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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Redwings galore

On a day where it rained constantly all day (correctly forecast by meteorologists), at 1.55pm, a large flock of c60 Redwing flew up suddenly from the rain sodden and flooded Fallowfields area flying west and then down again. several had been seen earlier feeding near the edges of the pools of water that had formed mainly on the paths of this area. At the same time a Stock Dove that had been feeding in the vicinity had flown up and north- east over the garden.
The garden had hosted a Wren, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Magpie, 3 Greenfinch (male and 2 females) and 3 Chaffinches (1 male, 2 female today) and a Jay had been seen distantly on Fallowfields.
From Asda all I could see on the river were 2 Great crested Grebes, plus around 30 Herring Gulls and 15 Black- headed Gulls feeding on bread put out by a well wisher (not me!) & again nothing in Hamilton Dock and just 12 Turnstone at Ness Point.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Bits & Bobs

In a day trying to dodge the showers, sunny intervals provided small windows of birding, but birds were in short supply today.
At Kessingland Sewage Works, several - 6 Goldfinch were seen plus around 50 Pied Wagtail in total, a Grey Wagtail flew off and on the Sewage beds amongst the Pied wagtails were 5 Reed Buntings, 4 males and 1 female. They were later seen perched in the hedge.
Finally a male Yellowhammer flew over to the sewage beds.
A female Sparrowhawk flying over the fields disturbed 30 Pied wagtails which flew up and away.
At Burnt Hill Lane were 7 Egyptian Geese including the very pale bird too.
Several other haunts were checked with no birds seen.
In the garden several- 4 Redwing flew past over Fallowfields and a Long-tailed Tit and 3 House Sparrows visited the fatballs, whilst jenny saw a butterfly which from her description fits a probable Small Tortoiseshell flying around, it disappeared when I went outside to check.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Redwing Flock

A flock of 15 Redwing were seen flying around the Fallowfields waste ground early morning from the garden. A lone Redwing perched high up in the flowering Cherry Tree at around 8am.

All the Grebes

A lunchtime walk down to the open air hide overlooking Ormesby Little Broad yesterday (Wednesday 24th February) was very pleasant. From the broadwalk I saw a male Goldeneye swim away as I walked past. At the open air hide, looking out to the left amongst the Tufted Duck, I saw a Slavonian Grebe  which was asleep, it took a further 5 minutes before it woke up and swam near the edge of the Broad before swimming out of view down a channel connecting it to Lily Broad. I have now seen the set of Grebes for the year.
Around 20 Tufted Duck were seen plus a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a female Goldeneye on the Broad. Some Long- tailed Tits flitted around the alder trees and a female Goldeneye was seen on Filby Broad.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Local birds

Yesterday, finally getting out after torrential rain during the morning on Sunday 21st February, during the afternoon, the 1st winter Ruddy Shelduck was seen, still in the field just south of Burnt hill lane, again with 22 Egyptian Geese. It was at the front of the flock but walked back a few yards and promptly went to sleep.
Still no sign of Waxwings, visiting spots where they'd been seen recently and historically, I decided to visit Pakefield beach near the CEFAS Lab and immediately spotted 2 Mediterranean Gulls (1 ad W, 1 2nd W bird) on the beach we abruptly flew off chased off by the inevitable dog. The 2nd winter bird did return briefly before being chased off by our canine friend (another one this time!) again.
At Ness Point 12 Turnstone and 3 Purple Sandpiper were on the finger, whilst on the defence rocks at the nortern end of Ness Point 3 Turnstone and 2 Purple Sandpiper seen here also, so 5 Purple Sandpipers in total.
Back home, during the rain soaked morning the Bullfinches (both male & female) visited the garden again briefly visiting the flowering cherry feeding off the buds again very briefly at 12.05pm and a lone Redwing perched up in the same tree at 2.15pm.  

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Dip'n Run

A day of contrasts, the recent sightings of Waxwing came to an abrupt halt with again no Waxwings seen at Kirkley Cliff & the Ashburnham Way bird had sadly flown too.
At Kessingland sewage works, a female Grey Wagtail and male Reed Bunting seen. Several Meadow Pipits and around 20 Pied wagtails seen too, but no Firecrest.
I then had to go into work for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.
At Strumpshaw Fen, I saw regular correspondent Paul W, & from the Fen hide, I saw a Bittern fly away at 2.30pm and around 3.30pm but I didn't get the shots I hoped for. On the pool in front of the hide, 6 Teal and a redhead Smew swam out from behind the island on several occasions. Finally 6 Tufted Duck seen. Several female Marsh harriers seen too. In the woods, a Siskin was seen too.
Back in Lowestoft, at Burnt Hill Lane, I saw Andrew E (who had texted me earlier) and Don & Gwen M & I was able to look at an immature male Ruddy Shelduck who was associating with around 20 Egyptian geese in the north- west corner of the field.
Finally at 5.24pm whilst replenishing the bird feeders with sunflower seeds and fatballs, I got my avian thank you, with a fantastic Woodcock flying right over the west edge of the garden at roof height flying south and over Fallowfields. A new garden tick!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Another Redwing

A Redwing was seen perched high in the tree at the back of the garden this morning at 8am before flying north over the garden. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Waxwing still there

An early morning trip to the Ashburnham Way Waxwing before work, hoping to improve on the photos I already have of the bird, failed despite the bird showing well in the same bush. Sadly, the poor light was again at fault and this only started to improve as I was driving to work. The Waxwing again feasted on the berries in a back garden and then flew to a distant tree. I must have just missed the Waxwings at Kensington Gardens as there was no sign at 8am, but I later heard they were there at 8.15am. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Lone Waxwing

The Ashburnham Way male Waxwing at Carlton Colville was absent from it's usual bush as I was passing on the way back from collecting my car. But a walk into Rozlyne Close nearby revealed the bird preening high up in an alder tree, it soon flew over to its favoured bush gulping down the berries with relish, at 10.15am albeit in a steady downpour of rain making photography nigh on impossible despite the Waxwing posing incredibly well. I enjoyed the bird for 5 minutes before it flew right and it was my cue to go back to work.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A Parakeet in hand

A text message I received at 11.19am, from the Suffolk BINS bird information service stating that Ring -necked Parakeet was "in hand @ Carlton Res Centre now, being processed 2 b released at 11.45am", meant action stations as we had to get down their quickly!
Jenny drove me to the Reserve centre with 5 minutes to spare, and I saw Steve P handling this bird, a female Ring- necked Parakeet. The female's plumage doesn't sport the rose- coloured ring around her neck, unlike the male's "bling-ier" plumage.
The Ring- necked Parakeet is an introduced bird to the UK, being originally a native of SE Asia & Central Africa. The bird had escaped from County estate landowners collections of exotic birds and have found the UK very much to their liking and big flocks of them can be seen in parts of London and the South- east. 
In East Anglia they are still a scarcely seen bird, although several have been seen in recent years including one viewed from our present garden!
The bird was bloodied, not from her capture or subsequent ringing, but from her attacks on Steve's hand and Mr P had to don gardening gloves for better protection! She had a powerful bill that she was prepared to use! Consequently her vent and undertail coverts were stained with Steve's blood.
This Parakeet had been caught in Steve's garden in Bungay and we had very little time to take pictures as guidelines state that caught birds need to be released within an hour of capture.
But I was grateful for this all to rare opportunity to get close pics of this exotic visitor.
Steve brought the bird outside to be ringed and we (Andrew E, Robert W, Roy H, James B & Derek B- our esteemed Chairman) were able to get a few pics in the 2 minutes that we were allowed, before her subsequent release.

A look in the field west of Burnt Hill Lane revealed 14 Egyptian Geese but the Pink- foot appears to have gone. Next stop was Ashburnham way in Carlton Colville by the bus stop,which was already full of birders (including Roger C, Richard W & later Chris M) where we saw an adult male Waxwing feeding voraciously off a particularly berry laden bush in a lady's back garden. The bird was reasonably confiding but seen in poor light, until one of our number ventured to close and the Waxwing flew back into a dense scrub.
The bird returned as we saw the Waxwing again on the bush at 4.10pm on our return from Southwold. A Fieldfare was also seen later in a berry tree by the junction of Hollow Lane and Beccles road.
At Southwold, I eventually saw the Pink- footed Geese on the Town Marshes, initially seen in flight from the Harbour/ Golf course road, I initially counted 9, when we drove round to view 500 yards west of the harbour I counted 10 feeding by the grassy edge of a pool on the extreme northern end of the marsh.
In Southwold Churchyard, a Fieldfare fed in another berry laden tree.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Garden Delights

A prolific number of birds were either seen in or from the garden during a 2 hour vigil this afternoon. At 2pm I glanced out of the window and could see a pair of magnificent Bullfinch perched in the flowering Cherry, again after the buds. I raced upstairs, retrieving my camera in the process and was just getting set up when a Magpie and A Jackdaw flew in causing the Bullfinches to fly right. I decided to wait and didn't have to wait long before the female Bullfinch came back and start feeding on the Cherry buds, I was able to obtain a few pictures in slightly better light than their previous visit.
She visited again at 3pm and 3.15pm for a few minutes each time and feeding right at the very front of the tree on the last occasion.  Both birds flew in at 3.50pm for their final visit of the day. It was especially pleasing to see these scarce birds as they are difficult to see and even harder to photograph. I'll post the pictures later on in the weekend.
It was pleasing to note that up to 6 House Sparrow (3 males and 3 females) were feeding from the fatballs put out. A bird that was formerly a great scarcity seems to have been lured in with the cold weather in December and they've remained ever since. A Hedge Sparrow was also present and a pair of Robins were also seen.Up to 3 Chaffinches (2 males & 1 Female seen also). A male Greenfinch came briefly to feed from the sunflower feeders. The Tit family were represented by up to 4 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit & a visiting party of 5 Long- tailed Tits, preceded by a singleton. 
Early on during the watch I heard the "chuckling" of an overflying Fieldfare flying east. Later on a Redwing perched up in the middle tree at the back of the garden when a dog walker walked past. a Single Song Thrush was perched in the large bush beyond the garden. Up to 4 Blackbirds seen in the garden today. 2 Wood Pigeons were seen on the garden and a fine Stock Dove was walking around on the Fallowfields ground before flying off to Parkhill Hotel grounds.
A Green Woodpecker flew from Fallowfields over to Parkhill Hotel ground and I witnessed this bird repeat this feat 30 minutes later. later on I saw an overflying great Spotted woodpecker flying north. 2 rabbits were seen on Fallowfields including a male Pheasant too.

Friday, 12 February 2010

More Redwing

15 Redwing were seen in a berry laden tree at the side of the A12 road just by the James Paget District Hospital at Gorleston yesterday morning (8.10am, Thursday 11th February).
1 was also seen calling as it flew over to and settled in the berry tree in front of Morrisons supermarket at lunchtime 12.30pm again Thursday 11th February.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Fieldfare Sighting & Sea Eagle vote

With the return of a cm of snow/ ice/ hale, it was fitting a winter thrush, a fine Fieldfare was seen perched up in a tree in the back of the garden at 8am this morning. It was perched facing the house, the brown streaked breast sides were seen very well on this bird,  but it turned round facing left and flew off just as I was getting my camera out of the bag (in the house, typical!)

If you want to vote on whether you wish to see White- tailed Sea Eagles re-introduced into coastal Suffolk, or if you are vehemently opposed to it log onto

and vote in his poll.
This is an excellent website by a local birder who used a camera and telescope combination to take pictures of birds with fine results. Check out his excellent pictures of Black- necked Grebe, Bittern and Peregrine 

Monday, 8 February 2010

Green Cross Code!

Returning from a talk last night (Monday 8th February) the silhouette of a small deer, showing the distinct shape of a Muntjac Deer crossed the road at 9.20pm, on the Halesworth town centre bypass road (Saxon Way) crossing from right to left from one wooded area to another, but very close to the town itself! 

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Bullfinch Bonanza

I have just seen 3 amazing Bullfinches perched high up in one of our trees at the back of our garden (11.05 am) feeding off the buds of the Cherry tree.
Most prominent of the trio was of course the striking male, with peachy pink underparts, who perched higher up and on the front edge of the tree. Whilst one female perched higher up in the middle and the other lower down at the back, their underpart colour was of a less striking mocha coffee-brown shade. The male spent several minutes feeding on the buds, before the higher female took the initiative and flew down to the bushes on Fallowfields followed next by the female and then finally the gorgeous male departed, sadly.
Jenny called these plump stunners "the fat birds" and I was fortunately able to fire off several photo's albeit in poor light with the window open without disturbing them.
There are of course another new garden tick.

A walk down Oulton Marshes/ Fisher Row this afternoon revealed a Barn Owl that from the barn, appropriately enough and flew storngly over to N & S Rede Marsh it flew back strongly and settled on a distant post before flying back again. The bird had several whitish areas on it's upperparts giving it a distinctive appearance. 7 Fieldfare flew up from the Barn and flew east and overhead. 10 Wigeon were on the new cut, the western most flood alleviation dyke, a male and female Tufted duck flew down the river whilst a Cormorant flew up the river. Something disturbed the birds on Peto's marsh and amongst 300+ Lapwing were 14 Golden Plover, about 30 Starlings and 200+ BH Gulls. On the far pool, 3 male Tufted duck were seen. Whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker seen by the "bowl" area (a Bullfinch was heard here too), one was also seen near the horse field just before the paths winds back up the hill, in the horse field were 20 Redwing feeding.
At Burnt Hill Lane, Carlton Marshes 22 Egyptian Geese were seen in the dip of the field together with a seated Pink- footed Goose which soon stood up when a dog walker went past. 
From Asda 300+ Black- headed Gulls and up to 4 great Crested Grebes (1 was also seen on Oulton Broad).

At Ness Point, the Purple Sandpipers had moved north by 100 yards to the sea defence rock protecting the northern section of Ness Point, initially only 4 were seen but several joined them and at 4pm, I counted 8 birds in all, my highest Purple Sandpiper count this winter. 
I will post the photo's later.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Purple Sands to the Rescue

After a brilliantly sunny early morning where I noticed the first 2 Snowdrop plants were flowering in the garden.
I went out birding and the fog rolled in all of a sudden, typical! Looking from Asda, a Kestrel perched on the grain silo and a Great Crested Grebe was seen amongst a a group of 50+ Black- headed Gulls.
Nothing in Hamilton Dock. At Ness Point, 6 Turnstone were on the seawall and 6 Purple Sandpipers fed on the "finger" only around 20 feet away. 
The accompanying pictures shows a local farmer's opposition to the plan by English Nature to re-introduce White- tailed Sea Eagles to the East Suffolk coast. I, for one, would be in favour of the re-introduction provided they will be self- sustaining, although whether this project will reach fruition is very much in the balance. I suspect there will be lots of opposition from farmers, landowners and maybe even some birders (who will argue disturbance to some of our rarer breeding species such as Avocets & Bitterns). Archaeological evidence has proved that these magnificent raptors used to inhabit East Anglia and were at the very top of the food chain until they were driven out by man). They surely deserve a second chance to regain their East Anglian foothold, but what do you think?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Redwings still around

2 Redwing flew up from Fallowfields meadow just beyond the garden at 8.15am this morning and flew east. 1 Redwing was also feeding on the large berry bush just behind Great Yarmouth Library at lunchtime today.
Please see update to Black Kite identification at Gigrin Farm (included in the 26 Jan Black Kite Magic blog).

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Lunch break Goodies

A strict 50 minutes lunchbreak stop at Whittlingham Lane Great Broad was in order today after a morning training course at County Hall. 
I was particularly keen to see a couple of new arrivals since my last visit, not least the elusive female Ring- necked Duck, which I'd missed previously at Wroxham Broad.
I walked west of the island and together with Mike P scanned the ducks including several Pochard and there it was at last the excellent female Ring- necked duck but she was asleep. A smaller duck than the nearby Pochard with dark blackish- brown back, grey looking head with peaked rear crown and a tiny prominent tail sticking up a little like a Ruddy Duck's tail. When she woke up twice briefly the greyish head sported a white eye ring and white line extending back and down a little from the eye. The was a was a white band or crescent around the lores and base of the bill.  The grey bill had a wide black tip and white sub- terminal band given the bill a distinct tri- coloured appearance. Often it was seen between 2 posts where 2 Cormorant sat on each one, including 1 white- headed "Sinensis" race Cormorant. A female redhead Goosander swam out right from the island.
While another birder put me onto the first winter male Scaup, dark green-brown head, brown breast with the brown on the flanks getting lighter on the rear of the bird and grey brown upperparts. A distinctive bird when picked out but difficult to pick out unseen when it was right at the back of the broad with some 200+ Tufted duck and around 70+ Pochard.  
walking down towards the Yacht station I saw the redhead Smew swimming right over the far side just right of a wooden jetty. 
Walking further left, seeing Mike P I could see the Great Northern Diver was really close just beyond the trees lining the Broad, Unfortunately he swam back a little before I could get some shots. On one occasion he crouched really low on the water as if wanting to appear inconspicuous, as always a magnificent bird. 
Nearer the Yacht club, some people were working on the boats, a rattling pair of Mistle Thrush flew overhead , on the far side and they had fortuitously for us, pushed the Red- necked Grebe over to our side and I took full advantage firing shot after shot of the camera. It also swam back and right.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Red Fox

Driving north along the A12 at 8.50am this morning on the way to work, just before I reached the Hospital roundabout I could see in a field to the east of the road, a Red Fox "snuffling" around.
The enclosed pic was taken recently in Wales.
See my blog for early morning 24/1/10 below.