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Monday, 28 February 2011

Bullfinches and Coal Tit

The Bullfinches were back in the garden, in the usual tree at 9am on Saturday 26th february livening up a dismal rain sodden day. This time the female Bullfinch was to the fore but always slightly obscured by branches, the male Bullfinch was right at the back. The Coal Tit was again feeding on the peanuts on both days and it was even singing from the Buddlea Globusa bush at the back on Sunday morning. The 4 Long- tailed Tits (a family party?) again visited the fatballs on both days.
Sunday afternoon 27th February, a walk along Gorleston seafront revealed a Yellow- legged Gull on the Yarmouth side of the quay, viewed from the Pier and an indeterminate Seal seen out at sea (only viewed through binoculars at long range).

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ferruginous Duck at Fisher Row

Hearing that Don & Gwen M had found a Ferruginous Duck at Fisher Row/ Oulton Marshes, I decided to visit my old stomping ground today. First stop however was Links road and the ever faithful Iceland Gull was perched on the groynes at 9am, 3 groynes south of the car park.
Although the day was grey and overcast, I decided to walk down the hill by St Michael's Church and take the northern circular route around the reserve. At the riverbank they were still undertaking flood alleviation work with a crane, so the path was diverted just east of the first flood pool. Raising my bins, I could see a group of duck, some 7 Wigeon and at 10am the bird in question; a fine male Ferruginous Duck, which looked in fine fettle, with typical mahogany brown plumage, fully winged, peaked crown, and white undertail rear end. Seeing Ricky in the distance we met up and admired this fine bird. It was fairly shy although viewed from a distance, it would often swim over to the left hand side of the dyke, being partially obscured by vegetation. 2 birders walking up the central western path (intersecting the middle off the reserve) flushed the 7 Wigeon that flew due south. The male Ferruginous Duck swam north along the dyke before flying back to its original spot, before the arrival of Neville S, also walking along the intersecting western path, which then flushed the Fudge duck south and it appeared to fly down onto Horseshoe Point pool. All 3 of us then made our way over there, and sure enough the male Ferruginous Duck (new Lowestoft bird no.1) was seen over the far southern side of the pool but looking straight into the light. With permission, I made my way around the circular loop of the pool (noting 25 excellent Siskin calling that flew into an Alder tree before flying off west) keeping out of the sight of the birds and was able to make my way along the river bank path just up to the cut between the pool and the river. I crouched down and now had the sun (which was now shining brightly!) behind me, but the Ferruginous Duck and the 10 Coot were amongst the vegetation. 
A family with 4 dogs off leads approaching the pool from the northerly path, flushed out the birds and the Ferruginous Duck as it swam right out into the open towards me and I was gratefully able to obtain my best shots of the bird, I have never been so grateful to dog walkers with dogs off the lead at this sight. 2 Shelduck briefly alighted onto the pool after the dog walkers had gone.
I could see Rob W, Andrew E and James W in the distance, a fine Water Pipit (new bird for Lowestoft no.2) then flew over low over the pool in a north-easterly direction calling and showing grey upperparts, white supercilia and pale whitish underparts. The lads joined me and we obtained more good view and pics as the bird mainly fed in the south- west corner of the pool. A pale Buzzard flew directly over us head north-west.
Walking back we saw 25 Dunlin on Peto's marsh.

At Ness Point, an impressive collection of flighty waders were seen mainly around the finger area but also one or two of their number (1 Purple Sand and 3 Turnstone to be precise) on the compass rocks too.  They flock included 9 Purple Sandpiper, 2 winter plumaged Dunlin and 34 Turnstone (3 Turnstone in Hamilton Dock with the Iceland Gull sitting on the far beach by the SLP yard).
In the garden today, the Coal Tit continues its daily visits to the peanut feeder- except yesterday (since the first sighting last week) plus 3 Collared Doves and 2 Woodies; 2 Jays were in the garden early Saturday (19th February) and on Sunday (2oth February) a female Linnet perched up high in the middle tree and a Wren was active in the garden that morning too. Add to these the daily visits by 4 Long-tailed Tits on the fatballs and add to these are regular birds seen daily; Blue, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Victory in Forests Campaign

Today the "Coalition government" (surely a coalition is an alliance of all 3 major parties not 2!) for once has done something right for a change. They have abolished their crazy notion of selling off the Forests. Caroline Spelman, Tory minister for the Countryside said "I'm sorry, we got this one wrong!"
People power in this case has triumphed, as half a million of us signed the excellent 38 degrees petition which campaigned against the Sell off of the Forests.
But note both our local MP's Brandon Lewis (Tory MP) for Great Yarmouth and Peter Aldous (Tory MP), for Waveney, who are "supposed to represent their constituents views", both voted for the sell off of the Forests. Also note, Tory Waveney MP Peter Aldous is an advocate for the ludicrous and dangerous oil transfers between tankers just off the east Suffolk coast. This policy ominously increases the likelihood of a major oil spill off the Suffolk coast threatening our beaches and precious wildlife and indeed the local tourism industry.

Finally, the future is still uncertain for Waveney Forest which was sold off (surely we can push for this go back into public ownership with the Forestry Comission?) and a second application for a quarry, (despite the overwhelming opposition from locals throwing out the initial application), threatens this wonderful picturesque spot. The Forest is enjoyed by wildlife enthusiasts, dog walkers and families alike.

In the garden this afternoon, a Wren was seen and the Coal Tit was again feeding on the peanuts.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Little Owl amongst the Snowdrops

At long last, I finally saw a Coal Tit in the garden feeding off the peanuts at 10am this morning and it was back in the garden late afternoon  at 3:53pm. A Goldfinch was feeding on the sunflower seeds also.
A trip out with Jenny to see the Snowdrops at Henstead church this afternoon, we saw 4 Mistle Thrush in a field diagonally opposite. as we walked around the back of the church, a fine Little Owl flew out of the tree and away from us and then seen perched half way up a tree trunk leaning into the main trunk from a branch jutting out to the left. It then sadly flew away over the field. Finally, 2 Mistle Thush flew across the churchyard, so 6 Mistle Thrush seen in all.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Waxwings in the Mist!

 A misty damp start to the day, did not deter the male Bullfinch who was feeding on the buds of the Rowan tree in the garden at 10:24am, the female Bullfinch remained in the bushes over the back.
As I was about to go off with Jenny, I spied a "starling- sized' bird perched on the very top of a tree on the western edge of Bosquet Close and bordering the A1117 Oulton road, (just  North of Parkhill hotel)it looked interesting and I raised my bins at 12:24pm and then could clearly see it was an excellent Waxwing, my first for the Close and also seen from the north-west corner of our front garden.
Looking further I saw 5 Waxwing, perched on the very tops of these trees along the western edge of the Close, several appeared to be flycatching flying up and then back to their original perch. My first locally from where I live and the first for the garden! Joy of joys!
They then flew in a south- easterly direction and one evn flew directly over the back garden clipping the south- west corner and they flew to the tall trees just a few metres south of The Leas road just off fallowfields. I then counted 11 Waxwing, they perched here for a few minutes before they all flew west appearing to fly over Parkhill towards Gunton.
Driving over to Gunton at first I didn't see any, but eventually 5 Waxwing flew over to the Clover Way/ Squires Walk junction and perched in the tree on the corner and the overhead wires and TV aerial of the house on the corner.
They then flew off and 5 Waxwing seen briefly in flight here 10 minutes later in the company of OFB and Danny P.
At Links Road, "Stumpy" the adult Mediterranean Gull (with just 1 and 1/2 legs) was again being watched by Jon E and friend, as well as Danny P and friend. The Iceland Gull was seen sitting on a groyne, south of here in the distance sitting on the post. A cracking adult Mediterranean Gull, fully legged, flew in and I was about to get some good shots when it was flushed by another photographer who drives a silver car.
Another 3rd adult Mediterranean Gull flew north and it eventually settled on the car park and I got a couple of pics before it was disturbed by another birder who drove past it totally unaware I was photographing it. I gave up after this, too much disturbance!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Garden Goodies

At 8.20am this morning, a Green Woodpecker perched half way on the closest branches of the middle tree, but as I passed by the window, it sadly flew off. At 8.40am, both Bullfinches (both male and female) were in the left hand tree- the Rowan/ Mountain Ash tree again feeding on the buds with the male favouring the front of the tree and even the Hebe bush in the garden nearby. The female again perched at the back of the Rowan tree.

I was very sad to hear of the recent very untimely death (from a heart attack) of Gary Moore at just 58, former guitarist with Thin Lizzy who played a mixture of music styles most notably hard rock and modern blues. A guitar virtuoso, who was at his best playing modern blues and hard rock, he reached his peak with the excellent 1990 modern Blues album "Still Got the Blues", which is still one of my favourites. I was fortunate enough to see him in concert at Ipswich Gaumont in 1985. I was planning to see him again, now it will never be, another great musician gone and a very, very sad loss.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Iceland again

A quick look at 8.30 this morning revealed the Lowestoft highlight of the winter, the excellent 1st winter Iceland Gull still amongst the Gulls on Links road car park in what was approaching near perfect light and I managed to fire off a few shots of the bird whilst driving my car into prime position. It finally flew off at 8.42am so I decided to leave for what was to be a very long day at work.
Having some TOIL time late afternoon 3.30pm as I had to work to the ungodly hour of 10pm tonight, I spied 4 Scaup on Leathes Ham , the immature 1st winter male and at least 3 female Scaup at the back of the lake.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Glorious day!

A frosty start first thing, but which eventually turned out to be a gloriously sunny, almost spring-like day revealed a sole male Bullfinch in the tree at the back of the garden in the half light at 8.35am, both male and female Bullfinches were feeding on the buds at 8.45am.
A quick look at the North Beach before work revealed the Iceland Gull on the groynes and it then flew over to the Link's Road car park and stood amongst the Gulls for 10 minutes before it flew off again.
Visiting Martham Library, 300 Pink- footed Geese were seen in a nearby field.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

45 Waxwings

Having had a tip off from Alan B that Waxwings were in the Clover Way/ Gunton area last Thursday, I finally had a look Saturday morning and he was as good as his word because at 10.50am, I located 41 Waxwings all perched high up near the base of a telegraph post along Clover Way directly opposite the junction to Squire's Walk. These wonderful birds were trilling away merrily and flew down in small groups to berry bushes including one house on the corner with berries and perched just feet away from me, pity the light was so poor.
Another small group of about 9 Waxwings flew west along Clover Way across the road and fed in a berry bush, 2 houses west of the junction.
They all flew back again and a further 4 birds joined them totalling 45 Waxwings in all. Finally I saw James W walking over (after I texted him; he lives nearby) and I showed him where the birds were.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bullfinches, Yes but Eyed- Hawk Moth??

Really nice to see the pair of Bullfinches again in the garden on and off between 8.30 and 8.45am.
Flying up to the tree at the back of the garden and feeding on the buds before flying down to the bushes at the back, they only flew off towards Parkhill Hotel grounds at 8.45am.
At Gorleston Library one of our users very kindly brought in a Moth he wasn't sure what it was, but one glance was enough for me to identify it as an Eyed- Hawk Moth. A reasonably common Moth but one I hadn't seen before. He had found it freshly dead by his shed in his back garden in Gorleston, but what on earth was a Hawk Moth doing alive this time of the year? I can only assume it must have escaped from a breeder/ collection of Hawk Moths and the escapee sadly met its untimely end.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Bullfinches Again & Save Our Forests

I was delighted to see the pair of Bullfinches again in the same tree at the back of the garden from 8.38- 8.40am today. This time the female was at the front of the tree. But by the time I had retrieved my camera they were at the back and obscured by foliage. They hopped down to the bushes beyond where they disappeared.

The "Coalition" Government plans to sell off our Woodlands and Forest to private bidders/ companies, ie. all those forest formerly managed by the Forestry Commission.
If you haven't already joined the 38 degrees petition to "Save our Forests from Privatisation" 
I implore you all to do this asap (before Thursday) 
The web address is:

as they'll be dire consequences if they are privatised. 
For example, 
Waveney Forest which already in private hands has a planning application (again!) for a big quarry and the Forest/ habitat disappearing and becoming a great big pit/ quarry instead.
This would affect the wildlife in the woods plus the wildlife seen on the surrounding Haddiscoe/Chedgrave marshes too. Potentially this could mean no more Rough- legged Buzzards, no more Short- eared Owls, no more Hen Harriers and so on.
None of this would have happened if it was still in public ownership.

And just imagine the nightmare if the following were privatised...

Dunwich Forest becoming a vast caravan holiday park! No public access, no wildlife.

No public access at all to Rendlesham Forest which is purely managed for tree felling activities!

 If you disagree with any of these horrendous possibilities, that could happen if these forests go into private ownership, sign up today and stop it. I have also sent a letter to the local Waveney MP Peter Aldous, lets hope he listens to his constituents.

This ludicrous proposal by the "Coalition" Government must be stopped.