Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hatfield Forest

A beautiful sunny winter morning in Hatfield Forest. Started at the SW corner and ended up at the centre. The forest was alive with the chatter of thrushes, and Redwings seemed to be in every bush. After a good trudge round I’d amassed some good numbers – 6+1 Bullfinches, 3 GSW, a Green ‘Pecker, a Jay, a few Stock Doves, a ♀ Kestrel, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, blue/great tits, lots of Jackdaws, three Nuthatches, Mistle Thrush, a Grey Wagtail and down on the lake 3 Pochard, 2 Teal, 1 GC Grebe a Common Gull and the usual BH Gulls, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Tufties, Canada Geese and a Kingfisher whizzed past. My dodgy call skills couldn’t nail down a Marsh Tit although a few winters ago there were three pairs here. Otherwise there was a small herd of Fallow Deer, and lots of Mistletoe with masses of berries. And all this by myself, as the Dipperettes found various reasons not to share in the beauty of the Forest in winter; a sudden enthusiasm for homework, “not feeling well”, feigning death, etc. Perhaps when it’s a bit warmer …

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rainham Marsh

Took the entire flock of Dippers to Rainham Marsh (part of the RSPB corp network of family entertainment venues) en route to a shopping trip at Canary Wharf. Once we’d found it (its signposted “Purfleet heritage Centre” of the A?? off the A13) it struck me as Elmley-lite. Nevertheless we were soon admiring the excellent variety on the board. Paninis, toasted sandwiches, baked potatoes, various puddings and a range of coffees; just the kind of sightings to make this a regular item on the Dippers’ Sunday itinerary.

We got as far as the hide on Alverley Marshes and saw lots of distant Wigeon, Blackwits, Gadwall, and Lapwings, and round the “Cordite area” had Stonechat, GSW, and Kingfisher. Proper birders had more, and their sightings are all here (

Meanwhile yesterday grabbed a break between the pre-Christmas round of school fetes, shopping other weekend rubbish and had a peaceful couple of hours late afternoon at Sawbo Marsh, largely undisturbed by birds (apart from 2 Mipits, GSW, a few Bullfinches). Local birder Mike – far more experienced and knowledgeable than myself turned up, and we watched a few Reed Bunts,1 Yellowhammers, Redwings, c500 Jackdaw, Grey Wagtail and Heron heading to their various roosts

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...