Friday, 28 February 2014

Moth News

A few moths have now come to the garden light trap this year; 3 to be precise! Firstly an Early moth on 14.02.14 followed a week later by a Common Quaker and then this morning, a splendid Oak Beauty. The latter was, indeed a surprise as it was very cold, but cloud cover after midnight meant it warmed up somewhat. As usual with oak beauties, they prefer to roost on the actual trap rather than in amongst the egg boxes. Always a good moth to find.
Early Moth

Common Quaker

Oak Beauty

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Owl Pellets

The old moat at Hadham Hall
Out at midday today to try and find enough barn owl pellets for a school science day on the skeleton. Managed to find 20, rather soggy ones underneath a regular barn owl roost. Even better was actually finding the pair in their regular tree hole where they have resided for over 3 years.
Also on the tree trunk was a single treecreeper, a year list bird for me. Skylarks and redwings were on the wing but just the solitary overwintering coot on the irrigation lagoon.
A check around Hadham Hall afterwards gave views of the resident moorhens on the old moat to the Tudor hall, but no goldcrests in the conifers within the grounds. A great spotted woodpecker was heard in New Spring Wood, so all in all, a successful half hour.

Distant barn owls


Tree reflections at Hadham Hall

treecreeper

Monday, 24 February 2014

Local Wander 24.02.14

A superb wander this morning in temperatures hitting 14C. Good selection of birds as I walked back from Tescos via Bury Green, Millfield Lane and Hoecroft Lane.
Highlight was undoubtedly this peacock butterfly, seen near the cricket ground in Millfield Lane that has emerged from hibernation in a tree hole or garden shed.. My first butterfly of the year.
1st butterfly of the year
The birds that appeared to be most vociferous were robins, skylarks, yellowhammers along with a good sized party of fieldfare (50+) and a few redwing. Green woodpeckers called and 5 common buzzards were mewing overhead. 2 parties of bullfinches were noted, but their shy and retiring nature meant too difficult to get a worthwhile shot. A group of 12 herring gulls went overhead, whilst wrens, dunnocks, green, gold and chaffinches were also seen.
redwing

robin in good voice

Thursday, 20 February 2014

year list update

94. black throated diver
95. great northern diver
96. egyptian goose
97. pintail.
98. eider.
99. red breasted merganser
100. kingfisher.
101 hen harrier.
102. water rail
103. ringed plover
104. knot.
105. green woodpecker
106. twite
107 parrot crossbill.
108 corn bunting.
109 yellowhammer
110. goldcrest.
Leucistic jackdaw. Little Hadham archive 2008

Lifer and year listers in Norfolk

A trip to Norfolk yesterday was a great success, with 93 species seen including a lifer in the form of parrot crossbill. 15 were observed in the clearing at Edgefield just outside Holt. They appeared just I wandered along from the road, feeding in a distant larch and showing well for 10 minutes before dropping down into the bulk of the trees. They reappeared at the top of the tree some 20 minutes later, when I managed these very distant shots.
distant parrot crossbills

Year listers were: black throated diver and great northern diver (Blakeney harbour viewed from Stiffkey Fen) egyptian goose (Holkham, Lady Anne's Drive) pintail, hen harrier, kingfisher, knot, green woodpecker, water rail, eider, red breasted merganser (Titchwell) corn bunting (Choseley drying barns) twite (Stiffkey Fen)  and ringed plover (Arnold's Marsh, Cley)
I started at first light at Thornahm Point, but no owls or twite, so off to Titchwell. From the beach there were in excess of 2000 common scoter, plenty of goldeneye, a solitary male eider east, a few great crested grebe and 4 velvet scoter. Usual fare on the beach, including 200+ golden plover. From the Parrinder Hide a hen harrier put all the lapwings up and pintail were noted for the first time this year. It was now becoming surprisingly warm, so a quick trip to Choseley, where I was greeted by 2 corn bunting and several yellowhammers. Partridges, both red legged and grey seemed to be everywhere before I headed off to Holkham.
Along Lady Anne's Drive were the numerous wigeon and pink foots and a pair of Egyptian geese. A common buzzard overhead made the day list as did feeding starlings.
teal

redshank

little egret

pintail

wren

wigeon

red legged partridge

corn bunting

corn bunting
After Holkham I wandered down to Stiffkey Fen. Reed cutting was taking place, so only geese and wildfowl were on the water, but scoping the harbour I managed both black throated and great northern diver. One particular black throated was showing the white semi circle near the tail very clearly. Also from here, I got dunlin, avocet, goldeneye,, 16 red breasted merganser more pintail, godwits, shelduck etc. Just before I left, I heard the distinct call of twite followed by a flyover party of 5 heading west. Good binocular views showing the pinkish rump nailed the sighting. A bird I haven't seen for a few years.
I then moved along to the tower at Morston, but, amazingly, the scope views were pretty poor due to heat haze!
Off to Cley for a coffee and check at the beach. Still much damage about following the storm surge as shown here.

From here I wandered along the East Bank where there are still huge clumps of reed that have been lifted by the storm and dumped on top of the bank. A ringed plover was amongst many waders on Arnold's Marsh and a fine view of a marsh harrier.
East Bank, Cley
After Cley I popped up to Edgefield, near Holt. I was after the reported parrot crossbills and , having tried twice before I was not expecting any results. As I arrived a party of 4 common crossbills came into view before I heard a larger party. 15 birds alighted in a distant larch. Some very bright red males showed larger bills and were, in general, heavier birds than the previously noted commons. A lifer for me and my first since 2011 when I scored with a western sandpiper at Cley. A few texts were sent before a quick trip to Kelling Heath, where all I noted for the list were several jays and then on to Salthouse beach but no snow buntings. I then decided to head back to Holkham for some geese/sunset photos. The sunset itself was great but the geese were not interested, so a photo of a mallard silhouetted against the reddening sky had to suffice. By now it was gone 5.30 and I had been on the go for 13 hours, so time to return home.
In all, a really good day's birding.
pheasant close up


pink foots at Holkham

mallard

redshanks as the sun sets

  Species list (year listers in bold)
red throated diver, black throated diver, great northern diver, little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, (10 sp)brent goose, canada goose, shelduck, egyptian goose, mallard,  gadwall, pintail, shoveler, wigeon, teal, (20 sp) pochard, tufted duck, eider, common scoter, velver scoter,  goldeneye, red breasted merganser, marsh harrier, hen harrier, common buzzard, (30 sp) sparrowhawk, red legged partridge, grey partridge, pheasant, water rail,  moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, (40 spgrey plover, golden plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling, turnstone, dunlin, redshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, (50 sp)curlew, ruff, black headed gull, herring gull, common gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, wood pigeon, stock dove, collared dove,(60 sp) kingfisher, green woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, song thrush, blackbird, (70 sp) cetti's warbler, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie, jay, rook, carrion crow, jackdaw, (80 sp)starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, linnet, twite, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin, common crossbill, parrot crossbill, (90 sp) reed bunting, yellowhammer, corn bunting

Considering no grey heron, winter thrushes, kestrel, auks, gannets, kittiwakes, skuas etc I was very close to the hundred mark for the day!
greylags in evening light


Holkham sunset

Monday, 17 February 2014

Village round up

A few walks over the last 10 days or so have realised very little apart from a few expected year listers around the village: goldcrest and yellowhammer. The former too fast for the camera on one of many grey and overcast days. A walk all the way to the irrigation lagoon gave up a solitary coot! Plenty of common gulls around on the polo fields and golf club, but very small numbers of winter thrushes, with a party of 30 fieldfare and 15 redwing being the best around at present. Several red kite and a walk from town to home last Sunday gave great views of 6 common buzzards.
coot

yellowhammer

goldfinch

goldfinch

great tit

blue tit

A check on local wild flowers came up with a few aconites and the dog mercury in grass verges along Ford Hill. See top of post.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Year list update;

58. red throated diver
59. little grebe
60. glossy ibis
61. pink footed goose
62. greylag goose
63. brent goose
64. shelduck
65. teal
66. common scoter
67. velvet scoter
68. long tailed duck
69. goldeneye
willow warbler (archive 2010)

70. marsh harrier
71. oystercatcher
72. avocet
73. grey plover
74. golden plover
75. sanderling
76. turnstone.
77. dunlin
78. redshank.
79. black tailed godwit
80. bar tailed godwit
green woodpecker (archive 2010)

81. curlew
82. woodcock
83. ruff
84. lesser black backed gull
85. greater black backed gull.
86. barn owl.
87. meadow pipit.
88. cetti's warbler
89. brambling.
90. siskin
91. sparrow hawk
92. peregrine
93.bearded tit
treecreeper (archive 2010)

Amwell visit 01.02.14

Morning visit to Amwell in bright conditions and, at last, some sun. A peregrine was noted, high above 3 buzzards but no sign of the redpolls or marsh tits at the feeder. A sparrowhawk had whizzed through just before I arrived so, consequently, most birds were hiding.
A bearded tit had been reported at the viewing point and after 15 minutes was seen on several occasions, flitting from one reedbed to the next. Apart from the regular residents there was not too much about. 20+ siskins in the alders and a distant female goldeneye were other highlights.

siskin


moorhen

siskin

siskin

cormorant with a fine mohican


long tailed tit.
Year listers; sparrow hawk, bearded tit, siskin, peregrine. This takes my total for 2014 to 93 species.


Busy Norfolk Day

Titchwell sunrise

Leaving home at 5a.m. meant I was at Thornham Point before 7.15 and just first light. Plenty of gulls heading inland along with brent, pink foot and greylag geese. After an unsuccessful half hour watch and wait for owls, I moved on to Titchwell Reserve.
Here, I was greeted by a barn owl flying behind the shop and over towards the meadow trail. Still not light enough for a photo. I headed for the beach, seeing 3 marsh harriers en route along with the regular fare of redshank, wildfowl and curlews. The sea held 800+ scoter, all common, plus 3 red throated diver, a great crested grebe, 6+ goldeneye and a solitary long tailed duck. On the sand, turnstone, grey plover, godwits etc fed on the tideline. Into the Parrinder hide for a few photos in good sunshine before a coffee  and a successful check near the picnic area for a skulking woodcock.
no more boardwalk to the beach after the storm surge in December

Sand dune damage at Titchwell
 


redshank

shelduck

drake teal

On to Holkham and Lady Anne's Drive. Geese and the 100's of wigeon that had been present all winter....
wigeon at Holkham

pink foot goose


Holkham lapwing

........ before a quick check on Wells harbour where a herring gull was proudly showing everyone it's fish and 5 little grebes in the harbour.
Wells Harbour little grebes

herring gull

I then checked Blakeney Harbour but not too much about so off to Glandford and Cley Spy where I bought a second hand telescope. Very pleased with it and, whilst testing it, came across a flock of brambling. From here, I popped up to Edgefield and spent half an hour in pursuit of the parrot crossbills. Got 20+ common crossers but no parrots although they had been reported earlier in the day.
On to Wiveton where the glossy ibis was still feeding before Cley for another coffee and a check on the sea from the beach carpark.



Not too much moving out at sea apart from more scoter, this time including 2 velvets and plenty more wigeon. A red throated diver went east before I finished off at Salthouse where even more scoter, a mix of common and velvets plus the inevitable turnstone messing around on the shingle.
beach hotel

clearance of the carpark at Cley beach

Still plenty of water at Salthouse

unsociable turnstone.
Species list (year listers in bold)
red throated diver, little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, glossy ibis, mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, (10) brent goose,  canada goose, shelduck, mallard, shoveler, gadwall, wigeon, teal, pochard, tufted duck, (20)common scoter, velvet scoter, long tailed duck, goldeneye, red kite, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel,pheasant, moorhen (30), coot, oystercatcher, avocet, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, sanderling, turnstone, dunlin, redshank, (40) black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, curlew, woodcock, snipe, ruff, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, (50)greater black backed gull, wood pigeon, collared dove, barn owl, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, (60)song thrush, redwing, fieldfare, blackbird, cetti's warbler, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie, jay, (70)jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, house sparrow, chaffinch, brambling, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, common crossbills,(80) reed bunting.
Not too bad considering the weather was only good until 9a.m and was then dull and cold before showers began around 2pm.

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