A weekend 'champing' in Stansted Mountfitchet, 14/15 September 2019

Champing was one of the things on our bucket list of things to do and the lovely church at Stansted Mounfitchet fitted the bill nicely. Being a nice easy drive but also far enough away to feel like we were going somewhere new.

We began the weekend early on Saturday and had planned a long 12km walk around Hatfield Forest. This was a nice new area to explore, especially as I had a pair of Ravens 'gronking' over the SW section the the forest plus c6 Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Coal Tits plus Comma, Speckled Wood, Small White, Small Heath, Brimstone and Red Admiral.

Sunday was spent at Audley End Hall near Saffron Walden where a Red Kite and a Common Buzzard were up together and a late Painted Lady was in the walled garden. While having a picnic lunch a sharp-eyed Belinda spotted a tiny ladybird in the grass which turned out to be a 22-spot Ladybird and a new species for me.

On the way home a Little Owl was near Winfarthing.

22-spot Ladybird

St Mary the Virgin, Stansted Mountfitchet


Ivy Bees, 12 September 2019

I had business to take care of in Thetford yesterday and was able to combine it with a stroll around the town and along the river. Most pleasing were a large number of Ivy Bees in some town centre formal gardens/tennis courts and 3 Muntjac at point blank range as I looked over a wall. Along the river the odd Common Emerald Damselfly were still lingering on. Earlier a very docile female Large White was sheltering from the drizzle in Pulham Market while I was trying to work.


Ivy Bees

Large White

Meadow Saffron, Martin's Meadows, Suffolk, 7 September 2019

At the start of the year I made a 'hit list' of things I wanted to see over the next couple of years. I've made quite good progress this year and Meadow Saffron (aka Autumn Crocus) was the last of my  doable targets for this year. Martin's Meadows SWT in the middle of nowhere is a lovely little reserve and luckily Meadow Saffron is common there. Indeed I found hundreds in all 3 meadows, ranging from the normal pink/mauve through to completely white specimens. There was plenty of Devils-bit Scabious and Black Knapweed still in flower plus 4 butterfly species on the wing - Small Heath, Common Blue, Speckled Wood and Small White.  While there we 'scrumped' a few apples and pears from the orchards there. Well, they were dropping to the floor and would have gone to waste! It was lovely to note the old english varieties - Lady Sudely, Golden Noble, Horringer Catshead, Warner's King and Dumdow's Seedling as well as an old Medlar tree full of fruit.

Meadow Saffron

Devils-bit Scabious

Apple and pear haul!


The rest of the day was spent on a walk around the UFO trail in Rendlesham Forest. Apart from the odd Grayling along the forest rides it was pretty uneventful but we needed the exercise!


Sri Lanka Tour, 10-20 December 2019 - one space left!

My friend AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, a birding guide in Kuwait who I have had the great pleasure to bird with on numerous occasions is running a small group tour to Sri Lanka this December. Naturally I am signed up to go and at the moment AbdulRahman is looking for one more person to join us and make a 4 person tour party. At just 1100 Euros (plus flights) for the trip this is a very reasonably priced tour targeting the endemics and other avian goodies that the country has to offer. Additional good news is that the Sri Lankan Govenment has waived visa fees for the next 6 months too!

The tour will be guided by the excellent local guide Prasanjith Caldera from Walk-With-Jith.

Full details of the trip can be found by clicking the link below


So, if you fancy seeing Serendib Scops Owl, Chestnut-backed Owlet, Sri Lankan Scaly Thrush, Legge's Flowerpecker, Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler, Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka Blue Magpie and a host of others please let AbdulRahman know