Thursday, 29 May 2014

Lakenheath RSPB and Weeting Heath

A leisurely morning checking moths before a drive to Lakenheath RSPB reserve on the Norfolk border. Very overcast and consequently terrible light for photographs. Most birds were just too far away for a worthwhile shot, which is a shame as I saw some good birds.
Sedge and reed warblers were both in good voice all over the reserve with several showing well, but even close the light was poor.
reed warbler

sedge warbler
I wandered along the riverbank to the hide overlooking the main reedbed. On the river and lake beyond were great crested grebes, a few common terns, coots, mallards and mute swans. A duck flew past, a garganey and I managed just one shot of it.
garganey

common tern returning to nest with fish
In the far distance I noted 2 common cranes in the field and overhead hobbies were chasing swifts and martins. A few shoveler went by as I came across several species of dragon and damselflies. Plenty of 4 spot chasers that wouldn't pose for a photo whilst these did.
Azure damselfly

female azure damselfly
 Cuckoos were calling all over the reserve, probably at least 5 with a female flying into the poplars where golden oriole are often heard and not seen. However, so far this year, none have arrived at what is usually a good spot for them.
Checking a nettle patch close to the path I encountered this drinker moth caterpillar. This is standard food for the cuckoos.
After a wander around the poplars where willow warblers, chiffchaffs and balckcaps were calling, I had a coffee at the visitors' centre before heading off to Weeting Heath some 4 miles away. Finally, Lakenheath can be very peaceful, but occasionally, certainly not and this morning was one of the noisy sessions as shown here.
from Lakenheath or Mildenhall USAF BASE
Upon arriving at Weeting Heath I headed for the east hide. Plenty of corvids, lapwings and rabbits but no sign of a stone curlew, so round to the west hide, where 4 were showing very distantly. At one point I got a great show of "mantling" from one bird protecting its nest as a stoat made its way across the heath.
This shot was taken but really, too poor for publication, just to show the unpleasant conditions.
stone curlew
I crossed the road for the woodland trail. As I did so, the reported turtle dove flew overhead and was gone before I could focus the camera. I could hear curlews somewhere on the heath as well as more warblers, goldcrest and treecreepers. At the top of Track 49 the forest peters out and there is some heathland. Here, several skylark were in good voice and then 2 woodlark, short tailed and with no white upon the tail, flew past. I hoped they'd land on the fenceposts for a photo but they went straight into the long grass, not to re-emerge. As I walked back down to the carpark 2 shelduck flew south, probably the oddest record I have had at this site.
All in all a worthwhile few hours with the following year listers;
hobby, common crane, turtle dove, stone curlew and woodlark, taking my year list to 157 species. Some way off last year's total at this point but, hopefully, Norfolk next Friday should extend the list considerably.

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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