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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Afternoon at the Marsh

Arriving home at about 2pm, on Sunday 28th, Jenny first of all spotted the excellent Brown Hawker flying around the middle of the garden. Driving over to Carlton Marshes, looking from Wilton's mount, I saw a Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshanks feeding in the grass, nearby a Wood Sandpiper was also in the grass. Walking up the path and across I finally found the path to the otherside of the marsh and it was much closer. A Little Egret, one of 7, fed on the water close to the path. By a grassy island the nominate limosa race of Black- tailed Godwit fed amongst the long grass of the island, later it fell asleep on the left hand side of the island. Whilst at the back, a winter- plumaged Spotted Redshank fed in the pool at the back. I left and returned with the camera, the nominate race limosa Black- tailed Godwit was by the island again, this time it was asleep on the left side of the island by the mud, later it woke up and fed on the island for some considerable time before it walked over to the mud just left of the island and tucked its bill underneath its feathers. The Little Egret was walking on the grass very close to the path a further 6 were seen also, whilst on islands at the back slept 2 eclipse Pintail ducks. 2 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank were seen too. Walking back to Wilton's mount, the 2 Robs were there with Andrew and we saw 3 Wood Sandpipers 2 in the far grass and 1 much closer by the edge of some water. Walking back, the excellent Little Owl perched on the left side of the chimney pot of the delipidated building it stayed until I set my camera up and it flew west.

Morning at the Arboretum

John & I visited Lynford Arboretum on saturday morning between 9.10 to 1pm, where we saw Barry B and a group of people watching several Crossbills in conifers including 2 immatures and a smart red male. Walking to the entrance hut area over looking several larch trees. We waited here til 1pm, seeing up to 12 Crossbill feeding on larch cones but sadly no Two-barred. 2 Spotted Flycatchers were seen perched at the top of the larch trees. Also a Mistle Thrush flew over heard, rattling as it went.

Evening at the Marsh

On Friday 26th July, seeing Phil at the car park we walked up to Wilton's Mount overlooking Carlton Marshes scrape, as we walked up 3 Green Sandpipers flew around. I saw a Ruff walk into long grass and first Spotted Redshank and then up to 6 Greenshanks.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Green Woodpecker in the road

Whilst driving out of the estate to work this morning at 7.40am, I was pleasantly surprised to see an adult Green Woodpecker in the road, which quickly flew east when I drove past.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Mid- summer at Ness Point

A very pleasant early evening at Ness Point and North Denes didn't reveal the hoped for Two- barred Crossbill at the Oval or Sparrow's Nest. Round the Gas turbine at Ness point, there were around a 1,000 Starling with approxiamately a quarter of the birds immatures, later on by the new building 2,000+ Starlings flew south. Whilst out to sea, I was pleased to see first 5 adult Kittiwakes flying north and then a fine adult summer Mediterranean Gull flying north and then even better a Little Tern flying north too, sadly a rare sight off Lowestoft these days. Very little at the Net posts.

Remembering Don

It was with great sadness that I read recently of the premature & sudden death of Don Petrie from Southend, Essex. Don was a lovely man, a genuine nice guy, a great birder and he joined our Scilly team for 2 consecutive seasons a few years ago. Don was a good friend of Terry T and we, Terry T, John H, Andrew H, Ian M & I were fortunate to have the pleasure of his company on two Scilly trips. Don was a hardened Scilly regular, who had amassed a long list of ticks but was still enthusiastic on seeing the rarities. Don had also found many rarities himself too and was an excellent field birder and patch worker. Indeed, he was particularly passionate about birding around Southend and Essex and had co-founded the SOG- Southend Ornithological Group. Don, I think, worked for HM Customs & Excise and was a very intelligent man and I enjoyed the stimulating & interesting conversations we had down at the Atlantic and Bishop & Wolf pubs at Hughtown, Scilly, where I remember Don was a partial to a pint of real ale. What I also recall above all about Don, was that he was a real people person, having many friends, being very sociable & helping out those less experienced than him in birding. He also gave very handy advice where needed & generally being a very easy going, amiable person, he had a gentle humour and was liked by all and sundry. Occasionally, I was fortunate enough to bump into him in and around Lowestoft, as he was often throughout this period helping a friend out with decorating their house in the town, a real measure of the man always willing to help others. My last, fondly remembered meeting with Don, was at Breydon Water last year, when having just missed the Caspian Tern, my disappointment was quickly dispelled when I unexpectedly bumped into Don when he popped out of a car and we had a very enjoyable catch up & chat for some ten minutes. My sincere condolences go to his family, friends & loved ones. Rest in peace, Don, I'll raise my glass to you next time I have a pint of real ale.

Another new Lowestoft Bird!

Last Saturday 13th July, in balmy conditions, I walked down the path to Carlton Marshes Scrape and joined Rob W, Rob Win & Richard S at Wilton's Wound. Overlooking the scrape initially all we could see were 8 Little Egrets in the far right corner (all carefully checked for Cattle E) the sought after Spotted Red had disappeared into the grassy edge at the back. But the distinctive call had a winter plumaged Spotted Redshank flying around circling the Scrape, I eventually picked it up noting the pencil thin plumage and greyish winter plumage before it once again landed in the grass and out of sight, a new Lowestoft bird for me. Cuckoo was briefly heard as was a Lesser Whitethroat on the way back. A trip to the dyke failed to find a great raft Spider but the ever observant Richard did turn up a Spiderling of another species. Apologies for lack of updates recently I have been so busy at work!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hummer back in the garden

On Monday 8th July between 7.15 to 7.20am, I was delighted to see a Hummingbird Hawk Moth hovering around the pink flowering Valerian plants in the garden, right outside the kitchen window. I have encouraged these now common plants to flower (for this precise purpose to attract these moths). I quickly retrieved the camera and before I could change the settings to TV- shutter speed priority (essential to freeze an image of such a fast winged insect) it had flown off to the west. A Hawk moth, that in flight, resembles a tiny hummingbird, due to the very fast flapping wings, hence the name. It typically shows diagnostic bright chestnut brown panels on the "secondaries" area of the wings, if I was labelling in avian anatomical terminology, I'm not sure of the proper entomological descriptive term. I will keep a look out and look forward, very much, to further future visits, once they have been sighted I usually get a spate of sightings (fingers crossed!) July is always the best time for visits from this very welcome continental visitor, co-inciding with the flowering of the nectar rich Valerians, but typically observation periods are usually no more than 5 or 10 minutes. Apologies for lack of any updates, I have been exceptionally busy at work (I have worked 49 hours in the past calendar week!!!) with no time, whatsoever for any other wildlife watching.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Parsonage Ups & Downs

A trip to Wiltshire ostensively to visit Salisbury ( a fine atmospheric city particularly being so close to Stonehenge (great to drive past this stunning place again, sadly no time to visit) and having the very atmospheric Old Sarum hillfort Castle just a mile north of the City)for a Blackmore's Night concert at the City Hall. A great 2 hour 40 minute concert from the band, including Candice Night (Mrs Blackmore) on vocals were on fire and the ultimate star of the show, a certain Mr Ritchie Blackmore still has it as a guitarist, soloing all night with 2 particularly good long solo's one an acoustic one during "Fires at Midnight" and maybe even better another one during "Journeyman" and joy of joys (!!) performing a particularly long solo with his cream Fender Stratocaster guitar (seventh heaven for all present!) A trip to Parsonage Down where I parked on the west side of the A33, walking an extra half a mile literally taking my life in my hands traversing a particularly busy dual carriageway (I should have parked along the east bound section by the rough track just off the main road & just east down to the Yarnsley Castle; a grassed over raised hill fort) trversing 6 feet high nettles in the central reservation and getting my trousers caught and torn hopelessly trying to negotaied a 5 foot high barbed wire fencing round the fort- when if I had parked by the track missed intersecting the castle hill fort area all togetherin an embarrassing area just below the crotch) it took me almost an hour to find the right entrance to the Down & this was not the start I envisaged or wanted! The Down was reached by taking the fist of 3 paths leading off from the track wih a discretionary byway notice and a pictur of a tank. A sign just past a gate indicated I was finally in the right area. I had initially taken a wrong turn, the 2nd track where I had seen a fine Marbled White butterfly resting peacefully in the long grass until where further on a tractor was seen and what looked like a military land area, but as soon as I took my camera out of the bag and it flew strongly off and out of sight! An initial search for the sought after Burnt Tip or indeed any orchids failed to turn any up at all. Not what I was expecting, walking down the Down into a Dip and then half way up a raised incline area, I met some botanists who had seen 1 near the gate and a couple of Fragrant & Frog Orchids. By the side of a path later on I finally spotted my first Orchid, a rather diminutive Fragrant Orchid, just coming into flower. But even better as I started to retrace my steps, right in front of me incredibly was a Badger, in full daylight on the path ahead of me, at first it didn't seem to notice me, it appeared to be a juvenile being 3/4 the normal size of a Badger an its coat appeared to me more browny than the silvery- grey I was expecting, I had a glimpse of the spectacular black & white striped face as it snuffled about, it soon got wind of me (perhaps literally, maybe it was the deodorant!) and started to run down the track and down a big obvious hole. from the hole streching maybe 4 metres down towards the lower part of the incline was an obvious earthy track a well worn rout taken by this particular set of Badgers, lets hope this our safe from the impending cull. Back at the gate, I saw the Botanists again but particularly disappointing was the fact they cleared off just before I reached them so I couldn't ask them exactly where the elusive Orchid was. As a result I failed spectacularly in finding any Burnt tips, a big disappointment. A further Fragrant Orchid, again seen by the side of a path was scant compensation. Walking back along the track, I noticed (as I had on the journey down) up to 5 singing Corn Buntings, seen singing from bushes adjoing the track an 2 to 3 Yellowhammers also. I kept a look out for Bustards but didn't see any. My final wildlife sighting was a another fine Marbled White butterfly which flew up from thistles by the side of the road as I was nearing the layby where I had intially parked the car.

Dolphins in Cardigan Bay

I am just back from a trip to Wales (1st to 4th July inclusive), again primarily a family visit, I did manage to sneak it one or two wildlife sojourns. A trip to New Quay, 5 Red Kite were seen on the journey down and back, often just flying above off top height, was the highlight with a boat trip to see the Bottlenose Dolphins, just after we had embarked on the boat, 1 Bottlenose Dolphin was swimming just yards from the boat from within the harbour before we had even cast off! As we made our way past a sandy beach, a mother and a calf so 2, Bottlenose Dolphin had been seen in the mid distance an they were also seen just off from the beach. Heading past a seabird colony, various auks were seen on the sea and flying past, primarily chocolate brown and white plumaged Guillemots, c150 seen in all we also saw black and white plumaged Razorbills, 100 seen and 1 Puffin flying past with obvious multi- coloured wedge- shaped bill and more dumpy appearance noted. Going further out the sea became very choppy indeed and another Bottlenose Dolphin sighting riding the crest of a wave couldn't be fully appreciated as we were holding on for dear life! Heading back to the sanctity of just off the calmer shore waters, we headed south an just outside the harbour entrance, a Bottlenose Dolphin was around a boat. Back on dry land, from the harbour wall, I watched the Dolhin again. In Mum's garden every day I noted up to 2 Nuthatches coming to food. Walks down to the stream revealed Grey Wagtail, one singing from high up in a tree, 2 Mistle Thrush fly up from the road by the stream and a Buzzard fly up from the field half way down the hill walking down from Mum's house.