Thursday, September 12, 2013

last post ... or is it?

It was fun whilst it lasted, but its over. As the family have grown up they've been doing more stuff, and I've been enjoying doing more stuff with them. So the opportunities for the kind of trips that make for decent blogging have slowly diminished. And ultimately the blog was suffering death by repetition; there's a limit to the number of times that a walk round Radipole can be interesting.

But is this the end or just a chance for a change of approach? I still like getting out there and seeing what's around, so maybe a change of emphasis to reflect a new reality? Find out at!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best day of the year?

What day is the best day of the year? Well it would have to be spring time when the flowers are out, the trees are in bloom, and the leaves are at their brightest green, so that pretty much has to be May. This year as we all know it has been cold and wet, but that does mean that as soon as the sun comes out all the flowers have burst into bloom at the same time.

Today the sun was shining, and the trees and plants were all in bloom. Soon the blossom will disappear and the buttercups will fade, so in all probability the best day this year is today.

Here's Pishiobury Park at its absolute finest.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not much around

Morning visit to Lodmoor. Overcast, drizzle, and no obvious migrants. I lined up to next to a fellow birder in the bandstand and casually mentioned that there wasn't much around. "Not Much Around !?!". Oh God I've just inadvertently hit his pet subject. "Well there's three Marsh Harriers up over the back" yes there was - my mistake not looking - "and large numbers of hirundines out there" yes I'd spotted those; some nice Sand Martins and Swallows resting on brambles, and masses of Swifts. "And there's a beautiful summer plumage Great Northern Diver in the bay. Seems to me there's quite a lot around!" I took my queue and went off to the bay. There was indeed a glorious Great Northern Diver relaxing in the bay, and 4 Common Scoter in the bay too, one male and three females.

So that was me told. Always something to see. Even so, a Whimbrel, or a Whinchat, would have been nice.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Local Lapwings

spare time has been at a premium recently, but I had a spare hour and went to a new site for me, a newish fishing pit dug out of the local farmland just south of Bishop's Stortford. I came away with Little Ringed Plover, a few Yellow Wagtails, and a few pairs of Lapwings and a small flock of Linnets. On the water were Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese, and Mallards. In the water were some enormous Carp thrashing around at the shallow end - well it is a fishing pit. The sunshine tempted out Peacock butterly and an Orange Tip. Just by the edge was an egg and some bloodied feathers. I think both are from Lapwing. There's some shots below.
Update: the egg is Red-Legged Partridge and the feathers Wood Pigeon. Thanks for the update Mike!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

March, and more local

March has been and gone. A few winter visitors in the Park and elsewhere soon disappeared, although a healthy flock of Yellowhammers remained near the chaff dump just above the Scrape. April has brought Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, and now Blackcaps. So all in all pretty dull, and now I'm gainfully employed again likely to remain that way.

But not so fast! D#2, who is now 14, has taken to going for walks along the river as dusk approaches. Like the rest of my family, he steadfastly regards any interest in nature as some kind of personality disorder, to be tolerated but not encouraged, but is happy for me to accompany him on his walks. He pronounces on religion, politics, and the modern world with the kind of wisdom and certainty that only a fourteen year old can have, whilst I keep an eye and an ear out for birds.

And slowly but surely we are seeing wildlife. From a dead pike floating down the river to a couple of Muntjac, a pair of foxes playing in a field, and a Barn Owl seen close to a couple of times. Yesterday in near darkness we had a couple of bats swooping up from the river, and I assume from size and the nearness to water that they were Dubenton's bats.

And D#2 is leading the way in spotting these sightings. His young eyes see things before I do, and from the tone of his voice he's quite excited to see them before he remembers himself and feigns indifference.

So quite unexpectedly, its been quite good recently.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Seething

Its been quiet on the patch recently. Chiffchaffs have come through in strength over the last week, and some Gadwall have turned up on the scrape, together with 3 Snipe up to 50 Teal which most of the time hide in the waterlogged vegetation. There's been nice regular sightings of Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, both big peckers etc, but not much of note apart from Saturday when there was a Willow Warbler, 2 Kingfisher, a Red Kite, and 9 Snipe. You'd think I'd be delighted, but I didn't see them. Instead local birder Mike popped down and ticked them all.

Lesser men than myself would be quietly seething, kicking the dogs, snapping at children, and generally going quietly or even loudly mad. I've been down there practically every day in March and at least every week for over a year, and Mike pops down and sees two birds I haven't seen there at all. But fortunately I remain serene, and have resisted the temptation to go all Barry Spence. Congratulations Mike. I'm happy for you. Please feel free to come down again and see birds I haven't seen here before. Dogs, you can come out now.

Some element of birding karma was restored on Sunday when driving D#3 to swimming in Stortford I drove under a Red Kite, just coming from the direction of another birder's house in Thorley.

Out again today. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was a day for sitting on top of a tree and singing (that's birds, obviously, not me). Chiffs everywhere, a few Linnets, and a Peacock (butterfly)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

First day of the new Birding Year

Pishiobury Park 1st March

So, a new birding year! I walked round the periphery of Pishiobury Park trying to note every bird I saw. The results are below. On the Eastern edge of the Park at the bottom of the hill is a boggy wood with many Willows and Alders called, I believe, the Osier bed.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker 1
Wood Pigeon uncounted – a few tens
Stock Dove – 4
Magpie – 7 (of which 2 were seen in the Osier bed - 2 ob)
Jackdaw – 1 ob
Carrion Crow – 4 (2 ob)
Nuthatch – 1 heard at the N end
Blackbird - 3
Redwing – c20 ob
Robin – 11 (2 ob)
Wren - 2
Great Tit – 6 (2 ob)
Long-tailed tit - 4
Blue Tit – 10 (1 ob)
Chaffinch – 7 (3 ob)
Goldfinch – 5 (1 ob)
Siskin – 7ob
Greenfinch - 7
House Sparrow - 8
Goldcrest - 1

The most notable sighting to my eyes is the 11 Robins. Mostly these were singing birds, so it may be say 10 pairs in the park.

Other birds seen were 29 Teal and a male Shoveler on the Scrape, and 3 Common Buzzard soaring over a distant wood near Churchgate Street. And a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was out.

It was warm and bright. Blossom was emerging and spring seems to be poised to arrive. I feel the lists compiled today, at the point when bird populations are at their lowest and local birds are starting to contemplate breeding, serves as a baseline. I’m more than happy to have started my new year today.

February Round-up

Apart from the Weymouth trip at half-term, local birding dominated.

A cold spell in the middle of the month saw a cold weather movement described in a previous post. Fieldfares were everywhere for a couple of weeks, although it was possibly the same ones trying desperately to find some food.

By the end of the month the scrape finally attracted some ducks - c20 Teal and 3 Shoveler. A flock of Siskin has been sporadic in Pishiobury Park, but I have noticed that they have periods of chatter, and then fall quite, so perhaps they have been there all the time and I don't notice them when they are quiet. Otherwise the rich local population of common birds – 2x woodpeckers, Jay, Nuthatch, Common Buzzard, etc –has been much in evidence. A pair of Grey Wagtails were on the brook at the bottom of the house towards the end of the month.

Otherwise, the only birding trip was to see the Short-Eared Owls that turned up at Felsted just 10 miles to the east. Iwent over on spec just intending to drive round Felsted looking for a likely spot. After all, Felsted is a school, a pub and some houses. How hard could it be?

Well luckily for me, not very hard. The key was to be found by a fellow birder in the wrong area (by the river) and taken to the right area (just east of the centre of the village), so I am in debt to whoever it was - many thanks! I saw three of the beauties, including one perched in a bush at a nice scope-filling distance, although there were many more recorded by locals during the period before and after.