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Monday, 28 May 2012

Amazing mimic!

I was out before work checking the usual field at Gunton and saw 10 Green- winged Orchids, plus 2 Green- Winged Orchids seen within the PH field in the usual place. As I was walking back to the car, to go off to work. I heard what sounded exactly like a Ring- necked Parakeet call "kee-kee-kee" perfect tone and pitch coming from the tall trees on the south eastern end of Gunton Hall grounds. I heard the "kee-kee-kee" call again and a "kee-kee" call again from 8.40- 8.50am. The call seemed to be distinct from any other and didn't appear to be part of a song. I wanted to inform people so I helpfully tweeted the message round of a "presumed Ring- necked Parakeet" and requested people to check it out as I had no time to fully investigate, as I had to go to work for 9am. This evening, I returned to photograph the Orchids and as I was doing so, I heard the call again, this time eminating from the hedgerow separating a field from the road by Gunton Tesco petrol station. I walked over and at 5.40pm was absolutely amazed to hear the exact call tone and pitch "kee- kee- kee" of a Ring- necked Parakeet included within the usual Song Thrush song, what an incredible mimic! I have lived formerly for 8 years in London (1985- 1993) hearing the Ring- necked Parakeet call on a very regular basis. You had to be reasonably close to hear the full song of the Song Thrush, the tone and pitch of the Parakeet mimicry carried much further than the usual Song Thrush song. I can only assume this Song Thrush had previously held territory near a calling Ring- necked Parakeet maybe London or the south- east and learnt the harsh call and incorporated into its repertoire. In the garden in the evening, a Comma settled briefly on the pipe of the garage, a Hairy Hawker was seen briefly by the Clematis at the back and the Willow Warbler and 2 Chiff- Chaffs sang from Fallowfields.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Wood Warbler at Sutton Who?

An early morning trip today to Westleton Heath wasn't very successful, 2 Shelducks stood on the grass just the other side of the car park and were photogenic. Later I saw 3 Shelduck on the heath. Also by the car park, I saw a Dartford Warbler (a good start though) dart into a nearby bush, it never came out! No sign or sound of any hoped for Wood Larks, a Cuckoo called and walking over the road, I saw 2 further Dartford warbler, one after the other fly out of nearby heather into a gorse bush nearby. I spied from the Lesser kestrel look out point, the fields revealing around 40 Red Deer, little else. About 7 of Small Heath butterflies seen and 5 Small Copper butterflies but they all eluded the camera. I could have spent more time on the Heath, but the lure of a photogenic Wood Warbler down south was getting stronger! I couldn't resist the temptation of the Wood Warbler at Sutton Heath woods any longer and I drove down to Sutton Heath car park on the same road as Sutton Hoo, (sorry couldn't resist the Sutton Who/ Hoo pun for the title of this blog entry!)just half a mile further down and parking on the left. What a fabulous place Sutton Heath is! The habitat looks absolutely perfect for both heathland and woodland species. Just on the edge of the car park were 2 Yellow Wagtails, a close female and more distant and wary male. Walking down the track, I saw Tony B, and we also saw a male Yellow Wagtail on the grass here too. Tony said I had to walk down the track some 300 yards to an obvious crossroads/ paths and then take the path to the right for a further 300 yards then take the second track left into the wood and follow the trilling song on the Wood warbler. I did just that following another birdeer walking in and I could clearly hear the trilling and the "peuu peuu peuu peuu" of the excellent Wood Warbler from the main path. It sang constantly during the 90 minutes of observation. It favoured an area near a large Oak and would fly into it regularly and into the vegetation and branches of trees nearby. It initially showed well at lower level but as the sun got stronger and higher it favoured the tree tops more. It would trill perched on a branch/ foliage but also it would trill in mid air as it hopped and flew to its next perch. The Wood Warbler was seen to catch a fly/gnat and promptly devour it. The bird was at times confiding, flying to nearby perched and even flying directly overhead and perched in overhead branches too. It also had a silver ring on it's right leg. When a Sparrowhawk flew over the wood, it spooked 2 rattling Mistle Thrushes flying overhead.

Icterine or bust

On Saturday 26 May, I was definitely feeling under the weather, I hauled myself out of bed and by 11am I belatedly switched the phones on, tweets about an Icterine or Marsh Warbler found by James B, had me hot-footing it to Corton ORT. The Lizards were out in full voice and by the copse, they were watching a Pied Fly that in my lethargy, I just could not see. I then walked over to the "Plantation" or the Sallows area by the western end, standing just west of the grand Oak. A couple of delightful Green Hairstreak butterflies were seen (I'd left my Macro lens at home again, I really was feeling ill!) After an hour of no birds, I walked back to the copse, and was cheered by spotting the excellent male Pied Flycatcher, perched almost right at the very top of an Oak and I was cheered further by the arrival of Don & Gwen. A tweet from Alison, stating they'd just seen it had me back at the plantation, it was singing a delightful song with some notes sounding like a toy whistle, and after 20 minutes, I was watching with Phil H and I spotted the bird, the excellent Icterine Warbler suddenly dart into an Alder tree just right of the Willow bush. It had a big orange bill, flattened sloping forehead, olive green above and yellow below, the primaries appeared very long extending to around half the tail length. The only thing I didn't see was the pale wing panel. Although Rob Wil had seen this feature earlier. It flitted up the tree then down again. The Icterine Warbler flew over to the Black thorn bush singing. It briefly flew up to the grand oak before it flew across to the bushy scrub area to the south. I saw the bird here well for about 10 seconds, and I noted the face and long almost dagger-like orange bill. It disappeared again, having been joined by Justin and brother and Ricky, as we watched c50 Swifts suddenly flying overhead. A flurry of activity includded, a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly over to the large HB Oak by the rail track and a singing Chiff- Chaff nearby. I then saw the Icterine fly back to the grand Oak, it sang from here concealed for a couple of minutes before it darted back to its favourite Willow scrub area, where it continued to sing on and off mostly subsong, until a couple of "birders" stood right in front of the area it frequented, I managed to get them back to where we were explaining about that rare quality "fieldcraft" once they moved away the bird started singing again.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Distant Cuckoos

Wednesday 23rd of May, Jenny and I had a very pleasant evening visit to Carlton marshes, several Sedge and Reed Warblers were singing all mostly out of sight. At the southern end of Spratts water, a Cuckoo was heard calling another responded nearby. One was seen perched on the edge of the Bush in the marsh just west of here. walking back along the track bordering the western end of Spratt's Water, we saw the larvae of a Glow worm walk across the path (my first seen in lowestoft and first in the Uk for some time) from right to left. Sadly, I didn't have my macro lens with me. I had to move the Glow Worm (it could have been trampled) because of an approaching dog walker which then took on its defence position against predators and rolled over on its back and still. By the Shrike area, looking south, I saw the Cuckoo perched on a bush, it flew down to a grassy area, before flying south onto powerlines by the path where we had just been. Thursday 24th May, the Green Woodpecker was calling just outside the garden and Willow Warbler still singing from Fallowfields on both Thursday and Friday 25th May.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Temminck at Tinkers

Tuesday 22 May, I was relieved to hear the Temminck's were still at Southwold after I was unable to go on Sunday afternoon, owing to a headache. A visit to Tinkers Marsh at Southwold 6.30pm - 8.30pm, on this bright evening, I first saw 4 Swallows perched on boat ropes by the harbour. I met a chap walking across to the western most pools, on the way across who'd just seen all 3 birds. Problem was when I finally got there, I could only see one, an excellent Temminck's Stint on the near bank not far from the raised path, I had dropped down to the river bank side in able to sneak up to the bird by lying on the side of the path. and it was hiding mostly asleep behind some tufts of short grass by the waters edge. Initially it was asleep, but after a while it came out showed well feeding in particular around a small pool before walking left and right by the edge of the bank and mostly out of sight but occasionally popping up and shwing well in the good light. 3 Avocets flew and later 40 seen in flight on the way back. I was surprised to see a Short- eared Owl briefly hunting over the marsh before it disappeared to the west. Around 6 Common Sandpipers flying around and calling by the river. A male Wigeon seen on the near bank looked very lonely. I met Dick w as I was walking back, he was keen to see them and did indeed see all3. They'd certainly hidden up for me, as I had scanned several times, in between my photography of the one showy bird.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Filby Broad

A disappointing but not entirely unexpected twitch to Kessingland today from 8.30am to 9.10am, failed to see the Golden Oriole found by James B. having to leave early due to work commitments. At 9.30am, as I was driving home, incredibly I saw male Peregrine Falcon fly due west just over the road, flapping its wings quickly and then gliding, then flapping its wings quickly again (typical Peregrine flight action). I then went visited Filby Broad and saw up to 4 Common Terns plus the usual 30 or so Swifts flying low over the water. Over by the far southern edge of the Broad, by the far Tern platform, I spied the excellent summer plumaged Black- necked Grebe distantly. It promptly dived but then resurfaced. A super bird, through the scope I could just about make out the summer plumage, black neck yellow fan and all. Meanwhile, over the south- eastern corner of the broad, I saw a largish white bird with black wing tips and black head and neck and down curved bill, it was a Sacred Ibis. I was really pleased to see one of these birds as it was a bird revered and mummified by the Ancient Egyptians who identified it with their God Thoth, the God of wisdom and learning. This bird was a free flying escapee no doubt from Thrigby Wildlife Park. It flew north over the trees. An excellent Hobby flew over the western edge of the Broad, hunting and flying over the middle of the Broad, even over the road and then back again reasonably close, but sadly against the sun. Driving to Thrigby, at 3.15pm, I moved a recently fledged juvenile Collared Dove, which sat kamakaze-like in the middle of the road and in grave danger of being run over, to the sanctity and safety of the bottom of a thick hedge. At Thrigby Wildlife Park, in an enclosure were at least 10 White Stork and 2 pairs of elegant Demoiselle Cranes.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Marathon birding in the Yare valley

Wed 16th May, little seen at Corton save an Oystercatcher and 6 Starling (4 youngsters bathing in a puddle) and a male Whitethroat on the Corton MOD fence, wasn't there for long as the canon birdscarer lived up to it's name. Nice to finally see the 20 Sand Martins plus a House Martin flying around Corton cliffs just south of the former MOD compound. Any further cliff falls from the south- east section of the compound will render the path inaccessible. Today, on Friday 18th May, a very early start and despite a very slow journey along the Acle straight and the A47 following a convoy of 3 big trucks carrying 3 sail/ propellers I eventually arrived at Strumpshaw RSPB at 5.45am, half an hour later than planned. I walked round to the Tower hide hearing 2 Cuckoo's along the way and 1 Bittern booming. passing 3 birders walking away who had just seen it and when I entered the hide, I was very surprised to see just one other person! The bird just the other side of the water and was near a Willow bush near the edge, on the right hand side perched 3/4 of the way up a reed, reeling a hard buzzing tone. It flew into the bush and could beseen there but it flew to the very edge of the reeds, and the excellent Savi's Warbler, a personal first for Norfolk, showed well in the scope face on, you could made out the whitish throat and smudged brown breast as well as more uniform brown upperparts. As it reeled or buzzed it moved its head from side to side with its bill open. It then flew left to the reeds just by the water and then back to the bush and the reeds to the right of the bush. It showed well on and off like this for some 45 minutes. Until at 6.45am it became harder to see and less frequent in its reeling when it flew a way to the right. Meantime, a Common Sandpiper perched reasonably close on some sticks but was against the light. A Bittern could be heard booming throughout sounding quite near. Singing male Blackcaps 2,a Whitethroat, a couple of Reed Warblers and 4 Sedge Warblers were heard and seen too on the walk back. Next stop was Buckenham,and I faced another long walk to the Mill/ Pumping station, from the car park, I heard a distant Cuckoo and 2 Swallows perched on the railway gate, again against the light. At the Mill, I looked just north-east from there and apart from 8 Ringed Plovers reasonably close-in, I was surprised to see the Pectoral Sandpiper straight away. It then flew a way left, before flying back to it's original spot and feeding behind a male Shovelor and in front of a dark tussock. A fine male Ruff in full summer plumage with black and chestnut ruff feathers around the neck, was seen too. They summer garb always remind me of a Tudor nobleman in fine Tudor costume! Walking back to the carpark, in the meadow opposite the railway building ie. east of it, I heard a Garden Warbler singing and was delighted to see it fly up to near the top of a tree and sing again. At Carlton Marshes this afternoon, from 2pm, around 30 Swifts and 10 House Martins initially seen over Whitecast Marsh. Spratt's Water revealed another Garden Warbler initially heard only but then seen singing from a lone bush by the Orchid meadow, eventually flying up to a tree. Reed Warbler seen here too. Later, walking around Whitecast Marsh, following yet another long walk, by the extreme west corner, a further 2 Reed Warblers were seen by the corner overlooking Peto's Marsh. Walking back photographing a male Reed Bunting on some nearby bushes, I then heard a Cuckoo distantly from the southern GGShrike area of the Reserve. Walking back, a Chinese Water Deer was seen in the field running away towards the eastern fenced area by the eastern corner of Whitecast marsh. VAGRANT EMPEROR PICTURE ADDED TO 22 OCT 2011 BLOG "Vagrant Emperor at the Library" Quickest way click on link beneath popular Posts section at the bottom of this page. Go and take a look!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunday Garden Bird update

Last Thursday, the House Martins returned to the one of our 3 House Martin nests. I hope the other two pairs make it back too. Also it was very encouraging to see a female Blackbird on a nest in a bush by the garage door. Several Swallows, 8 flew south last Thursday too. Sadly for some reason, the nest was abandoned by Saturday. Today, Sunday the adult Starlings were feeding two newly fledged youngsters on next door's roof. Also a Feral Pigeon, a very clean looking Rock Dove settled on s roof two door's down. The Willow Warbler continues to sing everyday from Fallowfields and was joined yesterday by a Chiff- Chaff and today by the first singing Whitethroat of the year (heard from the garden).

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Aberrant Swift at Walberswick

Photographing 2 species of Sea Slug and a very impressive looking Long Spined Scorpion Fish at NB's, Andrew & I quickly departed to pick up Rob W and Steve J. We arrived at Hoist Covert car park taking the only space left and walked /ran down to the reed bed. A crowd of people were looking west but dispersed as soon as we walked out, we had missed the bird, a Swift with a white- rump (a possible Pacific Swift) by just 5 minutes. Checking the Swifts flying around revealed nothing we walked west to the ridge. From here, we spotted up to 3 excellent Hobbies and a Bittern quickly flew up and settled in reeds just south of us, 500 yards away. A call from Carl B saying he'd just seen it and it was heading our way. Then James B picked it up in the distance but most of us didn't see it. The concensus of opinion amongst the lucky few had seen it was it had a white tail in addition to a large rump indicating it was an abberrant or partially albinistic Common Swift. walking back past the mill, we spotted Steve & Dot who'd just seen it, Rob W quickly picked it up and gave the best direction of the day when he said it flying left past 3 clouds together and I last I saw a Swift with white rump and white tail! Quite easy to see albeit at long range but nicely lit but the sun. A Hobby was also spotted south of the mill, flying around some dark cloud.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Corton Spotted Flycatchers and Stone Curlew

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With news of several Spotted Flycatchers seen around the coast, I decided to try my luck and finding my own at Corton straight after work, James B had beaten me to it as he tweeted one seen at Corton OSW, and then a Stone Curlew! Within minutes I pulled up in the Church car park and was amazed to see Paul and Jane's car there already! I was convinced I wouldn't see either bird as the accursed bird scarer cannon fires off its deafening double shots every 20 minutes. I'd been unsuccessful in my attempt to get this moved as Waveney District Council said they couldn't do anything as it was on private land and I wasn't complaining as a neighbour living next door. Anyway, walking down the track I could see James B, Paul and Jane were still watching it in the eastern most field of crops. Initially this excellent Stone Curlew was first seen sat in the field, its head looking back at us looking very wary. At one point it struggled to its feet and appeared to limp away before it flew around and settled a little further in the field. Ricky arrived and I walked back to put the 1.4X converter on the camera in the car. before i did that, I walked down the west track by the old sewage works and saw the excellent Spotted Flycatcher flit out and in again by the bushes, before it flew up and perched on the top in full view. having reattached the converter, I walked back along the track to the south-east corner of the old swage works and got a few distant record shots of the Stone Curlew, before it wandered out of sight behind a ridge in the field. In the far south- eastern corner by the footpath of the field to the south of the old sewage works, 4 Wheatear were seen in a group, comprising 1 male and 3 females. We retraced our steps and walking down the western path by the OSW, the Spotted Flycatcher was seen again, and the moment I spotted a fine female Ring Ouzel, James B called it, flying in a NW direction over the old SW and towards us, it flew into the hedge near the Flycatcher and disappeared. One well regarded Lowestoft birder unfortunately made an error in walking round the outside perimeter of the OSW and as he reached the NE corner, the timid Stone Curlew took to flight, much to the chagrin of watching observers, first heading out see it arked around and headed inland and appeared to drop down possibly in fields just north of Stirrups Lane and west of Broadland Sands. An extensive search failed to relocate the bird (1 Oystercatcher, 1 male Pheasant and 2 Red- legged Partridges seen) but by the entrance to Broadland Sands, Paul and I saw a skulking Lesser Whitethroat that was helpfully singing as it tried to hide itseld within a bush, just 4 feet off the ground. By the Corton Old rail track, I spotted another excellent Spotted Flycatcher in the sunlite bushes bordering the eastern side of the track just 10 yards south of the Stirrups lane Bridge. It showed reasonably well and worked its way to the cental copse, where late on we saw up to 3 excellent Spotted Flycatchers, one posed beautifully fully lit by the sun as it perched on branches of a Pine tree, behind it 2 other Flycatchers flitted around. Near the Sallows, I saw and heard a calling Chiff- Chaff. Finally driving back along the A12, not far from here, at 8.05pm, I saw clearly a Little Owl perched on a horizontal main branch extending left of a tree just left of the road. A great finish to very enjoyable evening's birding. Pictures to be added 12/5.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Minsmere Black- winged Stilts

Discovering on BirdGuides at 1.30pm, that there were 2 BWS at Minsmere, I was galvanised into action, I had received the message via BINS but my phone was in "flight mode" and hadn't given me an audible "Bleep bleep". By 2.45pm I arrived at Minsmere having already heard a Nightingale in full song from the car as I turned onto the Minsmere entrance road from the Westleton Heath and saw Paul & Jane plus Norfolk visitor Paul W, who wondered why I was so late in arriving? It was my first visit in a while to Minsmere and a lot has changed, has the place turned into a children's centre?? The shop and reception had doubled inside complete with a buggy park and a "Children's adventure park" in the woods plus another 2 play areas for children in the woods (the area which used to be good for LSW's) which you walk through to get to the West hide. On a later visit to the new Island Mere hide I was relieved to find they hadn't added a giant water shute funnelling children sliding into the water there or an even later visit to the field by the entrance road crossroads they hadn't added the feared Crazy Golf course!! I'm all for getting more people interested in nature and children especially (indeed they are the future of nature conservation) but is this really the way forward?? Back to the birds, I had to wade through 8 inch deep severe flood waters from the path by West and extending to South hides (bypassing the Children's Aqua Circus tent (only kidding!) Up on the bank by the sluice bushes, I saw Dick W and his wife and we looked out over the flooded levels and the 2 excellent Black- winged Stilts were wading in the water distantly. They were obviously a pair, the male had a black smudge on his head, the female completely white headed. The male spent most of his time wading to the right of the now sitting female. The male at one stage flew up and down towards her. In the drier field just north of the levels I spied 4 Wheatear (2 males, 2 females) and a male Stonechat perched on an 8 inch stem. Walking back, the characteristic 7 note call heralded 2 Whimbrel flying north over the sea. By the North bushes, by the area behind the old reception hut, no sign of the Wryneck initially (a Whitethroat was seen here) but then it was seen on the bank at the back about a foot from the top. It then perched on a bramble and later when I returned with my Gitso tripod seeing Sparky with his new secondhand Canon 600mm lens! (also good to see Andrew H and Tina at the shop and Jon E at the car park) it flew over to the hawthorn around 50 feet from us, the excellent Wryneck then hopped along the ground towards us before flying into a tree briefly before flying back to the Gorse near the bank at the back. A Cuckoo could be heard behind us. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard briefly scolding. from the North hide, the Scrape was very flooded, consequently very few waders seen, Turnstone and a Common Sandpiper that flew in. 2 Common Terns seen too. At the new Island Mere hide, I saw 4 Marsh Harriers (3 male, 1 female seen) in flight, 2 Little Grebes and 1 GC Grebe seen. 1 Bearded Tit flew out from the reeds briefly. Whilst 10 Swift, 10 House Martin and 5 Sand Martin seen too. By the entrance field just before the cross roads, I looked north and noted 1 male Wheatear (and 1 male Wheatear in the field behind us). Also a fine late Fieldfare seen in the middle of the field, plus close in to the fence, a Song Thrush. Finally 40 Linnet flew up onto telegraph wires.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday

Filby Broad revealed 2 Common Tern and a Common Sandpiper on a Tern platform. A visit to Felbrigg Hall revealed 8 House Martins flying over the walled garden. A Yellow Wagtail was heard flying over, 3 Wheatear (2 male, 1 female) in the field north of Corton MOD. A Hybrid Hooded Crow first seen in the field south of the sewage works was flushed by surprise, surprise : the farmers cannon! Nothing within the OSW compound. Finally the Willow Warbler was singing at Fallowfields this evening.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Common Sand at Gorleston Quay

On Friday 4th May, at 12.30pm, driving along Gorleston Quay taking the short cut route to Great Yarmouth Library I spied from the car an interesting looking wader facing left, I stopped and checked it out, it was a fine Common Sandpiper. It was perched on a vertical piece of wood, opposite the Gorleston Sea Cadets hut, just 30 feet away sadly I didn't have my camera with me. The bird wasn't there when I drove back at 4.30pm.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Redstarts!

This morning a check of the Netposts, I saw Morris B, and we saw a female Black Redstart perched on top of a vertical post. A Whitethroat was heard singing from a bush. It flew off and then was seen perched on another post. A Lesser Whitethroat was heard "scolding" from Arnolds walk. later had a quick chat with Chris M. A look around Corton New Sewage works early evening, by the boardwalk, a female Common Redstart seen briefly perched on the fence before it flew off. A Whitethroat was heard singing from the Honey B bushes. At the southern end of the lane and the copse, 2 Chiff- Chaff were calling to each other and showed well until the camera came out! Back at home the Willow Warbler continued to sing from Fallowfields.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Trio of Mountain Blackbirds

Arriving at the Gunton Church field at 5pm (I'd left work an hour early because I had to work in the evening from 6.30pm), I saw Nicholas B walking north along the eastern edge and I followed until half way out when scanning across I could see a Wheatear and pale female Ring Ouzel fly out from the oak tree in the middle and it hunted in an area just north of a blue post. walking back to Hubburd's Loke, we scoped the smaller puddle and the Fieldfare was back along the water's edge. Nearby, Nicholas spotted the Ring Ouzel, or was it? This bird was a very well marked female Ring Ouzel, Nicholas scanned back to the middle of the field at 5.20pm and sure enough the pale female Ring Ouzel was still there, so there were definately 2 female Ring Ouzels! Around 8 Swallows seen here too, flying low over the fields. We also heard the scolding call of a lesser Whitethroat coming from the direction of the Gunton old rail track. At Corton Old rail track, little seen initially until I crossed behind the Sallows and a "chacking" female Ring Ouzel flew away. My third of the day. Finally returning home at 8.05pm I heard the call of a House Martin safely nestled within one of the three nests under the roof eaves, welcome home!