Friday 29 April 2022

Afternoon at Amwell and Rye Meads Reserves

Drake pochard

 Set off for Amwell at lunch time. Grey and a tad nippy but plenty of birds from the Viewing Point. 100's of swallows over the water and mixed in with these were several Sand martins, House martins and my first Swifts of the year. I tried to get some flight shots but the light was just too poor for a high shutter speed.

Roosting on the mud were 8 Common terns, another year lister whilst everywhere were gulls, mainly Black headed but a few Common, Herring and Lesser Black Backed mixed in with them.

Off to the James Hide but only a pair of nesting Canada geese so onwards to the White Hide. More gulls, Grey heron and Cormorants.

I headed back to the Viewing Point where a pair of Little Ringed plovers arrived. Then decided to try the hides at Rye Meads, just down the road.

Common tern

Common tern and 2nd CY Common gull

Herring gull

Flyby Mallard drake

2nd CY Common gull


Inquisitive Robin

Lesser black backed gull



Common tern

Arrived at Rye Meads and grabbed a coffee before heading to the Draper Hide. Here, a pair of Little ringed plover, gulls and wildfowl so took the seasonal trail around to the bust Kingfisher Hub. No sign of the star attraction in the 20 minutes I was present. Day old coots, Reed bunting, Kestrel and Gadwall all noted, though.

Around to the Tern Hide where pochard were diving and then a check on the reed bed from the Ashby Hide. At first, a very distant female Kingfisher in a willow that then came to the reeds to check for fish before heading back to the willow and lost from view. Few poor record shots below.

Species list for the day:

  1. Little grebe
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey heron
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Mallard
  9. Gadwall
  10. Shoveler
  11. Pochard
  12. Tufted duck
  13. Kestrel
  14. Common buzzard
  15. Pheasant
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Little ringed plover
  19. Lapwing
  20. Black headed gull
  21. Common gull
  22. Herring gull
  23. Lesser black backed gull
  24. Common tern
  25. Wood pigeon
  26. Stock dove
  27. Collared dove
  28. Swift
  29. Kingfisher
  30. Sand martin
  31. Swallow
  32. House martin
  33. Pied wagtail
  34. Wren
  35. Dunnock
  36. Robin
  37. Song thrush
  38. Blackbird
  39. Blackcap
  40. Whitethroat
  41. Sedge warbler
  42. Reed warbler
  43. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  44. Chiffchaff
  45. Great tit
  46. Blue tit
  47. Long tailed tit 
  48. Magpie
  49. Jay
  50. Jackdaw
  51. Carrion crow
  52. Starling
  53. House sparrow
  54. Chaffinch
  55. Goldfinch
  56. Linnet
  57. Reed bunting
Little ringed plover

2 Little ringed plover


Female Tufted duck

Male Tufted duck

Drake Gadwall

Female kestrel in her nest box

Day old Coot

Female Reed bunting

Black headed gull

Little grebe

Duck Pochard

Drake Pochard

Diving Pochard, drake

Very distant female Kingfisher

Closer but still distant!

Canada goose family on an afternoon stroll

Canada goslings

Another gosling

Friday 22 April 2022

Long day in Norfolk

 Setting off around 6.30am, having the traditional coffee at Wells and then on to North Point Pools. Nothing noteworthy here, usual species including plenty of distant hares, Sedge warblers and lapwings. From here I headed down Garden Drove and on to Warham Greens. Chiffchaffs, Willow warblers, Whitethroat and Blackcap all made the day list before I continued East to Stiffkey Greens and a walk to the Gibbert Roundabout. More common warblers and finches. A check over the salt marsh gave up Brent geese, Little egret and two distant Spoonbills.

Once back at the car and Cley beach was my next stop where several Sandwich terns moved west, far out to sea but nothing else apart from gulls and cormorant so into the VC and out to the hides. Avocet, Black tailed godwits, teal etc on the scrape and then a walk down the East Bank to Arnold's Marsh. Here, 100+ Dunlin, 1 Grey plover and 6 Bar tailed godwit in amongst the shelduck, redshank etc. 

I then parked at Salthouse to check Gramborough Hill. Plenty of Meadow pipits and 3 very confiding Turnstone but, surprisingly, no wheatear along the fence posts.

Continuing East and a wander down to Kelling Quags and Water Meadows. Ring ouzel had been reported from here but no show whilst I was present. More warblers and my first Sand martins of the year. Plenty of Orange tip, Green veined white and Peacock butterflies as well as numerous hares before I drove up to Kelling Heath where Stonechat and Dartford warbler got on to the list. The Dartfords were busy nest building in gorse and not hanging around to pose on top of the brilliant gorse but I now know where to find them next time for an early morning trip when the male may well be singing from the top of the gorse. The Stonechat posed for photos before my last venue: West Runton cliffs for a late afternoon sea watch but very little movement out to sea, just Herring and Lesser black backed gulls.

Having finished the birding I drove to Cromer and met up with Paul, editor of the Bishop's Stortford Independent for a pint. He is on a 3 day break here. Good to see him with a fine pint of Ghost Ship. Headed back home with a coffee break and the inevitable roadworks meant I was home by 10.15pm. Superb day's birding in glorious weather: cloudless blue sky, temps pushing 19C and great light for photos.

Species List:

  1. Cormorant
  2. Little egret
  3. Grey heron
  4. Spoonbill
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Brent goose
  9. Shelduck
  10. Mallard
  11. Gadwall
  12. Shgoveler
  13. Teal
  14. Red kite
  15. Marsh harrier
  16. Common buzzard
  17. Kestrel
  18. Red legged partridge
  19. Pheasant
  20. Moorhen
  21. Coot
  22. Oystercatcher
  23. Avocet
  24. Ringed plover
  25. Grey plover
  26. Lapwing
  27. Turnstone
  28. Dunlin
  29. Redshank
  30. Black tailed godwit
  31. Bar tailed godwit
  32. Ruff
  33. Curlew
  34. Black headed gull
  35. Common gull
  36. Herring gull
  37. Lesser black backed gull
  38. Greater black backed gull
  39. Sandwich tern
  40. Wood pigeon
  41. Collared dove
  42. Skylark
  43. Sand martin
  44. Swallow
  45. Meadow pipit
  46. Pied wagtail
  47. Wren
  48. Dunnock
  49. Robin
  50. Stonechat
  51. Song thrush
  52. Blackbird
  53. Blackcap
  54. Whitethroat
  55. Dartford warbler
  56. Sedge warbler
  57. Reed warbler
  58. Cetti's warbler
  59. Willow warbler
  60. Chiffchaff
  61. Great tit
  62. Blue tit
  63. Bearded reedling (heard)
  64. Magpie
  65. Jay
  66. Carrion crow
  67. Rook
  68. Jackdaw
  69. Starling
  70. House sparrow
  71. Chaffinch
  72. Linnet
  73. Goldfinch
  74. Greenfinch
  75. Reed bunting
Stonechat at Kelling Heath

Stonechat male

Male orange tip, Kelling Quags

Meadow pipit, Gramborough Hill

Turnstone moulting into breeding plumage: Salthouse beach

Turnstone at Salthouse beach

Male Green veined white at Kelling Water Meadows

Dunnock at Kelling quags

Back lit Blackcap, Kelling

Herring gull from Gramborough Hill

Avocet, Cley

Black tailed godwit at Cley

Female linnet, Stiffkey Greens

Marsh harrier, male at Cley

Grey heron from East Bank

Linnet at Warham Greens

Redshank on The Serpentine, Cley East Bank

Peacock, Warham Greens

Ruff at Cley

Chiffchaff at Warham Greens

Small tortoiseshell at Stiffkey

Brent goose for the end of Garden Drove

Swallow collecting nest building mud, Stiffkey car park

Lapwing, North Point Pools

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