Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Therfield Heath. Awash with raptors

No camera. In the old days this wouldn’t have been a big deal when I went birdwatching. However, digiscoping has become a big thing for me. I might not do it properly, i.e. with all the proper attachments but I can get results I like and it means I can populate my blog with the images of the subjects I’m subjecting you all to.

So I decided to paint instead. I haven’t picked up my brushes for a few months and as I had the day to myself, I thought about going a bit further afield and combine it with a reccie of a birding site I had only read about. Therfield Heath in Hertfordshire. The Icknield Way is an ancient track that runs south from Royston and was the path I chose to take. I can imagine in winter this is a harsh environment to be in. Apart from the irregular hedgerows, there is little cover or protection for the cold winds that must stab through here.
View from the Icknield Way looking East.
I found a place to stop with good views across swathes of fields and sketched a watercolour. It wasn’t long before a very dark female Marsh Harrier swooped low across the borders of the fields causing much disgust and furore from the local crows. I spent a good hour working on the painting and in that time, I saw a covey of at least 14 Grey Partridges that made a terrific sight and sound;  A Common Buzzard flew right over my head and a Kestrel came to rest close to meeven a Red Kite that mewed as it glided (sometimes backwards) across the sky seemed oblivious to my close proximity. The crows were not amused.

Therfield Heath watercolour sketch.
Further along the path a large flock of Corn Buntings mixed with about 8 Yellowhammers noisily flew from tree to tree not really bothered by my presence. I could have had some good shots there I mused. Another Red Kite or maybe the same one came overhead and a couple of Kestrels hovered working a field for food.

I found another place with a view and did another painting. There is definitely something to be said for just sitting still and watching. I had another bigger covey of Grey Partridges, this time much closer to me.

Therfield Heath
I will be coming back here come the winter. More raptors, winter thrushes and maybe a shrike or two would be worth the nut freezing weather.

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