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Monday, 13 June 2011

Turquoise Blue beauty, a stunning Roller!


Finally the long wait for a British Roller is over, when the news broke of a Roller in Suffolk at Upper Hollesley Common at lunchtime, it was an agonising wait all afternoon until leaving time at 5.30pm.
Picking up Rob W, en route at Lowestoft, we drove down (an hours drive) to the site near Woodbridge, which is actually reached on the road almost opposite the Sutton Hoo historic site.
Upper Hollesley Common borders an RAF base (we frequently saw RAF Apache helicopters flying over, at least 3 were seen) and the bird in question, an absolutely stunning adult Roller, (a personal British tick) was often perched on a bush just in side the base, but often partially obscured by having to look at some distance through 2 fences. The Roller was a large obvious bird sitting out in full view in the bush, the size of a crow, it was first picked out by its stunning turquoise blue plumage, the turquoise blue was on the head, face, crown, upper and lower wing coverts, underparts and tail. The flight feathers were a darker blue colour, its back was a contrasting rich chestnut colour. It had a thick black bill with blackish lores and whitish throat. An absolute stunner of a bird, especially when it flew an incredible and wonderful looping flight high up in the sky, doing a loop the loop like a Spitfire doing the Immelman turn, obviously hunting for flying insects. In flight the wingers were pointed with a long turquoise blue tail. It spent the first hour or so sitting in its favoured bush within the compound, but as the evening wore on, it took increasing frequent flights dropping down to the ground and catching beetles and returning to its favoured bush perch. It would promptly wolf them down, the Roller then flew to the inner fence and perched up in full view, its beauty again admired the turquoise blue on the head really stood out albeit distantly and a few record shots (one poor quality one is reproduced here- taken from 300 yards away!) were obtained. 
At this point the lovely fluting "lulla-lulla" song of one of my favourite songsters a gorgeous Wood Lark flew over the road and south over the common, its rounded wings and short tail noted, my first of the year. Meanwhile the "little bit of bread and no cheese" calls of several Yellowhammers were heard too.
Returning to the Roller, it was now more active flying down on regular feeding sorties to the ground and then moving down the fence, often perching near the top of the inner fence, it then flew down to a fence leading vertically away from us within the compound, before it finally flew back to its favoured perched of the bush. By now the sun was going down and we finally decided to leave after 2 and a half hours of viewing this glorious bird, one of the most impressive avain sights I have seen in the UK.
Other observers seen included regular correspondent Paul W (who had kindly texted me to tell me the bird was there at 6pm), Ricky F, John H, Baz H, Ian M, Jon E, Steve P, Dick W & Matt D.



5 comments:

Paul Woolnough said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Woolnough said...

Forgive my text but the point I was making is that it don't matter now how many birds you have dipped recently as this one aint going anywhere and is absolutely fantasTICK!

Peter Ransome said...

Thanks Paul, the Roller has certainly lifted the spirits and turned a poor Spring into a reasonable one despite missing many good birds including the Red- foots!
Peter

Jon Evans said...

Great to see you there Peter, a UK first for me too, even better that it was in Suffolk!! What a fabulous bird shame we couldn't have had it a tad nearer, still not disappointed.

Peter Ransome said...

Good to see you there too Jon and glad you are getting your excellent blog up to date. Look forward to seeing some more of your excellent pics!
Cheers, Peter