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Monday, 30 August 2010

Poor Seawatch

With the winds still blowing from the north I had high hopes of goodies being seen past Ness Point. There were but as usual I didn't see them, too late I should have got their earlier than late morning. I had 2 Shelduck flying south and groups of 5, 15, 5 and 6 Common Scoter flying north.
Around 12 Teal settled on the sea before flying south another 8 Teal flew south and that's all I saw in a half hour seawatch. 

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Yesterday, Saturday 28th August not feeling well (another migraine!) I was limited to watching the back garden late afternoon and a female Whitethroat worked her way down the west hedgerow to the Holly tree.
Today, a male Whitethroat was seen on the bramble over next door's fence.
A BINS message about 2 local Lowestoft Wrynecks (one at Gunton well found by Rob Wil, one at Carlton Marshes excellently found by Chris M) soon had me looking around Gunton Beach dunes where I saw Rob Win, Rob Wil and Andrew E. The Wryneck had been seen briefly by Rob Wil and Andrew E had seen a probable Barred Warbler in a sycamore tree just east of a sycamore tree I had found one in some 15 years ago!
Peering intently in all I saw were several 3 Whitethroats, a fine pair of Blackcaps and several Linnets and Greenfinches. 
More people arrived, including Ricky F, whilst the 2 Robs and Andrew left and after we had thoroughly scoured the area, as I was talking to other birders present, at 12.45pm a distinctive bird got up and flew presumably from the bushes behind (west of us) over the grass and I got my bins on it quickly, it was the excellent Wryneck, it flew down into a great swathe of brambles and out of sight never sadly to be seen again.
The 7 note whistle heralded a Whimbrel flying south over the sea.
Jon E then joined us, and showed us his usual excellent pics. In my opinion, he is one of the top 2 Suffolk photographers and I can only aspire to get the sort of quality shots that he regularly obtains.
An afternoon walk around Corton Old rail track and sewage works revealed few birds due to the very strong westerly winds. All i saw were several Migrant hawkers, Common darters,& Speckled Wood butterfly plus 3 very large Mushrooms/ toadstools by the copse.
Back in the garden, a Red Admiral brave the high winds & I heard the distinctive call of an overflying Whimbrel whilst in the house but could not pick up when I went outside.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Windy conditions and more Garden Delights

North- east winds led to 7 calling Whimbrel flying south over Gorleston Library car park and the Lowestoft rd area at 8.55am on Thursday 26th August. A seawatch in the evening revealed 3 Arctic Skuas flying south over the sea with little else seen.
A seawatch again from Ness Point early on Friday 7.30 to 8.40am on the 27th revealed 2 probable Pomarine Skuas flying north separately but they were virtually on the horizon, the squat body shape and flight pattern suited this species. A further 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 and 1 respectively flew south. Whilst sandwich tern flew south and rafts of 30, 10 and 10 Common Scoters and a lone female later flew north. 
A walk down Corton Old rail track revealed nothing save for 2 Migrant Hawkers but when I arrived home the garden was alive with birds again, with 15 Blue Tit and 10 long- tailed Tits very active again all over the garden they were joined loosely by up to 3 Chiff- Chaff, 2 of their number even bathed for some time in the bird bath.
Best of all was a wonderful Hobby, only my second garden record, which I was alerted to at 6.22pm by the alarm calls of the local House Martins. This very agile, slim Falcon scythed its way quickly over the Fallowfields and west over the garden, clipping the garden airspace before disappearing all too quickly west and out of sight. This has been my only Suffolk sighting of this species this year so far.
Not to be out done, another second record for the garden was seen in the form of a Lesser Whitethroat they fed around the Wisteria close to the garage. I managed a few shots of the bird. One Long- tailed Tit ventured even closer frequenting the Honeysuckle in front of the bedroom window. A Robin was also seen later.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Garden visitors galore!

Around 8 o'clock this morning I heard the familiar harsh grating "chuck chuck chuck" cry of a Grey Squirrel, only the third I have seen in the garden (3 times too many!) and I went out to investigate and saw it perched on the back fence, it ran off next door when our cat came out to chase it off, hurrah!
Cleo, our cat, is very well trained she doesn't catch birds but chases off Grey Squirrels!
In the evening, at around 6pm when it started to rain, a whole horde of Blue Tits of around 15 in total, were very active feeding on the insects on the honeysuckle just outside the conservatory and by the holly bush in front of the kitchen window and all over the garden. They were joined by around 5 Great Tits.
But I was delighted to add a new species to the garden list, a fine male Lesser Whitethroat that was seen in the Copper Beech at the back, it later reappeared and I managed to obtain a record shot of it. We also managed to see a fine Song Thrush our first in the garden since the very cold spell during the wintry weather and encouragingly a brief glimpse of a young Song Thrush on the apex of the garage roof. Plus 2 Blackbirds, 1 female and i juvenile bird. Not to be outdone a very obliging male Whitethroat fed on the honeysuckle right by the conservatory and was phot'd in very poor light (it was raining) Why so much activity? I can only assume the rain had driven some insects out as the garden was alive with avian visitors and forced down the migrant Lesser Whitethroat.
It also helps our neighbours are on holiday and thankfully they have taken their two very noisy children with them, so we are blissfully peace and quiet at the moment, instead of having to put up with their constant screaming and shouting the whole time.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Whinchats, Wheatears & Mystery Bush Cricket finally ID'd

Taking TOIL this afternoon, because I had to work in the evening, I did a bit of a seawatch off Ness Point hoping to see a Cory's or at least some Skuas, there was a good passage of Terns, with 100 or so Common Terns seen and 4 Sandwich Terns flying mostly south, but little else. Usual seawatch fayre for me and I gave up after half an hour. Having better luck on the North Denes autumn migration has finally started, and both Robert Wil & I saw 3 Wheatears by the Net posts several Swallows flying around the sea wall including some of their number resting on the west facing slopes. Several Linnets seen on the Denes and around 10 Pied Wagtails and between the Oval and the Links rd car park.  4 fine Whinchat perched on top of the weedy vegetation, 2 perched on the same plant even.
On Sunday 22nd August in the garden, a calling Chiff Chaff was seen around the garden and even perched on a rose just 2 feet from the open conservatory doors, whilst 2 Migrant Hawkers flew around the garden feeding on insects.

Take a bow, Mr John H who has identified a mystery Bush cricket that I saw at Lake Scotini path in Corfu, last August and has remained a mystery for the past year until today.
Lake Scotini was one of the regular childhood haunts of one of my heroes, the late great Gerald Durrell who has done so much for wildlife conservation and also wrote some really entertaining and educational books too.
John has ID'd it as a Eupholidoptera chabrieri. I'm sure he's right. There is no English name, but I found someone on the Net calling it Chabrier's Bush Cricket which sounds appropriate.
Anyway, well done & thanks very much John for your help.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Southern Hawker

A birdless walk along the Corton rail track late afternoon today, revealed up to 5 Hawker dragonflies, 4 Migrant Hawkers and 1 superb Southern Hawker which spent a lot of time investigating me, it was a stunning male, sadly it was never seen perched. The reason for so few birds were the rather windy conditions.
Butterflies seen included up to 4 Holly Blues on the wing.
Meanwhile, in the garden a calling Chiff- Chaff was heard at the back.

Young Lesser Black- back

On Wednesday (18th August) early morning, a young Lesser Black- backed Gull spent some time running around the Library car park, it was "squarking" quite a lot and its parents were keeping an eye on it from nearby rooftop promentary. I managed to fire off a few shots of the bird before it eventually flew up to join its parents on the roof.

Monday, 16 August 2010


A trip to Wales to see the family, meant I was able to squeeze in a few birding walks.
Most notably, a walk down to the local Cymisfael stream from Llanddarog village everyday.
The first walk (Friday 13th) I saw a female Blackcap at the bottom of the hill, a Grey Wagtail by the "right" bridge. The second walk (Saturday 14th) a walk along the stream just past the second footbridge I disturbed a bird calling "tzchik" as it flew left along the stream. I suspected it was a dipper and this was confirmed when I saw an immature Dipper perched on a rock at the point where the stream diverts west, where it preened before it eventually flew off down the stream.
A Wall Brown butterfly flew over the hedgerow bordering the road  and settled on a Coke can, posing well for photo's.
Sunday morning I drove to RSPB Dinas on the way at Ciao, a Red Kite flew over. walking down the boardwalk, a Redstart flew into a bush. Several Treecreepers were seen and at the end of the boardwalk a Fox was seen ambling down the hill but soon saw me and scarpered back up the hill. I eventually picking up "mewing" Buzzard that was perched on a rock on a distant hillside. Back along the boardwalk, the Treecreepers were seen again plus an excellent Wood Warbler was seen briefly and a few Siskins moved through the canopy of the trees. Finally along the distant ridge whilst driving away from the reserve I saw 2 Red Kites flying left along the top of the ridge.
The third walk (Sunday 15th afternoon) revealed Grey Wagtail at the "right" bridge. Walking down towards Whitehall bridge, I saw a Hawker dragonfly flying down the road (it wasn't Brown/ Southern Hawker) it was either Common or Migrant but I didn't see enough on it to positively ID it. I did see a fine looking Banded Demoiselle however. The croak of a distant Raven eventually revealed said bird flying left low over the treetops. A Gatekeeper showed well at the hedge side.
Both Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood butterflies showed well in Mum's garden.

Damsels & Butterflies

Last Sunday (8th August) Rob W, Andrew E, John H and myself drove down to Essex to "twitch" some Dragonflies and Butterflies. Our first stop was the impressive Hadleigh Country park on Canvey island Essex. Finally, the weather looked good enough for a try for the impressive Southern Migrant Hawkers that have been seen here over the month or so (unfortunately every weekend since then has been windy, cloudy or pouring with rain or all three all together!)
Unfortunately despite intensive looking by all four (we'd spread checking out pools, dykes and bushes separately) out of us we failed to see any, it was especially galling to read later of someone (well done to them!) who searched an hour later than and found 8 individuals in 4 separate areas here.
We did however see several Scarce Emerald Damselflies, identified by looking intently at their anal appendages (I kid you not!) which should be curved. We also saw many Migrant Hawkers including one very bright one flying over the second pool.
We then moved on to Country park in Essex where walking along a line of Oak trees and brambles we saw one then several at least 4 very bright orange butterflies flying around, Silver Washed fritillaries. One flew onto the path and perched briefly, another flew up to the oak tree and perched on the trunk of a tree, whilst another perched close to the path and posed nicely for pictures. Small red- eyed damselfly seen by the pond also.
Final destination was Campsea Ash near Wickham Market to look for the famed Willow Emeralds which have spread across from the continent. Before we got to the river Andrew spotted one perched on a leaf around 8 foot up. By the lower tree line on a nearby field several were spotted by Andrew & Rob around 8 to 10 feet up, I initially struggled to see them but when I did I was able to appreciate seeing the spur on the side of the thorax of the Willow Emerald's body, a key distinctive feature to distinguish the species.
We also saw on the river a very pale Red- eyed Damselfly that initially flummuxed us as to its ID and then later by a bridge we saw up to 4 splendid Banded Demoiselles showing well.

Kentish Plover

Last Saturday (7th August) a BINS message had me driving over to the South wall of Breydon Water, Peter A had found a Kentish Plover and I was keen to see it! 
As I walked up the bank the signs were looking good as they was a small throng of birders peering intently at something and I joined the crowd and was soon enjoying good mid-range views of an immature Kentish Plover just on the Norfolk side. It spent time feeding amongst Ringed Plovers whilst occasionally running very quickly Sanderling-like before it stopped near a stone and stood motionless for some time. The legs on the Kentish were well set back on the body making the bird look almost top heavy as if it was about to fall over.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Gulls on the North Denes

Yesterday, (Tuesday 3rd August) I spent a pleasant hour strolling along the sea wall with my brother who was on a brief visit from Wales. We saw an adult Little Gull fly south over the sea and a 1 year old Mediterranean gull stood on the Link's rd car park. A Migrant Hawker dragonfly also flew over the wall.
Also seen in the last few days were 3 Brown Hawkers flying mid afternoon over Great yarmouth Library car park on Monday 2nd August and a singleton of each Brown & Migrant Hawker flying in the garden on Sunday 1st August.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A vile, disgusting, shameful & murderous act

Regular readers of this blog, will have noted my recent reference to the very rare Southern Migrant Hawkers that have been discovered down at Hadleigh Country Park in Essex. 
This is a local Mediterranean species that is rarely seen on these shores. Sadly, the weather wasn't very good last weekend for viewing them and I had been waiting and hoping to travel down this Saturday to see one. However an outrageous message on Bird Guides this afternoon stated:
"Southern Migrant Hawker Hadleigh Country park until 12.15 when obtained by a collector"

This is totally and utterly obscene and disgraceful in this day and age, how could anyone even consider murdering, and that's what it is, murder, a poor beautiful and defenceless insect?
You would expect this sort of behaviour in the Victorian era but in the 21st century?

Not only was this action barberous and brutal to the dragonfly concerned, but it was also extremely selfish on the part of the "collector" or murdering b*****d I'd call him.
Selfish and inconsiderate because other people are prepared to travel far and wide to see and photograph such a beautiful joyous creature and presumably many people "dipped" out this afternoon because of this.
This action is also highly illegal and should be reported to the police and hopefully the authorities can impound and confiscate the specimen and probably his illegally obtained collection of other dead insects and hopefully he would be prosecuted with a very hefty fine and jailed for such a barberous act.
It also risks future suppression by any future finders of rare wildlife at this site and maybe other sites thus denying other people the chance to witness such a rare and beautiful spectacle, but most importantly protecting the species in question from the attentions of such unscrupulous collectors in the future?
Enough said.
UPDATE: A picture of the offender can be seen on Bird Forum website page 4. 
He claims he was collecting it for the "British Museum!!!"
The British Dragonfly Society have condemned this action, too.