Monday 30 March 2015

Little Hadham Wander

My regular route from town back to the village this morning. Not much on offer in blustery conditions. A green woodpecker near Green Street, yellowhammers in hedgerows and treecreeper, GSW, common buzzard and nuthatch in Muggins Wood along with blue, great and long tailed tit.
A coal tit showed well in Chapel Lane and a few chiffchaffs calling were all the birds worth noting.
In Great Plantings Wood near Tescos, the annual show of superb wood anemones has begun, but no other new spring flowers noted this morning.
wood anemone

green woodpecker


coal tit

Saturday 28 March 2015

Quick Amwell Visit 28.03.15

Lunchtime visit to Amwell in grey and blustery conditions. At least 7 chiffchaffs calling as I wandered to the viewpoint, from where shoveler, great crested grebes, gadwall, teal, mallard, lapwing, tufted duck, grey heron, pochard, cormorant and assorted gulls (mostly BHG)  were all noted. However, on the island, 2 oystercatchers whilst a little closer, a redshank. Both good birds for land locked Hertfordshire.
Several common buzzards overhead and 3 red kites. A cetti's warbler was heard from the James Hide where also, long tailed, blue, great and marsh tit were on the feeders, with a reed bunting nearby.
A quick check for water voles was unsuccessful but a single snipe was seen from the walkway to the White Hide.
colourful pheasant near the James Hide

Oystercatchers on the island with lapwing and female pochard

black headed gulls, lapwing, pochards and the oystercatchers


great crested grebe pair.......

...............looking like some juvenile GCG maybe about later in the summer.

ever present confiding robin at the watchpoint

marsh tit at the James Hide feeders

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Local buzzards

Yesterday, I managed to pop out to check on the sallows around Hadham Hall as this is a good area for early migrants. Just 2 chiffchaffs calling from the goat and grey willows that border the irrigation lagoon on local farmland near New Spring Wood.
Nothing else of note and no birds on the water. The crow scaring gas gun is still in an adjacent field, firing every half hour for over 3 weeks now, so no wonder little is to be seen. I have yet to make contact with the resident barn owl pair that have been at this site for 6 years. Hope they, too,have not been forced to move away!
Upon driving down the road from Hadham Hall, I checked a local dead tree where common buzzards regularly roost. A pair were to be seen, albeit somewhat distantly. Judging by size, the male at the top and the larger female further down on the right.
Lesser celandine were new for the year, flowering near the pools and old moat around the Tudor Hall. Also, flowering on the bank of the lagoon, coltsfoot, a typical late March plant.
suspected male buzzard

suspected female buzzard

common buzzard pair


Monday 23 March 2015

Signs of Spring 23.03.15

Leaving town at Tescos after a start up coffee, I headed back along lanes and footpaths to home. A chiffchaff called near East Wood (TL462215) whilst a second was heard and photographed at Bluebell Wood (TL 438219)
shy chiffchaff
 Great spotted woodpeckers were heard and seen as flyovers but not anything else of real note. Good numbers of skylarks, singing high over hay fields, 1 green woodpecker, 2 common buzzards. A check of Muggins Wood (TL442220,  a private wood which I have permission to enter) gave brief views of nuthatch, long tailed, great and blue tit whilst a tree creeper was heard only.
In all, 5 male yellowhammers were heard and seen, mostly along the hedgrow near to East Wood and the footpath leading from here to Cradle End. Always a good breeding bird to see in East Herts.
Plant wise, much to see, with common ground ivy, common dog violet, a single cowslip, dog mercury, marsh marigold and lesser celandine all being noted in flower. Jack in the hedge and lords and ladies were both found by the profusion of leaves, but yet to flower.
Goat willow was in full flower near East Wood, too.
After last night's heavy frost, it was no surprise when I failed to encounter any insects at all.
ground ivy

dog mercury

flowers of goat willow

male yellowhammer

another yellowhammer

lesser celandine

Jack in the Hedge leaves. Larval foodplant of the orange tip butterfly, so don't pick too much to make a really good pesto

common dog violet

another shade of common dog violet


Tuesday 17 March 2015

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Reserves at Thorley Wash and Amwell: 16.03.15

Double time today, with a morning session around Thorley Wash. A set of 3 treecreepers was a highlight in Wallbury swamp and on or adjacent to the reserve, whilst a calling reed bunting on teasels at the south end of the reserve was good to see and hear. Overhead, the resident male kestrel and numerous wood pigeons and a few stock doves.
Other birds of note were 2 great spotted woodpeckers, several wrens and a pair of bullfinches by the railway footbridge to the west of the reserve.
A grey heron was also observed, flying south but nothing of note on the scrape/pond area in the north west corner. Looks excellent for snipe, but these are masters of hiding, so may be present, just remain unseen.
At the weir near Spellbrook Locks, my first grey wagtail of the year and first spring calling chiffchaff of 2015. A pied wagtail called from nearby television aerials.
grey heron in grey light

record shot of a year lister: grey wagtail

pied wagtail
After popping home, I headed south, to Amwell some 8 miles away. A visit to the viewing point gave views of many gulls, mostly common and black headed, 4 goldeneye, tufted duck, gadwall, shoveler, teal and a pair of snipe. Further across Great Hardmead Lake several little egrets could be seen and a few male pochard. 3 common buzzards and a red kite overhead, but, all in all, rather quiet.
A few coots were being territorial and involved in showing off but a trip into the James Hide just gave more views of long tailed tits, reed buntings and a cetti's warbler calling. Brief glimpses of the bird were made, but too fast for a photo.
Altogether, a rather grey day so disappointing photos, but still good to be able to visit 2 reserves in one day.
coots can walk on water!

tufted duck


common gulls

pair of teal....................

....................joined by a drake shoveler

pheasant portrait

Sunday 15 March 2015

New moth for the year.

This morning just 3 moths in the garden trap: common Quaker, small quaker and this grey shoulder knot. Good moth to find at this time of year.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Updated year list updated 09.04.15

Archive photo: coordinated flight of 6 snow buntings. Cley 2008
  1. red throated diver
  2. little grebe
  3. great crested grebe
  4. cormorant
  5. little egret
  6. grey heron
  7. mute swan
  8. pink footed goose
  9. greylag goose
  10. canada goose
  11. brent goose
  12. shelduck
  13. egyptian goose
  14. mallard
  15. gadwall
  16. shoveler
  17. wigeon
  18. teal
  19. pochard
  20. tufted duck
  21. goldeneye
  22. smew
  23. goosander
  24. red breasted merganser
  25. red kite
  26. marsh harrier
  27. hen harrier
  28. common buzzard
  29. kestrel
  30. red legged partridge
  31. grey partridge
  32. pheasant
  33. moorhen
  34. coot
  35. oystercatcher
  36. avocet
  37. ringed plover
  38. golden plover
  39. lapwing
  40. sanderling
  41. turnstone
  42. dunlin
  43. redshank
  44. black tailed godwit
  45. curlew
  46. snipe
  47. ruff
  48. black headed gull
  49. common gull
  50. herring gull
  51. lesser black backed gull
  52. greater black backed gull
  53. wood pigeon
  54. collared dove
  55. tawny owl
  56. little owl
  57. great spotted woodpecker
  58. skylark
  59. meadow pipit
  60. pied wagtail
  61. wren
  62. dunnock
  63. robin
  64. stonechat
  65. redwing
  66. mistle thrush
  67. blackbird
  68. great tit
  69. blue tit
  70. coal tit
  71. long tailed tit
  72. bearded reedling
  73. magpie
  74. jay
  75. jackdaw
  76. rook
  77. carrion crow
  78. starling
  79. house sparrow
  80. chaffinch
  81. linnet
  82. twite
  83. goldfinch
  84. bullfinch
  85. greenfinch
  86. reed bunting
  87. yellowhammer
  88. song thrush
  89. Jay
90. sparrowhawk
91. kingfisher
92. Fieldfare
93: raven
94. scaup
95. black redstart
96. barnacle goose
97. cattle egret
98 great white egret
99 chiffchaff
100 gannet.
101 snow bunting
102 lapland bunting
103 iceland gull
104 kittiwake
105 water rail
106 brambling
107. wheatear
108. marsh tit
109. water pipit
110. grey wagtail
111. yellow legged gull
112. swallow
113. caspian gull
114. sandwich tern
115. barn owl
116. blackcap
117. little ringed plover

Norfolk Day 13.05.15

A very early 4.45a.m. start for a day birding in Norfolk. First stop was Lynford Arboretum near Mundford. The hawfinches were not to be found but siskins, chaffinches, nuthatches, brambling all kick started the day list. Poor light before 7 meant disappointing shots taken of the brambling. The temperature was pleasant and it was great just listening to the chorus of great tits, blue tits, goldcrests, treecreeper, nuthatch, blackbird, wren and song thrush all competing.
Half Moon at Lynford

wood pigeon in sunrise

early morning wren

Brambling at the feeders

From here, I headed off to Cley East Bank and the beach where I came across a single water pipit commuting between Arnold's Marsh and the reserve. Bearded tits called and flocks of brent and greylag geese overhead. At one point, 4 marsh harriers were in the air, with one seeing off a carrion crow. Lapwings, dunlin, ringed plover and godwits made it on to the day list, before I headed off to Weybourne beach.
greylag goose

roosting herons at Cley

brent goose flyover
distant marsh harrier sees off a carrion crow

 Here, I walked east, stopping to watch a few kittiwake fly past to a field that held a sizable flock of gulls. An inceland gull had been recently reported from this area and it looked like a job of going through several thousand gulls to find it. I joined a fellow birder, Nick but my concern was not warranted as the gull was sitting alone, on a ploughed field and was easy to spot. Both of then carried on towards Sheringham to find, firstly, a wheatear when we were joined by Lee. A scan of the ploughed field gave up 6 snow buntings and then, in the distance, 2 lapland buntings. The latter, too far way for a photo and barely visible with binoculars, definitely a scope job.
Iceland gull

off to join the flock

Find the snow bunting

one hard to find snow bunting
From here, Nick and I headed towards Kelling Heath but after a rather quiet half hour wander, with no dartford warblers or woodlark, we returned to the car. Goldcrests and tits in good numbers along with a green woodpecker. I returned to Cley carparkand the regular confiding black headed gull. The sea was exceptionally quiet so I then thought a quick view at ceratin vantage points along the A149. Stops at Holkham, Burnham Overy Staithe were made before I finished off at Titchwell. By now it was 4.30pm and the light was dreadful so no chance of anymore photos. As it happened, I didn't miss anything, with avocet, water rail, sanderling added to a reasonable daylist. Wonderful day out.
meadow pipit display flight

male reed bunting

female reed bunting

The ever present Cley beach car park black headed gull

Species list;
little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, pink footed goose, greylag goose, canada goose, brent goose, (10 sp) egyptian goose, mallard, gadwall,  teal, shoveler, pochard,tufted duck, marsh harrier, kestrel, common buzzard (20 sp) red legged partridge, pheasant,
water rail, coot, moorhen, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing (30) sanderling, dunlin, turnstone, redshank, black tailed godwit, curlew, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull (40)kittiwake, iceland gull, wood pigeon, collared dove, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, skylark, water pipit, meadow pipit, pied wagtail (50) wren, dunnock, robin, wheatear, stonechat, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, cettis warbler, chiffchaff, (60)goldcrest, great tit, coal tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, nuthatch, treecreeper, magpie, jay, jackdaw, (70) carrion crow, rook, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, brambling, linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin (80)reed bunting

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

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. 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. 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. 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

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