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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Lakenheath to the Rescue


A trip to the Brecks started badly as I arrived just slightly too late at a well known Breckland site, half an hour later than planned (due to 2 slow moving lorries on the outward journey) and I just missed (by 5 minutes) the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch was seen however, another bird that has now virtually disappeared from the Lowestoft scene.
Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were a regular feature of Lowestoft birding, particularly on my local patch at Fisher Row, right up until the 1987 "Hurricane." I believe this led to their ultimate demise at this site and other local sites. The aftermath of the "Hurricane" either blew many dead trees over or the authorities decided to chop down dead trees for health and safety reasons. This sadly led to an extreme shortage of many suitable feeding and nesting sites of this species, hence their current rarity.
Despite a 3 and a half hour vigil in the company of Dick & Ali; old friends from Beccles, at the nearby Goshawk site, the Goshawks decided it was going to be a no-show day. Compensation came in the form of an Iceland Gull flying over with a small flock of Gulls, a fine male Crossbill perched on the top of a Pine, several Buzzards (including one very pale bird) and superlative views of an escaped American Red- tailed Hawk, slightly larger than Buzzard with autumn russet- coloured tail and very prominent bulging secondaries in flight. Finally we were treated to the gorgeous "loulaa- loulaa" song of several Wood Larks in display flight and a few resplendent Yellowhammers were on show too. Butterflies flying around on this warm Spring-like day included Brimstone and Red Admiral.
2 separate stops in the vicinity for the possibility of newly arrived Stone Curlews drew a blank also.
A visit to the new RSPB Lakenheath was a first for me and very impressive it was too!
The area by the car park hosted several Redwings passing through maybe feeding up before they continue their migration north to Scandinavia and the flighty but showy Great Grey Shrike. The Shrike was a very clean bird with prominent hooked bill, flitting from the shrubby area just west of the car park over to the bushes bordering the river. This bird saved the day for me as this was the first of my target species that I'd actually seen today! A two mile walk past various habitats including ageing Black Poplar plantations  and most impressively, what looked
like mature reedbeds, which had replaced carrot crop arable fields, created just 10 years ago. A Buzzard also flew over the fields here.
At another nearby site, our luck held out as we were treated to great views of target species no.4, a pair of elegant, majestic Cranes which even endulged in some courtship behaviour!


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