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Monday, 28 June 2010

Parus Major in the Bathroom!

We woke up this morning at at about 6.50 am and on hearing a strange scratching noise eminating from the bathroom, Jenny & looked at each other and I was delegated to investigate. I looked in, and incredibly saw a young Great Tit, perched on the lip of the window sill, half in and half out of the sill, with its head down apparently feeding on something, which I can only assume was an insect. I quietly closed the door and quickly went downstairs to retrieve my camera but sadly was too late as it had gone when I re-entered the room.
In the garden over the last few days and particularly this morning the garden and the feeders in particular have been alive with families of young Blue Tits, Great Tits, Greenfinches and Collared Dove in evidence as well as a young Wood Pigeon too.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Help a Toad across...the Library Car park !?!

Returning to work at noon following TOIL for having to work this coming Saturday afternoon, I was told that a plastic watering can (that one of my Library colleagues, Jan, had brought in to water the vegetables we are growing in one corner) had a stowaway in it! A very welcome stowaway, a Common Toad! She had only been discovered when another colleague loading boxes into the garage had seen the watering can move of its own accord!
Looking into the plastic watering can, I could see the Toad was crouched in at the far end.
Very carefully taking her out, I judged the sex of the Common Toad to be a female, as she was very big around 15 cm long. She sat totally non-fussed by all the attention she received, and posed beautifully, barely moving before I took a few shots and we put her back safely and carefully within the watering can! 
Finally, at 5pm Jan drove home with both her watering can and her stowaway to repatriate them back into her garden!

Out Bungay Way

Jenny & had a look at one of SWT's roadside wildlife reserves near Bungay yesterdat Wednesday evening and we were delighted to see a fine display of Orchids, 5 fine Bee Orchids, c500 Spotted Orchids (mostly of the White variety a little past their best) and an incredible c2,500 Pyramidial Orchids starting to flower with 1 almost mythical white variety in full flower but slightly past its best.
A Yellowhammer was seen and a Turtle Dove was heard 'purring' sadly an increasingly rarer sound around the local countryside these days.
Whilst visiting Mettingham castle, we went past an area (reachable by taking the second road running south off Mettingham village, by the small postbox and labelled Vicarage Lane drive through and past Grove farm on your right and then park near the gate at the junction.)
Which was labelled a concessionary footpath, looking a little like an old rail track area but has been conceived by the Grove farm owner, which I learned talking to a friendly local, The area had bushes lined on the north side and a small natural scrub/ wood the other.
In the scrubby area, several Yellowhammers were heard singing and one seen on top a small tree. the scrubby are also had several Pyramidial Orchids and Early Marsh Orchids (well past their best).
Looking again today (Thursday 24th June), having first taken pictures of the Orchids at the former site, near the entrance to the track in a Mountain ash tree near the entrance, 3 Willow Warblers were seen with singing Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat also heard nearby.
Walking down the track I saw a very elusive Beautiful Demoiselle seen several times but eluded me every time I tried to get a picture of it, a very posey (by contrast) female Broad- bodied Chaser returning to the same bit of bare twig, Small tortoiseshell and Large Skipper butterflies and finally a Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly, proof positive of migrants prospecting well away from water which was seen resting by the hedge and then flew up to rest by a higher area of a tree.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Michael Bentine's Pottytime!

A walk around Carlton Marshes over the past few evenings in the gloriously sunny weather, led to a moment just out of the above TV series. Whilst looking over Whitecast Marshes on Monday 21st June, amongst the reeds Jenny &  I could see movements in the reeds barely 2 feet away we could not see the bird making these movements. I could almost hear Mr Bentyne's voice chuckling away! The birds were almost definitely Sedge Warblers as 2 or 3 were seen here as was a Fox that dashed seemingly to the edge of the pond but disappeared from view.
Several Reed warblers were seen and several calling Reed Buntings too. Hearing a Cuckoo calling almost constantly we walked over to the North wall and 2 Cuckoo's flew west, one bird was still calling and it also flew west, so 3 Cuckoo's seen in all. 
On Tuesday 22nd June, we walked straight over tp the North Marsh, a Cuckoo flew west and later flew east. Several Sedge warblers were seen and 2 Barn Owls flying over distant fields, 1 flew over towards us and then settled in a bush. It proved to be a young bird, recently fledged as it still showed white down on its plumage. A Magpie settled on the bush and the Barn Owl looked rather quizzically at it.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Oulton Marshes Boat trip

Jen & I went on a boat trip organised by Suffolk Wildlife Trust this afternoon at 3.30pm, as a thank you to all who had donated to the Oulton Marshes appeal. Unfortunately the weather was at it's worst on the first part of the trip with strong winds and rain lashing down. Soaking those intrepid souls with the "best seat in the house" on the top deck, including yours truly! Jenny had very wisely retreated to the lower covered deck and enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and shortbread biscuit. The rain did however, force several (c30) Swifts very low over the water hawking for insects. 
It was pleasing to hear from the warden Matt Gooch that SWT had bought up much of the land along the river up to and including Camps Heath marsh. No sooner had we turned around, just before a Little Egret flew north parallel to the river and where the river met the River Waveney, the return journey heralded better weather as the rain stopped and the sun very belatedly came out. A pale male Marsh Harrier flew over the field on Peto's marsh and dropped down into the crops before re-emerging and flying north parallel to and very close to (enabling me to fire off several photo's) and then over the river and then flying appropriately enough over Fisher Row marshes.
Over the past week in the garden the peanut and sunflower feeders have been alive with several Blue Tit fledglings and 1 Great Tit fledgling feeding as well as an adult male Greenfinch feeding from the sunflower feeders. I have been hampered in getting out and about this week what with the poor weather and struggling with a very heavy cold, I had particularly wanted to check out the local Bee Orchid sites.
One morning on Tuesday it was pleasing to hear the "chirruping" of a House sparrow from the bathroom window. Maybe they are nesting near the Holly tree as I saw an adult female with a beak full of food there the previous evening.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bee Orchid

A delightful evening out (with places absolutely deserted and barely any traffic on the roads during the England World Cup match) revealed a male Sparrowhawk flying over Corton woods clutching a mouse or vole. Nearby, I discovered in the fading light, a Bee Orchid near a traditional site for the species (which had proved barren for this species over the last 2 years) and 3 spikes of Spotted Orchid just starting to flower.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Norfolk Hawker

I was delighted to see a Norfolk Hawker patrolling the rear of the garden at 6.10pm this evening. A large hawker dragonfly with brown abdomen, clear wings and green eyes. It flew from left to right, right to left on at least 6 separate flights before it disappeared south over the fence towards Fallowfield.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Strumpshaw & Suffolk garden delights

Saturday 5th June, I heard a Whimbrel fly over the garden but unfortunately not seen.
Jenny & I visited RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, and I have never seen so many people as I did today.
Even a second car park in the field opposite the original was full and I eventually found somewhere to park. The hot sunny sultry weather provided us with our best views yet of up to 5 Swallowtail butterflies, one before the bend and up to 4 flying along the straight path around the Fen walk following the river with 2 individuals showing fluttering and then gliding in flight just above the reeds and then settling on the tops of the reeds. 3 Brimstone were also seen plus a female Marsh harrier and a calling Cuckoo.
The walk back and Dr Martin George's garden had a small cluster of people peering with cameras into the flowers at the front of the garden, a sure sign of a Swallowtail and one immaculate individual was feeding and showing very well here for around 5 minutes before it flew back towards the Fen. Thanks to Dr George's generosity I was again able to obtain some stunning shots. 
A stop at Norwich Camping & Leisure gardening centre at Brundall revealed a fine adult male Pied Wagtail feeding on the ground amongst the tables.
Sunday the 6th june I saw my first  migrant Silver Y Moth of the year perched on the outside window pane of the small front room.