the year as well as some whinchats, linnets (400+) finches, redstarts and stonechats. A few wheatear and rock pipits were grubbing around near the Bill Quarry before I popped into the bird observatory, base for the next few days. Once unpacked and coffee'd I set off for Ferrybridge.

linnets, whinchats, goldfinch and stonechats along the fence.

Shag: The Bill

distant gannet

wheatear

wheatear

horses in the fog

linnet
Ferrybridge had the usual waders, with over 100 ringed plover, plus dunlin, a little stint and a solitary bar tailed godwit. Following this I dropped in at Radipole Lake in Weymouth, adding several duck sp to the list, plus a bearded tit. A long wander to the North Hide gave views of coot, moorhen and grey heron!! So, back to The Bill where by now the fog had lifted and a little sea watching was possible. A pomarine skua and balearic shearwater were year listers. Also: gannet, shag, fulmar and a yellow legged gull were of note. I returned to the bird obs for tea before having a pint in The Pulpit Inn before a reasonably early night.

Little Owl: obs quarry

Hobby, Lodmoor

Rock Pipit; The Bill

Grey Heron: Lodmoor

Med gull, Lodmoor

Day 2:

Up early and after a cup of tea, down to The Bill for more seawatching. The weather was calm, warm and cloudless, so useless for sea movement so I went along the West Cliffs where a peregrine got on to the year list. More ravens, chats and finches. I then headed to Suckthumb quarry where a solitary sedge warbler and clouded yellow butterflies was seen before I received a text saying 4 ortolans had been found in Top Fields. I returned but they were not to be relocated. A visit to Lodmoor ensued where wood sandpiper, med gull and a most aerial hobby were added to the growing trip list. I then headed back to the obs, where assistant warden Joe had trapped a kestrel. Photo shoot time on the patio. Another quick check of the obs quarry gave views of little owl, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, redstart and another year lister: nightingale. I then took the moth trap out to Culverwell, had a meal and a glass of wine before a return visit to The Pulpit Inn. Then, off to keep an eye on the trap, which, by 1.30a.m. was getting good moths. 9 dark swordgrass and 8 vestals were noted in and around the light, along with good numbers of common moths. By now it was raining, so back to bed, ready for a daybreak start later that day. Bed by 2.15 meant 4 hours sleep. I was hoping the rain would have knocked some migrants out of the sky, so keen for the early beginning.
fulmar


trapped and ringed kestrel

moulting stonechat

busy moth trap!

The Bill

garden tiger moth

Day 3:

I awoke early and was out soon after first light. Plenty of willow warblers and a few chiffchaffs gave me hope that something good would be about, but the sea was very quiet. Another peregrine was noted over the cliffs so back to the bird obs for breakfast and to see what was about. Very little, but tree pipits overhead were new for the year and 3 spotted flyctachers in the obs garden, along with willows and a redstart were all good. I decided to beat the rush on the M25 so left to head for home around 11 and made good progress until I reached the motorway at Heathrow; a car park. Eventually, I came off and made my way across country, the journey taking over 5 hours. A brilliant visit and one I hope to make again for more successful sea watching as autumn fades into winter.
spotted flycatcher
Year listers: shag (190) raven (191) tree pipit (192) pomarine skua (193) balearic shearwater (194) peregrine (195) nightingale (196)


clouded yellow

Trip List:

little grebe; fulmar; balearic shearwater; gannet; cormorant; shag; little egret; grey heron; mute swan: canada goose (10 sp) mallard; gadwall; teal; tufted duck; common buzzard; sparrowhawk; kestrel; hobby; peregrine; moorhen (20 sp) coot; oystercatcher; ringed plover: lapwing; dunlin; little stint; wood sandpiper; common sandpiper; bar tailed godwit; pomarine skua; (30 sp) black headed gull; common gull; mediterranean gull; herring gull, yellow legged gull; lesser black backed gull; great black backed gull; stock dove; wood pigeon; collared dove (40 sp) little owl; green woodpecker; swallow; house martin; rock pipit, tree pipit; pied wagtail; white wagtail; yellow wagtail; grey wagtail; (50 sp) wren; dunnock; robin; redstart; wheatear; whinchat; stonechat; blackbird; blackcap; lesser whitethroat; (60 sp) whitethroat; sedge warbler; willow warbler; chiffchaff;spotted flycatcher; pied flycatcher; pied flycatcher; great tit; blue tit; bearded tit (70 sp) magpie; jackdaw; carrion crow; raven; starling; house sparrow; chaffinch; linnet; goldfinch; greenfinch; (80 sp)nightingale



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