Sub- header

Sub- header

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Samos Day 1 & 2: Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Lizards & Mantids

Jenny & I have just had a week's holidays on the Greek island of Samos, lying in the Aegean sea just 2 km off Turkey and just south of Lesbos. I was expectant of some great late autumn birding. I arrived almost too late and most of the summer visitors had already left! We were based on the east of the island at Pythagorian, a charming town with lots of history, old archaelogical sites a plenty and was formerly the home of the bane of many a maths student the Greek Mathematician Pythagoras (hence the town's name!). During the course of the week I had hurt my foot and am at present almost totally incapacitated! Landing at the airport, on Thursday 20th September, we picked up the hire car, a Large American Chevrolet car (we'd opted for a mini- hatchback with air conditioning from a well known hire car company!) It's tyres, I later found out were only half pumped up! We saw 2 Red- rumped Swallows flew by, whilst an evening trip to Potaki beach travelling along the road on the wires to the north some 30 Bee- eaters were amassed getting ready to leave to fly south. c10 Blue- headed Yellow Flava Wagtails were feeding on the road and rough ground in front of some sort of compound & had me driving around photographing them for 30 minutes until oops! an army soldier in full uniform walked out complete with Kalashnikov machine gun! I then nonchalently, drove off! By the marsh by a dyke, I saw an immature Purple Heron, it saw me and flew off joined by a further 2 immatures, 3 immature Purple Herons which flew around in circles three times before landing 110 yards behind their original haunt! 2 female Red- backed Shrikes seen on wires as I drove back, whilst trying to photograph, one of the Shrikes an Army vehicle drove up and observed me from 20 yards away before driving off! A Chiff- Chaff feeding on the ground by the Anna Studios car park. In the evening a walk revealed a Little Grebe on a Pool plus a YL Herring Gull in the harbour. An early morning walk on Friday 21st September revealed 2 Little Egret, a Grey Heron and 4 Little Grebe around the Pool. Plus 3 Little Owl, one on wires over the orchard, 1 on a post further along and 1 on a post in a field by the hotel, which posed for the camera nicely. A Fan- tailed Warbler flew out of some vegetation, 2 Great Tit also seen plus 2 calling Crested Larks and on wires a Hooded Crow was mobbing an unfortunate female Red- footed Falcon. 30 Bee- eaters were heard and seen flying high over the mountain. 2 Long- tailed Blue butterflies also seen. When we sat by the bar at the Anna Studios listening to the Thomson rep, 2 Crested Larks flew over low calling. Later on as I was taking things out to the car, I saw an excellent pale orange- tailed Long- legged Buzzard fly inland overhead and over the mountain. At Poseidon beach, Jenny went for a swim whilst in someone's back garden I saw a female Red- backed Shrike. Whilst walking back to the car parked in front of some Tamarisk Bushes I noticed first one then 2 then 3 Egyptian Grasshoppers perched along the branches checking further Tamarisk bushes I counted a total of 11 Egyptian Grasshoppers, a great tally. We then travelled near to Samos Town and on the journey saw another female Red- backed Shrike perched on top a bush. At Psilli Amnos, the water pans were completely dry although not completely devoid of life, a Mallow Skipper was seen on the grassy path down and it kept coming back to the area, posing for the camera. Plus 2 female and 1 male Spotted Darters species also seen further along on the left. The females had the ubiquitous yellow abdomens, the males slightly flattened orange red abdomens with notable yellow patches on the side. I had to be careful because 200 yards down the road was a large Army base!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A selection of Lowestoft Birds

Late afternoon on Sunday 16th September, I was keen to take advantage of the sunny weather and excellent light. First stop Lake Lothing at Asda. Always a happy hunting ground today was no exception, several, 6 Common Terns were flying around, up to 6 seen, an adult and 5 immatures constantly fishing. Next a Grey Seal was seen in the water briefly with its head up it then swam back east where it surfaced again 100 yards to the east. Finally the Guillemot, in winter plumage was seen on the water right in front of Asda. It disappeared when 6 sailing ships sailed past and west. Next stop Ness point, on the seawall by Bird's Eye, I saw Danny P digiscoping and as I joined him I could see a group of around 15 Turnstones and an immature Purple Sandpiper with them, it spent most of its time at the back/ top of the rocks not surprising as the Turnstones would occasionally chase it off. I also spotted to the right a Knot, in transitional summer to winter plumage, it was still a warm ochre colour on its breast. The Knot was harried almost constantly by the Turnstones. We were then joined by andrew E. The Knot fed on the rocks bathed in the water, it posed nicely for the camera (but not the digiscope) by stretching its wings and then went to sleep a couple of times for a few minutes. Later on, from Links Road car park, by the marram grass, I saw a Wheatear, it was showing well albeit in the shadows but finally it appeared bathed in the sunlight and I crept up and managed a few shots.

Early Bird catches the Crake

Very early on Sunday 16th September, a 232 mile round trip to Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve was finally undertaken after regular correspondent Paul W had seen the bird on the Saturday. Getting up at 3am, I left at 3.30am and arrived at RSPB Rainham (it was well signed!) and was greeted by Barry B, I believe, in the car park, and given directions to the Stock's Hide, hearing the "weoo" calls of Wigeon, on the way across, after a bewildering array of paths I eventually reached the hide at 6pm. Although there were about 40 people in the hide, I was able to take a seat just right of centre in the hide. Another RSPB guide kindly told me where to look, to the reedy bank right in front of me and an island just right of here. Amazingly, 10 minutes later, the guy next to said he had it and he kindly let me have a look through his scope. I then transferred to my scope (the image being much darker in the half light of early morning) the bird, an excellent immature Baillon's Crake, (a new bird for me) was perched on some reeds. Smaller than Water Rail, being about 20% smaller, it had a brown crown, back wings and tail with blackish area with white specks and commas, it showed a noticeably short primary projection. Its bill was yellow with a black tip and greenish legs. The underparts were pale and barred. It walked over the reeds and first walked left and then right. It was then on view constantly, but sometimes partially obscured, for the next twenty minutes. It then walked into a "V" shaped channel right of here and eventually out of sight. later by this channel, a Sedge Warbler flew in and was active for quite a while. I also saw a very obscured Water Rail in the channel and that bird or another Water Rail was seen by the reedy edge in virtual full view right in front of us. After an hour and a half of no show I decided to leave. Walking back I checked one of watery areas and saw 6 Black- tailed Godwit, a group of 5 together and a singleton. Plus 2 Snipe, 6 Wigeon and around 20 Teal.

Gunton Beach

On Saturday 15th September, I went to Gunton Beach, sadly not seeing the beached Guillemot as a Couple had just settled on the beach and flushed it out to sea. However, the adult Yellow- legged Gull was perched on the groynes. Several Large Whites flew in off the sea and several 4 male Migrant Hawkers seen also.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Confiding Barwit & Ness Point Goodies

Receiving a tweet from Danny, I drove up to Kensington Gardens and it was great to see Danny sitting on the bench between the 2 bowling greens. The winter- plumaged Bar- tailed Godwit was on the western most one, it was walking around and constantly feeding, probing the ground with its mighty bill and walking round in a mostly clockwise direction. At one point it was just 3 feet away from us at the very edge of the green giving superlative views and great for camera and digiscope. All of these pictures shown here (and on the header) are exactly as taken and not cropped or changed in any way! It stretched its wing once or twice and was even tolerant of someone walking across the green. A little later it flew east onto the eastern most green. At Ness Point, I saw Paul & Jane and we briefly watching a Whinchat and Meadow Pipit on the fence just north of the funnel. By the bushes in between the tamarisk, OFB and I saw first a Reed Warbler then a Sedge Warbler and a Wren. When a Lorry drove past, the noise flushed a Redstart which flew across from the Tamarisks by the seawall into the ones bordering Birds Eye factory perimeter, probably the male seen earlier but ut wasn't showing. A quick visit to the Net posts failed to turn anything up save a quick chat with Rob Wil. Driving back, the fine male Redstart, suddenly hopped out from a tamarisk square in the middle of the car park and posed very briefly on a post, it then flew into the foliage and could be seen on the deck in silhouette only. Once it perched in some bushes in the open directly facing me and then flew back to the Tamarisks by Birds Eye seen a couple of times very briefly on the fence here. In the garden at lunchtime, a Small Tortoiseshell on the front Buddlea and a Male Migrant Hawker flew away west from the vegetation by the pogoda. A medium sized Common Frog hopped out from the runner bean plants when I watered them. in the early evening, a Red admiral was seen on the Pogoda and 2 Common Darters, male and female perched on the very apex of the Sweet Pea canes.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hola Suffolk Spanish Sparrow!

For the third time of asking, OFB and I plus Rob Win (his 1st attempt!) made our way down to sunny Landguard Point to try for the Spanish sparrow again. We arrived in plenty of time (4.30pm) and looked in the area between the car park and the pond overlooking the scrubby ridge bathed in sunlight, there was already a flock of Sparrows and we searched through them diligently but couldn't see it. Over time more and more Sparrows joined them and occasionally a small flock of 12 Linnets. and by 5.50pm things weren't looking good again, when a chap said here it is flying in and I got onto the said bird flying in and perching briefly on the top left of a bush, but then it disappeared, but I had seen enough to confirm it was the excellent Spanish Sparrow. It was then seen to fly to the ground and fed in a dip behind some Sparrows. It had several noticeable ID features including the brown crown, large pink bill and white area above the eye. A very bright buff brown or black edged back with 2 buff tram lines running down the back, faded black blotching down the flanks and meeting as a gorget on the chest, plus a very obvious feature of buff under-tail coverts, which were unmissable especially when it was seen side and rear on! It would frequently take fright along with the other Sparrows and fly up to a small bramble bush always just 2 feet of the ground before flying down with some sparrows and feeding again. It flew down again and then flew right up the scrubby bank and perched in a bush just 10 feet from the top of the ridge. Conveniently just below 2 bramble shots pointing vertically upwards, it sat here for some ten minutes. After being seen for 30 minutes almost constantly in view, it finally flew again and out of sight at 6.20pm. Adios!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Dips and bobs

On Sunday 2nd September morning a trip to Landguard disappointingly failed to reveal the Spanish Sparrow, a Lesser Whitethroat seen and 150 Swallows migrated south. In the garden on Saturday afternoon up to 6 Small Tortoiseshells seen on Buddlea, 2 Red Admirals. On Tuesday 4th September, a Buzzard flew north right over the southern carraigeway along the A12 just north of Hopton. A trip to Landguard again failed to reveal the sparrow. A Tawny Owl was heard calling kewick several times as we arrived back home at 9pm. A male Migrant Hawker was seen perched on the Pergoda in the garden on Wednesday 5th September & Thursday 6th September. On friday 7th September, a Common Frog perched on a Lily pad at lunchtime. At Winterton early evening no Emeralds seen but literally 1000's of Silver Y Moths seen in the Purple heather around 30 Graylings seen and 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 5 Wheatears seen and several Common Terns heard and 1 winter plumaged Guillemot was on the sea.

Welsh Autumn Ladies Tresses

Visiting the family in Wales recently on Tuesday 28th July after visiting my sister, Mum & I carried onto Kenfig Nature reserve which was bathed in some sunshine. Mum had bought a book on Orchids in wales and it stated that ALT's were at Sker point, we were encouraged at reception where the assistant gave some rough directions and I received superb directions and a detailed drawn map from a birder/ botanist who had just seen them, his directions were spot on and when we got to post 12 we turned left past a green iron building down to the fence and through the smaller gate. The path along the grass held several excellent delicate white flowered tiny Autumn Ladies Tresses. Walking along here for a hundred yards (as directed the chap must be chief cartographer for the Ordnance Survey!) I met 3 paths taking the left hand one up a slight incline more were seen. Probably 100 seen in total and several blue flowered Field gentians seen too. In the evening the Dipper by Cymisfael stream showed really well albeit in the half light. Mum put out scraps for the birds early on every morning and up to 2 Nuthatches came and posed beautifully for the camera strategically placed by the open dining room door! The final day I was there 2 calling Ravens frequently flew over the garden in the afternoon.