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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

First Swallow

On Monday 14th April, travelling home after work 500 yards south of the JPH travelling along the A12 just south of Gorleston Links road, I was very pleased to see my first Swallow of the year flying west over the road.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Field full of of Snake's Head Fritillaries

This afternoon following Jane's tweet yesterday, Jenny & I travelled down to the A1120 tourist route to Framlingham and called in at the excellent Mickfield SWT reserve where we first saw 4 and 2 Yellowhammers on the ground, they flew up to the hedgerow and then in the field itself were hundred's of Snake's Head Fritillaries. Most were densely concentrated in the middle of the field with about 10 white varieties also present. We were there from 3pm and I had to wait around 20 minutes for the sun to escape the cloud to get some nicely lit shots. Fritillaries, along with Orchids, are my favourite plants and a chance to see a field full of hundreds fully out in bloom couldn't go unrealised. It was a real joy to see so many in one field.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

New arrivals and Dusky photographed at last!

After 7 separate attempts to photograph the Dusky Warbler, I finally managed to connect and get a reasonable shot. As I walked down Fisher Row, a Green Woodpecker flew to a tree trunk just right of the path and just past the entrance gate, whilst up to 3 Willow Warblers were singing from the bushes just west of the track (First for the year). Over the track, I heard a Grasshopper warbler reeling first for the year, 4 Blackcaps, 2 males and 2 females, were were either side of the path in scrub and a delightful Moorhen nest with 2 adults and 6 youngsters diverted my attention. A Chiff- Chaff seen at the Bowl. I walked up the path to the tea gardens and met Don & Gwen who had just had some very good views of the Dusky, but true to form he it had gone to ground again. However, after just a few minutes, we heard it "takking" again and after a fruitless search to locate it somewhere in the tea gardens wood, I eventually spotted the Dusky Warbler zipping about in a tree just behind the hawthorne and in the very loose company of a Chiff- Chaff bush where it sat for several minutes on a horizontal branch extending out oft from the main trunk of the tree about half way up (but not photographable) it then flitted round, visiting the hawthorne bush several times before it flew out just east of there. It perched for a few seconds right out in the open on a branch for a couple of seconds (long enough for me to get 2 pictures) one was good, albeit in poor light. Don & Gwen then left, I am very grateful for their help in locating this bird. The Dusky flew back into the hawthorne by the path and then flew across the path into the northern most dyke running adjacent to the path, where it flitted around and perched on the vegetation just about the waters surface, I saw it couple of times here through the binoculars before I lost it and finally heard it "takking" by a bush just north of the path. I didn't see it again. Another couple came up and try as I might, I couldn't re-find the bird, but I did hear a Sedge Warbler singing, another 2014 first.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

An evening trio of Wheatears

There were a trio of fine male Wheatears on the North Denes this evening on Tuesday 8th April, they were feeding on the grass but sadly were pushed from literally pillar to post by the sheer number of people and particularly runners on the North Denes this evening. They flew first along the southern edge of the Denes by the caravan park before they eventually flew north and then the 3 Wheatear were seen around the stone blocks and pipe and eventually they settled on the track near the Links road car park where in the temporary absence of people they lingered for quite some time in the fading light, where I left them undisturbed and free to rest. I have suffered for my art as I had to crawl through a bed of nettles to get close to these Wheatears to photograph them without disturbing them. As I write my legs and knees are still tingling pins and needles from the nettle stings, see the photos below to see if it was worth it!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Some early Spring Migrants

On Sunday 6 April, an early morning a look around Corton revealed a singing male Blackcap by the Old Sewage works and 2 Pied Wagtail in the Corton Church field. By Corton Cliffs along the northern edge by Broadland sands, I saw 20+ Sand Martins flying around the cliffs and by the cliff edge 2 Pied Wagtails and fine male White Wagtail. On Dip Farm playing field, another fine male White Wagtail was seen in the middle with a Pied Wagtail. Nothing seen on the North Denes or the Oval.

Elusive Dusky and White Storks nesting at Thrigby Wildlife Park

Yesterday, on Saturday 5th April, I walked down Fisher Row and just before the stable I looked at a showy singing Chiff- Chaff (pictured below) singing from the top of a tall bush. A male Blackcap was singing by the bowl seen in a tree. Another Blackcap was heard singing by the tea gardens. I went back to Oulton Marshes and standing in the usual spot after an hour, seeing Don & Gwen who regaled me with their luck of seeing the bird out in the open for 5 minutes. I had no luck, no sight or sound of the bird, until Tim B popped along he looked around 30 metres further down the path with 2 other birders, he gave me the thumbs up and walking down, I could hear the soft "tack" of the Dusky Warbler that was seen flitting around in the tree at mid height and then flew high up to a tree before flying back to the usual bush area where I had been standing. We looked here for a while no luck. Having looked in this week's Great Yarmouth Mercury, where they reported the free flying but captive (ie. not wild!) White Storks were nesting on top of chimney at Thrigby Hall at Thrigby Wildlife park. I thought that would make a good picture. So, a visit in the afternoon (this is the best time to visit with the sun swinging round to illuminate the Storks and the nests) to Thrigby was just the ticket. It costs £12.50 each to get in if anyone wants to get pictures of the Storks too (make sure you print off the £1 off voucher per person from their website to save a little money on admission). The zoo has plenty of big cats including Tigers, Snow Leopards, Leopard & Black Panther as well large Snakes such as Anacondas, Alligators, Tortoises', Otters, Baboons as well as the aforementioned White Storks, Demoiselle Cranes, Red crested Pochards & Sacred Ibis et al. I managed to obtain some shots of the nesting captive White Storks on top of the Hall. There were 2 nests on top of 2 chimneys, initially I couldn't see any Storks, by whilst the Tigers were being fed, 1 bird flew in then latterly the other. I finally managed to get shots best obtained from the tree line walkway situated just south of the Hall. In the evening a Redwing was heard calling "pssst" as it flew over the house.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Kessingland Ring Ouzels

On Wednesday 2nd April at 5.30pm, directly after work I made my way to Kessingland Caravan park, it's always a pleasure to see Paul & Jane (seen on the way in), especially when they updated me with the news that it was still there along the southern line of caravans mainly in the eastern corner bordering the edge of the park. They said, as others had mentioned to that it was a particularly showy individual with a much more elusive bird (the more normal behaviour of Ouzels) by the sluice, however I encountered the polar opposite reaction from both birds! As soon as I was walking up I saw, a glorious male Ring Ouzel with thick white crescent on the wings and silver grey on the wings and black plumage, just in front of two caravans on the southern edge in the astern corner by a small ornamental tree, but as soon as it immediately saw me (I was approaching carefully) it scampered under a caravan. Despite being ultra cautious in stalking, it continued to be very elusive, popping up but then darting for cover X4 every time I saw it, I wasn't particularly close either. It wasn't being being particularly obliging and I tried kneeling down waiting in one spot for a time but that didn't work either. With the misty smog depressing the light, I was also conscious that the what light levels we had would soon drop. So I made way to Kessingland Sluice and in particular I scanned the grassy green area just north of the only Pit left. I saw 2 birds, first a fine male Wheatear and a little further back another one another glorious male Ring Ouzel, this right out in the open. I decided to carefully walk along the road bending west wards and leave the brow of the slope to hide my approach, coupled with using bushes for concealment and crawling along very carefully and slowly I managed to get reasonably close to the bird without flushing it. Indeed it was feeding and even hopped towards me on several occasions. It was a super bird, with white breast crescent silvery wings and black scaly plumage and lemon yellow bill with black tip. I always really enjoy seeing these birds and this was being very obliging, I took full advantage by reeling several pictures. (Needless to say all the accompanying pictures and the header are pictures taken of the Benacre Pit/ sluice bird, the Caravan park didn't stay still enough for me to get any pictures or even observe for any duration of time). The Benacre Pit bird continued to feed working its way right, before it retreated a little and stood beneath a small bush for cover, where I left it. Walking back to the Caravan park, the male Ring Ouzel was still there, but this time it was flighty (I wasn't anyway near the bird) and it immediately flew 10 yards into the caravan site where I left it in peace.