Friday, 14 March 2014

Kent visit

A day in Kent was the plan, concluding with a talk at Gravesend on the birds of The Camargue region. I set off after the rush hour and headed to Oare Marshes near Faversham. As always, a good place for a spot of birding. Usual fare was seen through quite heavy mist which meant no photographs would be worthwhile. Avocets and redshanks were on the small scrape by the road, with curlew on the tidal mud flats. Viewing anything over 20 yards away was impossible but in the gloom, pintail, pochard, shoveler, wigeon and teal were noted whilst overhead linnets, reed buntings and goldfinches called.
After this I set off for Elmley Marsh on the Isle of Sheppey. A reserve I haven't visited for a fair few years. As I drove in a female merlin shot across the road and perched on a post, but still too gloomy for any long distance photography. Little egrets, redshanks, grey herons and lapwings were seen as I drove to Kingshill Farm car park. Also, marsh harriers seemed to be everywhere.
lapwing

little egret

little egret

grey heron

marsh harrier being mobbed by a lapwing

marsh harrier in courtship display

Once parked, I checked the pools over the farm wall, where good numbers of regular wildfowl were noted (mainly wigeon) and a few egrets and avocets.


On to the track to the Wellmarsh hide and plenty of reed bunting and more of what had already been recorded. In the distance a common buzzard overhead and a peregrine came to land several fields away. The mist was still making long range photography impossible, but the sky was brightening and the mist was being burnt off, albeit slowly.
Into the hide and a cacophony of black headed gulls. A marsh harrier took a wigeon and alighted on the ground to feed. Pintail flew through and several snipe were noted on one of the islands.
wading avocet

avocets and black headed gull

bhg

reed bunting
Soon, my time was running out and so I headed back to the farm hoping for some short eared owl views. None by the time I got to the car, just more marsh harriers, several curlew and some meadow pipits
marsh harrier

marsh harrier
curlews

meadow pipit
As I drove along, I suddenly saw movement in the grass by the side of the track. A short eared owl. I stopped the car, but too close, all I could get in the photo was the car door. Eventually, the bird took flight:
take off

Photo taken through the windscreen.

hunting mode

After a short while the splendid bird landed in a field. I reversed the car for some more photos.

The bird then took to the air once again and began hunting over the long grass on the otherside of the track. This was better as less likely to be a silhouette photo as I now had my back to the sun. As I watched I became aware of another bird in the grass.
2nd short eared owl

2 in the air
One bird remained in the air and made several passes before both went down. By now there were 3 cars stopped and occupants viewing these spectacular birds. At this point I think I shall indulge myself and include all the worthwhile photos. I took over 100 shots of this bird and, as can be seen, the mist was still hanging around, making sharp photos very difficult, so these are the best .




Just brilliant to watch this majestic bird at such close quarters. Certainly not an every day birding sight and the best views of this species I have had for many years.

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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