Tuesday 29 April 2014

Day 2: the walk to Hel

After a wonderful meal in a local restaurant last night I was knackered and fast asleep before 10pm. Consequently, woke early so was out on the walk by 7. Another 12 or so miles to go. A walk around the harbour at Jastarnia gave views of tufted duck, lesser whitethroat, mallard, cormorant and robin before I took a detour through mixed woodland. Birds were everywhere but difficult to pin down, high in the canopy. GSW, MSW and LSW were all seen and black woodpecker was heard drumming. Plenty of redstart, pied flycatchers and willow warblers as well as another lister, crossbills. After 5 hours of walking and birding, I arrived in Hel and enjoyed a beer with some fruit on the harbour wall. In woods just before the town I scored with wood warbler, short toed treecreeper and plenty of regular warblers.
The bus got me back to Jastarnia and I set out to wander the beach and local reed beds. Plenty of birds with a flyover cuckoo and sparrowhawk as well as a pair of marsh harriers. Uncountable numbers of warblers and pied flys. Both stone and whinchat noted and a solitary reed warbler in the reedbed. However, I didn't spend too long at the edge of the reeds as it was clear by the sounds that they were populated by wild boar. Protective creatures of their young at this time of year.
Just returned from another good meal ready for tomorrow when I shall check out more around here and then the Baltic coast at Kuznica, some 6 miles back down the road.
Updated species list.
33. Mallard
34. Cormorant
35. Robin
36. Tufted duck
37. Common crossbill
38. Pied flycatcher
39. Black woodpecker
40 Greater spotted woodpecker
41. Middle spotted woodpecker
42. Lesser spotted woodpecker
43. Wood warbler
44. Short toed treecreeper
45. Raven
46. Goildfinch
47. Greenshank
48. Dunlin
49. Cuckoo
50. Reed bunting
51. Greenfinch
52. Sparrowhawk
53. Reed warbler
54. Stonechat
55. Whinchat.
Photos show the harbour at Jastarnia, the woods, picnic lunch and Hel port + this eveing in Jastarnia.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone www.blackberry.com

Monday 28 April 2014

Day 1 The Walk to Hel

A 4 o'clock wake up for a 6.30 flight from Stansted to Gdansk. All went smoothly and I was on the bus to the station by 10a.m. From here I took a train to Gdnyia where I changed, after an hour and half wait, for a train to Wladyslawowo. However, line repairs meant a bus trip for the last 10 miles. Once at Wladyslawowo I started the walk along the Hel  peninsula. I stopped to buy fruit, kabanos and beer for a picnic on the shores of Puck Bay.
En route I had spotted white stork and hooded crow as well as an unidentified buzzard sp seen from the bus along with house sparrow, swallow, starling and blackbird.
I started the walk at 2pm along the narrow peninsula. At some points just 150 metres wide and basically, a long strip of land with a road and railway (not working) in the middle. I was on the brick laid path, which for some parts is dead straight for 2 - 3 miles. Conifers, beech and birch everywhere so soon ticking of willow warbler, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat and chiffchaff. 2 hawfinches failed to pose for the camera but today was about walking, more photography tomorrow.
As I continued toward Chalupy a marsh harrier lazed overhead. In Puck Bay were 100's of mute swans, 25 goosanders and numerous grey heron. During my picnic I heard a call I hadn't heard for ages, a male redstart, again elusive in the canopy.
After another brief stop at Kuznica, I arrived in Jastarnia and to the hotel I had booked sometime ago. £32 for 2 nights, good room with balcony.
All in all a long, tiring but enjoyable day. Tomorrow, after the 16 miles today, another 10 before I arrive in Hel.
Species list:
1. Hooded crow
2. House sparrow
3. Collared dove
4. Herring gull
5. Jackdaw
6 magpie
7. Blackbird
8. Starling
9. Swallow
10 white stork
11. Skylark
12. Chiffchaff
13. Wood pigeon
14. Mute swan
15. Whitethroat
16. Willow warbler
17. House martin
18. Redstart
19. Grey heron
20. Goosander
21. Tree sparrow
22. Lesser whitethroat
23. Blackcap
24. Yellowhammer
25. White wagtail
26. Marsh harrier
27. Great tit
28. Blue tit
29. Hawfinch
30 chaffinch
31. Lesser black backed gull
32. Carrion crow.
Last photo had me thinking I'd got off the bus in the wrong country.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone www.blackberry.com

Thursday 24 April 2014

Moth news

A quieter night than expected this morning at the moth trap, with just a hebrew character and red chestnut representing the macro species. Heavy and persistent rain probably deterred many from flight. However, a new micro for the garden, in the form of Syndemis musculana, a common moth and one that is expected at the end of April.
Syndemis musculana

Interesting morning

Spent the morning being filmed by the TV crew that does Countryfile. All rather slow and laborious with things obviously having to be spot on.
Plenty of birds about, with my first cuckoo of the year seen and heard. However, we were there as volunteers for the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and were not actually expected to have a talking role. We were asked a few questions by the presenter, Ellie about how we became involved in helping Charlie Bell with her Living Rivers project. All good publicity, but as the whole show on May 11th is on the River Lee, I suspect today's filming will only take up a couple of minutes.
As can be seen, the camera really is in your face when talking.
Landowner  Nicholas explaining to the presenter the scheme he has signed up for: Living Rivers Stewardship

Us 2 volunteers looking through what we have netted from the chalk riverbed.

One creature we did come across was a crayfish. The white clawed (or English crayfish) is recorded as extinct in Hertfordshire, but this looks pretty good for it. However, more research is required as there are many introduced crayfish species. The most common being the well known American red signal crayfish, which this may not be
from the top
head features
Edit; news from the county recorder that, disappointingly, this crayfish is indeed the American invasive species, just a young one, not fully grown.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Northerly wander around the parish

My usual north route back home following a coffee at Tescos in town. Not too much to report and only a speckled wood butterfly new for the year.
Whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaffs called as did yellowhammers and a nest building pair of linnets near Hadham Hall.
Butterfly wise, many orange tip, 3 peacock, a large white, small tortoiseshell and 2 comma.
male orangetip

female orangetip on larval food plant: Allaria pettiolata

underwing of female orange tip, same as the male.

Usual plants were found, with many more red campions in flower, plus an outstanding stand of bluebells in the wood opposite the village pub. Marsh marigolds also in bloom at the ponds around Hadham Hall.
marsh marigold


Bluebell Wood
Other insects were various hoverflies that I have yet to identify as well as this bee fly. Most of the bees registered were orange tail bumble bees.
Finally, a few bird snaps, including a female linnet with pigeon feather for nest lining.
reed bunting on rape field
chiffchaff from below

nest building female linnet

26th macro moth

A little more success at the moth trap last night, with 3 muslin moths accompanying another nut tree tussock and a solitary hebrew character. A pug species was present, but far too worn to be able to identify. However, roosting on the nearby fence was a first for the year, a scorched carpet. Suspect the new moths will begin to come on a much more regular basis now, if we continue to have warmer and cloudier nights.
scorched carpet

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Moth update

A new moth for the year this morning, a brimstone. One of many over the next few months. Also in the trap, 2 hebrew characters, a clouded drab and a muslin moth. Hopefully, mothing will get going soon, but been very quiet so far, with only 25 macro species being recorded.
Also of note, this large red damselfly through the garden and obligingly landed on my finger for a photo. First of the year for any damsel or dragonfly.
large red damselfly

brimstone moth

Saturday 19 April 2014

Updated year list 19.04.14

Time for an update on my year list, which is slowly creeping towards 150. A trip to North Norfolk next week should add a few more obvious migrants that I have yet to see.

133. little ringed plover
134. swallow
135. whitethroat
136. willow warbler
137. reed warbler
138. sedge warbler
139. grasshopper warbler
140. bittern
141. garganey.
142. grey wagtail.
archive September 2009. My first record of spotted flycatcher for the parish

Couple of hours at RSPB Rye Meads. 19.04.14

An afternoon visit to Rye Meads added one more to my year list as a pair of garganey were showing very poorly on the open reed bed opposite the Tern and Gadwall Hides. It took much searching to find them and this was the best photo I could manage, but the drake was seen, briefly, to confirm the species.
Pair of garganey: honest!!
Other birds of note were kingfisher from the Kingfisher Hide where also this pair of kestrels were seen as well as one of many reed buntings.
male kestrel

female kestrel

reed bunting
Around the reserve was the continual call of both black headed gulls and numerous cetti's warblers. Blackcaps, willow warblers, whitethroats, chiffchaffs and dunnocks were all calling from the willows. Eventually, I ran out of time as the reserve closes at 5. This was before I had visited the Draper Hide for possible little ringed plover so I'll return.
male blackcap

same bird

From the Tern Hide there were 100+ black headed gulls, a few canada geese and this little grebe. No sign of any common terns, yet but I suspect they'll be on site within the next 7 days.
splendidly plumaged bhg

shelduck from Gadwall Hide

little grebe

not often you see a bhg in a tree.

New moth for the year

This red twin spot carpet becomes my 24th macro species for the garden this year, a slow start, especially over the last 2 weeks where frosts, clear skies and a bright full moon have not been conducive to moths being on the wing.
The only other moth in the trap this morning was a male muslin moth.

Lakenheath visit 18.04.14

A whistlestop tour of Lakenheath and Lynford Arboretum yesterday morning. At Lakenheath reed, sedge and grasshopper warbler were all added to the year list along with a brief view of bittern in flight. The sky was clear but a northerly wind made it uncomfortably cold when not sheltered.
Not much else about and, as time was limited, I didn't stay too long.
These reed buntings were showing well around the visitors' centre before I drove off to Lynford.

At Lynford there were plenty of birders wandering around, or camped at the drinking puddle near the car park. At least 1 firecrest was still in the car park and plenty of crossbills overhead, but no hawfinches whilst I was present. Nuthatches, treecreepers tits and finches in good number plus great spotted woodpecker made this a good place to be, but I didn't want to get caught up in the hectic Good Friday traffic so was soon heading home.
2 crossbills

I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, so needed to be selective with my shots just in case a hawfinch or 2 barred crosser turned up. They didn't, although they had both been reported from near The Folly at 7.30 that morning.

Monday 14 April 2014

Long morning wander around South of the parish

Leaving Stortford at 11a.m. I sauntered back home, taking 2.5 hours to cover the 6 miles! Plenty about.
Bird wise, several chiffchaffs in the hedgerows along with some linnets. 2 bullfinches in Acremore St. at their usual haunt. An overhead kestrel was the only bird of prey whilst the female mallard on the River Ash now has 10 ducklings to care for. These are now 4 days old and so far she has only lost 1.

mallard youngsters

All 10 ducklings.
Plant wise, a check on the usual early purple orchid site drew a blank and the only the regular flowers were showing.
red campion
Most of my time was taken up with insect searches and, whilst nothing untoward was discivered, the butterflies were in good number. Plenty of orangetip, small tortoiseshell and peacock, plus 1 male brimstone and my 1st holly blue of the year.
1st holly blue of the year
small tortoiseshell

orange tip (female)

orange tip (male)
Other insects that were in good number were the bee flies, showing its frightening but totally harmless proboscis. Also, a 6 spot ladybird was also noted.
7 spot ladybird.

bee fly

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

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

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

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

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)


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.
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