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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Yellow Wagtail over

At 8.45am, as I was just about to get into the car to drive to work, a shrill "psit" call revealed an excellent Yellow Wagtail which flew very low and north- east just over the house.
After work, a look around Corton ORT revealed 2 Chiff- Chaffs and 8 Meadow Pipits in stubble field by the Old Sewage works.
At Ness Point, for the first time ever the tide was so low that some beach was visible beyond the defence rocks immediately opposite the wind turbine. Amongst the Gulls on the beach was the ringed adult Herring Gull with black lettering on a white ring "A7YY" (last seen by me at Ness Point on the 24th July, coming to bread).
Absolutely fantastic news about the success of 2 pairs of Red- backed Shrikes which bred at secret locations on Dartmoor this year raising a total of 7 young, a great result lets hope this enables them to re-colonise the UK?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Return of the Fudge Duck

Receiving a BINS message at 5.50pm this evening and determined not to miss out (see Sunday's blog) I went staright out of the door and within 5 minutes was at Leathes Ham and incredibly OFB was already there!
I was soon watching the excellent male Ferruginous Duck asleep on the left hand side of the island. As usual a really smart bird with mahogany reddish brown plumage, white under the tail, a full set of wing feathers and definitely no ring on its right leg. Presumably last winter's returning bird and very welcome it was too.
Paul & Jane soon arrived and had good views too despite it briefly swimming behind the island it reurned and showed well.

Tried registering to this "Twitter thing" on the internet this evening, never used this "service" before but everybody, the media, Stephen Fry etc thinks this is the best thing since sliced bread.
I set up an account, registered my mobile, sent a text... got one back, fine but the service wouldn't let me follow anyone.
I've also heard other people couldn't register their mobile either (although this worked for me). I advise people about the internet and computing as part of my job, and set up this blog too, so I am not a technophobe, but I am distinctly not impressed with Twitter so far!!!

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Rob Wil I am now on Twitter and "tweeting" (apologies Twitter) apparently the fault lay with the AppleMac I use, better send a tweet to Steve Jobs and ask him (if he's well enough) to solve this problem and the problems of ghost thumb nail deletions on the iphoto file that I get occasionally, it took me 3 hours to resolve it on Sunday night!!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Lapland Buntings save the day (and the month?)


With prevailing south- westerly winds throughout the month, a lack of birds all month, especially in Suffolk (Norfolk is honorably excepted) and missing out on the seabird bonanza (as usual) mid month, lack of birds seen on any of my local patches, this September must be one of the worst.. no, the worst on record for me and the complete lack of scarce birds seen all month. Today was my last chance to change all that and initially the signs were promising when at 9.30am I headed hotfoot to the back of the southern end of Lowestoft Oval following a BINS message, that Rob & Andrew had found an Icky Warbler there. I would have received the message an hour earlier, if I hadn't left my personal phone in the car (and text messages out of earshot) both Andrew and Rob had very kindly sent me messages, but this oversight cost me the bird and all I saw there was 1 male Blackcap. A Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker were seen flying around the trees here. A nice Pied Flycatcher was seen at the top of Sparrows Nest plus a Treecreeper seen, plus a Jay and around 40 Long- tailed Tits.
Good to see Don & Gwen, OFB, Neville L, Rob Wil & Win, Ricky F, Chris M and Paul & Jane, sadly I missed chatting to the LBC chairman who popped in briefly.

Another BINS message stating that a Lapland Bunting had been seen on Kessingland beach between the Rider Haggard Lane steps and Heathland caravan park, somewhere on the beach meant in all probability an extensive search for one small bird but I was up for the challenge!
From half past 4, I combed the beach and initially all I saw were 40 Linnet and a Wheatear which flew in.
I was zig-zagging across every inch of the beach and checking every area, no mean feat when the entire area is 1/2 mile long by a 1/4 mile wide! I was about to head back when I decided to follow the Linnet flock, when I reached the area near the seaward side of the beach, by a lifejacket (yellow) holder and stones piled around its base. This area must have been 100 yards north of the steps (down from Green Lane/ Rider Haggard Lane) and 3/4 of the way across the beach towards the sea.
From the lifejacket holder walk 50 yards in a north- west direction following the narrowing finger of sandy dune with the odd bits of marram grass which is sandwiched by short green/ brown turf (formerly the puddle area in the winter) and near the tip of the finger before the sandy dune peters out, locate a bright green or blue rope (can't remember the colour!) and look east from here to 2 clumps of marram grass. I was walking along here, the Linnets were just east of here and I heard the very distinctive dry rattling call "prrrtt" of a Lapland and looking around, I saw an excellent Lapland Bunting feeding underneath clumps of Marram grass, I crept along and got a few shots in the fading light. Even better there was a second Lapland Bunting feeding out a little in the open, I crept further around but this second bird was less confiding and when the Linnets behind them took to flight the 2 Lapland Buntings flew 10 yards nearer the sea, one then seen feeding here and then one flew west 30 yards. the birds adopted their usual "shy" hunched shape as they fed between the blades of Marram grass.
Later on at 6.15pm checking the original area, there was still 1 Lapland Bunting feeding between 2 clumps of Marram grass.
I watched it for 10 minutes before the fading light made me retrace my steps up the cliff.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dragonflies at Waveney Forest






This morning I drove down to Waveney Forest, I had to pull in at a layby on the left hand side for a postman's van, as I pulled up I noticed a large dragonfly patrolling the woodland edge, it was a superb male Southern Hawker. Jumping out of the car I managed to obtain a few shots before it flew back a few yards and settled again, a great start!
From the car park, I walked down the northern most track following the pylons and it was immediately apparent there were loads of Common Darter, probably around 300 seen during the whole walk! There was a heavy dew on the vegetation and the flowering heather was completely covered in loads of spiders webs. A male Marsh Harrier flew over. Either side of the path, a variety of funghi seen including 5 Fly Agaric and a particularly fine and large Wood Mushroom (Agaricus silvicola) Thanks to Michael B for the ID. Three quarters of the way down I saw a Common or Viviparous Lizard which quickly scuttled off. By some sun drenched heather, 2 Small Coppers and a showy Comma butterfly were seen. Also seen flying through was yet another Southern Hawker dragonfly, this time a female, which briefly perched on some Silver birch, it flew again and I tracked it down again and managed a few further shots were obtained (see 2nd header picture).
A barking nearby Deer was probably either a Red or Fallow Deer, a large Deer was seen walking away through the wood. By the end covert, a mewing Buzzard was heard too. Several Siskins were heard too.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Hobby welcome

It was very nice to see a lovely Hobby fly over The Pastures as I drove home tonight at 5.30pm it then followed me as I drove into The Close, I quickly stopped the car and with binoculars in hand I watched it as it flew into the direction of the sun where I lost it as it flew in a south- westerly direction.
The juvenile Lesser Black- backed Gull is still around on nearby rooftops frequently calling a plaintive wheezing call for its nearby parent.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Turtle Dove & Hobby lighten the gloom

On a distinctly gloomy afternoon, I was absolutely delighted to see my first Turtle Dove in Suffolk this year and this was then followed a minute later by a Hobby flying north, just east of Corton Old Rail track this evening. I had wandered across the track from the woody copse and decided to look in the field just east of there, when I saw the distinctive "clipped" flight of a Turtle Dove, it showed distinctive white outer tail feathers, brown mottled back and dark wing tips as it flew away in a north- east direction. No sooner had I enjoyed seeeing this bird when an excellent Hobby appeared in my vision from the right very close and just above hedge height and flew directly north just above the height of the bushes and flew over Stirrups Lane and north. The Hobby had lovely dark grey upperparts white throat and dark moustachial stripe. I also saw the red- brown trousers clearly as it flew left past me and eventually out of sight.
Also seen during the walk were up to 5 Chiff- Chaff and 3 male Migrant Hawkers.
It was also nice to see Danny P, Rene & James B birding along the track.
Earlier on in the garden I was pleased to see a Hornet buzzing around our compost bin at 2pm after going out to have a look when Jenny said she had seen a large Hornet thing buzzing around the bin. A House Martin flew over the garden today too.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Morning seawatch off Ness Point

It was nice to see so many friends seawatching off Ness point this morning. Sadly, the hoped- for Shearwater passage didn't materialise, the only candidate was a probable Sooty Shearwater shearing the waves spotted by Andrew E right on the horizon way out flying north at 9.10am.
Up to 50 Gannets seen most flying south today. Also groups of Teal, 15, 18, 8 flew south and 5 Wigeon also flew south. Whilst flying north were 3 singleton Red- throated Divers. Chris M picked one out flying towards us and we were treated to views of a fine summer- plumaged Red- throated Diver on the sea in full breeding plumage complete with grey head and neck and brick- red throat swimming south and constantly diving too on the sea, just a third of the way out.
groups of 4, 8, 15, 3 Dunlin flew south and an Oystercatcher fed at the end of the finger.
A Chiff- Chaff flew in off the sea and dived calling into the tamarisk bushes bordering birds eye. A look around Gunton Warren this afternoon failed to reveal any migrants although 3 Small Copper butterflies seen.
The young Lesser Black- backed Gull was on next door's roof (east) again today, it kept calling its thin wheezing plaintiff call again!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Evening seawatch off Ness Point

Things seemed to quieten down after I arrived at Ness point this evening at 5.15pm, typical! Around 40 Gannets seen in total flying north this evening mostly in groups of 2 to 4 with 2/3 being adults. An Oystercatcher fed on the nearby rocks by the compass point.
Flocks of Commic Terns flew south , 2 groups of 15 and 1 of 5 plus 3 Little terns also going south.
2 Arctic Skuas flew steadily south.
A largish "bird" was seen shearing over the water heading north it may have been a large Shearwater but it was seen on the very edge of the horizon it was too far away to tell.
A group of 15 Teal flew south finally.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

A costly bag of chips!

This evening after work at 6.10pm, I joined a determined looking James B at Baker's Score, Corton Cliffs, he had just heard from Andrew E who had just seen a Fea's Petrel/ Soft- plumaged Petrel species flying north off Ness Point just 10 minutes ago and coming our way!
Sadly we didn't see it, it had probably flown past 5 minutes ago when James had been queuing for chips at the well- renowned Hopton fish and chip bar!! James was suitably gutted! Having missed a Sooty Tern by 10 minutes in July, I was resigned to missing it and brushed off the disappointment. Close in 3 Teal flew south and then settled close in on the sea.
I was pleased to see 3 Arctic Skuas, all singletons one flying south just over the sea and then it flew high up in the sky before, another flew north and then another south.
A group of Terns, several 4 Common Tern and at least 1 Little Tern flew south. we were then joined by Robert Hol and we saw 4 Gannets (3 immatures and 1 adult) flying low over the sea and south flying past a ship that appeared to be sucking sand, a sand dredger? An adult Mediterranean Gull flew north, whilst 3 Sky Lark called as they flew in over our heads off the sea.
Finally in the fading light a flock of 30 Common Scoter flew eventually north before settling on the sea.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lowestoft Denes

A brief seawatch this afternoon at Ness Point was just that all sea and no birds! My usual type of seawatch I'm afraid.
I saw Robert Win in the distance, but sadly he quickly disappeared.
One Red Admiral seen by the Apple tree in Arnold's walk
On the groynes, 2 Common Tern and 2 Sandwich Tern perched on one groyne.
Walking along the seawall, 2 Wheatears flew onto western edge and then onto the Denes, one flew way over but one stood on a parallel path near the sea wall and I was able to creep closer and obtain a couple of good photos. A Red Admiral was seen on the bramble just north of the Oval.
I then saw Nick B on the North Beach and although we were unsuccessful in seeing sea slugs (although Nick had seen one earlier) we did see an adult winter- plumaged Mediterranean Gull flew south.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The North Norfolk trip "Titch" & Cley

Gratefully accepting a kind offer by John H for a lift up to North Norfolk, our first stop was Titchwell RSPB, my first visit this century! The car park at 10am was virtually full up and we managed to park on the overflow carpark. By 10.20am we were overlooking the stretch of reedbed near the visitor centre, we had just missed the Little Bittern which had showed just 5 minutes earlier. While we waited a shout went up and looking out south to some far bare trees all in a line, the excellent Cattle Egret complete with yellow bill was perched behind a branch at the very top! After 5 minutes it flew west and down and out of sight. We were joined by regular correspondent Paul W and he did really well to call a distant Red Kite, a real surprise that was flying low over the reedbed and being mobbed by a male Marsh Harrier. The Kite was typically really long- winged (with no wing tags) and its forked tail was swivelled constantly in flight. 2 Little Egret were also seen out on the marsh.
Suddenly, a shiver of excitement by those around Phil H, led to a brief but excellent sighting of the immature Little Bittern at 11.05am. Perched on the top bank behind the path, we had been overlooking the dyke leading away from us, we looked down the dyke to the end where the reeds of either side leant over and touched at the top. The immature Little Bittern suddenly appeared from nowhere clambering up the stem of a reed on the right which leant over to the left where it stepped across and suddenly out of sight!We stayed for a little longer hoping for a repeat performance but it wasn't to be so we took it as our cue to leave and wandering into the first hide we saw 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 25 Dunlin. Entering the new space-age hide, John saw the Buff- breasted sandpiper by 3 posts but it promptly disappeared behind a large Sueda bush. A few minutes later the excellent Buff-breasted Sandpiper reappeared by the posts before walking right amongst the grass. Near the hide by the dyke to the right a winter- plumaged Spotted Redshank. Another Spotted redshank was seen on the grass.At Cley from Daukes hide, we saw loads of Ruff c30and Black- tailed Godwits c40very close to the hide on the mud. A Little Egret flying in managed to scare off all the close waders who flew to the back of the marsh. The Little Egret was soon joined by another. Further back I saw 7 Curlew Sandpipers and 1 Dunlin. At the side and back were 2 separate Green Sandpipers. 1 Common Sandpiper was on the other scrape. a dozen, 12 Golden Plover were seen on the back of the scrape and one flew much closer, also a couple of Ruff and 2 Curlew Sandpipers came closer too.
Also on that scrape were 8 Spoonbills all asleep!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Cantley magic

On this hot and sultry evening after working at Martham Library, I decided to pop into Cantley Sugar Beet Factory (a welcome return to a fabulous wader spot) after work. I had to walk from the village, but followed the path by the river snaking around the perimeter of the factory site, (seeing 2 Grey Wagtail near the factory pool area.
Several 6 Swallows seen around the edge of the factory and finally onto the sludge lagoons. As I walked I could see several dragonflies including 3 Emperors and 1 Brown Hawker. Almost immediately, I could see several really close Ruff, plus an intriguing brown-capped smaller wader with its back to me, slightly larger than a Dunlin with short decurved bill and looked like a small Ruff, which it proved to be the excellent Pectoral Sandpiper. The bird seemed fairly settled, and I crept a little closer without disturbing any of the birds, but later it flew along my side of the lagoon when disturbed by a bird photographer in the distance. The bird then showed a clear brown division between its breast and underparts. The Pectoral Sandpiper then flew off with all the other waders flew off completely when Rob Wils and his wife came alongside me.
The flock had consisted of 4 Curlew Sandpipers, around 8 Ruff, 2 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover.
The flock would fly around but would eventually return to the same spot and I managed to get a few pictures of the Curlew Sandpipers although I didn't see the Pec again. later on the flock headed for the sunlite areas of the pool ie. the eastern most areas.
Walking back I must have seen around 40 Pied Wagtails flying around the river bank and an obliging Grey Heron twice posed on the rails in the fading light.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Stormy Covehithe

Sunday 4th September, 5 Common Scoter seen on the sea off Ness Point, 8 Common Tern and 1 Arctic tern flew south.
On Monday 5th September, a walk down to Covehithe Broad in the evening during very changeable weather including several downpours and a strong south-west wind. waders seen on the broad included 16 Black- tailed Godwit, 5 Green Sandpiper, 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 smart Spotted Redshank, 2 Little Egret and 2 Water rails by the edge of the reeds.
Several Terns, Common seen flying past plus Sandwich Terns flying north.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Little Gulls at Sizewell


Visiting Sizewell beach, Jenny & I saw 8 House Martins seen over the road just before the village of Sizewell, (right next door to Sizewell A & B Nuclear Power station) this afternoon, on this very sunny late summer's day, we were privileged to see several Little Gulls flying south.
We first saw an adult Little Gull sitting on the water just south of the closest water outlet rig
It then flew south. 
Walking north along the dunes, I then spotted 3 Little Gull (2 immatures and 1 adult)  flying south close in near the shore line.
I also checked out the slope bordering Sizewell B, albeit from the main path just in case there were any migrants, there weren't!
My suspicious attire (sweat shirt and shorts complete with binoculars and telescope on a fully extended tripod) attracted the attention of the local Police constabulary as a 4X4 Police vehicle drove north along the dunes towards me, slowing down as they drew alongside, I ignored it scanning out to sea and they slowly drove on and turned round at the end of the dunes (where it turns into beach) and sped off back! I can only assume the CCTV cameras on the perimeter of the Station had seen me and alerted them, although surely they must be used to birders around Sizewell by now!!

Back on the sea near the southern most water outlet rig, 1 adult and 1 immature Little Gull sat on the sea and then got up and eventually flew.
By the base of some Ragwort I photographed an interesting moth, I'll report back when I have checked the photo's against my Moth field guide.
Later on 3 further Little Gulls (this time 1 immature and 2 adults) flew south just along the tideline. I just missed photographing them when another Little Gull adult flew south.
I then witnessed several Little Gulls, 3 adults flying right over our heads and over the dunes flying south.
Later an adult and immature Little Gull flew over the dunes south. A further 2 adults flew south.
Finally another adult flew south right over our heads south and over the fishing boats moored up on the shingly beach, then it turned direction by flying north a few hundred yards and over our heads before it flew south again and eventually out of sight.
So 18 Little Gulls (14 adults and 4 immatures) were seen in total in the space of an hour and three- quarter vigil.
By the track opposite and just south of Blythburgh water tower, an incredible tally of 62 Red- legged Partridge were seen, around 14 on the track including 3 youngsters. A group of 8 RLP's were sand bathing at the side of the field whilst the rest were in the middle of the field. 5 Pheasant seen also.