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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Fen Orchids

This evening, on Thursday 16th June, I visited a Broadland location in Norfolk, 7 Fen Orchids were seen in the usual place with a further 3 Fen Orchids seen along a well worn path north of the usual place. As I walked over the well worn path, it felt as if I was stepping onto a moving carpet of vegetation with water on underneath. A very unusual sensation and it felt like the great Grimpen Mire as described in Arthur Conan Doyle's "Hound of the Baskervilles" Not wanting the same fate as the baddie (no spoiler alert!) of that work, I moved swiftly on!! As I walked back, I noticed a Norfolk Hawker fly over the reeds to the left of the path. A few 8 Southern Marsh Orchids seen at the main Fen O site but very few seen by the path which was a little surprising.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Scolding Lesser Whitethroat

On Monday 13th June, i could clearly hear the regular and repeated scolding call of a Lesser Whitethroat just outside the garden on Fallowfields as i left for work at 8.30am in the morning.

North Denes Marsh Warbler

On Sunday 12th June, A text from Rob Will and by 10.30am I was standing facing the weedy area just east of the net posts. The bird was heard singing and it flew left and moved down foliage by a white flowered plant in the weedy area. It then flew over to the bushes by Birds Eye along the northern flank of the factory and in a hole in a bush over the western end it was seen by a sycamore it showed for a minute, partially obscured, I managed a couple of record shots (see above). It later moved to the bushes by the side of the road and hear it sang more strongly but always out of sight of its admirers.

Carlton Scrape Spoonbills

On saturday 12 JuneI walked down call from Rob over the fared by Rookery Park golf course, I scanned and could see first one then 2 Buzzards and a male Marsh Harrier and then just right of the 2 tall Poplars, a scruffy Red Kite with several secondary feathers missing from each wing. back on the scrape I noticed a Little Ringed Plover again elongated shape making it look very distinctive, also Redshank and the 2 sleeping Spoonbills. the left hand bird an immature the right hand bird looked more adult-like with a white crest and yellow end border to its bill, but without seeing it in flight (to eliminate black wing tips indicating some immaturity?) I could not be certain.. Occasionally the immature bird would wake up preen itself with its massive spatular shaped bill. Walking back along the Whitecast marsh path, a calling Cuckoo was seen perched on a bare branch of a distant tree. Path cattle, wooden foot platform,plop of a water Vole Saw Robert Q, a calling Sedge Warbler and 2 Swallows seen perched in a tree at the start just on the left hand side of the main track.

Marsh Warbler at Hen Reedbeds

On Thursday 9th June, I parked checked underneath the corrugated iron nothing, walked around the path by the river wall past the platforms, then past the first and second hides and a path leading inland to the third hide saw Matt Deans and the other birder. We were on the bend before the third hide, by some scrub, we saw a Sedge Warbler by a bramble bush and this bird regularly returned here and then we saw the fine Marsh Warbler, it flew from the redeemed and sang from the reeds bordering a dyke showing reasonably well. A Barn Owl took a Herring Gull chick and one of the parents harried the Owl but still the Owl wouldn't let go. Another Owl hunting by the river too.

Amazing time at Trimley Marshes

On Wednesday 8th June, Rob Will contacted me to see whether I was up to going down for both the Whiskered & Little B at Trimley, I was! I was grateful for the company and for Rob doing the driving and just after the hour we were parking at the carpark by the reserve entrance. Happy memories of coming here in the past included the White- throated Sparrow feeding around the base of the Oak trees at the reserve entrance many years ago and more recently seeing the Pacific Swift zooming around the scrape. We undertook the interminably long 2 mile trek down to the reserve proper. It meant that I couldn't and didn't take my camera bag as I couldn't have carried that all the way down and all the way back again. A Nightingale was heard just before the hide, singing from within the scrub. We walked along the river wall and was told the Whiskered was flying around the pool by the third hide, sure enough scanning over there we could see the fine Whiskered Tern flying away. Also on the pool were 2 magnificent male Ruff in their full breeding finery chestnut, dressed like Tudor nobility one bird sported a sensational chestnut ruff and another male bird showing a magnificent black ruff. Around 30 Black- tailed Godwits seen here too. The Whiskered tern flew up and down the watery areas, with a similar flight to other marsh terns, it sported a black cap white ear coverts white facial area that clearly contrasted with the grey back wing coverts and belly. Walking over to the reservoir hide, we saw the Whiskered tern flying over here on occasion. We were hopeful of seeing the LB, Steve P, Justin Z, Eric P and other South Suffolk stalwarts were here. Steve then left but no sooner had he done so than he came back in and announced excitedly that the LB was calling outside. No sooner had the hide rapidly emptied, we could all hear the loud "barking" call of the Little Bittern, we walked quickly across a bridge over a dyke with reeds over the other side and we went into another hide, I settled along the right hand side out of the side window. I was perfectly situated as the call appeared to coming from the dyke (over which we had just crossed using the wooden bridge walkway) suddenly I saw a black capped Little head and long yellow bill with black tip stick up from above the reeds really close (oh, I wished I had my camera with me!) it was the fantastic Little Bittern! It stuck its head up further and we saw a greyish face and then a warm yellowy- orange body wings as it clambered up the stem and jet black body. It then flew out and across the hide settling near the top of a reed on the left hand side of the hide. Its black body, orange- yellow wings, neck, grey head, black crown and yellowy bill clearly seen as it perched there for a couple of minutes before finally it flew directly away from the hide and eventually out of sight! What an incredible trip, 2 Suffolk ticks in one night sometime i have to wait 2-3 years for a new Suffolk bird.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Blue- winged Teal at Carlton Marshes: My 1st Suffolk one since Bill Oddie's 1987 Minsmere bird

On Monday 6th June, ever since 9.30am when I had a BINS message (can't pick up my birding Twitter at work & I don't have a smartphone!) I had been waiting with baited breath to see if I was within a chance to twitch a great Suffolk bird and Lowestoft mega, a BW Teal. A great find by Andrew and my first Suffolk bird since Bill Oddie memorably found one on the East Scrape at Minsmere almost 30 years ago, way back in September 1987. I remember my visit there then that as I passed Bill Oddie walking along the western scrape path, he told me in passing without stopping, about the female Blue- winged Teal he had just found giving me brief but precise directions as to its location. I walked over and had good views of the bird then. Bill Oddie is a really great birder, true icon and national treasure, whose done so much to spread and engender a love of wildlife amongst the masses. He should be back on TV presenting wildlife, come on producers give him a series, please! But I digress. It was a fine sunny evening & I walked or rather half ran down the 1.5 miles going along the western walk of the reserve to the scrape (difficult to o carrying bins, scope tripod and a large camera bag on your back!) accompanied by Ian from Bradwell) and met Dick W on the way up who said the bird had been showing but had disappeared behind a grassy island. A few people were there including Paul & Jane F, just ahead of me (as always!!!) and regular correspondent Paul W. It was Paul who did really well in refinding it. The stunning male Blue- winged Teal, was over the far side and extreme right hand side initially. It was an absolute stunner of a bird with blue grey face cream with white "half moon" crescent skirting around the lores, bill and front of the face. It had clearly spotted brownish rear underparts & flanks and distinctive white circular area at its rear flank patch with black at the extreme back end of the body and a distinctive slightly pointed tail. When it was feeding, it upended frequently showing its white rear end and pointy tail. When it swim left it showed a more pronounced cream white crescent on the face than when it swam left, the crescent wasn't so obvious, starting to moult into eclipse plumage? It flapped its wings several times showing showing a full set of feathers and the distinctive pale sky blue forewing and green speculum. I managed a few "record shots" (please excuse the poor record shot but it was very distant!!) but digiscopers would do much better and I hope poor Jane finally managed to get some shots that she would be proud of. The shots showed me looked really good. It swam with the Gadwall (it was a smaller bird than this although slightly bigger than accompanying Teal) sometimes it would disappear behind a grassy island only to appear again swimming fast to the right. At one time it walked up a grassy bank and started pecking at the ground before swimming again in the water. Also seen on the scrape were 3 Lapwing juveniles almost fully grown, the adults were chasing off Grey Heron. Plus a fine Greenshank feeding over the farside once seen close to the BW Teal. Finally, a Barn Owl flew and hunted over the western meadows in bright sunshine concluding a memorable evening.