Monday, 27 April 2015

Flying Sri Lankan Visit

Last Friday 17th I set off on the night flight Heathrow to Colombo and then train to Galle, arriving there mid afternoon Saturday.
The reason was distribute some much needed funds that Wendy and I had raised for the villagers of tsunami hit village of Mahamodara.
Our main plan had been to buy a tuk tuk for one beleaguered family and this was duly delivered on Monday 20th. Superb to see as I handed it to Raja so that he can make a worthwhile, albeit small income from the vehicle.

Bird wise, my time was so limited that I just had local wanders. The only new bird for me was in the last hour before getting the train back to Colombo. I took one last walk to the beach and overhead, 2 red billed tropicbirds. This was indeed a bird I have wanted to see on the previous 3 trips but it has alluded me. A rare but regular sea passage bird. Needless to say, on this last walk, all my camera kit was packed, so no photos as this magnificent bird swooped low overhead, highlighted by perfect blue sky!!!
The rest were nevertheless pleasing to see. I could only manage to get out at first and last light, which did not lend itself to super sharp photos. However: a few here of common residents species found within half a mile of the house I was put up in.
rose ringed parakeet

white breasted waterhen

Black drongo

brown headed barbet

young red wattled lapwing

red wattled lapwing

peacock, new bird for this small site

cattle egret

yellow billed babbler

Loten's sunbird

strangely posing cattle egret coming into breeding plumage

suspected oriental garden lizard

purple rumped sunbird

locals call this black monkey


greater coucal

brown pelican in Colombo. Suspect introduced species so not a Sri Lankan tick for me
I returned from this quick trip and bit of an understatement to say, I felt pretty under the weather. Last Saturday, admitted to the local hospital with Dengue Fever. This is a mosquito borne tropical disease known as breakbone fever as dehydration is so complete, all the joints in the body become dry and increasingly painful. Intravenous rehydration and intravenous paracetamol often need to be administered along with a heavy clout of penicillin. Now on the mend although still very sore. Lucky, as worse symptoms include need for blood transfusion, life threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever or potentially fatal dengue shock syndrome where there is a rapid drop in blood pressure!!
There is no vaccine and whilst I am now immune to one of the 5 possible types, it does mean if I contract one of the 4 others, it could possibly be far more serious, so need to be careful on future trips to rain forests etc.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Amwell and Local 14.04.15

An early start for Amwell Reserve some 8 miles away, leaving before 6.30a.m. I was heading off to see if the bluethroat that had been discovered the previous day had stayed overnight. It hadn't, but a wonderful morning, with a cracking sunrise through mist that hung to the water of Great Hardmead Lake. pair of snipe, 2 redshanks and a pair of oystercatchers were noted along with the regular Amwell birds. I left about 30 birders still on site, but no positive news was issued for the rest of the day. I knew I should have found time to pop along on the Monday evening, when it showed, albeit, briefly.
Amwell sunrise

snipe

early morning redshank

little egret

little egret

female reed bunting
Today, I popped over to see of the trio of owls were showing in the sunlight and warmth. Car thermometer read 24.5C this afternoon! Indeed, the 3 owls were present. I rigged up some camouflage barrier and crawled a little closer than beforehand, without disturbing the owls. I was still 100metres distant and they were happy to remain in place. Close enough for a few sharper record shots.
a family of 4 mute swans and 3 drake mallards were on the lagoon, with 2 swallows feeding overhead. Blackcaps and chiffchaffs called from the blackthorn hedge as a solitary yellowhammer called from further afield.
In the distance, 2 fallow deer. I tried to stalk these, getting a little closer but nowhere near enough for a good shot. These here are blurred by heat haze. As I turned to go back into the hedge for cover, I noted the white hart was with them, but gone into thick woodland before I could fire off a worthwhile shot. All in all, a successful wander.
roach in Hadham Hall moat. Large shoal here, today

Good neighbours



From a little further away

Closer crop

Fallow deer


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

100th moth

A set of 4 moths in the trap this morning: Emmelina monodactyla, small and common Quaker and, the 100th moth for the year, an Early grey, shown here.
Very slow for moths this year. By this date last year I had taken 193 moths of 23 species whereas this year 102 moths of only 11 species!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Amwell visit

A late afternoon, early evening visit to Herts and Middlesex Reserve at Amwell. 3 little ringed plovers were evident from the watchpoint along with a solitary redshank. One of the LRP's saw off a snipe but the rest were as per normal: shoveler, tufted duck, drake pochards, great crested grebe, 2 little egrets, grey herons, gulls (mainly BHG and common,) 40+ cormorants, teal, gadwall etc
The barn owl had not put in an appearance by the time I left around 7.30, but by then the light was too poor for a really worthwhile photo. A blackcap was heard near the level crossing and 3 swallows noted heading north overhead.
displaying lapwing

LRP and moorhen

little ringed plover

2 of the 3 that were present

LRP and redshank

Failing light for photos

2nd part of Village Spring Survey

Having covered the east and north of the parish yesterday, recording 40 species of birds, I set off this morning to search the westerly area. In the process I added; canada goose ( 2 over), coal tit, lapwing (1 over), teal (4th parish record) kestrel, linnet, little owl, song thrush and mandarin to take the total to an impressive 49 species. Also on offer, another resident barn owl checked and found to be present. This old boy has lived in his tree hole for over 6 years and lost his mate in 2011 when she was killed by a car early one morning. His offspring still inhabit the next parish to the west. He is now getting a little grey and tired, spending much time watching the world go by from his favoured tree.
The mandarin are free flying birds that crop up all over the parish, but favour a flooded gravel pit where there is plenty of fallen willows for them to roost and nest. Here, too was the pair of teal, a new bird for this site. Nuthatches were at nest holes whilst coal tits were in the local firs. Still no goldcrests to see.
A walk over the golf course failed to provide a hoped for wheatear, a regular haunt for them on spring migration. Maybe tomorrow? A dawn chorus walk over this patch on Sunday morning may provide a sighting.
Butterflies were even more evident than yesterday: 20+ small tortoiseshells, 6 peacocks and 2 brimstone males.
Aging barn owl at his tree. Been present for 6+ years here.

2 flyover canada geese. Not a regular village sight

white dead nettle (lamium alba)

red version of cowslip. (garden escape?)

one of over 20 small tortoiseshells seen this morning

mandarin drake at Westland Green

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

2nd walk of the day

After lunch I checked out the area east and north of Hadham Hall. The 2 barn owls and tawny owl were both in residence again, in the same tree and a pied wagtail got on to the day list, as did coot and moorhen, taking the list to a total of 39 species.
Following this I popped over to Millennium Wood, where the 2 resident buzzards were aerial and 2 chiffchaffs called. The highlight of this visit was a first sight and sound for the year. A very dark silhouette shown here.
good bed of wood anemone

Hadham Hall heron

common dog violet

goldfinch

wood anemone

lesser celandine with accompanying pollen beetles

ground ivy

coltsfoot

male blackcap

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