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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Full of Eastern Promise? Not so far!

Ever since Thursday, there has been strong easterly winds offering plenty of promise but delivering very little so far, lets hope we get some bad weather to ground the inevitable migrants. As it turned out the weekend delivered a couple of visitors from the north rather than the east! On Thursday 26th September, I made my way after work to the pool by Corton New Sewage works where Andrew E had brilliantly found both Black Darter and Willow Emeralds. Sadly I missed all of these Odonatas (the sun had just gone in when I arrived at 5.40pm, too late!) and had to content myself with 4 Chiff- Chaffs in the plantation (always a productive area) following a nice group of 20 Long- tailed Tits moving through. On Friday lunchtime, I had a 2 hour extended lunch (TOIL) at the Corton New SW Pool and Ricky F refound a superb Willow Emerald, my first in Lizard land/ Lowestoft. showing well but just out of photographic reach and enjoyed by Chis M, Maurice B and myself it was perched on the vertical branch of a bush bordering the western side of the pool. The dagger mark on the side of the thorax being a diagnostic feature. On Saturday 28th September, a very disappointing total lack of migrants in the afternoon (a nagging headache, due to the high pressure/ humidity, kept me housebound in the morning) and couldn't see the Firecrest at any of the 4 entrances to Bird's Eye (I assume it was seen by the western offices entrance but not entirely sure!) but it was nice to see a close Brent Goose on the east side of the Oval, looking through the fence albeit directly facing into the fading sun. IThe Goose was faithful to a small shaded area and was constantly feeding in a small 3 metre square area during the whole time of observation. On Sunday 29th September, another Firecrest dip, this time it was too windy in Sparrows Nest again in the afternoon, but a tweet from mid afternoon Danny P, had Paul F, Jane F & myself dashing to the northern path slope leading down from CEFAS and I refound the excellent Snow Bunting feeding on a secluded bit of concrete at the bottom. It then flew a little way onto the main path, before it was about to feed in the sunlight on the main path, it was inevitably flushed and it flew back to the pink tarmaced path sloping down from directly underneath the CEFAS's northern side and the bird was particularly confiding (see header shot! & below) and seen just 2 feet away until some walkers pushed it towards me, I couldn't believe it (ala Victor Meldrew) when two of their number apologised for flushing saying they hadn't seen it when it had been trundling down the slope barely 3 feet in front of them for a good ten metres!! They flushed it but it flew up and alighted further up the slope. It was seen again for a while before the inevitable dog walker flushed it right off the slope again and flew further east down the slope

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Yellow- browed Warbler at the Nest

At around 10am today, I made my way to Sparrow's Nest after the fog had dispersed but had been beaten in finding the first YBW of the autumn and above the Bowling Green I saw Andrew E, Robert Win, OFB and later Robert Wil as we waited a short time and suddenly the excellent Yellow- browed Warbler started constantly calling a high pitched "tsuuip". The only problem was we couldn't initially see it, as it was near the very top of the trees but eventually came down to 2/3 of the height of the tree and a flitting movement soon put us all onto it. A small Warbler with whitish underparts and cream supercilia seen from the angle we ewre viewing it from, as it flitted around in the tree showing occasionally before after 4 minutes it suddenly stopped calling and we lost it from view after seeing it three times for around 3 minutes. Little seen on the Denes save for an adult winter Mediterranean Gull flying south over the sea and an adult Common Tern perched on the groynes. 3 Chiff- Chaffs heard and later on in Sparrow's Nest at lunchtime where 5 Migrant Hawkers were seen flying around the bowling green hunting insects at least 3 were blue adult males. At Fallowfields in the afternoon, 2 Chiff- Chaffs heard.

Friday, 20 September 2013

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Friday 20th September nothing seen at Ness Point, this afternoon save for 2 Turnstones on the wreck of the old sea wall. 2 Chiff- Chaff were also heard along the North Denes slope. 2 Common Tern seen flying south along the sea plus an adult Mediterranean Gull in winter plumage and letter seen on the beach. After a chap said he'd seen a rare gull on the beach with orange bill black band on the lower bill and orange legs wih rings on both legs, did I know what it was? I said "Mediterranean Gull" and sure enough it was the adult winter Mediterranean Gull a ringed bird this bird had a white ring with black lettering "E861" on its right leg and a smaller silver ring on its left leg. It spent most of its time running along the shore line before it flew north into the over the sea and onto the next bit of beach.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Lesser Grey Shrike at Aldringham Walks AND Wilson's Phalarope at Cley

Having TOIL from work during the morning of Wednesday 18th September, I was to try the Herculean feat of going for both the LGS near Sizewell and the Wilson's P at Cley during the morning off from work I had today. So just after first light (it started to get light at 6.30am but by around 7.30am the sun was staring to shine and found myself driving along the Sizewell road looking for the Halfway cottages thanks to the obligatory OS map I found them easily and managed to find a parking space (only 2 available but preferable to the very long walk required if you parked at Leiston as advised) on the opposite side of the road just 50 yards before. I walked across found the bridleway snaking back in a south- east direction behind the cottages and a reassuringly located horse box. I could see the power lines from the road and looking east from the path could see what must have been the horse paddocks (but no horses in them, probably still in their stables?) directly underneath power lines. I met 2 birders, one just grunted at me neanderthal style when asked if they'd seen the bird, the other helpfully told me to look underneath the power lines along the fence posts. I duly followed the advice and quickly located the excellent Lesser Grey Shrike perched on a back fence post. A super bird, basically a mixture of grey black and white, slightly bigger than RBS the grey colouring being; grey crown, fore crown running into a grey neck and mantle. The black colouring being; on large rounded head a thick black stripe running back from the lores past the eye and running to the back of the ear coverts. With black wings and tail. The white on the throat and underparts with square white patch at the base of the primaries when the wings were closed forming a distinct patch, there were white edgings to the median coverts and tail sides. The bird would frequently fly off the fence posts hunting for food before being relocated often on a different fence post on the other side of the paddocks. At 8.30am, I left for Cley taking the Beccles, then Norwich (held up by a lorry travelling 40 mph the entire length of Beccles to Norwich outer ring road), Norwich outer ring road and Holt road and finally at 10.45am, I was walking down to Bishops Hide (this is located on the right hand side of the road walking 300 yards right of the Visitors centre. I was fortunate in the crowded hide to quickly get a seat and the superb Wilson's Phalarope was immediately on view briefly walking around on the extreme right hand edge of an island that was helpfully right in front of the hide around 40 feet away. The Phalarope was constantly feeding with its head and pencil thin bill pecking the earth for food as it made its way around the ducks and Teal sitting on the extreme right of the island. The bird appeared slightly larger than other Phalaropes with long neck and long needle thin bill giving it a very delicate appearance. It had a striking pale appearance with light grey crown, top of neck and upper parts with just a hint of immaturity browner on just a small amount of flight feathers. It had striking yellow legs and was constantly walking about feeding often with its head just above the surface of the ground/ water. It appeared to be more dry ground dwelling than other Phalaropes but it didn't stop it from occasional but rare sorties into the water. Typically it would give a brief walk around before disappearing out of sight at the back of the island for a while. However this excellent bird didn't keep you waiting for long and during the hour and 10 minute period of observation (I had acute time pressures as I was due back at work at 1pm) it reappeared at least six times. The last time was the best when it walked to the front edge of the island and then giving superlative views as it walked left feeding out in the open. Other birds out there were many 200 Black- tailed Godwits a family of 5 Ruff (2 adults and 3 immatures) plus another adult elsewhere and finally The heralds of winter, a quartet of Pink- footed Geese that flew around and settled amongst all the Greylag Geese. It was good to hear the dulcet tones of Ali R, who like me, had only seen one previously, the fondly remembered Benacre Broad bird way back in mid September 1991. The Wilson's Phalarope was one bird I particularly wanted to see again. It was now 11.50 am and time to go, as I drove past Walsey Hills, I could see a group of birders probably looking at the RBS, a great shame I couldn't join them for a view but work beckoned.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Juvenile Rose- coloured Starling at Caister

Arriving at the Beach road, Caister today, I saw Peter C & Diane and a big flock of 200 Starlings flew over us and amongst them was we spotted the excellent very pale sandy coloured Rose- coloured Starling flying around. It then flew over to the buildings just east of the Beach road car park along Beach Road & Old Mill road and it was seen perched and scoped from the car park on the roof and chimney pots with Ricky F and John H briefly joining us joining us before it flew again. Walking along back along Beach rd, I saw the bird perched first on the roof then amongst the chimney pots and then it flew to a more distant roof where good scope views were obtained. It flew again. Seeing the Dereham lads, as sharp as ever they had picked it up near a roof top with solar panels in Clay Road (first left west of car park) and we had good views of it here where it rested for some 10 minutes along with around 20 or so other Starlings above the panels. A very sandy looking bird as is always the case with immatures with yellow base to the bill and very clean fresh dark black or brown flight feather with white/ cream edgings giving it a very clean smart looking appearance. It then flew again and was seen at the back of a chimney pot, down a side a passage of the Street, where I managed a few shots before it and the Starling flew onto a green area. They fed here for a while before they flew again. Reassembling back at the car park, I amazed Paul W by picking up the bird in flight, which was easy to do with the Zeiss bins I now have, obviously it was very pale but appeared slightly bigger than the other Starlings with slightly blunter edged wing tips maybe with broader bases making it reasonably distinctive n flight if you were warranted a good view. Also good to see around 30 House Sparrows around the green area and a further 10 House Sparrows opposite the Library too. Late on today 4pm, news came out of a LGS at Aldringham walks but where on earth was that? After 30 minutes pouring over maps of Suffolk, I finally located was near Sizewell, but I had run out of time as I calculated it would take 2 hours to get it; 1 hour's drive and another hour's 2 mile walk and in the driving rain to boot! Should have gone as I would have seen it very late on at 6.35pm, when it was still showing. Lets hope it stays to next weekend as there will not be enough time either before or after work (start work at 8am finish at 5pm).

North Denes late on

On Saturday 14th September following the rain I went out onto the north denes and saw several Lounge Lizards plus 3 Whinchats perched at top of 5 foot high vegetation and I wheatear seen on the sea wall and 1 Arctic Skua flew reasonably close in flying south. I searched the Oval, netposts and north beach and a Sandwich Tern and 2 immature Common Terns seen on the groynes.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Large White caterpillars

Over the last 3 week during the recent hot weather I have been counting regular numbers of Large White caterpillars or larvae on the Burrage centre car park at work at the Hospital, normally the counts have been in high single figures but reached a record of 26 one day over a week ago and 5 were still crawling along on Friday the 13th. Also today, Saturday the 14th around 20 Jackdaws flew over chasing a Rook flying overhead and north over the garden.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A few migrants on the Denes

Today, early morning on Sunday 8th September, I saw nothing at the net posts and following a tweet from Rene, I made the very short journey over to the Oval. I initially saw 2 Yellow Wagtails, but the groundsman walking out flushed all the Wagtails onto the north side of the Oval. I met Chris M and we walked over to the North Denes slope together and the excellent juvenile Cuckoo flew low falcon- like along the North Denes slope settling into a sycamore near the top of the slope it flew again briefly, sporting a pale belly with browner breast, and was then seen flying back into a bush. We saw a Chiff- Chaff in the sycamores and making our way back at the Oval, up to 4 Yellow Wagtails were seen on the Oval near the green wicket, one was reasonably close and I managed to obtain a few shots of it.

Osprey on the Blyth estuary

On Saturday 7th September I popped out mid afternoon and by 3.30pm I was walking across from the layby the Blyth estuary along the busy A12 and crossed the busy road and immediately saw the excellent Osprey hovering over the far corner south- west of the estuary, distant but reasonable views through the bins and it flew down into the water and then flew right fairly quickly sadly that's all I saw of it as it soon disappeared from sight. walking down I met Rene and co and Malcolm F and pointed out the larvae of a Glow Worm crawling across the path and we saw around 8 Curlew fly out at regular intervals from the creek plus a Black- tailed Godwit amongst all the c60 Redshank. I wanted to try for the Osprey again but was really unsure where to view. I walked back to the car and in the hedge just before it I saw a white and brown moth with a little yellow at the top which I think is a Jersey Moth, sadly no macro lens available so no pictorial evidence to show you. Going to the Tinkers Marsh reserve, I parked at the car park and under one of the corrugated iron sheets, I saw an excellent Grass Snake curled up, I then followed the path down to the road and didn't know where to go next and couldn't find the Bungalow either that I was advised to find, if I was to view the Osprey on a post so gave up and went home!

Juvenile Cuckoo still on North Denes slope

Early on Thursday 6 September morning before work I looked along the North Denes slope and the immature Cuckoo was still flying first right and then left along the North Denes slope disappearing into a Sycamore the last time I saw it was now 8.15am and I had to leave for work.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Long walk to the Winterton Toad pools

Having TOIL this afternoon Wednesday 4th September, I headed out to Horsey & parked at the Nelson's Head at Horsey and walked down the path to the end, a brief Wall Brown butterflywas seen on the path. Whilst at the end by the green hut, a smart Wheatear and 2 Whinchats seen on the fence line. walking down to the seal colony a load of Grey Seals c30 were seen lying on the beach with around 5 in the water. Around 40 Swallows seen resting on the path ahead and then they perched on the fence posts, dispersal of newly fledged birds and their parents plus around 15 House Martins seen too. I met Tim sitting by the North Pine wood and we made our way to ether to the Toad Pool where the female Common Hawker was buzzing aound and during the 2 hours I was here she was constantly oviposting by the boggy marsh and also on the path, just a foot away from me at times, showing exceptionally well but the the very bright sunlight made getting good pics extremely difficult. She is a bigger and fatter bodied Dragonfly compared with an adult male Migrant Hawker seen occasionally flying around too. I was grateful to Tim for pointing out the Southern Emerald damselfly with bi- colour brown/white ptrerstigma and white legs, it also had its wings at rest held across the body, whilst Common Emeralds seen on the same pool 2, tend to fold their wings back along the abdomen. Tim left and 2 other birders came and quickly found another 2nd Southern Emerald Damselfly just a foot north of the north most perimeter path along the pool first perched on grass and then a flower before eventually flying up to the bramble bush behind it. Those 2 gents left and I concentrated on the female Common Hawker who spent more time oviposting along the path and allowing close views. walking back the 3 mile walk, a strange buff (leucistic?) Swallow flew south along the field with 2 normal coloured Swallows, Tim had tipped me off about this bird and I was pleased to see it, just wanted the other pale buff bird, the Immature RC Starling than asn't sen all day, sadly. Back by the green hut, 2 Wheatears perched on the fence wires. It was a long 3 mile walk in the long sun and searing heat together with the optics I was carrying 2 cameras lenses, bins, telescope and tripod.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Convolvous Hawk Moth: Impressive beast!

I was delighted to get a phone call from one of my friends this evening (Sunday 1st September), stating they had a Convolvous Hawk Moth in the garden this evening. It had been passed third hand onto them from a neighbour over the road! Whilst driving over to see them I witnessed a brown female Sparrowhawk perched on top of a Wood Pigeon in the gutter on the left hand side of the busy A12 road almost directly opposite the Foxborrow pub! Arriving later at the garden they showed me to their greenhouse where it had been expertly put on a dead piece of log and I was able to obtain a few pictures of this marvellous beast. A subtle mixture of greys and a really impressive moth, along with Privet & Death's Head one of the largest moths we get in Britain. Albeit, this a rare migrant from Africa, rarely seen here. However, this is the 5th Convolvous Hawk Moth I have seen having first seen one at Gunton off the North Parade (very top of the North Denes slope many moons ago, with a further 3 on Scilly over the years and one in Peter C's garden at Winterton, always a treat to see, these grey beasts!) As I finished my photography, I looked up and saw a Cuckoo fly past heading east, it was a dark shape but almost definately another immature Cuckoo, which like buses you wait ages for one then 2 come along almost at once (or was it the same North Denes bird? could be!) A big thank you to my friends for the phone call and warm hospitality this evening.

Juvenile Cuckoo on North Denes slope

A tweet saying there was a juvenile Cuckoo on the North denes slope had me haring down to Links road car park and an initial look was unsuccessful, but I was fortunate enough to bump into Bill H and after haf an hour without success we said our goodbyes. This was a little premature as Bill called me back and said he though he had it flying low towards the group of sycamore on the bank just north of the Oval. Bill volunteered to go and have a look and five minutes I saw swoop out low like a brown and falcon, settle for a millisecond ina sycamore bush before flying up and settling in dead bush near the top. The juvenile Cuckoo, really was a fabulous bird, the first ever that I have seen, which is really surprising considering all the time I spent down on Fisher Row seeing many adults. It had abrown back, bib and cream breast and underparts. After 10 minutes sitting in his bush it then flew down and perched near the top of umbellifers near the bottom of the slope. One slight problem, a dog was approaching me but the quick intervention of Bill and the kind co-operation of the dog walker meant the dog was restrained and I was able to approach the Cuckoo albeit with just the handheld camera and lens and managed a few shots of it before a magpie flushed it and appeared to settle in a sycamore before it flew back a little way and disappared out of sight again. Also seen earlier were several Swallows c15, 4 House Martins and 1 Swift flying low over the North Denes my first in ages!