©BSNHS 2014

Andy Sapsford’s blog about Sawbridgeworth Marsh Reserve

Daphne Wallace-Jarvis’s blog about Birchhanger Wood

View from the Marsh Birchhanger Wood

Following on from a report of Ravens in the area  some weeks ago there has now been a positive sighting of these same birds giving every intention that they may well be nesting in the Hatfield Forest area.

Over the Farm Gate

First, an apology! I am not sure how last month's article got headed ‘November’, but this version surely has November in its sights. As I write, in the last days of October, the warm autumn continues & we are told that we are on the way to seeing the warmest year on record. We will see!

Meanwhile, in keeping with that time of year when passage bird migration is at its height, our own winter visitors have been arriving or passing through. Of particular interest to me this year is that of the Jay. Many Jays arrive late September onwards from the continent to feed on the acorn crop. This year, however, the crop is almost non-existent and I am puzzled how so many can be supported in such a poor year. They are still flamboyantly around in the forest, rasping their contact calls from all of their woodland quarters. This call is often a useful indication of the presence of a Tawny Owl which it harasses mercilessly if it comes across one. The call attracts others (as well as people like me!), and, in addition to other Jays, is joined by Jackdaws, Blackbirds & Chaffinches, who all put in their own versions of vocal expletives!

Continuing the winter visitor topic, the Merlin has already put in an appearance near Bloodhounds’ Wood. This small raptor is more likely to be seen in a brief moment of surprise, as it dashes through a hedge in pursuit of its prey and then flies rapidly on a straight trajectory, swerving right & left & maintaining speed with a mere flick of the wings & usually only inches above the ground. Because this bird is invariably seen in a brief moment, it is difficult to identify by colouration. However, it is the only raptor to fly in this straight, swerving trajectory & is one of the most thrilling sights on an autumn/winter walk. Additionally, I saw a party of 26 Golden Plover loafing in an arable crop at Stortford Park in late October. These plovers have become quite uncommon in recent years, although they are more frequently reported from south of the town on the upland arable fields around Mattham's Wood.

Although not associated with winter passage, my old friend at Wickham Hall Farm has just telephoned me to report a party of 26 Green Parakeets flying west, low over the farm. While this introduced species is now very common in some areas of London and the south-east, it is still very unusual in our area.

The Society has booked two meetings this month as follows:

Fri. 7 Nov. Conservation in the Lee Valley. An illustrated lecture by Dawn Richardson, Conservation Officer.

Fri.21 Nov. Local Microscopic Life. A Powerpiont presentation by Geoff Vowles.

Both  meetings take place in the meetings Room in the Office Block at Hatfield Forest at 8pm. Visitors are welcome.

A reminder too, that the Bird group of the Society meets on the first Monday of each month (or second if there is a Bank Holiday), at the Bricklayer's Arms in the Hadham Road at 8pm for an informal chat.

May May June

Out and about in November

Are Ravens nesting in Hatfield Forest?

 Views from the Farm, the Marsh and the Wood

Out & About in previous months

Out and AboutAugustSeptemberOctober