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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Brown Hawker

Whilst delivering a letter to no.15 in our road at around 12 noon, I saw a Brown Hawker whizzing up and down the Close at head height. In the garden today, Large White, Peacock, Meadow Brown butterflies and an exceptionally confiding Red Admiral were seen in the evening. Later, a Brown Hawker (possibly the same one seen earlier in the Close) was seen very briefly flying around the back of the garden.
Blythburgh estuary revealed very little save for many Gulls and 2 Oystercatchers and on local Buddleas there were Small Skipper, Red Admiral, Peacock butterflies and a Speckled Wood nearby.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Aerial Predator

At 11.42am whilst hanging out washing to dry on the garden washing line, I heard a "whoosh" directly over my head probably just a foot above me, spinning around instantly expecting to see a Sparrowhawk, I was very pleasantly surprised to see an excellent Hobby wheeling round and north over next door's garden, a typically dark- backed, scyth- winged Falcon. 
Also a Gatekeeper butterfly seen on the lawn and the conservatory window ledge plus a Peacock butterfly on the west- fence positioned Buddhlea this morning.
A Large White butterfly also in the garden this afternoon, plus a small Frog hopping around the dry brown leaves in the "Snowdrop patch".
180 Starling seen flying to roost at 7.20pm this evening over Hamilton Dock.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

North Beach

A walk along the North Beach sea wall this evening revealed the adult Yellow- legged Gull walking along the shoreline between the second and third groynes south of Links road. Around 40 Common Terns seen, 20 flying north and 20 on the groynes. Also on the groynes were 3 Sandwich Tern. A summer plumaged knot flew south and joined 10 Turnstone, a winter- plumaged Dunlin and a summer plumaged Sanderling flew down to the beach. walking back, the Yellow- legged Gull was now holding court on Links road car park.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ness Point etiquette (or lack of it!)

A sunny late morning revealed Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Large White butterflies in the garden and late afternoon 2 Collared Doves feeding near the conservatory, it looked like a good photo opportunity but as so aften happens they were scared off by the loud screams of next door's children.

A look at the Links road car park revealed it crawling with dogs/people and the rough seas (the waves were breaking against the "new sea wall" being about 7 foot in height (people were still walking along the sea wall!) revealed the groynes were birdless, so plan B was to head for Ness Point.
Very little seen out to sea save a singleton and then 2 Sandwich Tern north.
An adult Herring Gull perched up and sported a white ring with black lettering "A7YY" on it's right foot and a small black band on its left leg. I was able to quickly read the lettering but I was hampered in my efforts to photograph the bird as at least 5 people walked past and kept scaring it off. Victor Meldrew time, as one of the people in question (who had twice flushed the bird) asked me rather tersely "Where do we go crabbing? 
When, despite my irritation, I politely replied Walberwick and Cromer/ Sheringham. The woman seemed very indignant and demanded to be shown a spot right here and right now as it was for the benefit for her young son who couldn't and wouldn't travel far. I replied crabs like rock pools and we don't have too many of these around here, the nearest habitat to try for crabs would be the broken up old sea wall or going out to sea on a boat and dropping some traps and someone would have to be either crassly stupid or ignorant or both to go crabbing today with 7 foot waves breaking the "new" sea wall. I even had to explain the consequences of the danger of breaking waves, unbelievable, or should that be "I don't believe it"!!

I finally tempted the A7YY ringed Herring Gull back with some bread and finally got some shots of the bird. Pictures to follow and I'll report back on the origins of the bird.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Garden visitors

An all too brief sunny start to the day, revealed the Red Admiral flying and perching on the west Hebe bushes in the back garden. Sadly, the sky was shrouded by dark clouds all day, turning to steady rain late afternoon and evening and I watched a busy Chiff- Chaff hunting for insects probably sheltering from the rain under the leaves of the middle back tree.
From 12.30- 12.45 (after midnight on Saturday) a Tawny Owl could be heard wailing/ moaning call from the direction of Fallowfields.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Yellow- legged Gull at last!

On Thursday 21st July, I heard a "kew-kew-kew" call at 5.15pm and rushed outside to the car park at the back of Gorleston Library and saw an excellent Hobby flying south-west carrying something in its talons.
That morning I had checked Links Road car park and not seen any Gulls on it, although there were c30 Common Terns on the groynes just east of the new caravan site and  Tooks old shop.
On Friday 22nd July, amazingly the sun came out in the afternoon, since I have returned from my Welsh trip its either been raining or very gloomy with dark clouds lingering overhead.  So straight after work at 5.20pm, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and check out Links Road car park. Success, this time as the Yellow- legged Gull was holding court on the car park striding around on the gravel and bathing in the pools, it then sadly flew off. A typically large bird with a big ferocious looking bill and darker grey mantle and back than Herring Gull with obvious yellow legs too. The bird has My attention was then turned to a rather sleepy adult Kittiwake in the north- eastern most pool. The bird appeared tired and often tried to snatch a forty winks or two! 
Throwing some bread out had the desired effect of attracting several Gulls including Black- headed Gulls, a Herring Gull, a Lesser Black- backed Gull and finally the returning Yellow- legged Gull.
Two dogs ran onto the car park and scared off all the Gulls (including the Kittiwake) that simply flew around in a circle and eventually settled again by the pools at the east end. The Yellow- legged Gull was now posing nicely by the pool and the Kittiwake had even sat down and was dosing by the edge of the pool. I was finally able to obtain really good shots of this individual which has been returning to Lowestoft North Beach area for the last fourteen summers and is now 18 years old, previously it had been quite camera shy but with the added advantage of using the car as a hide on the car park I was able to take full advantage of my luck.
The Yellow- legged Gull finally ran out onto the middle of the park and posed again beautifully for the camera, before sitting down and having a doze, I knew it was my cue to leave. 
Back in the garden at 6.30pm, a Red Admiral was seen to fly down on the water butt and then flew up the wooden pagoda and settled on the top horizontal beam and I was able to get some great shots using the garden steps.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Hummer again!

Early morning before work revealed, a birdless Links Road car park with plenty of puddles which will hopefully attrct some Terns and Gulls over the coming weeks and around 30 Common Terns were seen on the groynes.
At 6.28pm this evening in the garden I saw a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, this time attracted to the Buddlea Davidii purple flowers on the Buddlea bush along the western fence of the garden. It typically stayed a minutes before flying west over next door's garden and out of sight.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Lound Muntjac

On Friday 15th July, driving past Lound causeway path at 7.25pm, a Muntjac Deer crossed the road just in front of us from north to south and disappeared under the fence and into the undergrowth.
On Sunday 17th July following a weekend of heavy rain (all day- Saturday) and long periods of heavy rain on Sunday, a Field Grasshopper sheltered from the rain underneath the lip of the sill of our conservatory before hoping into a Spider's web, it freed itself and sat on the paving outside the back door.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dolphins and Dippers

Just back from a short break in South Wales seeing the family and I was able to go on a few wildlife jaunts. Red Kites are often seen from the M4 now and I saw 2 singleton Red Kites one near Reading and one near Chieveley, which enlightened the drive there. The local stream was home to an obliging Dipper albeit in very poor light and my 4 visits to the steam were rewarded in Dipper sightings every time. Overhead the odd Raven would fly over plus on one memorable occasion a female Peregrine. The grass verges held populations of Ringlet, Green- veined White and Meadow Brown butterflies as well as Banded and 1 Beautiful Demoiselle. A trip (on Sunday 10th July) to Dinas RSPB is always rewarding (with Red Kite seen just past Manor Deilo on the jouney theree) and Redstarts were plentiful with a male seen flying out of a bush and briefly onto stone wall just before I got there and a female was seen flying away from the carpark, another female was seen by the start of the boardwalk and the middle section of the boardwalk whilst 2 Redstarts were seen in a tree by the edge of the hill. Wood Warblers were also plentiful with a family of 5 by the mid boardwalk area and another 3 by the trees by the hill at the end off the boardwalk. A couple of Nuthatches and Treecreepers were also seen plus a Vivaparous Common Lizard basking on some heather that eventually proved very photogenic as it kept returning to the same spot. An immature Dipper was seen briefly on the river too. A Red Kite was seen soaring over Llandovery on the journey back.
On Monday 11th June I travelled to Newquay a lovely seaside resort on Cardigan Bay and I paid £18 for a two hour boat trip in perfect sunny and calm conditions searching for Dolphins and other Cetaceans. Although the nearby seabird cliffs had been virtually deserted by nesting Auks, I did see 5 Guillemots on a ledge, 2 further birds in the water and around 12 Razorbills flew past the boat out to see. The nesting Kittiwakes were still around and I was able to view them at a more natural location than the Kittiwake wall off the South Pier at Lowestoft!
I was delighted to spot and photograph a Compass Jellyfish as we stopped to look at 2 very distant Harbour Porpoises.
A further 13 Compass Jellyfish were seen on the trip. Somebody shouted and I looked around and saw a loud splash in the water surely it must be a Dolphin, sure enough the grey back and long sickle shaped fin proved it was an excellent Bottlenose Dolphin, the only trouble was it was swimming away from us at a rapid rate of knots!
We went to the far end of the bay and initially we couldn't see any further Dolphins, but as soon as the Captain announced we were going to turn back when we saw a lot of cetacean activity with 5 Bottlenose Dolphins seen. 2 adults and a calf, the adults breeched several times and jumped out of the water putting on a fine display for the enthralled onlookers!
We were supposed to stay 50 yards away from the Dolphins but they were very inquisitive and one of their number decided to take a very closse look at us!
On two memorable occasions a large adult Bottlenose Dolphin swam under the boat and surfaced just feet away with stunning naked eye views(but too close for my 150mm and 500mm camera lenses!!!)
We even heard them communicating to each other with a series of clicking noises as a researcher on the boat lowered an echo transmitter/ recorder, even the captain of the boat had got his camera out to get pictures, wonderful stuff!
Pictures to follow.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Deserted Minsmere

It was wonderful to have Minsmere reserve all to myself yesterday evening Friday 1st July, for a change. The place was completely deserted with only a couple of walkers seen in the distance off the reserve. Yes, it is great to see a range of people visiting Minsmere and especially bumping into old friends, but it was good to have the place to myself, for once!
Little was seen from the West hide, except for a multitude of Gulls, mostly Black- headed. 11 Mediterranean Gulls all adults, were seen from the South hide plus the on a green island just right of the hide the excellent Roseate Tern which stood with a back on view, but then was seen side- on when disturbed by an immature BH Gull. I checked the pools at the back and save for a hunting female Marsh Harrier close to the path there was little to see. A dainty tern with an all black longish bill, black on the crown (with a white forehead) dipping down to a point below the back of the eye, the black cap extended well onto the nape and finished on the mid nape with a neat rectangular cutoff, there was a little white on the lower nape separating the very pale pearl grey upperparts. It showed a dark (blackish) carpal bar and at rest the primaries showed a narrow dark wedge and the white tail could clearly seen jutting out beyond the closed wings/ primaries. It had very short red legs (compared to Common Tern) and the rings could just out be made out (with 30X scope) one at the top of each leg. In flight it looked very white with a relatively short- winged and long- tailed appearance compared to the nearby Common terns. This bird was therefore an adult winter- plumaged Roseate Tern, very instructive as this is the first I have seen of this species in this plumage I even got my notebook out and made detailed notes! Just right of the tern, an immature Little Gull was seen also stood on the island by the edge of the water.
Looking over towards the East Scrape a Spoonbill suddenly appeared in view and walked right, but not seen again.
Walking from the hide, overlooking the Konik flooded field I initially saw 11 Lapwing and then 2 very fine looking dusky Spotted Redshanks which eventually flew calling their distinctive "chew-it" call, a 3rd Spotted Redshank all sporting coal black plumage was seen here too.
At the Sluice 4 Swallows were flying around including one taking insects to the nest within the sluice pump. 2 swallows settled on the directional signs and one flew to the ground and was feeding on insects on the ground!
from the East Scrape with the now near setting sun almost right in my eyes I couldn't see much save for a family party of Shelduck, 1 adult and 6 immatures and 11 Black- tailed Godwit seen at the back. Walking along the path, to the North bushes something ahead proved to be Red Deer and I had a close encounter in ther fading light (barely 20 feet away) with 2 adult and 2 fawns looking very Bambi like with their small size and white dotted backs.
driving out along the road another Red Deer was seen and at a site nearby I walked along a footpath and scanning in the distance amongst all the Red Deer,in a distant field I saw 3 Stone Curlew, 2 adults and 1 immature. The adults were very active running around whilst the youngster was rather less peripatetic.
Walking back I tried for the Nightjars, which as dusk descended were churring away merrily, up to 4 heard. But the relatively cold temperature (and even mist settling on the lower parts of the heath) and subsequent distinct lack of insects meant I didn't see them.
At 12.20am Saturday 2nd July, popping out to the car I was really pleased to see a Hedgehog, our first for the present garden, retrieving my camera, the mammal proved camera shy and walked into cover amongst the Hebe bushes.

Menorcan magic

Just back from a wonderful holiday in Menorca, where Jenny & I stayed at the south coast resort of Son Bou, chosen for the beach for Jenny and the nature reserve bordering the hotel for me! In all, I visited the reserve 5X and during those visit I saw Purple Herons on practical every visit including 1 stood near a watery inlet, a Night Heron, up to 8 Bee- eaters, an elusive Hoopoe that yet again eluded the camera, a flock of Cattle Egret 19 in total, a Woodchat Shrike, Tawny Pipit and maybe best of all up to 4 showy Audouin's Gulls that were always on the beach. Other delights seen here were a Hermann's Tortoise, many Norfolk Hawkers, Common Blues, Cleopatras & 2 Ant Lions. A nearby Archaeological site was very good for the 4 resident Thekla Larks which proved photogenic especially an immature bird. A Great Green Bush Cricket was also seen here too. At the fabulous Algendar gorge, the pale buff moths were evrywhere! The Gorge is reached by turning sharp right after the bridge to Cala Galdana, we saw a pale Booted Eagle flying over a cliff near the entrance, dragonflies by the pools at the start included Lesser Emperor, Scarlet Darter, along the track especially Keeled Skimmers and 1 Two- lined Skimmer. Copper Demoiselles were first seen by a small bridge half way along. as well as. More to follow.