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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Smoke on the Marsh

On Thursday 16th April early evening, walking around Spratt's Water, Carlton Marshes it was immediately apparent that the fires set off by the cowardly and despicable vandal arsonists had completely devasted the reedbed with only the reeds bordering the dykes and a section of the reed bed over the far southern end were still intact. This will, in the short and medium term, have a devastating impact on the wildlife that chooses this area as home, specifically migrant Reed & Sedge Warblers, the threatened Water Vole and a whole host of invertebrates as well as Southern Marsh Orchids that usually gloriously line the paths in June/ July. I was relieved to see the Orchid section over the far end was largely untouched. The thick smell of acrid burnt reed, still permeated the air and there was a depressingly large area of black burnt reed seemingly devoid of all wildlife stretching as far as the eye could see. Despite that and defiantly, I was encouraged by hearing the songs of returning migrants, Willow Warbler, Chiff-Chaff, Whitethroat (my first of the year) and resident Reed Bunting that punctuated the air from surrounding areas and a Swallow defiantly flew over the burnt area. Lets hope the perpetuaters are caught and justice is carried out.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Benacre migrants but no Wryneck

Tuesday 14th April this evening was really sunny travelling back from work, I saw a Buzzard fly up from some trees by the farm building just west of the A12 by the Hopton roundabout. I had also seen a male Sparrowhawk fly west over the solar farm at the back of the JPUH Hospital at 8.55am this morning. Immediately after work, I was keen to twitch the Wryneck which had been seen in the donkey paddock (which had been seen by all who'd been down, would my unlucky streak end this evening??), so I went straight there. It was a hard slog down the long road to Benacre Beach farm and sadly there was no sign of the Wryneck, so my Spring dipping sequence continues. The only birds in the paddock were Pied Wagtail, male Chaffinch & Robin. However, I decided to check the Pit to see if the Wryneck was there and hopefully also bump into Rouzels or Wheatear. On the stoney ground just north of the Pit a fine male Wheatear perched on the bank by the path face on, and its creamy white belly really stood out like a pale beacon in the evening sunshine. As I was walking up to it, the Wheatear stayed quite content to stay there, until the camera came out and inevitably it then flew over the path.I also saw a female White Wagtail just in front of that it showed quite well in front of me. It walked across from right to left feeding and was a hive of activity. Abuptly, as I turned around to walk back and facing west, I saw a small falcon, dashing low over the ground, like a mini Peregrine with grey back short grey tail with black basal tip, Mistle Thrush sized, with a dumpy belly and pointed grey wings appearing darker at the tip, I watched for around 30 seconds it was a fine male Merlin, it flew right around the Common and then eventually disappeared behind some bushes behind the Pits. Only my third Merlin ever seen in Suffolk (the others were one seen flying in off the sea at Lowestoft harbour and one dashing over the reed bed just west of the west hide at Minsmere), but I have seen many Merlins on Scilly and several in Norfolk too.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Three Kites & some Spring migrants

Drving to the usual area by Wrentham Church this morning Sunday 12th April, I was delighted to see the escaped Black Kite flying around and often it was flying up and perching in a favoured tall tree. This action was repeated several times, often carrying large sticks. As it flew around it gave close views and was an ideal photographic subject at such close range my 100-400mm Canon L lens was an ideal choice at this range. The resultant pictures are posted here on this post and on the headers for this blog. The main concern was getting pictures at the right angle to show off the subtle plumage colouration and stop such a dark bird becoming a silhouette. Once it flew in to the tree and settled immediately to the right, and a fraction of a second later another Kite, with red rufous coloration and long red tail flew right and past the Black Kite, it had a missing primary and was, of course, a fine Red Kite. The Black Kite flew round several times sometimes barely 10 feet above my head. Later Chris D arrived and we both watched the bird flying around a field and once it perched in another tall tree. Meanwhile a Chiff-Chaff flew into a hedge and started singing right above our heads, always nice to see (and hear!) this early spring migrant. A second additional Chiff-Chaff was seen and heard calling just up the lane. As I drove back along the A12 at 11.35am, I saw another fine elegant Red Kite gliding and flying south with swept back wings and forked tail it was seen gliding flying south over first the levels and then gliding A12, always impressive birds to see. I managed to stop and have a quick look, typically elegant shape, with swept back wings and reddish swivelled forked tail. Next stop was Kessingland Sewage works, where I bumped into Paul & Jane F, I could hear and see a Willow Warbler calling. A Chiff-Chaff was calling here too. Plus slightly further along, a singing male Blackcap, revealed itself as it sang atop a bare branched stick tree. In the reeds behind I could hear a Sedge Warber singing. Willow, Sedge Warblers and Blackcap were all new for the year for me. A walk around Corton old sewage works revealed few migrants save for 10 Sand Martins flying around the cliffs by radar lodge.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Catch up on news

Over the last few weeks since 29th March I have heard the calling Chiff- Chaff over at Fallowfields everyday since. I had missed the RN Duck X 2 (not counting the abortive trip to Hardley Flood) having finally located the Pits at Hardley Staithe they weren't seen. Ducks were seen included 8 Pochard & c20 Tufted Ducks with a male Reed Bunting and 2 Barn Owls seen on 2 visits. A trip to Cochester on Monday 30th March to pick up my newly repaired lens, I stopped off at Covehithe Church and finally saw the escaped Black Kite flying around in a copse east of the Church. later I went back and it flew right over my head by the Church. Investigating a lane nearby, I had superb views as it flew over my head barely 10 feet above me. Along this lane, I saw it perched on a telegraph post and in a tree. It was good to see Ali R. One particular field was a favourite and it spent a lot of time flying around here. It did have a ring on one of its legs. On Saturday 4th April, following tweet from James B, I saw an Avocet on the Scrape, my first for Lowestoft. Still later, Monday 6th April, I visited Minsmere in the hope of catching up with the Tundra Beans, no such luck and I missed the Jack Snipes at North Hide even the Ferguson lucky charm failed to reveal either the Tundra Beans or Stone Curlew nearby, however a slight upturn in fortunes late afternoon did reveal a Swallow flying over the Island Mere and it was later joined by 2 Sand Martins. A Bittern walked out from the reeds briefly over the further patch of reeds along the near marsh on the right. Wednesday 8th April evening the sunshine turned to thick Fog/ smog so I changed my visit from Carlton Marshes to Leathes Ham and was rewarded in seeing 4 pairs of Pintail and 3 pairs of Wigeon but no sign of any spring migrants.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

No sign of Ring- necked Duck

Finding myself unexpectedly going past Loddon today, I called into Hardley Flood in the hope of seeing an RND but there was no sign of Ring- necked Duck at Hardley Flood. Not sure if "Hardley Staithe" is referring to this or the river where the boats are moored up (but that would seem an odd location for an RND- Phone was dead so couldn't ring anyone to check), mid afternoon, but I did see Cetti's Warbler fly into a low bramble bush and sing and it was seen moving around in the bush. 2 Pintail, a male and female seen on the water they then flew east. Walking down 14 Curlews seen in the field.

First returning Chiff- Chaff

I heard my first returning Chiff- Chaff of the year singing in the rain just behind the garden on Fallowfields at 11.15 am (BST) today Sunday 29th March.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Great Grimpen Mire at Carlton Marshes

A grey and quite windy day at Carlton Marshes this morning, it was great to see Rob Wil and we caught up and he updated me on the LRP that was still there. I trekked down to the Scrape. An initial look and I was delighted t see first one and later 2 winter- plumaged elegant Spotted Redshanks striding around the middle area of water. Having almost disappeared into the quagmire on the path by the orange plastic fencing where you can view the scrape. I stepped on some straw and my wellington boot almost disappeared down into the ground. I managed to extract a whole foot length of Wellington boot out of the "Great Grimpen Mire" and was delighted to catch up with both Roy and Ruth H who had failed to see the LRP. Another scan and I immediately saw the fine Little Ringed Plover walking left followed by a summer plumaged Sanderling. Both birds disappeared behind a big tuft of grass and past an adult Herring Gull. Later after Roy & ruth had left, a Green Sandpiper was seen walking right over the Scrape. Finally, a female Marsh harrier flew over the west section of the Scrape. I had to leave as the sky was looking darker and the wind was increasing, rain imminent? Delighted to say at 12.45pm this afternoon, Jenny called me there were 3 lots of Frogspawn in the fishpond in the garden this afternoon. I will transfer to the wildlife pond once the Tadpoles start wriggling in the spawn to ensure the fish don't eat them. We always get frogspawn in the fishpond being smaller than the Wildlife pond the water may be a degree or so warmer? A Frog was seen in the wildlife pond.