Sunday, June 17, 2007

Recent East Herts stuff

I’ve had a bit more time for birding recently, for reasons that may be covered in a future entry. Anyway, my birding has long been subject to the Law of Sod, and so its no surprise that this extra time coincides with the summer doldrums.

This extra time has allowed some trips with local birders, some of whom have blogs on the sidebar, and its been a real pleasure to be able to spend time with experts in the field.

First up was an evening at Kingsmead near Ware. If you go up the A10 and find yourself going over a huge viaduct, look down and think “that looks a good spot for birds”, you would be right. If you also thought “this would be a really nice valley if it wasn’t for this horrendous viaduct”, you’d be right about that too. Anyway, birdwise the highlight for me was the Little Ringed Plover which gave us some terrific views in the air and on the ground; a bird of real grace, in comparison to its thuggish larger relative.

Second up was an evening being shown round Sawbridgeworth Marsh by the warden. The reserve is fed by a series of springs where the clay meets the chalk, and maintains the water level in the marsh. The amount of work that goes into knocking the 22 acres of the reserve into some kind of reasonable condition is huge, and the effort of the team has paid dividends in a rich variety of plant life and insect life. The river was dredged in the 1930's and the sediment dumped by the bank. Seventy years later this means the nutrient-rich riverside is thick with nettles and grasses, so little work to increase the diversity goes on here, but away from the bank the work is yielding a further spread of the Marsh orchids and other plant life. Apart from the fantastic display of Southern Marsh Orchids mentioned in the previous blog, there were lots of other plants that I cannot name, there are 4 species of odonata, and a snail of some scarcity whose name, I’m ashamed to say, has slipped my mind and cannot be retrieved by Google. Thin Lipped Snail? Anyway here’s a picture.



Bird-wise the highlight was a Little Owl on a fence post in a neighbouring field, otherwise Sedge, Reed, and Garden Warblers, BlackCap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, plus a few other bits and pieces.

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