©BSNHS 2014

Andy Sapsford’s blog about Sawbridgeworth Marsh Reserve

Daphne Wallace-Jarvis’s blog about Birchhanger Wood

View from the Marsh

May is the time of year when Spring gets into full swing. This is especially true this year with the mild winter and wet conditions that we have experienced. Everything seems to be at least two weeks forward and as I write, things like Apple blossom is over in some cases. The Cow Parsley is on full bloom which we would expect much more to be in mid-May.

Most of the migrant birds have arrived and it is good to hear a number of Willow Warblers which have become increasingly scarce in the last few years. There do not seem to have been many Swallows or House Martins about and we would be interested in any sightings that you may have.

We would soon expect to see the first Swifts arrive, these seem to be the last to get here and the first to depart after nesting. Look out for them swooping and diving around buildings although the typical screaming parties are more usual later on when the chicks have fledged.

Now is a good time to look out for young Badger and Fox Cubs, once again as it is such an early year there is good evidence that these will be well grown by now. Something else to look out for will be the Speckled Wood butterfly, these have been very successful in recent years and the best place to see them is an open and sunlit woodland ride or path. It is now also the time to look out for Bats flying in the early evening.

Keep an eye on ponds, rivers and ditches as now the water is warming up, the silt brought down by winter floods is settling out and we would now start to expect to see freshwater life. A brown scum on the surface of stones or floating on the water will be found, under the microscope to be a seething mass of algae called diatoms. They are so prolific early in the season as they are maximising on the prolific supply of nutrients which have accumulated during the winter months.

Birchhanger Wood

This population has steadily expanded and built up, and today we are finally seeing this spectacular bird colonising our home area.
Please let us know if you have any sightings and especially if you have any evidence of them breeding.
Is it a Kite or a Buzzard?  These pictures and this website link will help you decide.

By 1870 the Red Kite had been exterminated from most parts of the UK. In the Middle Ages it was a common bird and played a useful role in scavenging and clearing up rubbish around our towns and cities. Victorian gamekeepers persecuted the bird so effectively that it was restricted to a tiny population in Wales.
Efforts on the part of conservationists, along with legal protection, managed to increase this tiny population to proper breeding capacity by 1991 and in 1989 English Nature and the RSPB introduced birds from Sweden and Spain to the Chilterns.

Red Kite

Common Buzzard

Yorkshire Kites Seasonal Gallery

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

Out & About in May

Red Kites continue to move eastwards

Are Ravens nesting in Hatfield Forest?

Views from the Marsh and the Wood

Out & About in previous months