Saturday, 31 October 2015

Millennium Wood Mothing 30.10.15

A brief and hastily planned trip out to the local wood with Graeme last night. All set up by 5.30 ready for a quick two hour trapping session. We ran 3 lights, 2 traps and a bulb over a sheet. Once these were up and running we wandered around netting any we came across with head torches.
By 7.30 we were emptying the traps and in total, had 13 moths as follows:
4 satellite, pink barred sallow (NFY) beaded chestnut, pale November moth, November moth, red green carpet, setaceous hebrew character, Acleris emargana and yellow line quaker. Also a female of the November moth ag, so unidentifiable.
Back home, at the Skinner 125MV just 4 moths, but still better than the last 2 nights which were blank. Moths were: common marbled carpet, November moth, green brindled crescent (f. capucina) and feathered thorn.
This takes the totals to 5789 parish moth records for the year, made up of 212 macro species and 182 micro species.
Tomorrow, could add a good number of micros as conducting a leaf mine survey of Millennium Wood, may add in excess of 20 species in a very short time.
mottled umber from 21.10.15 trip to Millennium Wood

pink barred sallow, 212th macro for the year

Acleris emargana.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Broken Green:Plovers galore

Following a text from local resident, Neale on Monday about golden plovers up the lane where I live, I managed to find time this morning to pay a visit. Between Standon and Horse Cross, on the northern side of the A120 were over 400 golden plovers in a field, accompanied by a similar number of lapwing. In the field over the road, 24 more aloof lapwings. Whilst I walked to the site, 2 red kites and 2 common buzzards showed an interest, putting the whole flock up. Also, roosting in another field near Frogs Hall Cottages, 36 black headed gulls.
Shall keep an eye on this plover flock as they may move into the parish or stay put and attract the attention of more raptors.Weather was drizzly and grey, so nothing too smart with the camera this morning, with the drizzle marking the lens!
However, quite a spectacle.






Tuesday, 27 October 2015

North Norfolk without a camera

Set off for a day in North Norfolk and no sooner than I had got on to the M11 I realised that, although I had put camera in the boot, I had forgotten to put in the battery in which was recharging in the lounge!! Consequently, I  expected rarities to be popping up and posing just feet away from me. Fortunately, this was not the case although wrens, robins, stonechats and 2 jays posed for what may have been pleasing shots.
I arrived at Wells Woods soon after 7 but, apart from goldcrests and a male blackcap, not too much of interest, so on to Holkham Pines, where a firecrest was noted along with the regular fare found along the path to the Washington Hide. From here, Burnham Overy Staithe track but, as it has been for me on almost every trip this autumn, virtually birdless, save for a selection of geese in the field.
Off to Warham Greens and a walk west to the gibbert roundabout. A black brant in with 100's of brents on the marsh and a ring ouzel, briefly on the concrete path at the old gun emplacement roundabout. Plenty of wrens, robins, finches about and a large flock of 25+ mistle thrushes over, heading inland.
From here, off to Cley for a coffee but nothing too exciting on the reserve so time for a sea watch, where a constant stream of gannets east, mainly 1st year birds as well as a few red throated divers and a great crested grebe. Later in the day, a little auk was noted from here, but i either missed it or not present. Shame as photos show it came quite close to the shore.
Following the sea watch I headed for a lovely walk around Kelling Heath, hoping I may come across a great grey shrike, but no to be. More tits, finches, a yellowhammer and woodpeckers before I headed off to Sheringham for another sea watch and some late lunch. Nothing new out to sea so tracked back Stiffkey Fen and then on to Lady Anne's Drive to watch the spectacle of the geese arriving through the sunset around 4.15.
Splendid day rounded off by popping in to see Gary and Sophie at Egmere before heading home in heavy traffic.



Species List:
red throated diver, little grebe, great crested grebe, gannet, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, canada goose, brent goose, black brant, shelduck, egyptian goose, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, pintail, shoveler, wigeon, teal, pochard, tufted duck, red kite, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, pheasant, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin, redshank, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, wood pigeon, collared dove, barn owl, short eared owl, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, skylark, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, stonechat, mistle thrush, blackbird, ring ouzel, blackcap, goldcrest, firecrest, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, treecreeper, nuthatch, magpie, jay, rook, jackdaw, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, goldfinch, bullfinch, linnet, reed bunting.

Black brant, short eared owl and ring ouzel year listers. Up to 196 sp. Photos here from previous trips.

Not the greatest list of the year, but with my infected leg, courtesy of a Dengue Fever relapse, unable to walk too far and very quickly ran out of energy, necessitating a sleep whilst in the car at Kelling Heath!! Hopefully, energy levels will continue to improve so that I can make the most of a trip to Dungeness later this week.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Countdown to 210: It's all over!!

A visit with Graeme and Steve to local Millennium Wood this evening, with 2 light traps and our head torches and nets. Arrived and set up by 6.30 and immediately catching good moths. First 2 netted were yellow line quaker and brick, both new for year species: 207th and 208th. Plenty of satellites, green brindled crescents and a couple of angle shades before a dark chestnut rested on the ground next to the trap: 209th macro species for the year. Upon emptying the traps around 8.30pm a pale November moth (male) claspers checked equalled my macro record of 210 species in a year and the last egg box provided the record breaker, an expected Mottled umber (211th species) In amongst all this were micros in the forms of singles of Acleris variegana, Acleris emargana and Epinotia nisella.
A super and successful trapping session, in all, just over 2 hours worth in good temperatures and cloudy conditions. 36 moths of 15 species, superb for mid October.
A week on Sunday (1st Nov) there is a day time survey on leaf mining micros, so hopefully will add 20+ species to the parish list from this survey. Certainly looking forward to a good few hours.
At home, after 2 blank trap mornings, a Hoffmannophila pseudospretella was roosting on the back door when I went down the garden to turn the Skinner trap on. Could be a good night at home, too.
Addition: disappointing at the garden Skinner trap this morning, with just setaceous hebrew character and Acleris sparsana added to the list, taking me to 5755 moths for the year. However, Ac sparsana is a new for year micro, 182nd of the year
mottled umber

yellow line quaker

brick

dark chestnut

Acleris variegana

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Countdown to 210: numbers 205 and 206

Quiet night at the trap, with just 4 moths taken this morning. A 2nd November moth, this time a male so easily identifiable by checking the abdomen, a setaceous hebrew character, 7th night on the trot that at least one of these has appeared and 2 new for year species.
Firstly, a red line quaker and then followed by a grey pine carpet, showing enough to distinguish from the similar spruce carpet. These two take the total macros for the year to 206 species and closer to beating last year's record of 210 species. This should be fairly straight forward now, with brick, pale November moth, December moth, yellow line quaker, chestnut, mottled umber, spruce carpet and maybe a few less common sallow species all being taken between now and December.
Present total for all moths taken this year now stands at 5714.
red line quaker
grey pine carpet

Friday, 16 October 2015

Countdown to 210: Number 204

210 was the number of macro moths taken in 2014. A superb Merveille du Jour this morning was my 204th for the year. Not a lot else: 2 setaceous hebrew characters, large yellow underwing and an Acleris variegana.
This is my earliest M du J taken, with the last 3 year's being after 22nd October and last year it was the 2nd week of November before one appeared. Always a super moth to see. Disappointingly, as can be seen from the photos, it is very worn on the left wing, but still worthy of a few photographs.
Merveille du Jour


shame about the worn wing.

5th lifer of the century

As I was giving a presentation to Bedford RSPB group last night, I thought a few hours birding at Tring Reservoirs would be interesting. Upon arriving at Startops at midday, I was met by a birder telling me the long staying ring necked duck was not present, a shame as this would be a lifer. I wandered along the bank, noting several red crested pochard, tufted duck, pied wagtail, coot, pochard, cormorant, mallard, shoveler, teal, couple of wigeon and gadwall. I spent time scanning all the tufties with the scope and eventually came across a bird that was different. It was resting, with head tucked into its wings but appeared to show white in the grey side patch. I stayed on this bird for a while and eventually it awoke, showing a bright white band across the bill, no tuft and an even more obvious white area on the side panel. A ring necked duck: a new bird for me!
I then wandered around the reservoir as the bird moved closer to the bank, firing off poor quality record shots in grey light. A black and grey duck on grey water with a threatening grey sky was not the best but it would have to do. Managed a few more shots before the cold and breeze got the better of me, so off to Ivinghoe Beacon where I hoped to come across a ring ouzel. No luck, just a rather late wheatear and little else, before I headed off to Bedford for the presentation on The Algarve.
My other lifers this century: western sandpiper,(Cley) spectacled warbler (Burnham Overy Staithe), parrot billed crossbill, (Holt) surf scoter (Holkham)
red crested pochard pair

mute swans in the few minutes of sunshine

ring necked duck!








On the back of the camera, the silver on the leg looked as if it could have been a ring! That would have spoiled the day.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Rainham Marsh and Elmley NNR.

A presentation to give in Bromley last night gave me the chance to leave early and spend time at Rainham Marsh. Here, a walk around the whole reserve gave distant views of some good bird species, without anything being outstanding. A common snipe on the scrape immediately outside the VC, along with shoveler, wigeon, teal and mallard. Several lapwings and plenty of hovering kestrels as I headed to the first hide, having checked the cordite area for migratory passerines. A single chiffchaff was my reward. Little grebe and wildfowl with an extremely distant marsh harrier to the west, probably closer to Dagenham than Rainham!
Greylags, grey herons and a little egret as I wandered to the shooting butt hide, but very little from here apart from 2 bearded tits over.
At the last hide, a kingfisher came on to a post for a matter of seconds, before flying off to another fishing post a little further away. A green shank flying towards the Thames was the final bird of the day, along with flocks of linnets and goldfinches on the feeders.
From here, I crossed the Thames and arrived at Cliffe, where persistent rain forced me to the car and on to the Isle of Sheppey and Elmley. Not too much time here, so just a drive through to the car park, hoping for short eared owls. None, but common buzzard and meadow pipits along with the resident lapwing and grey herons before I headed back to the motorway and arrived in Bromley in plenty of time to set up and give the presentation on the Birds of Sri Lanka.
Great idea for a bug and bee hotel.

Rainham Marsh kingfisher, through glass window.


Elmley Marsh meadow pipit

Lapwing at Elmley

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Countdown to 210: Number 203

5 of 4 species this morning, with both forms of Green brindled crescent along with Setaceous hebrew character and Blair's shoulder knot Of more interest was one of the November moth aggregate, a female so no good for clasper identification. 203rd macro for the year.
Green brindled crescent with form capucina on the right

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

New moth for Parish records

A fortuitous find at the garden 125MV last night. Having spent an hour in local woods with head torch and net, where I caught nothing, I returned home and checked the trap before locking up for the night.
As I approached, a micro moth flew past and rested on the perspex. I approached cautiously as it looked interesting, but it flew off. Luckily, I was returning my net to the shed and caught it as it headed over the fence.
Upon 1st inspection, a moth I wasn't familiar with but similar to diamond back moth, Plutella xylostella but appeared not to have the right pattern along the back and a little too light in colour.
A check in the book pointed at Plutella porroctella, which indeed it transpired to be.
181st micro for the year and 236th micro for parish records. An uncommon moth for Herts, so a good find.
In all, the moth species list for the parish now stands at a reasonably impressive 537 species and, with a leaf mining trip coming up soon, could possibly pass 550 species by the beginning of November.
Plutella porroctella

Monday, 12 October 2015

Countdown to 210 species. Number 202

A green brindled crescent was the only moth in the trap this morning. All egg boxes checked thoroughly, but nothing. 202nd macro species and 382 moth species for 2015. Trying to pass last year's total of 210 macros, having already passed overall total of macro and micro species. In 2014 the final total for the year was 331. Wonder if 400 is achievable this year?

Sent

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Amwell Visit: 10.10.15

A quick visit to Amwell Reserve around midday was interesting, with a good selection of the expected birds noted. A female red crested pochard was seen on Tumbling Bay, with coot, moorhen, tufted duck and great crested and little grebes.
From the viewpoint: teal, shoveler, gadwall, mallard along with several species of gull, grey heron, greylag and canada geese.
A grey wagtail was also noted whilst cetti's warbler was heard. Overhead, mute swans, common buzzard and a red kite towards Wareside.
A drive towards Stansted Abbots meant I managed a few photos of the showy little owl that has taken up winter residence between the chimneys of house again.
Moorhen on green reflections

little owl


Tree reflections

red crested pochard

same bird

200th Macro species for Little Hadham 2015

A visit to the trap this morning proved fruitful. In total, 5 moths of 5 species, an improvement on the past few days. A feathered thorn was roosting on the perspex and became to 200th macro species for this year. A check through the egg boxes gave up a lesser yellow underwing, setaceous hebrew character, a very worn copper underwing and a Blair's shoulder knot, another new for year species.
Last year the total macro species trapped was 210, so well in line to pass this total.
With 180 micro species also noted, it is still possible, only just, to pass 400 species for the year, but 20 new for the year species needed, a big ask, perhaps.
worn copper underwing
feathered thorn: 200th macro species for 2015

Blair's shoulder knot: 201st macro


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