Monday, 31 March 2014

Northern wander around the parish

As usual, I set off this morning from the town, taking the footpaths to the north of the parish to check the irrigation lagoon for migrants. Only new bird I registered was a singing blackcap, first of the year and the earliest record I have for the village. Unfortunately, it remained hidden in bramble bushes, so no photograph.
Other birds of note: 9+ chiffchaffs calling, common buzzard, goldcrest in the churchyard yews, skylarks a plenty and a passage of 6 lesser black backed gulls
yellowhammer

nuthatch

chiffchaff

wren

canada geese

lesser black backed gull

small tortoiseshell
5 peacock and 7 small tortoiseshell butterflies were noted and 2 canada geese headed east overhead. These are probably the pair that have been seen at the Hadham Hall lake. I thought they may have been checking it out as a potential breeding site, but I suspect it is far too open and no island on which to nest build. Be interesting to see if they return. Just to confirm their lack of interest, when I arrived there was a grey heron patrolling one of the banks.

First new moth for the garden

A real surprise on checking the trap last night at 11pm. On the fence adjacent to the light trap were oak beauty, early thorn, shoulder stripe and a stunning pine beauty. Latter being a new garden record, making it 280 species in the garden since June 2011.
pine beauty

pine beauty
Other moths taken in the trap at 6 this morning were: 9 common quaker, 2 small quaker, 4 hebrew character, early grey, 20 plume moth and common plume. 22 moths of 10 species is by far the best total so far this year. I suspect that the combination of good overnight temperatures and the changed clocks meaning I get to the trap in the dark are the reasons for this increase. However, 2 robins were knocking about at the trap and suspect they had taken all the moths on the fence and the sheet.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Moth round up

Evenings still cold, but slowly becoming warmer overnight following warm days. 17C today and a peacock and brimstone butterflies in the garden.
However, the surprise was finding a buttoned snout on a garden fence panel. Presumably, just out of hibernation. Also, new for the year, an Early thorn and a mint shoulder stripe.
Early thorn
buttoned snout

shoulder stripe

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Norfolk Day 28.03.14

A 5a.m. start for a day's birding in North Norfolk. A very foggy morning meant a slower than usual drive up the M11. However, I was at Thornham Point before 7.30 and plenty of regular birds around. Pied wagtails, oystercatchers, curlew, redshank and brent geese were in good numbers.
oystercatcher

brent geese

pied wagtail

curlew
I then headed to nearby Titchwell and a walk to the beach. A hawthorn shield bug and shoulder stripe moth were noted as I scanned the pools but the mist was still about so not great viewing. Likewise, distant sea watching was not possible but this didn't stop me noting in excess of 4000 common scoter half way to the horizon. On the tideline were 4 grey plovers, black tailed godwits and turnstones along with herring, common and black headed gulls.
grey plover and herring gull

black tailed godwit
Off to check the Freshmarsh from the Parrinder hide. 50+ golden plovers flew past whilst more waders and wildfowl were noted, but on the whole very quiet. 4 marsh harriers were up but not too much else. I searched for the red crested pochards reported from earlier in the week, but no sign so after a quick wander around the fen trail, which was partially closed, off to Holkham. Before I did, 3 chiffchaff were heard from the car park.
black tailed godwit

looking east toward Brancaster from Titchwell beach

wren in good voice

solitary knot roosting with black tailed godwits
A quick detour up to Choseley proved worthwhile as I came across both species of partridge, linnets, yellowhammers, finches and a single male wheatear. Latter being my first of the year.
distant male wheatear

linnet

red legged partridge

yellowhammer

very distant golden plover flock
grey partridge
Nothing at Holkham from Lady Anne's Drive, so I popped down to Stiffkey Saltmarsh, but just more finches, little egrets, shelduck, curlew and gulls so on to Cley for a lunch and coffee. Here, I rejoined Norfolk Wildlife Trust before a rapid check of Arnold's Marsh, Salthouse beach, Kelling Heath and finally Cley beach.
At Arnold's there were good numbers of redshank and avocet. One avocet had colour coded rings on both legs. I have sent off the relevant information to the organisers of this scheme, based in France. At Salthouse the group of confiding turnstones were still about but no Richard's pipit or snow bunting.  Several gannet, great black backed gull and cormorant made the day list from Cley beach, before I left to finish the day at Lynford Arboretum near Mundford.
brent geese over Stiffkey Saltmarsh

turnstones, Salthouse beach

avocet: Arnold's Marsh, Cley
I arrived Lynford in fading light, but several crests were calling as soon as I got out of the car. A few birders were still about and it became apparent that 7 hawfinches had being showing well by the feeders but had no gone to roost. After a while I got onto at least 2 firecrests in the carpark trees as plenty of common crossbills flew over. A nuthatch made the list, but it was too dark for any firecrest photos. All I got were poor silhouettes.
A 74 species day was pleasing and I plan to return over the Easter weekend where I hope there will be plenty of summer migrants about.
Finally, my birding partner, Gary, has just returned from a whistle stop trip to The Gambia. His report, containing huge number of great photos can be viewed at hereWell worth a gander.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Local rarity 27.03.14

I received a text from Neale, another birder who lives in Little Hadham, saying he had come across a lesser spotted woodpecker near Bishop's Stortford, so I headed to town to try my luck. A couple of birders were already present but hadn't found it. A nuthatch called but nothing else. After about 15 minutes of searching, movement and some drumming, as expected, twice as long as GSW and much quieter. Another few minutes elapsed before the bird showed, in amongst branches and  not in a good photo position.
lesser spotted woodpecker
However, it moved closer and was watched excavating a hole in a position that permitted some, if still distant, but better views and photo opportunities. A male with the red crown. A few calls and it remained at the tree hole for 15 minutes before eventually flying to further trees a few 100 yards away and out of sight. Unfortunately, as it posed, the sun was covered by cloud, so I plan to return on a brighter day for some more snaps.







Another local wander 27.03.14

Another morning walk around the East of the parish. Good numbers of yellowhammers, with 3 singing males as well as 5 chiffchaffs, 2 common buzzards. 4 herring gulls overhead at height and several green woodpeckers. My walk was shortened when I received a text telling me a lesser spotted woodpecker had been seen in the town, so I headed off to see if I could find it.
chiffchaff

yellowhammer showing tell tale rust coloured rump

yellowhammer
emerging cowslip

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hunt for migrants 26.03.14

Out this morning trying to find migrants. At this time of the year, I always get ahead of myself and expect summer visitors to arrive a fortnight before they always do. However, wheatears have been reported in Herts, so worth the search. Only 5 chiffchaffs recorded today, along with the regular residents.
A party of 100+ linnets and 15+ yellowhammers noted on a recently harrowed field near the town was a good start. Jays, magpies and other corvids called, as did 2 common buzzards near Muggins Wood.
It appears that the redwing and fieldfare, which have been in low numbers this winter, have now departed.
2 male yellowhammers

linnet

greater stitchwort

wood anemone

dog violet

wood anemone

blue tit

lesser celandine

marsh marigold

marsh marigold

long tailed tit
Plant wise, lesser celandine, cowslip, dog violet, greater stitchwort, wood anemone, ground ivy and marsh marigold were all noted. Good array of local colour in the verges and woods.

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