Friday, 24 January 2014

Year list update

grey partridge (archive from 2009)
27. long tailed tit
28. linnet
29. mistle thrush
30. song thrush
31. black headed gull
32. herring gull
33. common gull
34. kestrel
35 grey partridge
36. pheasant
37. red kite
38. great crested grebe
39. cormorant
40. grey heron.

red kite (archive 2010)


41. little egret
42. mute swan
43. canada goose
44. gadwall
45. shoveler
46. wigeon
47. pochard
48. tufted duck
49. sparrow hawk
50. coot
51. snipe
52. wren
53. marsh tit
54. jay
55. lesser redpoll
56. greenfinch
57. reed bunting


cormorant (archive 2010)

Amwell Visit

A morning trip to Amwell today to get the year list underway. Highlight birds were lesser redpoll and marsh tit, both seen at the feeders on the footpath at Hollycross Lake. Usual suspects were noted including a few wigeon and pochard, snipe and a little egret.
A pleasant, if chilly wander in poor light. No sign of the unusual gulls that have been present of late (yellow legged and caspian) nor the smew that has been knocking around since November.
black headed gull

reed bunting


canada goose

grey heron

lapwings

lapwings and black headed gull

magpie

mute swan

great tit

tufted duck

Friday, 17 January 2014

Sri Lanka; Part 3 10th - 15th January, Galle

So, off to The Lighthouse hotel on the coast at Galle in the south west corner of the island. A hotel I had heard lots of good things about and we certainly were not disappointed. I managed wanders most mornings, just along the beach, checking palm groves and streams as well as the river that ran to the sea not 400 yards from the hotel entrance.
Plenty of terns passing by as we sat at the bar: all gull billed tern apart from a couple of caspian and some littles. In the hotel grounds were the ubiquitous Indian pond heron and white throated kingfisher. Checks out to sea from both the veranda and room balcony gave views of a few Heuglin's gull but no hoped for shearwaters or tropic birds. However, good local and common birds were in the hotel grounds, such as new ones for the trip, Asian Koel and greater coucal

asian koel

cattle egret from the bar


greater coucal from balcony

white throated kingfisher on steps to pool


kingfisher from the lounger

kingfisher with lunch
As shown here, the local white throated kingfisher was very confiding, posing for many photos. Anyway, I had organsied an afternoon trip to Kottawa rainforest with the local naturalist from the hotel. We hopped into a tuk tuk for the 40 minute journey to a fantastic habitat. As with all rain forests, birds are easy to hear but nigh on impossible to see. To begin with we heard and then saw brief flights of the endemic Layard's parakeet before these were drowned out by a load of Alexandrine parakeets at a nest hole. Photographing through dense vegetation is not easy, with low light making the problem doubly difficult. We checked the hirundines above and in amongst the palm swifts were ones noticably larger; red rumped swallows. Back at the hotel I also recorded indian swiftlet over in small numbers. Here a few shots of the rainforest and some record shots of the Alexandrines.

Alexandrine parrot

map of the few areas of access

at the nest hole; Alexandrine parrot



Other birds noted whilst we wandered were black headed munia, brown capped babbler, asian paradise flycatcher and black naped monarch. Also, a giant millipede and an endemic green shelled snail, whilst we were caught up in a cacophony made by the local cicadas and a few frogs.

Other inhabitants of the rainforest made themselves known; more macaque monkeys.


Back into the tuk tuk for the drive home. Following morning I was up at first light and on to the beach, before crossing over to the river and wandering past a Buddhist temple. Good birds along the wires, including purple rumped sunbird, white bellied drongo, bee eaters galore, rose ringed parakeets.

blue tailed bee eater

white bellied drongo
black headed oriole

asian oriental robin

purple rumped sunbird

rose ringed parakeet
On another morning I headed north along the beach. Here, a small stream gave great views of a striated heron (1st year bird) and another common sandpiper. High in the coconut palms was a lesser goldenback woodpecker. I waited for a while to see if it would reappear from the top of the palm, but to no avail. Out at sea a masked booby was halfway to the horizon, another new bird. Upon returning to my regular perch, a huge sea eagle appeared overhead and out to sea. By the time I had the camera on it, it was a far way off, but the black and white plumage told me it was a white bellied sea eagle.

white bellied sea eagle

common sandpiper


striated heron
From the bar, veranda and lawn, I continued to sea watch, but just managed photos of passing gull billed terns.
The reptiles around the grounds were also worth photographing, along with several that we encountered along the walls of Galle fort, overlooking the cricket ground. A selection here, yet to be identified to species.





There were plenty of very spectacular butterflies about but very few alighted for me to photograph. This one in the hotel grounds also awaits identification.

 
Before we knew it, our 6 days were up and after a final days wander where we spent time talking with the monk at the local temple, it was time for the drive back to Colombo airport. En route I added marsh harrier and indian darter to the list , along with a few large birds of prey that remained unknown as we headed north up the southern expressway.
All in all, a fantastic time, with the whole holiday being put together by Simon Gemmell at Designer Travel at www.designertravel.co.uk and also Neil Dobbs of the Travel Gallery www.travel-gallery.co.uk Both worked hard so our trip went without a hitch. If keen to visit this wonderful island, I would certainly highly recommend contacting Simon, who knows who to get in touch with to make your trip ideal.
 
List so far;
 
Updated list:
barred buttonquail, sri lankan junglefowl, peacock, lesser whistling duck, painted stork, asian openbill, black necked stork, black headed ibis, lesser adjutant, eurasian spoonbill, (10 sp) indian pond heron, grey heron, purple heron, cattle egret, great egret, intermediate egret, little egret, spot billed pelican, little cormorant, indian cormorant, (20 sp)brahminy kite, black eagle, changeable hawk eagle, white breasted waterhen, pheasant tailed jacana, great thick knee, yellow wattled lapwing, red wattled lapwing, pacific golden plover, kentish plover, (30 sp) lesser sandplover, black tailed godwit, common redshank, common greenshank, marsh sandpiper, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, gull billed tern, whiskered tern, little tern,(40 sp) common tern, spotted dove, orange breasted green pigeon, sri lankan green pigeon, green imperial pigeon, rose ringed parakeet, chestnut winged cuckoo, asian palm swift, crested treeswift, house swift, (50 sp) indian roller,blue tailed bee eater, green bee eater, chestnut headed bee eater, white throated kingfisher, indian hoopoe, crimson fronted barbet, sri lankan grey hornbill, malabar hornbill, brown shrike, (60 sp) black headed oriole,house crow, large billed crow, barn swallow, white bellied drongo, richards pipit, paddyfield pipit, Blyth's pipit, red vented bulbul, white browed bulbul ,(70 sp) common tailorbird, white browed fantail, yellow billed babbler, common myna, brahminy starling, oriental magpie robin, indian robin, brown breasted flycatcher, purple rumped sunbird, lotens sunbird,(80 sp) house sparrow, scaley breasted munia, Jerdon's bushlark, little stint

Added at and around Galle.
striated heron, masked booby, white bellied sea eagle, marsh harrier, common moorhen, purple swamphen, (90 sp) sanderling, heuglin's gull, caspian tern, Alexandrine parakeet, Layard's parakeet, asian koel, greater coucal, indian swiftlet, lesser goldenback, red rumped swallow, (100 sp) forest bulbul, black naped monarch, asian paradise flycatcher, brown capped babbler, black headed munia.

In total, with some distant photos of blurry stuff still to be identified, total of 105 species, for a non birding trip is fine by me!


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sri Lanka Part 2: 8th - 10th January. Yala

The big one! Following the long drive we enjoyed an excellent meal in the superb Jetwing Yala. Incredible location. The following morning we were up for our first safari at 5.30a.m. and into the landrover, with our driver, Ari. A great guy to have as driver: knowledgeable, interesting and a patient and good driver, sometimes in very trying circumstances. Ari had picked us up from the airport and been there, on time, each day for our journeys. Our guide, Aloo drove the land rover and was most knowledgeable.
The sun was not up as we headed into the Reserve but we could make out shapes in the early morning mist. A malabar hornbill passed us as we noted good numbers of waders around a waterhole populated by sunken water buffalo. Not many chances to take photos, but we would return this way on our way out.
Basically, the bird life was incredible. Everything I had expected to see was ticked along with all the resident mammals and reptiles apart from the elusive leopard.
Really, all I can do is show the photos and list the stuff as it would be endless recording each sighting. However, a few highlights: the beeaters were spectacular, the elephants with babies were memorable and just the density of birds amazing.

lesser whistling duck, spoonbill, common tern (I think) black winged stilt and marsh sandpiper.

black headed ibis


indian robin

blue tailed beeater

brahminy kite

brahminy kite

brown shrike

another brown shrike

black winged stilt

changeable hawk eagle


chestnut headed beeater

common sandpiper

large croc

even larger croc

green beeater.
Aloo rapidly cottoned on to my interest in trying to see as many birds as possible and also my attempts to get some good snaps. Hence we stopped many times, and surveyed the distant trees for other birds that I couldn't photo. Soon, the sun was up and we enjoyed so many great views, with elephants, mongoose, wild pigs, hares, many lizard/iguana sp, crocodiles, buffalo, spotted deer and silver jackal.
elephant rock, Yala National Reserve

elephant family

 black tailed godwit, spoonbill, black headed ibis

another splendid green beeeater

 


marsh sandpiper

grey langar



hare

house crow

indian hoopoe

indian hoopoes
We left the safari at 11.00 as the heat meant that many of the birds and elephants took cover in the shade. After a few hours back at the hotel pool, we set off again for another visit at 3.30, until dusk (6.15.) More amazing sights as we ventured into the other part of the park that is open to the public. In all there are 5 blocks of which Blocks 1 and 3 are open. We stopped off at the beach where there is a moving memorial to those that lost their lives in the park on 26th Dec 2004, the tsunami. Evidence as to the damage it caused was all over the park, where trees had been snapped  about 5 foot above the ground. Such was the salination damage that little has regrown.
Views of Elephant Rock were had as another highlight occured, 5 indian hoopoes, followed about a minute later by our only view of an indian roller. Excellent stuff.
indian pond heron

indian roller

lesser whistling duck

1st bird in pre dawn mist. Unmistakable malabar hornbill

mongoose

monitor

sri lankan green pigeon

pacific golden plover



Jerdon's bushlark

painted stork

another painted stork

peacock
We eventually returned to the hotel in the dark, very happy with our day. I had taken over 350 photographs,so plenty of editing and some deleting was required that evening. Again, following a wonderful meal we prepared for our final journey, to Galle, Jetwing Lighthouse for our last 6 days.

displaying peacock

purple heron

red wattled lapwing


something large!

scaley breasted munia

silver jackal

solitary bull elephant
great thick knee at sunset


another bull elephant and spotted deer

spot billed pelican

spot the elephant

spotted deer

sri lankan green pigeon
On our drive to Galle, Ari was now pointing out birds as we drove along the coast road. New birds added were black eagle and the rare lesser adjutant stork,
In all, Yala is one of the most fantastic wildlife places I have ever visited and certainly worth the long drive to get there.
malabar hornbill

Sri Lankan junglefowl (The national bird)


Wader competition: name these waders.

water buffalo

wild pigs

yellow billed babbler

yellow wattled lapwing.
paddyfield pipit


Updated list:
barred buttonquail, sri lankan junglefowl, peacock, lesser whistling duck, painted stork, asian openbill, black necked stork, black headed ibis, lesser adjutant, eurasian spoonbill, (10 sp) indian pond heron, grey heron, purple heron, cattle egret, great egret, intermediate egret, little egret, spot billed pelican, little cormorant, indian cormorant,  (20 sp)brahminy kite, black eagle, changeable hawk eagle, white breasted waterhen, pheasant tailed jacana, great thick knee, yellow wattled lapwing, red wattled lapwing, pacific golden plover, kentish plover, (30 sp) lesser sandplover, black tailed godwit, common redshank, common greenshank, marsh sandpiper, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, gull billed tern, whiskered tern, little tern,(40 sp) common tern, spotted dove, orange breasted green pigeon, sri lankan green pigeon, green imperial pigeon, rose ringed parakeet, chestnut winged cuckoo, asian palm swift, crested treeswift, house swift, (50 sp) indian roller,blue tailed bee eater, green bee eater, chestnut headed bee eater, white throated kingfisher, indian hoopoe, crimson fronted barbet, sri lankan grey hornbill, malabar hornbill, brown shrike, (60 sp) black headed oriole,house crow, large billed crow, barn swallow, white bellied drongo, richards pipit, paddyfield pipit, Blyth's pipit, red vented bulbul, white browed bulbul ,(70 sp) common tailorbird, white browed fantail, yellow billed babbler, common myna, brahminy starling, oriental magpie robin, indian robin, brown breasted flycatcher, purple rumped sunbird, lotens sunbird,(80 sp)  house sparrow, scaley breasted munia, Jerdon's bushlark, little stint

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