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Monday, 31 January 2011

Bullfinch Surprise

It was really very nice to see a pair of Bullfinches on the back tree of the garden, the male was at the front of the tree and the female at the back at 8.30am and they were feeding on the buds of the tree. After 5 minutes they flew off but not before I had fired off a few shots with the camera. After another 5 minutes they were back at 8.40am both Bullfinches now at the back of the tree and they stayed another five minutes before next door's children scared them off as they screamed as they were herded into the car that was taking them (the children) to school. 
It was a pity they didn't show during my 1 hour observation yesterday for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch where I counted a paltry total of 2 Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, 2 Wood Pigeon and 1 Collared Dove. Last year I counted in addition the 2 Bullfinch, 5 Redwing and 1 Snipe that briefly settled (of 3 overflying Snipe).

Sunday, 30 January 2011

More misses

An early morning look at Sotterley failed to produce any Hawfinches, no surprises there.
A look at Lound revealed little and from St. Olaves bridge, I saw 78 Pink- footed Geese on Haddiscoe marshes but no Ross' which had flown off. A look from Herringfleet Hills only revealed 1 Egyptian Goose plus 50 and 30 Siskin flying south just over the Alders. A calling Treecreeper spiralled up a nearby tree and a nice consolation bonus was first 1 and then another Woodcock flying around the fields.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Grave Concern over Egyptian Museum treasures

I have been very concerned over the security of the Egyptian treasures housed in Egypt particularly the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and some of the Museums and temple and Tomb sites at Luxor. The current riots against the Mubarek regime have targeted government buildings opposite the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Museum was even broken into by thieves through a skylight and even some items were disgracefully looted and damaged including a statue of Tutankhamun (broken in two) and two 2,000 year old Mummies destroyed. Looters will be aware of the very high sums these items would fetch on the black market antiquities trade market. Given the ages quoted in the news, these Mummies destroyed must be Greco- Roman mummies and I sincerely hope not older mummies from New Kingdom era Ancient Egypt.
The treasures in this Museum are priceless and are world heritage archaeological items and many are in my opinion the best things that mankind has ever produced ie. the Golden mask of Tutankhamun is the most beautiful and iconic work of art ever produced.
More MUST be done to preserve these priceless world treasures. A review of security is urgently needed now.

UPDATE 30/1 I have now been able to get a few more details about the looting of the Cairo Museum. Several priceless artefacts from the Tutankhamun collection have been damaged including the statuette of Tutankamun standing on a Panther (a wonderful piece about a foot high) and another statuette of Tutankhamun as a harpooner standing on a bier (another wonderful piece also around a foot high). Authorities say these can be restored.
2 other pieces both around a foot tall of Tutankhamun (from the same museum display case) holding staff have also been damaged.
They are now stating 2 Pharaonic  mummies have been destroyed with only their heads still intact, they haven't named the mummies as yet, I fervently hope these weren't Royal Mummies from the New Kingdom. Looking at the footage the open gilded cartonnage top is strewn on the floor of what appears to be the covering of Tjuya's mummy from the New Kingdom, I hope it isn't her Mummy and that of her husband Yuya which has been looted and virtually destroyed apart from their heads. The Mummies of Yuya and Tjuya are (or were?) 2 of the finest preserved mummies from New Kingdom Egypt, they were the parents of Queen Tiye who was the Great Royal wife of Amenhotep 3. They were Tutankhamun's great- grand parents.
I also hope the exquisitely beautiful and unique gilded cartonnage mask of Tjuya wasn't damaged (it's very eye catching) or looted as this was placed directly opposite the mummy too.
Of equal concern is the systematic looting of artefacts from museums around the country including museums at Luxor, Abusir, Saqqara no further information is forthcoming.

Usual lack of success at Sotterley

No posts for a while as I have been working a lot (trying to stay in a job!) and when I have been out I have just not been seeing any birds of note over the past few weeks.
Last Thursday lunchtime (time was very limited) I tried from the bung at Fritton woods for the Ross' but the only Geese I saw were 16 Greylag fly past.
A look at Sotterley at just after midday failed as usual, (this site has always been very disappointing as I have only ever seen 1 Hawfinch here ever and no LSW's either) as I failed to see any Hawfinches there at all, despite searching for 2 hours
Nuthatch heard and 1 Treecreeper and Redwing seen.
The final ignomany was a message sent round on BINS stating 2 Hawfinch seen at the Church at midday!!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Approaching 10,000 Page Views!

I am amazed that when I first started my blog I would approaching 10,000 page views within 2 years. It was initially meant as an easy personal online diary of my wildlife sightings. Thank you all for reading my blog and I hope to have some new entries at the weekend.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Iceland Gull on Link's road car park

This morning, Thursday 20th January from Link's Hill I could immediately see the 1st winter Iceland Gull splashing in a puddle of water, the Gull then started preening for several minutes and I took a few pictures from the car using it as a hide before it eventually flew flying over first Gunton Beach and then Lowestoft north beach. An adult winter Mediterranean Gull also flew north over Lowestoft north beach too.
A Waxwing was heard trilling somewhere near the back of Gorleston Library this afternoon at around 12.50pm I failed to see it despite having a quick look around.

Iceland Gull on groyne

Yesterday, Wednesday 19th January I saw the Iceland Gull perched on the far end of the groyne 1st one north of Link's road up until 8.35am when I had to leave for work.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Iceland Gull on Gunton Beach

Another early start hoping to see and photograph the Iceland Gull on Links road car park, it wasn't there and looking north along Gunton Beach I saw it flying north low along the beach, where it appeared to settle. Walking along the beach around 200 yards north of Links road, it was seen perched on the 3rd groyne along and perched on the nearest post on the beach. Sadly, it was cloudy and the Iceland Gull flew off before I got anywhere near it and appeared to fly way north towards Corton. I ran out of time and had to leave at 8.30am for work.
Frustratingly, as I left for work the sun came out!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Iceland Gull again

It was very nice to see the Iceland Gull in Link's Road car park this morning at first light, it spent most of the time standing by a puddle at the seawall side and I drove the car over using it as a hide and I was waiting for the light to improve when a lady dog walker flushed the Gull, it was the first Gull to fly and it flew south over the sea.
Long- tailed Tit in the garden at lunchtime feeding from the fat balls and being very confiding albeit in poor light.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Wild Goose Chase

This morning, I heard a calling Coal Tit from the garden looking west I couldn't see the bird &  I drove down to Southwold Town Marshes with Andrew E and Robert Wil. Parking just east from the harbour looked back over the marsh, the 5 White- fronted Geese were just south of a large flock of Canada Geese. The White- fronts, had been called probable Greenland flavirostris race ones, it appeared to be a family group, male and female adults and 3 immatures completely lacking white facial shields and reduced breast markings. To be honest the jury is still out on their racial identity. Although the male was on the large side (for a White-front) and appeared slightly longer necked and billed he sported a completely pink bill (as did all the others, although the Collins Guide states the "bill is long (which they were) but predominantly orange, but can look pinkish!" they were reasonably dark on the head, and neck but the breast was very pale colour as was the pale area between the two main area of thick breast markings. One appeared to have a narrow white tail tip (good for flavirostris Greenland race) while another had a thicker white tail tip (albifrons N. Europena/Siberian race). The breast markings were unusually thick and bold black, but I have seen well marked White- fronts with these before. 
I have no experience of Greenland White-fronts but would maybe expect them to be a little darker (on breast and mid belly area) with orange/ yellow bills. BWP states some albifrons can appear as dark as flavirostris Greenland race but are only separable by bill colour ie. Greenland's have orange/ yellow bills rather than pink! The 5 White- fronts ALL had pink bills, so not exceptable to me as they walked behind the Canada's and walked south at the back of the field.
A later visit to North Beach, Gunton Beach, Ness Point and Hamilton Dock I again failed to locate the elusive Iceland Gull and just saw an adult winter Mediterranean Gull flying north. 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Fallowfields Orchid site will be lost

Today, I received notification that the Site Specific allocations (ie local plan for the development of certain sites ion Lowestoft) endorsed by Waveney District Council had been passed by the Inspector and sadly the proposed development of the site into a Primary School or even further housing development is getting the go ahead.
The Council has a so called bio-diversity plan for Waveney but this development will knock out two very, very important "bio-diverse species" (using the Council's own terminology).
Clearly here actions speak far louder than words.

What a shame my objection was the only one heard (with some representation at the beginning of the process from Suffolk Wildlife Trust & I wasn't able to be represented in person at the meeting as they took place during the weekdays at the Council chambers when I was at work) and little consideration was given about the future sustainability of the near 2,000 Southern Marsh Orchids and 50 Spotted Orchids (logged just 3 years ago) which have grown on the site over the past few decades.

A death sentence is hanging over the Orchids and the Snakes that reside on this site.
These wonderful plants will be therefore lost from the area. The Grass Snakes will die too (I will miss their occasional forays into the garden during very hot summer days although Jenny and the Frogs in our pond certainly won't!) and will now mean you can only see these Orchids in the future in any numbers at the SWT Carlton Marshes site.
I will miss watching the butterflies and dragonflies seen on the site. 
The site has also recently hosted several Woodcock, Bullfinch and Redwing sightings (last winter) and I will also miss the daily visits by the local Green Woodpecker from Parkhill hotel grounds.
Despite the recent weather, the site is drying out and continued erosion of the site (by children) and natural succession (grassland turning to scrub) means there are now very few Orchids left.
Next Spring may well be your last chance to see them at this site.
The south- west corner is now the best area to look for them in June.
Lessons need to be learnt and in future
we must all join together and try and save our last remaining green spaces in Lowestoft.

A very, very, very sad day for Lowestoft and for all wildlife lovers.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Disappointing day

A glorious day weather wise, didn't translate into a good day of birding.
A trip with John H failed to reveal a potential Norfolk tick, so no Caspian Gull at Waterworks road, Norwich. One Carrion Crow harrying a Buzzard near Acle was the only avian interest.
A trip to Fritton woods, so I could look over Chedgrave marshes revealed a large Peregrine (probable female) perched on a fence post and 2 female Marsh  Harriers quartering the fields.
2 Chinese Water Deer were seen also, I failed to see the hoped for RLBuzzard, or any Owls though.
A trip to Ness Point mid afternoon failed to reveal the Iceland, 3 Purple Sandpipers were on the finger with some 20 displaced Turnstone on the walkway due to 5 boys recklessly clambering over the rocks looking for whelks (and deprive Oystercatchers of potential food).
Hamilton Dock revealed a close-in Red- throated Diver swimming away frantically sadly, as I would love to got some shots of it. 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

At last 2011 Lowestoft Waxwings and Wild swans!

Having spent much of this year looking for my own Waxwings in Lowestoft, I finally managed to see some along Beccles Road/ Hollow Grove Way at Carlton Colville this afternoon as first 39 flew in briefly feeding on the berries before flying south-west and perching on a distant tree. Seeing Dick W, we then saw a further 22 Waxwing fly in and again eventually feed from the berries from the nearest tree. 61 Waxwing were seen in total. No pictures, I'm afraid as the light was so poor!
After missing seeing the wild swans last week, due to a tyre puncture I was keen to see them today.
So, just past Blythburgh parking in the first layby on the left along the A12, looking through the hawthorn hedge, I could see firstly 3 Whooper Swan amongst some 72 Bewick's Swans. As the layby was quite close to the birds, I stayed in the car to avoid flushing them and fired off a few shots. The Swans were settled and were feeding and even walking in my direction at one point.
A murmuration of some 3,000 Starlings seen flying in 3 separate flocks over the Lowestoft harbour area at around 3.30pm.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Norfolk joy, Suffolk woe

Starting at Cantley in Norfolk, (having spied 6 Pink- footed geese along the Acle straight on the south side of the road, 6 Shelduck on the north side), parking at Burnt House Lane and walking out right along the high field, we had a great vantage point over the marshes, unfortunately it was raining sleet as I set up the scope but there were 2 groups of reasonably close Taiga Bean Geese numbering about 40 in total. 
Immediately with them at the front and conveniently situated in front of a metal gate was a group with a much smaller goose, pointed out to me by a chap who had arrived a few minutes before me. The bird looked good, small (appeared slightly smaller than a White-front) small delicate almost cute looking pink bill with the white surround reaching up to the crown and kinking back when the head was seen side ways. The bird had short orange legs (i could see no rings on the legs) and long wing feathers extending beyond the length of the closed tail. I could not quite make out the yellow eye-ring on my 30x scope but looking through the 60X magnification of the chaps scope it could be seen. 
It was an excellent Lesser White- fronted Goose, it showed darker brown plumage (but had a paler breast area) than White-fronted Geese when 17 flew in. It was also slightly smaller than them and lacking the dark breast/ belly scallops of the latter.
The Lesser White- front continued to feed mainly amongst the Taiga Beans.
4 Egyptian Geese flew left and a Grey heron also flew by.
Driving along the Halvergate straight I spied 4 Fieldfares in a bush by the side of the road.
Next stop was at Herbert Barnes car park along the south shore at Breydon water where I saw John H and we saw a range of waders including Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, a Black- tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 (male, female) Pintail seen in the distance as we walked south- west past the farm the group of 130 or so Brent Geese flew past and settled on Breydon Water, 120 were Pale-bellied Brents and at least 6 were of the more usual dark- bellied form.
They then flew back onto the fields and I promptly left for Minsmere.

A stop at the layby looking over Kessingland Levels revealed 122 Barnacle Geese, at Minsmere I had the very pleasant surprise of seeing 17 Waxwings (my first on the reserve proper!) feeding just west of the Water Vole pool in the old car park, it was nice to see Steve P & Jon E here. The Waxwings perched in a nearby tree and promptly flew down to a bare tree spiked with many apples that they were feeding on.
Roy H said the GW Teal was showing from the west hide but when I and Chris & A, we couldn't see it at all although many Teals were asleep on the bank. A redhead Smew was first seen on the south scrape but then flew onto the west middle Scrape before finally swimming around North Scrape. I spied a Water Pipit that flew in calling and then fed at the edge of a bank, it was later seen even closer feeding on a small island. 2 Avocet initially seen on the south scrape flew past. Several Dunlin and around 4 male and 2 female Pintail seen plus at least 2 Black- tailed Godwit and a Snipe at the end of one island.
Despite waiting in the hide for close on 2 hours we were unable to relocated the GWTeal.
By the toilet block 2 Marsh Tits were seen around the bushes here.
Looking out over Island Mere from the overflow car park, 2 redhead Smew were seen on the far western end plus around 70 Greylag Geese flying past (my 8th Goose species of the day, and I didn't see any Canada's today!)
Driving out of Minsmere about 12 Red Deer seen in the fenced field and my planned detour to look for the Bewick's was abandoned owing to me receiving a massive instant puncture on my nearside back wheel- there was an eight inch gash along the tyre!!! (if you are driving on the B road from Blythburgh to Westleton near the Dunwich fiveways, please drive slowly & take care as the obstruction/ hole? is probably still there and caused another severe puncture to another car just 100 yards further north from way I broke down) , the car sound very juddery and noisy & I had to stop the car just 300 yards south of the Water Tower and I had to ring for Breakdown recovery as I could not get the wheel nuts off, even though I know how to change a tyre. An hour and a half later the recovery finally arrived and I belatedly made my way home.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Knot the Iceland Gull!

First birds of 2011 were 2 fine Jay in one of the trees at the back of the garden.
Also seen in the garden during the course of the day, 2 Collared Dove, up to 7 Greenfinch, the usual Blue & Great Tits, Robin and 2 LT Tits.
Oulton Broad North rail station produced zero Waxwings (unlike yesterday), so a stop at Ness Point initially we saw 7 Turnstone, a Knot and 6 fine Purple Sandpipers. At one point the Knot flew onto the new sea wall and I managed to creep up to it, "commando" style (which was appreciated by at least 1 Lounge Lizard), taking a few shots without disturbing it.
A close Great Crested Grebe flew north over the sea.
Hamilton Dock failed to produce the hoped-for Iceland despite Dick's generous feeding of the Gulls.
Leathes Ham produced a very tame Wigeon on the path; at the back of the pool on the right hand side, first 2 female Scaup and then 1 1st winter male Scaup seen too, 3 Scaup seen in total.
A call to James B's mobile (I had stupidly left mine at home!) alerted us to the fact that the Iceland was back at the point and we zoomed back to Ness Point to see the excellent 1st winter Iceland Gull flying low over the water by the southern most defence rocks in view. It settled on the water before flying across us and north and eventually settling on the 2nd groyne along albeit for a few minutes before it flew back and settled along the semi- circular curved roof just behind the "giant quill structure" Later it flew close onto the sea out of sight behind the sea defence rocks.
Out to sea James B spotted an excellent Velvet Scoter flying north and 2 Red- throated Divers also flew north as did an adult winter Mediterranean Gull brilliantly called by Dave H (we were already watching it, but thanks anyway!) I spotted a Grey Seal that slowly swam north just past the "finger"
Seeing many friendly & familiar faces including Andrew E, Robert Wil, Dick W, James B, Baz H, Dave H, Chris M  and others. As everyone left (except Chris M), I stayed behind to get some more pics of the Knot which was on the old seawall just east of the compass and I am especially indebted to Chris M I was able to get some nice shots of the Knot quite close by and awake it briefly from its slumber (thanks again Chris), as it spent most of its time asleep!
I searched for Waxwings in parts of Lowestoft/ Oulton Broad/ Carlton Colville this afternoon and drew a complete blank. The nearest I got were the murmuration of Starlings, flocks of c500 & c800 that flew north- east over Asda at 3.25pm.
Also seen from Asda at this time was the fine Peregrine Falcon perched on the 2nd window ledge from the top of the grain silo. Also GC Grebe, 6 Coot and 2 Cormorants on Lake Lothing.