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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Bronzed Beauty in the Garden!

The female Brown Hawker was again fling around the garden at midday, a Meadow Brown also showed well. A Large White Butterfly put in an all too brief appearance too. On the roof of the Bungalow opposite 2 Green Woodpeckers perched, an adult male (sexed when it flew down to their front garden) and on the eastern edge of the roof an immature Green Woodpecker too. Finally the Hobby was again hunting Cockchafers this evening making regular sorties over the garden in particular tonight and also the north end of Fallowfields. It appeared from 8.43 to 9.15pm, being constantly in view for the last 18 minutes of the duration of its stay. Finally, a Pipistrelle Bat flew south down the east side of the house past our House Martin nests at around 9.10pm.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Hobby hunting lower tonight

With darker skies tonight and a work commitment yesterday night I was anxious to see if the Hobby/ies were still hunting over fallowfields. I was not to be disappointed as a Hobby started hunting over Fallowfields from 8.49pm onwards, this time hunting low just over the height of the trees and bushes as the cooler air were causing the insects to fly lower. On one occasion I saw the Hobby deftly catch a Cockchafer with one talon and promptly lean down to eat it! Around 2 Black- headed Gulls were also catching insects too.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Single Hobby again

This evening, the single Hobby made its first appearance at 8.53pm flying north by Parkhill Hotel grounds, it was next seen at 8.56 flying due east over Fallowfields and then flew due west over Fallowfields at 8.58pm. The excellent Hobby wasn't seen again until 9.14 to 9.29 when it was constantly in view hunting over Fallowfields. It was joined by up to 10 Gulls, 1 Black- headed Gull, Herring and Lesser Black- backed Gulls. A Jay even joined in on the act swooping up high and catching something. It finally disappeared west at 9.29pm. The Pipistrelle Bat was also seen flying over Fallowfields on the west side. Earlier in the garden, a Brown Hawker was seen on the wooden Pagoda and perched on the middle tree too. Whilst, a Ringlet flew onto the Buddlea Globosa and posed nicely for the camera. I am somewhat surprised that the hunting Hobbies haven't drawn an admiring crowd. The last ones I found hunting regularly for Cockchafers at the top of Fisher Row in the 1990s drew regular crowds of up to 30 people, for that reason I will not tweet out any further news on these bird/s. Regular updates can be found on this blog though.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lone Hobby hunting

This evening watching from our bedroom window, I initially saw a Hobby hunting west of the Fallowfields area just north of Parkhill Hotel grounds. I thought they may have been two birds, but when minutes later just one started hunting over Fallowfields, I think there was just one bird involved this evening. It put on a fantastic display catching Cockchafers. Although they were fewer July bugs flying tonight. perhaps the Hobbies have taken a considerable toll of them already? The single Hobby flew up and down, occasionally including spurts of speed and when they caught the Cockchafer it would sore whilst the head was down eating the insect grasped in its talons below, then past of the body of the insect would drop to the ground. A Pipistrelle Bat was also seen preying no doubt on smaller insects, plus a Lesser- black backed Gull tried to copy the feeeding technique of the Hobby. The Hobby finally flew strongly west at 9.15pm. A Common Frog was also seen in the garden by the runner beans. Incredibly, I walked out to the back garden and 3 Brown Hawkers took to the air.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Hobbies again

The pair of Hobbies were seen again this evening, they were a little late due to the windy conditions 8.53-9.31pm continually hunting for Cockchafers over Fallowfields & the garden. They caught quite a few of the July bugs eating them in mid air as they grasped them in their talons, as they were feeding a big piece of the body fell to the ground. They flew very acrobatically often sweeping up to catch the Cockchafers. They only appeared once the July bugs started to fly over the trees. Again they would rapidly flap their wings and put a quick burst of flight on to rapidly go north over the garden and the house.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Garden HobbyFest!!

At 8.40-8.42 I saw an excellent Hobby fly due east and then north over Fallowfields, disappearing behind next door's house it then flew back low seconds later right over the garden giving superb views. I then tweeted this and went outside the front of the garden hearing a falcon-like kee-kee-kee call surely the call of the Hobby. At 9.02 I then saw an incredible 2, a pair of Hobbies, that were continually flying around Fallowfields and sweeping right over the garden, presumably after the 10 or so Cockchafers that were flying just above our trees at the back. They put on an incredible aerial acrobatic display for the next 31 minutes, which is very likely to be repeated tomorrow night! They were scything the air so majestically, turning suddenly and then flapping their wings to fly to put on a spurt to fly very quickly through the air, usually when they were flying past/ right over the garden. They were definitely catching some of the Cockchafers. They were flying sweeping low and then high over Fallowfields, over to the edge of Parkhill Hotel grounds and then regularly flying right over the garden. I watched one Hobby take a Cockchafer in flight right over the garden (I was watching from the best vantage point our bedroom window) it wheeled round right over the garden, clasping the Cockchafer in its talons it started to eat it! Incredible! Is it a coincidence that as soon as our very noisy neighbours go on holiday the wildlife comes back to the garden/ area?

Dunwich & Theberton

At Dunwich Forest early afternoon, Ringlets were seen and Dick W and his wife had an immaculate White- letter Hairstreak perched on an overhanging strand of bramble. Too high up to photograph sadly. Commas were also seen. paul & Jane arrived and we eventually saw a White Admiral on a couple of occasions and another White- letter Hairstreak on an overhanging Elm leave branch, despite Paul's help i was unable to get a decent picture of it. Another White- letter hairstreak was seen perched high up on a Blackcurrant bush. An early Grayling was seen fly over and settle briefly on Dunwich Beach car park. At Theberton woods, no Fritillaries or Emperors seen but 8 Southern Hawkers were seen many perched but just out of reach of the camera lens! A Red Admiral was also seen.

Brown Hawker Duo

Saturday evening 21st July, for once, was spent blissfully eating dinner in the garden accompanied by warm sunshine and without the distraction of a cacophony of screams and shouting "Rhianna" (from next door) at the top of a child's voice were absent. As a result, we noted up to 2 Brown Hawkers, very sporadically, a male and female occasionally patrolling the garden, initially very skittish and landing for only a few seconds (Pagoda wood, trees, bushes etc) before flying off again. Finally, the female Brown Hawker, settled in the Cherry tree around 10 feet up and stayed there for a good 40 minutes, enabling me to take some pictures. She then flew away at 8.35pm and flew in circles around the garden often just inches from me, hawking for insects for 25 minutes, when she saw one changing direction suddenly and flying up and deftly catching them, wonderful to see!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Early and Late

A before work walk along the Lowestoft North beach revealed around 30 Common Terns, one bird was in full winter plumage with black bill and black shoulder smudge. On the Oval, the adult Yellow- legged Gull sat asleep on the middle of the Oval. It then woke up and looked around. It flew off when a groundsman walked over to the middle. As I drove past a very flooded Corton playing fields, I noticed around 30 BH Gulls and noted I would check it out on the way home. After work, I decided to visit Winterton and finally see some Little terns for 2012. At the Little tern colony, one bird briefly seen by a pool of water outside the fenced area. Apparently, they are having a really good year with 200 birds raising around 240 young! I must have seen around 100 Little Terns and 3 baby chicks too. Walking along the dunes the RSPB have roped off about 3/4 mile of beach for the birds. Nothing seen at the Toad pools save for 1 or 2 tadpoles in one, which must be young Natterjacks. Walking back with darkening skies and light rain I noticed a dark Green fritillary perched on a sprig of heather and I managed to get one or two shots. Driving back, late evening 8.45pm, I called in at the Corton Playing fields which were flooded and scanning the gulls, I counted 8 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 adults, 2 2nd summers, 1 1st summer and 1 juvenile bird.

Caspian at last!

Thursday 19th July I was working at County Hall and afterwards I visited Strumpshaw RSPB hoping to see the caspian. I walked over to the Tower Hide, seeing Rob Wils he promptly showed me his stunning photos of the Caspian fishing and hovering right in front of the hide. Sadly that experience wasn't repeated while I was there. 2 juvenile Marsh Harriers perched on a couple of distant bushes whilst a Common Tern flew around and a Little Egret fished right in front of the hide. I then decided to check Beighton Churchyard, initially seing nothing but Wood Pigeons. In a very surreal moment having just visited and touched the gravestone where my great grandfather and great grandmother are buried, I immediately heard the purring of a Turtle Dove. Wonderful! I looked in the trees and then spotted the excellent Turtle Dove still purring perched on one of the figures (angels?) marking each corner of the very top of the church tower. I watching it as it continued purring its crop filling up causing a bulging neck as it purred. It then flew up and and soared down to the trees just west of here. I then spotted it calling from trees just north of the entrance before it flew to a tree west of here by the road. Where I watched it for sometime "purring" I called Paul & Jane and within ten minutes they had arrived but the Turtle Dove had flown back to the churchyard. We walked back in and heard the Turtle Dove purring again, and again perched at the very top angel marking the south- east corner. It was so therapeutic and relaxing to here and see this wonderful bird. A Yellowhammer was calling outside too. At 7.55pm, a tweet from Rob & Andrew stating the caspian was back on Breydon, and for the third night running I left a dinner that had just been cooked and within 20 minutes I arrived at Breydon South wall walking north 300 yards and by the concrete platform, I joined Andrew & Rob, the excellent Caspian Tern was perched on mud. It was a big bird being roughly half way in size between BH Gull and herring Gull. It had a big heavy red-orange bill and black wing-tips. It then flew towards the Lumps, driving around to Asda and it was on the mud amongst Gulls and Terns. It opened its bill wide when other birds got to close fending them off with ease. It flew a short distance and then walked back to join some Terns. Other birds seen were around 8 summer plumaged Knot. 50 Black- tailed Godwits and 18 Common Terns and 2 Sandwich Terns.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Breydon Caspian Dip X12

Receiving a tweet from Peter A stating there was a Caspian Tern on Breydon, I left immediately but despite getting there quickly by the hide Justin was just watching it flying out of sight as I arrived, I missed it by seconds. Paul and jane had arrived literally seeing the tail end of it at Buckenham. This was my 12th Caspian dip on Breydon, I've seen just 1 Caspian on Breydon ever! One of the reasons why it isn't one of my favourite places. We then went onto Buckenham and I had to take the very long walk from the car park to beyond the mill to look on the pool. An adult Mediterranean Gull with white colour ring was noted as it flew around and swam at the back, apparently a rarity for this location! Around 10 Ruff were seen and 4 Black- tailed Godwit to the right. A Barn Owl perched on the gate by the mill and then was hunting over the fields. A tweet by Dick W stating the bird was still at Breydon at 8.35pm was just typical!!! I then took the long walk back and it was very apparent with the darkening skies, rumble of thunder that the mother of all storms was about to break, I just managed to get back to the car before the rain started to lash down like a petulant child throwing water away. As I drove the skies darkened further and the rain came down in torrents turning roads into gushing rivers and lightening punctuating the sky, the energy causing the sky to brighten like a light turned on brefly in a darkened room. great forks of lightening were seen regularly either side of the car and driving along the A47 towards Yarmouth a particularly violent lightening forked to the ground lighting up the sky accompanied a second later by a deafening crash of thunder.

Two Roseates

Like buses, you wait along time to see a Roseate in Lowestoft and then the very next day you see two! Up early to check the North Beach, Andrew had beaten me to it and a tweet came through at 6.30am to say the Roseate Tern was still there. I went straight down and initially saw the black- billed Roseate Tern with the rosy chest perched on the groyne near the back, it then flew south, again appearing very white in flight before returning this time perching on a groyne just 50 yards north from the other. Again it spent a lot of time preening, it then flew onto a closer groyne briefly before flying back to the furthest one. later on it flew to a cross beam in the middle of the groyne perched with another Tern, this time Common to the right. It then flew south and then back again perched on another groyne post on the northern side about half way back. i got some good shots here. Andrew then spotted another Roseate Tern this one in full breeding plumage with red on the bill confined to the base.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lowestoft Roseate at last!

A tweet from Andrew E had me deserting my dinner this evening and rushing down to the North Beach, parking at the Links road car park I walked south 5 groynes along and saw a small group of people scoping something on the groynes. Seeing Andrew E, Chris M and Paul & Jane. Paul pointed out the bird perched on the posts on the northern side of the groyne, 4 birds back. It was a superb adult Roseate Tern, a personal first for Lowestoft! Nice ti finally see one after rushing down on many occasions (8?), to try and twitch one on the groynes or sitting on a buoy off Ness Point, all these birds had been found by Andrew E (great testimony to his skill, dedication and perseverance) but before today hadn't stayed long enough for me to successfully twitch them. I've often looked for them myself in july and August on the groynes, the one I found still remains the one I saw by Benacre Broad hide in the early 1980's, ancient history now! It had a long black bill, distinct pinkish flush to the chest and very white plumage. Both red legs were short with a tiny silver ring on each leg. It spent a lot of time preening, preening its back feathers especially. I walked over and took some more side-on shots and walked back when suddenly all the terns flew off and south, there must have been 15 Common Terns including 1 young bird and 1 Sandwich Tern. The Roseate Tern was then seen in flight looking very white and rosy below as it flew, over the green buoy and then flew north again before it flew south again. Other arrivals included Robert Win, good to see him again and Justin L. Checking other terns on groynes, a further 2 singleton Sandwich Terns were seen. Whilst 2 fine adult Kittiwakes were seen flying south low over bthe water. The adult Yellow- legged Gull was seen on a groyne. Whilst back at the car park, amongst 4 Black- headed gulls was 1 fine adult summer- plumaged Mediterranean Gull with a white ring with black lettering on it. back home, alarm calls of the 8 House Martins heralded a soaring male Sparrowhawk over Fallowfields road.

RIP Jon Lord keyboard maestro

It was a great shock that I learnt today that the Jon Lord, the keyboard player, best known for his work with Deep Purple and Whitesnake passed away yesterday having died from pancreatic cancer. We have lost too many good people recently. He was a true colossus in the music world, having been a heavy rock pioneer with Deep Purple contributing immeasurably to many of their classic songs including the seminal "Smoke on the Water" & "Black Night." He was a true genius on the keyboard (being voted "Best Keyboard Player" in Sounds for 7 years running in the 1980's), providing a heavy Hammond keyboard backing to the amazing guitar riffs of Ritchie Blackmore. He also had regular musical "duels" with Ritchie, and this was often improvised, their innate ability to play together, follow or lead and improvise led to many an extended song, especially in the 1970's which was often a feature and often this was the highspot of the gig. My dear brother and I always had an expression for the best of the best, it was Deep Purple Mk2, meaning the second and best line-up of the band which of course included Jon Lord, translated to something being of the highest quality! Jon's keyboard solos were always unique and a highlight of any Deep Purple or Whitesnake concert that I attended. He was also a pioneer in the classical field too, composing the critically acclaimed "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Arnold in 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall. This was truly groundbreaking stuff; never before had a rock band performed with a classical orchestra, this proved so successful that the format has been repeated several times. I was delighted to attend the repeat 30th anniversary performance once again at the Royal Albert Hall in 1999, it was excellent and a fantastic experience for all who attended. On a personal note, I was delighted to meet the great man in 2001 and he lived up to his reputation as the "gentleman of rock", highly articulate, I enjoyed a stimulating conversation with Jon and was delighted to get his autograph too, outside the stage door at the Hammersmith Apollo. He will be very sadly missed. He lives on in our hearts and the great music he created.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

No Dove, Stoat & Purple Hairstreak

I was feeling distinctly unwell today, beginnings of a sore throat and cold? I did however eventually get out and drive to Beccles Marsh at lunchtime for a recently seen Turtle Dove. It was great seeing both Paul & Jane & Roy H and his wife. Despite the excellent company and being shown where they had been seen on telegraph lines near the old swing bridge, the only problem was we didn't see any. Probably, because the weather had started to cloud up and conditions weren't favourable at all. Turtle Doves are rapidly taking the place of Hawfinch as most dipped bird this year so far; having tried Westleton Heath 3x for them, missing them at Kessingland 3X too. But as I walked back along the path, a black-tail tipped Stoat ran out in front of me and along the path from left to right it then darted into the undergrowth the other side, it repeated this feat minutes later behind me, skilfully eluding the rapidly emerging camera lens! Reaching home, I received a very welcome call from Nick B who said a Purple Hairstreak was sunning itself on his lawn! ten minutes later, I arrived at his home at Gunton, and walking into his back garden I saw the excellent male Purple Hairstreak sunning itself showing its iridescent purple upperwings, proving it was a male. It was very photogenic, unlike 99% of the rest of the genus. It spent it's entire time here, closing its wings and sometimes flying a short way (a matter of inches only) before climbing up a grass stem again. I also saw the remains of both Spotted Orchid and Bee Orchid in the back garden too. Nicholas eventually caught the Hairstreak in a glass jar (for it's own safety) to be released in a safe place in the Oak tree in the garden. I went back to Links Road, amazingly the puddle had completely disappeared, just 3 BH Gulls on the car park but the puddles are still there worth checking in the days ahead and no further sign of the Lesser Emperor either. PHOTOS TO FOLLOW

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Lesser Emperor at Link's Road flood pool

Taking a lunchtime sojourn on the Link's road car park today, I immediately saw the adult Yellow- legged Gull at 12 noon, stood right in the middle of the car park, it spent most of the time preening and then sat down until it got up to fly when a child ran over to a nearby puddle. It flew and then came back until a car heading straight for it, forced it to fly over the seawall and sit on a piece of ruined old sea wall. It was very sunny and as I was walking back to the car and past a large pool which had flooded the road just past the turn to the car park when I saw at 12.25pm, a large Emperor- sized, large- winged dragonfly (appearing a tad smaller than Emperor Dragonfly) flying around in a large circle over the large puddle/ pool. The length from the eyes of the Dragonfly to the anal appendages at the end of the abdomen must have been around 3 inches long. It had a powerful flight and change direction in a milli- second. Surely, it must have been fresh in from the continent (wind direction was E/SE)? What struck me most was the very obvious blue "saddle" on the 2nd and third segments (from the top) of the straight abdomen. It had a brown thorax. I then watched this fantastic Dragonfly almost constantly for 4 minutes, it kept flying in a large circle around the pool obviously hunting for food, I never saw it land or at rest. Once or twice, it flew over the north wall of Link's road, only to to return seconds later. I watched it down to six feet, so it was reasonably confiding in flight. Watching it sideways on, I noted the blue segments were wrapped completely around the whole circumference of that part of the abdomen, with the blue contrasting with the rest of the abdomen, which was dark brown with a central dark black line. I then checked the eyes (a crucial ID feature to separate it from the smaller vagrant Emperor) and could see they were green. It was a fantastic, self found, male Lesser Emperor Dragonfly!!, my first British one. I had missed them on several occasions in the UK, the one seen nearby at Lound and one I tried to twitch in Cambridge Science Park several years ago had been dipped. I have however, plenty of recent experience of seeing this species in the Mediterranean, where having regular holidays, I have seen probably over a hundred over the years. I always see Lesser Emperors in flight and never at rest or perched! The Lesser Emperor appeared to fly towards a weed by the wall, but wasn't seen at rest at all during the period of observation, it flew back from over the wall and then around again whilst I stood on the wall, looking down at it again getting good views. The only problem was I didn't have my macro 150mm lens with me only my 500mm with a 1.4X converter it was too close for that!! So sadly no pictures of a truly impressive Odonata! Obviously the Lesser Emperor was looking for food and not finding any it decided to finally push off north. I last saw the Lesser Emperor fly north over the wall where it appeared to dip down and disappear. I didn't see it fly further away though. I tweeted the news out to all and sundry ringing Andrew, Rob & Paul & Jane. But despite the arrival of Rob Wil, Morris and Dick W and a thorough search of the local area, we were unable to find it. Sharp- eyed Rob Wil picked up an excellent orangey summer plumaged Knot that flew north and a fine adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull that flew onto the car park all too briefly before flying north again. POSTSCRIPT: A Lesser Emperor was also seen prior to this sighting not that far away along Winterton North Dunes on Monday 9th July.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Carlton Marshes Owl

At 11am today, I joined Rob Wil and then Andrew E along the dyke bordering the first field. Andrew E had an excellent Fen Raft Spider, perched on a lily at the back of the dyke showing both yel
low stripes down its abdomen. It was quite big appearing 2/3X the size of a 50p piece. It spent most of its time in this area occasionally venturing out slightly seen side on and then back on. As we watched this up to 3 Norfolk Hawkers patrolled the dyke only alighting very briefly on vegetation. Once an excellent Water Vole popped up right in front of us and surprised us all before all to quickly diving again and out of sight. Paul & Jane F joined us and we admired the Spider for a while longer before Rob, Andrew and then I left. By the nettle patch by the edge of the car park, Comma and Red Admiral butterflies showed briefly with the Red Admiral briefly alighting on my leg, warranting a pic! See above. Before leaving I checked the disused building and was amazed to see a Little Owl perched right out on one of the exposed roof beams and posed beautifully for a minute for the camera (I stayed in the car, using it as a mobile hide) before it flew a few metres south to the large trees by the silo. In the garden in the afternoon, I photographed a Common Blue, female damselfly, perched on a runner bean leaf. It was first spotted perched on the Lavender and then on the bean pole. At around 5pm, a grotty male Black- tailed Skimmer flew by the conservatory and then perched on the concrete slabs just by the back door, a new garden record of this species! A walk around Gunton meadow and woods, early evening revealed 142 Common Spotted Orchids in the Orchid field, 119 on the west side, 23 on the east side. In Gunton Woods, an incredible 842 Common Spotted Orchid counted there are almost definately more than these most probably over a 1000 in flower, an incredibly tally and great testimony to the excellent work done by the Gunton Woodlands Community Project volunteers!

Beccles Marsh Wood Sandpipers

On Friday 6th July, I drove to the Beccles roundabout and taking the tiny road due east of there I drove past the now closed recycling centre and down the narrow track to the fishing pools/ lakes. Surely this wasn't where the Wood sands had been seen. I rang several people but none answered, so I tweeted out a request for directions and first Andrew E and then OFB rang back with excellent directions. From the fishing pools walk north, past the wooden gate until you get to a farm barn, go through the gate there and then turn right just past the barn, 10 Swallows were on the wires here. Down the track bordering the field to the right with brown cows in it. Reach the cart in the corner of the field with 2 cylinders on it, turn right down the track here for 30 yards until you aree opposite a pool in the field to your left and scan for the waders. A big thanks to Neville L, Robert Wil and regular correspondent Paul W for excellent texted directions too. Without you guys (and Andrew E & OFB), I wouldn't have found the place and missed out on 3 2012 year ticks. Viewing the pool, I immediately saw 2 Greenshank, 1 and then I counted first 6 and then 7 excellent Wood Sandpipers. It was difficult at times to get an active tally as they disappeared frequently behind a reedy island in the middle and were constantly flying from first from right to left and then left to right. But finally all 7 were together. I also saw 1 Green Sandpiper that quickly flew off. 3 Lapwing and chick and a Snipe on the right of the reedy island seen too. Carl B and then Neville L arrived, Carl immediately thought there were 8 birds, and eventually we did indeed count 8 Wood Sandpipers in total. carl wanted to check another area, we walked back to the cart and continued left ie. north and then east, where at another Pool, where an additional 5 Wood Sandpipers flew up and away flying due south, so there were a total of 13 Wood Sandpipers. The pool Carl B knew of revealed nothing and walking back to the original pool, we checked and indeed all 8 Wood sands were still there. Suddenly a train went past and first the 2 Greenshank and all 8 Wood Sandpipers flew due south. walking further down the track near the farm, 2 Linnets and then a Spotted Flycatcher were seen in the trees to the left of the path, the Spotted Flycatcher showed quite well on a prominent branch.

Glow Worms: Nature's torch

I missed the Olympic torch On Thursday 5th July, as I was working that day and visits to a school also. However, in the evening, at 9.30pm I visited Haddiscoe Bridge, the western side and parked the car and walked the 3/4 mile walk to the station. It wasn't quite dark but I did hear 2 distant reeling Grasshopper Warblers. It was also immediately apparent that the grass verges had recently been cut. Not a good sign. Walking back from the station, at 10.15, I saw the tell tale illuminous bright great light of the final 2 segments of the Glow Worm's body from deep within the cut grass. I then saw a total of 12 excellent Glow Worms all in the cut grass border (both sides with the west side sporting a slightly greater tally of Glow Worms) roughly in the middle of the stretch between Haddiscoe Bridge and station. The tiny luminous green lights (of the last 2 sections of their abdomen) were like over illuminated Christmas lights dumped at random on the ground spaces apart by several metres. After some experimentation, I set the camera to ISO 1600 and either F7.1 or F8 aperture and using the flash managed eventually to get a few decent shots although limiting the amount I photographed on each Glow Worm to minimise disturbance. The only thing I could focus on in the pitch black was the last 2 illuminated sections of the body and then moving the camera slightly up to include the whole of the Glow Worms body. Press the shutter and hold the camera still until the shutter had released to try and prevent inevtable camera shake. A Gorilla pod tripod were be ideal for the type of photography! I'll have to get one! One particularly showy individual climbed to the top of a grass stem and moved around a little.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pyramidal Orchid, Song Thrush, Spider & surrogate parent!

Tuesday 3rd July I finally found the Pyramidal Orchid in the Lowestoft area, a fine speciman with the lower flowers starting to fade. A Meadow Brown and large Moth with chestnut underwings also seen on a wet morning. At lunchtime I had a quick look at the traditional Great Yarmouth Bee Orchid site and counted 163 Bee Orchids all past their best but an impressive tally nonetheless. Wednesday 4th July, early morning, a Song Thrush was in the garden feeding on the ant nests on the lawn at the back. At Carlton Marshes in the evening, I saw an interesting looking Spider on the dyke with dark slightly swollen abdomen and yellow stripe running down the back, it rushed out to get something on the dyke from the far end of the dyke it rushed back again, it was my first Fen Raft Spider sighting! I'd missed them everytime in 8 visits to NWT Redgrave & Lopham Fen nonetheless an excellent reserve. Also on the dyke were 3 Norfolk Hawkers showing very well and landing on the nearside vegetation. High- pitched "cheep" calls eventually revealed a young chick which seemed to imprint itself on me, it kept running towards me along the path. It ran unevenly, even toppling over, with it's legs dangling in the air and then getting up and running swaying from side to side it used its tiny wings to steady itself but it fell over again with a leg stuck in the air! The chick kept running towards me even changing direction when I walked back along the path. When it reached me and my hand it crouched down and went to sleep! A really lovely bird, pity I couldn't adopt it!! A big thanks to Kyle M, a Carlton Marshes regular who took this great pic (see above). The chick was in real danger exposed on the path not only from natural predators but also dogs too. So doing what all surrogate parents do, using a cloth, I picked it up and put it into deep cover very near to where I first saw or rather heard it, to help protect it. Let's hope the parents locate it. Rather ominously, a male Marsh Harrier quartered the fields nearby. When I got home I did a bit of research and it proved to be a Ring- necked Pheasant chick.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Minsmere Phalarope

A Minsmere Phalarope had me heading down this evening 5.30pm onwards, to the reserve driven by OFB. We walked down to the South Hide meeting lee Evans en route and when we entered the hide we were pleased to see Paul & Jane there. From the right hand end, we spotted the Phalarope, a moulting male Red- necked Phalarope in good plumage still. it was the far end of the scrape, swimming around pecking invertebrates off the water. meanwhile, a Spotted Redshank in fine full summer plumage walked around the finger, walked rapidly as I turned my camera towards it. Another fine dusky Spotted Redshank was at the back too. The Phalarope then fed in front of a black- hooded immature Little Gull perched on an island behind it.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Back to Lowestoft!

On arrival on Saturday 30th June, during the early evening, Jenny indicated we had an Orchid growing in the central flower bed of the back garden, it had seeded naturally, it was a superb Southern Marsh Orchid. On Sunday 1st July, a trip to Corton new sewage works, revealed 6 Bee Orchids seen beyond the fence and 1 Southern Marsh Orchid, was also seen beyond the fence just right of the main entrance. I couldn't see the hoped for Pyramidal Orchid on the left. In looking for the Pyramidal Orchid, a Fox was disturbed from its den (a flattened piece of grass) and was seen bounding across the entrance road heading east and then leaping over the fence. By the pond, 3 male Black- tailed Skimmers were seen over the water. Later in the afternoon, at Carlton Marshes no Spiders were seen (the cloudy and but 2 Norfolk Hawkers showed well flying over the water, 1 a female oviposted on the water. The other flew around a bush hawking for insects and rested up somewhere on a bush/ tree when it started to rain. Back in the garden, late afternoon, a delightful handful of young Long- tailed Tits perched on the bean poles right in front of the conservatory whilst a Dunnock was busy feeding from an ant nest on the lawn and was quite confiding until the arrival of the camera. It was later seen behind the bench underneath the pergoda.

Isle of Man Birds and Orchids

On principally, a family holiday on the Isle of Man from the 23rd to 30th June, the island lies in the middle of the Irish sea, north west off the English coast. The island is 33 miles long and 12 miles wide, with a wide variety of habitats and stunning scenery sometimes reminiscent of Scottish landscapes in its area of 227 square miles. On Sunday 24th June, a visit to the picturesque Peel Harbour and Castle revealed up to 5 superb Black Guillemots or Tysties (to give them their Scottish name) in the harbour 2 close in by a fishing boats they then flew then incredibly one flew in and settled in an alcove by the harbour wall. A walk around the castle revealed a female and young Eider on the sea. meanwhile back in the harbour a female Eider showed well on some rocks. meanwhile in a channel by some boats a Tystie flew in with a caught pink Eel type fish and swam left and then incredibly flew onto a boat and showed exceptionally well on the deck. My thanks to the boat owners to drawing my attention to the bird and allowing me to take pics! On Monday 25th June, I visited the Close Sartfield Manx Wildlife Trust reserve, just by the car park was a field covered in thousands of Orchids, 1000's of Spotted orchids and 1000's of Heath Spotted Orchids and around 100+ of the Northern Marsh Orchids. A wonderful sight! A path ran parallel to the car park and all 3 varieties could be seen. A walk around revealed 3 fields and another area right of the boardwalk absolutely covered with Orchids. From the hide at the end of the boardwalk, a distant Hen Harrier was seen flying left over a distant peak of moorland and woods. From the top of the hide up to 11 Redpoll seen, trilling as they flew over, 1 perched on top a distant tree, one perched on a tree next to the hide but looking against the light. 8 Siskin flew over, 8 Curlew flew by. Birds hear included Blackcap, Reed Bunting and finally by the car park, 2 Speckled Woods seen. A trip on rib, kindly organised by my cousin Martin to Maughould (pronounced Maccie) Head looking out on dramatic rocky coast (similar to Farnes) revealed a total of 28 Black Guillemots, a total of 18 Puffin out to sea, 3 seen near the boat swimming on the water. 24 Grey Seal seen including 3 together and one rising vertically out of the water curious to see who we were! c300 razorbills flying past the boat and perched in lines on the cliffs, c200 of the chocolate brown plumaged Guillemots also flying past the boat and perched on the ledges of the cliffs. Further up on the grassy knolls, 14 pairs of Fulmar counted and several flew or glided on stiff wings over the boat. Over 100 Cormorants seen and 400 Shag, many on ledges near the water line and many fishing on the sea. 140 Kittiwake seen many nesting over a cave entance and their distinctive calls heard here too. 18 Oystercatchers on the land, 36 Gannets flew by (including 3 immatures and 1 sub-adult), 1 adult Gannet was also perched on a small rocky outcrop. A group of 5 sub- adult male Eiders seen on the return trip and a Harbour Porpoise seen by Martin only. To be continued. On Thursday Manx Shearwater seen on Friday at a trip to Snaefell Stonechat & Raven seen. Later on at Sugar Loaf by the bund, amazing to see 10 calling Chough wheeling around over my head by the top sea cliff, Razorbills and Guillemots seen too. At Agnes Head several Arctic Terns seen on the beach with Gannets and Kittiwakes streaming past. On sat 30th June a trip round Snaefell revealed a fantastic male Hen Harrier flying past the car, no area to stop though as it was near the summit on a bend on a single track road.