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Monday, 30 April 2012

Wet weekend, sunny day Monday!

Having to take Jenny to the Garage at Gorleston for 8am today, I confined myself to checking Gorleston Cliffs and the golfcourse, 1 Wheatear seen at the latter plus 3 flying up over the cliff edge, an overflying Swallow plus 3 Whitethroats singing out of view in the scrub at the base. Finally walking back, a male Wheatear flew south over the beach my fifth of the morning. Popping into Yarmouth cemetary after work I headed for the SW corner of the south section, Phil H told me to head for the Hawthorne tree in the SW corner as I was walking there a super immature male Pied Flycatcher (black upperparts with brown in the wing) flew to a bare tree, flicking about it flew to the Hawthorne wheere it was joined by the female Pied Flycatcher. After 10 minutes the sun dipped and I drove to Gorleston cliff trying to see the 7 Poms, no luck. Too windy also at Baker's score (no poms here either) so I joined Andrew E, Paul & Jane and we saw 2 Sandwich Tern flying north 34 Common Scoter (half males) flying north, 2 adult Gannet also north plus a singleton Arctic Skua flying south. Meanwhile on the rock in front of the compass, 3 summer plumaged Purple Sandpipers fed and posed well for the camera. Finally at Gunton I looked in the Church field, no sign of any Thrushes again.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Storks and Chat

y 7am I was Lowestoft Asda, there was no sign of the Alpine Swift.(It was seen later briefly over Asda by another birder at 6.10pm today) A Peregrine Falcon was perched by the side of one of the grills. By 8.30am I was driving down a very wet and muddy Damgale Lane near Acle, having located it by driving through Acle and taking the mini roundabout above the A47 and driving west. Reaching the end of the Lane I drove back and parkeed up and returnrd to the cross path area where I had seen a very helpful chap beckoning me over. Sure enough we looked out over to the far fields right at the back 2 excellent White Storks, both adults and unringed were feeding in the meadow by a gate and a hut not far from the railway line. One briefly flew up and then down again it showed in the wing that one primary was missing, were these wanderers from Thrigby Wildlife park, quite likely? John H and Jack W arrived and we enjoyed view for a few minutes before they walked left and out of sight. Meanwhile back at Lowestoft a look on the North Denes caravan park in driving rain revealed just 1 male Wheatear on the car park just a metre from Rob's car! We took shelter in the Wing Ting Dene reception and thanks to Rob's generosity we all had a nice Coffee each to warm us up. The Wing Ting Dene staff were also very helpful and even brought us a chocolate biscuit each, what service! We saw 2 excellent Wheatears fly in off the sea and west where they dropped behind the fir trees near the car park area. I had to go home as I was dripping wet! half an hour later I was back in the field, on the North Denes in the blue fenced Caravan park enclosure, a male Wheatear was quite confiding, I was edging ever closer around 30 feet away, he was resting and I was about to secure some great shots when a dog ran into shot and flushed it, I was very annoyed and put out. Another birder was gesturing to me to come over to the North Denes area just south of the enclosure and in a small bowl of flat grass bordered by longer grass a Whinchat could be seen stood on the ground, it was very confiding and I was able to edge closer to within 30 feet take some shots and slowly edge away without flushing it. Indeed Don & Gwen had some nice views of it in this area and also seeing it perched more typically on the top of a weedy stem. The rest of the afternoon was to be honest a disappointment, I didn't see the Garden warbler in front of Bird's Eye all I saw was a Chiff- Chaff and despite 2 hours at Maltsters Score, the male Redstart frustratingly gave me the slip at every turn, disappearing just before I arrived or on view the other side of the Score and out of my view. I saw a bird dart up to the top of the score and then dart down again in a very Redstart like way but nothing seen on it to confirm ID. Again, frustrating. A text for Paul W was a great help when we turned seawards and saw a Fulmar gliding north past the big wind turbine, thanks Paul. 2 calling Siskin flew in and settled at the top a of a tree in Maltsers Score, one was a smart male. A marathon trek around Gunton was also disappointing as no Ouzel of F'fare at Gunton School field and just a Jay in Gunton wood, Swallow over Gunton ORT and a small stunted Early Purple Orchid nearby to show for a trek around the Gunton ORT, Dip Farm, Pleasurewood Hills edge and Gunton Woods.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Alpine Swift Asda bonus!

A quick look this morning at Leathes Ham, revealed the female Goosander sat on her usual log, little else. Following a trip to Southwold, we had to do some food shopping and I persuaded Jenny that we should shop at Asda rather than Morrisons (her preferred choice) and at 3.20pm we arrived at the Asda car park in front of the Grain silo, what a good choice that proved to be! I first saw a Swift flypast. The weather was overcast, NE wind of BS 4/5 scale and there was initially a fine "mizzle" of rain. I then quickly retrieved my binoculars from the car and wanted to check another very interesting larger looking "Swift" at around 3.25pm (perhaps 1/3 size bigger and a larger more "swollen/bulging body like a very well fed bird!" than an ordinary Swift) that looked big and very interesting! It flew past and right at half way height in front of the Grain silo, it had a white chest and a brown body, the bird was an incredible and fantastic Alpine Swift and I had just found it!!! It flew rather energetically in circles around the grain silo, obviously hawking for insects and it continued circling around several times and then it flew towards me and right over my head at close quarters and I was able to make out the white throat and brown upper breast band, contrasting dramatically with the rest of the white underparts, upper and mid breast and body. The white throat was difficult to make out from any distance. The rear body and undertail coverts. appeared dark but when it flew overhead I could see it was dark brown. It had an obvious deep notched tail and "musclely wings" because of the slow wing action and deep beats (making it appear almost Falcon- like, particularly Hobby-like in flight!) which contrasted with the quicker wing action of the Common Swift seen earlier. I quickly "tweeted" the news out at 3.30pm and sent a message to Suffolk BINS, I also immediately rang Andrew E. On the upperparts of the Alpine Swift, the body was a medium plain sand grey- brown colouration appearing slightly darker grey- brown on/nearer the wing tips. It then appeared to fly strongly east and out of sight. Derek B arrived and I thought the Alpine had gone but Chris M also appeared form the western end of Asda and said the bird had flown up onto the shuttered "window" of the grain silo. We walked to the western end of Asda to try and relocate it, Richard S then appeared and I spotted the Alpine Swift again flying right half way up and in front of the grain silo and a beaming James B and Andrew E appeared. Jane & Paul soon appeared and Jane was particularly anxious to see it, fortunately the bird was still flying around the grain silo and they saw it too. panic over! Ali R and Roy arrived. But the Alpine Swift was obviously getting tired of the increasingly inclement weather, had flown back up onto and under one of the air/ vents/ window as if it was going to roost at 4.06pm. taking Jenny home, I drove back to Asda, the weather had worsened, it was now raining steadily and Phil H was sheltering under one of the Pines, whilst the others were in the dry and warm at the Asda cafe (great choice!), newly joined by Steve J who'd received his tweet rather fortuitously as he disembarked a train at Lowestoft rail station so he'd seen it was also good to see Rob Win too. We also saw an excellent Peregrine which flew around and flew to the top of the building. What a real Asda bonus, on the rare bird front, Asda is now miles ahead of Tesco's it's a longtime since the Black- bellied Dipper at Gunton.

Flock of hirundines

On Thursday 26th April walking around a sodden Fisher Row, male Blackcap seen near the stables, A Grasshopper warbler heard on the marsh beyond the railway line and 19 Tufted Ducks on the lagoon. On friday 27th April at Filby Broad at lunchtime, a Blackcap was heard singing in the car park and over the Broad a mass of hirundines around 60 Swallows, 15 House Martins, 10 Sand Martins and high up in the air and screaming 15 Swift. In the evening at Leathes Ham, the female Goosander now in moult was sleeping on the path beside a male Mallard, she swam back and later joining Robert Wil we saw the Goosander again, 12 Tufted Ducks and a Swift flying overhead.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Pheasant in the Library car park

At about 10am today, I was called to the back of Gorleston Library, where a magnificent male Pheasant was on the car park, seemingly unable to fly, by the time I got there he miraculously discovered the power of flight and flown up to the wall, bordering the northern end of the car park, I took some pictures and after a few minutes of looking around, appearing somewhat perplexed by these new alien surroundings, he took off and flew in a north- westerly direction!

Fisher Row Vicar

After being told rather aggressively by the Vicar not to park at the car park at the top of Fisher Row, I always thought some spaces had been reserved unofficially by the entrance slope for visitors of the SWT reserve, I parked in a nearby road and wondered what else this weekend was going to throw at me? I have never had any trouble parking in 30 years of visits to this site, which used to my regular patch, but I shall now park in Noel road in future. On my return, I noted a newly stapled A4 sheet to the previous blank sign asking people not to park here at weekends. 3 Grasshopper Warblers were heard reeling during the walk one by the horse stable before the railway line, one on the marsh just over the railway line and one by the marsh by the river. walking around to the lagoon, joining an ever cheerful Don, Gwen and Morris. We saw a House Martin fly overhead and north. Several Chiff- Chaff and Willow Warblers were heard plus a Sedge Warbler singing just the over side of the dyke by the parallel path. A Cetti's Warbler was heard singing its explosive song and seen flying away. Morris spotted a Green- veined White that settled in green foliage by the horse stable. Finally, a Chiff- Chaff fed by the side of the path a few feet in front of us.As it turned out the Vicar did me a favour by asking me to move, as I walked back to Noel road, where I had subsequently parked a stunning lemon- yellow Brimstone flew by and towards Fisher Row. carlton marshes, walking towards Whitecast marsh, past the first long dyke by the bush, a male Whitethroat was seen singing initially deep in cover it did show itself briefly. Further along 2 Peacock butterflies were seen on the path. finally a rattling Mistle Thrush flew to the very top of a tree. by the start of the entrance hill/ car park. Willow Warbler heard singing from Fallowfields/ Parkhill Hotel grounds again.

Nightingale on Denes slope

On Saturday 21st April, walking behind the Oval, just emerging on the North Denes by the large bramble bush, a Whitethroat could be heard singing in subsong emerged from the bush and showed well briefly, my first of the year. Further along the North Denes slope, I heard another Whitethroat too. Also here on the Dunes was a pale Small Tortoiseshell. Just past the Pines, I briefly heard the song of an excellent Nightingale coming from a bush near the top of the slope. My first record of one in Lowestoft, I had heard 2 previously both at Fisher Row in the 1980's by the Tea garden and by the slope bordering the rear gardens of Prospect rd. I joined Steve J & 2 retriever dogs leapt up the slope and were interested in something and it wasn't until they disappeared some 15 minutes later that we heard the Nightingale sing again albeit briefly at 10.30 am. As we walked along the Denes first 3 then 4 Swallow flew South. I decided to look at the Ting Dene mobile caravan site which is now fenced off and I was delighted to see 2 resplendent male Wheatears in the what is fast becoming their favourite area the south west corner. By crawling along carefully I was eventually able to enjoy views down to 15 feet, when they ran towards me, oblivious to my presence. I naturally made the most of this opportunity, photographically. In the afternoon, following a tweet I joined Paul & Jane, James B & Paul W by Gunton Cliff looking down on the bush where the Nightingale was heard it actually sang in the same bushy scrubby area half way down the bank which so aroused the curiosity of the retrievers in the morning! 2 male Blackcaps flew out and into a bush near the top. way out to sea, paul spotted some Sand Martins and I saw 1 Sand Martin flying north. Heading towards Corton Old sewage works, I received the shock of this year so far, when I literally leapt out of my skin when 2 gunshot/ cannon shot blasted off in quick succession right beside me as I walked along the concrete track towards the old sewage works. My ears were ringing and walking along the cliff I failed to see any Sand Martins at all, but there were a pair of Wheatears (male and female) on the Broadlands Sands Green. My first Willow Warbler heard from the garden of the year coming from the direction of Fallowfields/ Parkhill Hotel grounds.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Three Swallows

Late morning in the garden today, 3 lovely Swallows flew north calling. It's absolutely typical when an official drought has been called for it to rain almost constantly and especially the evenings, hope to be out birding soon.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ouzel still there

Monday 16th April arriving at the Oval at 7.30am, I walked towards the Oval and immediately saw the excellent male Ring Ouzel through the diamond shaped opening of the wall but unfortunately it was very close to the wall and sadly saw me at the same time I saw him (it would have made a cracking photo, had he stayed) and he flew towards the bushes in the north- east corner. The bird later appeared usually by the bushes or in the north east corner in front of the stand in the shaded areas. I checked Sparrow's Nest saw nothing and walking back to the Oval, some "chup chup" calls heralded a small flock of 8 Crossbill flying overhead heading in a north/ north-west direction. The Ring Ouzel was still showing in the north- east corner, occasionally being spooked by the barking of dogs and walkers looking over the wall.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Showy Ouzel

Early morning today, 7.30am, I was down by the east side of the Oval rushing around when I viewed from the western end the Ouzel was out on show, there was a birder looking there but incredibly a noisy spate between 2 dog owners right alongside where the Ouzel was flushed it off for some 30 minutes. Later I saw the fabulous male Ring Ouzel on the grass very close to the wall, only one problem, the views were obscured by the bushes and the nets used for cricket practice but I finally managed some shots. Later it moved to the north east corner of the Oval and fed in a shady area. In the afternoon, a visit to Carlton Marshes, on the way to Spratts water I heard 2 singing Willow warblers, 1 showed well singing from near the top of a bush and seeing Dick we eventually relocated the Great Grey Shrike perched in one of the 3 bushes near the path intersecting the west section of Share marsh. The Shrike was very mobile.

April birds

Saturday 14 April I looked down at the Oval, unfortunately the groundsmen was mowing the grass right in the middle, but even worse than this were 2 apparent birdwatchers walking around the edge of the Oval presumably for the ouzel, which was never going to show. 2 Blackcap were seen along Flycatcher Alley, a male and female. Early evening at Leathes ham, I could see the female Goosander was on the water very close to the boardwalker and people came out with bread to feed the ducks and the Goosander was one of the first ducks to leap out of the water and onto the boardwalk, catching a whole slice of bread and swallowing it in one, a very surreal experience for a species which is usually shy and retiring! 3 pairs of Pintail were still around as was the female Wigeon and the male Wood Duck followed 2 Mallard close in to the right with its high pitched rasping call often announcing its presence before it came into view. 2 Swallow also flew south over the water. A male Blackcap was heard singing here too.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Blackcaps are In

Looking at Corton Old sewage works after work, 2 Blackcaps were recorded 1 male singing on the western edge of the Sewage works and the hedgerow west of here with another male singing nearby. walking down the the steps to the Oval, I spied 1 male Blackcap on brnches overhanging the steps and a female Blackcap in a bush nearby. Groundsmen and runners within the Oval made sure I wouldn't see the Ouzel. A Chiff- Chaff was heard singing behind the Oval too.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Oval Delight

Rushing down to the Oval after work, I parked by Gunton Cliff looking on what seemed a deserted Oval of both birds (except 30 Wood Pigeons) and birders. I walked around clockwise and eventually saw a small group of people (OFB, Paul & Jane peering through the wall) and Ricky F once again let me view the sought after bird, this time a fabulous female Serin feeding on the grassy edge by the tennis courts. A small bird with proportionately large head and stubby bill. The mantle, back and flanks were heavily streaked with olive green on the upperparts and more yellowy on the rump and breast. Just to the right of her was a male Ring Ouzel. The Serin, my first ever seen in Lowestoft, was feeding in the middle of 2 Linnets and spent a lot of time feeding, occasionally she disappeared, presumably on the path by the tennis court edge. Abruptly without warning, at around 5.40pm the 3 birds, the serin and the 2 Linnets flew up and high west and then north over the roofs of the house along Gunton cliff. sadly arriving birders including Dave H, Chris D and other missed this bird by a couple of minutes. A Swallow also flew south over our head too. Meanwhile the excellent male Ring Ouzel hunted for food wandering over to the far end of the Oval where Richard W who had been present earlier hopefully gor some good pics. I returned with my camera and setting up along the western wall, the Ring Ouzel spent its entire time in the middle of the southern edge of the Oval hunting and succesfully pulling out one very long worm and several normal sized ones too. finally a brief snatch of Blackcap song was heard.

Speed Birding

On Tuesday 10th April, leaving Martham Library at 12.50pm, I had a tweet stating there was a Hoopoe at Waxham sands Holiday camp, with just a 1 hour lunch break, ten minutes later I parked at Horsey gap, 15 minutes later having walked over to the Pipe Dump accompanied by Perry F and joining Ricky F and John H we watched the excellent Hoopoe shuffled right and behind a tuft of grass, minutes later it walked left again initially with just the top of the head and crest viewable it walked right again feeding and after 10 minutes I had to leave. 2 Swallows also flew south singularly. In the evening 6-7pm, I visited Leathes Ham, 3 pairs of Pintail seen plus a female Wigeon, by the right side of the boardwalk, eventually the Wood Duck swam out.

Drizzly Monday

Easter Monday 10th April was a day of constant drizzle. Despite this I saw the female Goosander really close to the boardwalk, 3 pairs of Pintails seen also. From the Battery Green car park, I saw the adult Iceland Gull perched on the roof. walking down to get some pics from the car wash, the Gulls flew around but settled with the Iceland Gull facing slightly away on the apex of the roof.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Hoodie at the Point

Early morning today at around 8am I headed down to Ness Point following a tweet that a Hoodiee was feeeding on the rocks at Ness Point. When I arrived it was on the path just north of wheree we park our cars being watched by Andrew E and the lightning arrival of Paul & Jane. It was a classic Hooded Crow, my first ever in Lowestoft (I'd seen a hybrid before near Corton MOD the closest I'd been to one before in my home town) a smashing bird with black/ grey plumage with with back head and straggly bib, black wings and tail offset with a grey nape, back, underparts, vent and undertail coverts (seen in flight). A runner running close to the wall flushed it and it flew to the end off the "finger" that stretched out 50 yards into the sea and it perched on the red square end panel. Where it perched for some time, meantime a Shag flew south close in shore and 6 Purple Sandpiper fed with 5 Turnstone, one (Turnstone) in very smart plumage sported a ssilver ring on its left leg enabling us to see the grey vent and undertail coverts and thus confirming it was a pure Hoodie. After a while it flew back to the wall where it perched for a minute before flying to the roof. From here it flew back to the reed panel on the "finger" again it was proving to be a very wary, shy bird. After another half hour it flew onto the sea defence rocks just south of the point before then flying flying and perching on the tall tower by the old lookout point near Hamilton Dock it then flew south again and into Hamilton Dock/ SLP yard. An excellent Common Seal
, initially spotted by Ricky, surfaced and then dived swimming north relatively close in. 1.20pm in the afternoon, I heard the mewing of a Buzzard from the direction of Parkhill Hotel grounds

Trio of Goodies

On Saturday 7th April, arriving at Carlton Marshes late afternoon, I saw Dick on the path heading towards Whitecast and had a nice chat before heading over to the usual gate for the Great Grey Shrike which I could see from the car park perched on top of the second bush. It was mobile during the period of observation perching on bushes south of here and then it flew north and perched by the bushes either on or just west off the main track. A Short- eared Owl flew around hunting here showing reasonably well as didd a Chinese Water Deer that walked onto the marsh just south of us and started feeding before disappearing out of sight. wandering back to the caar park and the track towards Whitecast we spotted an excellent male Hen Harrier which flew south across the field towards the Shrike bushes it then doubled back and flew north back along the field over Whitecast and over the river. A splendid sight with its grey plumage white rump.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Shore Larks at the Pits

Early morning there was a Song Thrush feeding at the back of the garden running left at the back. A very enjoyable evening at Benacre/ Kessingland today, as I travelled there straight after work following Carl's discovery of the above in the late morning. There were no other birders present and the dog walkers were relatively unobtrusive too. As I walked along Kessingland Dunes groups of around 60 Linnet were seen bathed in the golden hue of the evening sun. Reaching the flat stony area just north of the watery inland pit just looking east of here were 3 Wheatears, 1 male and 2 females. A crow proved to be a hybrid Hooded X Carrion Crow probably one quarter Hoodie. The hybrid crow spent a lot of time perched on a bush and the top of the ridge and then the telegraph pole too. Just beyond the ridge on the grassy path, I spied the excellent trio of Shore larks all 3 were very smart with yellow and black horned faces with particular their smart gingery napes, so they were fully into their spring finery. They were running left along the path at 6.30pm, but a dog walker flushed them and they flew disappeared for a while and then suddenly from nowhere the excellent singing Shore Larks (an excellent high pitched flutey type song) flew in and settled on the flat stony ground just north of the Pit. One was sat just in front of the other 2, but they then flew up and flew toward the beach. I left and then walked back along Kessingland Dunes and saw the excellent trio of Shore Larks on the grassy dunes of Kessingland Dunes half way back along the Dunes east of Kessingland Beach caravan park at 7.05pm. They fed here for a while before a family walking south flushed the birds and they (the Shore Larks) appeared to fly north a little way.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Great Grey still there

By walking up the main track at Carlton Marshes this evening from 6- 7pm, I saw the Great Grey Shrike perched on top of a bush and seeing Paul and Jane we eventually walked around viewing from first the turnstyle by the path to Spratt's water and then I made my way solely to the gate and managed to get some reasonably close views and photographs of the Shrike perched on top of the bush.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

No April fool

Arriving at Kessingland Sewage works, good to see Chris M here, I saw 2 White wagtails feeding on the back sewage beds and a male Reed Bunting on the front beds with around 6 Pied wagtails. A Chiff- Chaff was singing and briefly seen. Next up Sotterley, where both Nuthatch and Treecreeper heard by the entrance. A Buzzard seen soaring over the field too. I wandered over to the lake and initially not a lot could be seen. from the bridge from the east side, I saw first the male and then the female Garganey swim out from the southern side of the lake, disturbed maybe by the walking congregation going down the road just south of the lake. retracing my steps to a view of the lake from the north side, the Garganey were seen a little closer, although still distant the male would swim west the female reluctant to follow then the male would double back and join up with the female again. A little later the male Mandarin swam out from the island and then disappeared again just as Chris M joined. Fortunately the Mandarin reappeared. A look around Ellough yet again, failed to reveal any GP's. ealy evening I visited Leathes Ham, i had hit the "golden hour" the sun shining a golden hue over the lake and its avian inhabitants. By walking just right of the boardwalk I managed to get some lovely shots of 2 pairs of elegant Pintail, a pair of Gadwall too. The female Goosander was still around swimming behind the islands in the middle of the lake and even standing on a wooden perch and flapping her wings. Finally the male Wood Duck swam around the side of the lake just 2 feet from me and too close to photograph!