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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Journey back

On Saturday 27th December, I spotted a fine Red Kite very low over the M4 motorway just by the Chieveley services/ Newberry at around 10am turn off and just past Reading another 2 separate Red Kites flew low over the M4 motorway. at 10.30am. Driving back over Oulton Broad bridge, I could clearly see (traffic was very slow over the bridge) 3 brownish immature Shag with white chins standing on the edge of the Mutford Lock jetty.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas at Cymisfael stream

My Christmas Day morning started early, with a Tawny Owl's "kewick" call heard at 2pm! The day proper started on a high with a fine female Bullfinch in the tree in Mum's front garden albeit on the far side. Down at the bottom of the hill, by the partially cleared scrub area, 2 calling Goldcrests were seen. By the slight widening in the road, a Coal Tit was feeding on the floor. Further along the stream in the bushes opposite, calling Bullfinchs, revealed another female Bullfinch, but I couldn't see the male. Further along still another female Bullfinch, my third of the morning was seen in a tree. Around 4 Grey Squirrels were seen foraging in the woods. More than I normally see and an ominous sign for the wooldand bird breeders sadly. By the first bridge, a distant Redwing was perched on top a high tree and I saw a Tit feeding the far side of a bush, partially obscured, I spent some 20 minutes checking it out, it was a fine Willow Tit, with bull necked appearance white face matt black cap and more extensive black bib. It spent a lot of time feeding and was joined by a second Willow Tit that flew in from the right, calling the familiar nasal "tsaaah tsaah tsaah" a classic individual with small squat appearance whitish face and prominent white wing panel on the wings.Absolutely super to see these birds my first for 2014, sadly very much in decline in England bush holding there own in this particular part of Wales! Having to walk back, as I was on a time deadline, I was delayed by watching a super Grey Wagtail on the stream which flew up and flew slightly further along. Later on at Mum's house A Treecreeper heared calling and seen briefly in a tree. A Buzzard flew over the road near llannon and at 11.40pm, 2 hooting Tawny Owls were heard from the copse of trees one side of Mum's house and the wood on the other side. A very Merry Christmas to all my blog readers.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Welsh Christmas

On Tuesday 23rd, looking in a field near Llannon (near Llanelli in South Wales), I saw a Mistle Thrush. First thing in Mum's garden at Llandarrog, I counted a great total of 11 Blue Tits coming to food, plus 1 Jay, 1 Great Tit, Robin and 2 Blackbirds but sadly no Nuthatches. On the 24th, a walk down the slope from Mum's house to Cymisfael stream, my regular local patch here, revealed calling, a monotone "peuu", Bullfinch from the hedge bordering the road and the wood, also here was a calling "pitchouu" Marsh Tit that showed some white on the wing. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called and flew over from the hdege over the road and into the wood. A fine female Bullfinch was rooting around in the scrub opposite the road junction. Whilst walking along the road bordering the stream, several Blue Tits seen plus a more typical Marsh Tit (long gloss black crown, no white wing panel longer more elongated shape than Willow) feeding by the edge of the road. Also seen here perched on a ivy clad tree stump, was a Coal Tit. By the fields, a croaking Raven flew west overhead, whilst hearing the odd Redwing "psstt" calls in the distance. I was delighted to see perched on the rock on the stream, a fishing Dipper flying and diving into the water after invertebrates it returned to its rock perch before flying over to the nearside bank of the stream, finally a calling Nuthatch was seen perched on a thick tree trunk.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Grey Wagtail and Harbour Seal

For the second Sunday running today 21st December, I have had a Grey Wagtail call a hard "tszcikk" and fly overhead over Lowestoft London Road north at 12.40pm from the QD roof over to Sports Direct roof on the east side. Shopping at Asda, I had to dash back to get the camera and was delighted to see a Harbour Seal lying on the mud at very low tide. It spent a lot of the time looking at me occasionally for around 30 minutes, it would move with its propelled by it's "flippers" towards the water and I finally left it as it swam in the water poking its head up looking at me!

Trumpeter Swans at Boyton

I must confess that Trumpeter Swans way back 44 years ago first got me interested in birds. My parents used to have old copies of the National Geographic magazine and one edition featured some stunning shots of Trumpeter Swans in America. I was fascinated by these birds and when I was allocated with a Swan picture (and a pink background! at infant school, I knew they weren't the same species I'd seen in the National Geographic magazine- see the "About me" section opposite!). I was therefore very keen to twitch the Boyton birds even though they were almost certainly escapes and the species isn't a long distance migrant. So on Saturday 20th December, I made the pilgrimage down to Boyton Marshes and having negotiated the confusing signage or lack of at Tunstall village, I eventually reached the barn with the metal sculpture turned off left down the lane and took the second left down to the reserve car park. Somebody leaving said there were no parking spaces at the end but when I drove down there, there were 2! having parked up I walked along the flooded meadows observing c30 Teal and c120 Wigeon on the pools. I met Barry W, who said it was around 10 minutes walk along the river bank. I also said a quick hello to Roy M and walked due south then a little west. I joined a throng of birders looking out over a kale field where around 60 Swans could be seen. 58 of them were Mutes but by the left hand end of the pool. I could see first 1 and then 2 Trumpeter Swans. Superb birds appearing slightly (10%) smaller than the Mute's, all black quite long and angular bill with a lovely red line along the lower mandible which showed even more of a characteristic striking red colour when they were feeding when you could see the more of the red colour showing inside the mouth. The birds were unfortunately at the back of the flock, quite distant and they kept loosely together, firstly with one asleep and one feeding and then they slowly walked left and even further away. They then walked back one back on, whilst the other slightly smaller bird hunkered down and promptly fell asleep. Some other newly interested birders were pleased to be shown the birds through my scope and I hope these birds engender a lasting interest in birds for them, as it did me! Walking back, I saw 2 Little Egrets walking about looking for food in a muddy field. A great trip and realisation of another ambition this year in seeing certain species (Franklin's Gull was the other having missed it in 1977, 37 years ago when I was starting birding). Travelling onto North Warren as usual no sign of the Beans although they must have been around c220 Barnacle Geese and around 15 White- fronted Geese at least in the far fields.

Jay in garden

First thing Friday 19th December morning a Jay was feeding on something on the middle of the lawn and spent 5 minutes before unfortunately being accidentally flushed by Cosmo, who was just trotting past (not going for the Jay at all, indeed he seemed oblivious to the Jay's presence!)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

More Great Benacre birds

Sunday 14 December, another sunny but cold day saw me back at Benacre. Trudging along the beach to join Dick W, photographing 3 Shore Larks feeding on the edge of the broad. I carefully set up my photographic gear and was going to carefully join him without disturbing birds when a birdwatcher walked up to him asking what the Diver was on the Broad and subsequently scaring the Shore Larks to fly north seemingly over to the stubble field north of the Broad, great! I looked out over the Broad and saw the Great Northern Diver swimming in the middle constantly diving, it was still too far away for any decent pictures sadly. Dick and I then saw 2 lovely Sanderlings wandering towards us and we got some close views of these great birds. Dick refund the 3 Shore Larks along the northern edge of the Broad and we took the next 3/4 hour or so looking at and photographing them. From the hide, I spied 3 Goldeneye, 2 males and a female at the back of the Broad, they suddenly took to flight and then flew clockwise around the Broad 3X before settling relatively close to the hide before swimming left. At the back of Covehithe Church, looking out over the field, walking down by the bushes, I saw 4 Redwings calling "pssst" and 1 bird perched up high in the bush. Again I met up with Dick we spied 4 Bramblings, 2 smart males and 2 females in the bushes amongst the Chaffinches and Linnets. On the way back we stopped off by the lay-by at Kessingland Levels and looked west to see 7 smart Whooper Swans, all adults in pristine plumage in the field there, 6 were in a group together with 1 slightly separated from them by 10 yards or so.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Return to Benacre in days of yore, i.e. lots of great winter birds to see!

On Saturday 6th December I headed to Benacre Broad. Parking at Covehithe I walked down to the Broad and could see a guy scoping something from the northern end from the beach as I walked over I noticed the excellent Great Northern Diver that was swimming in the middle of the broad and swimming north, it dived frequently and we were lucky that it came reasonably close by the buoy, only problem was the autofocus wasn't working very well so I had to switch to manual. The bird then spent a little time by the buoy before swimming south and going back to the middle of the Broad again. As we were watching it, I noticed 2 female Goldeneye at the back and often just behind the Diver was a female Common Scoter. That Scoter was then joined by another 2 Scoters, making a fine total of a trio of female Common Scoters. Walking along the stubble field just south of the Broad, I heard a Snow Bunting's trilling call but failed to see any birds. Seeing danny P, he had just seen them on the cliff edge and they had flown south. I walked along the cliffs to Covehithe Broad and immediately spotted the fine redhead Smew that was swimming south along the northern end giving reasonable scope views as she swam. Further along in the dunes, I encountered Chris D who was photographing the 3 Shore Larks feeding along the Broad edge. They were reasonably confiding and Chris discreetly left, and kindly left the birds for me to photograph. There was really good light but I was slightly hampered because the autofocus was playing up again and I had to rely on manual focusing again, which was difficult considering the birds spent 95% of their time feeding usually behind a ridge of sand and then behind fronds of small grasses on the beach and were continually on the move constantly feeding. I continued to watch and attempted to photograph them in this way or the next half an hour, all other walkers along the beach, including most dog walkers discretely passed along the seaward side of the beach, until inevitably after 30 minutes a dog flushed them and they flew a short way to the northern broad edge where they again began feeding. After a further 10 minutes, I left them and put a returning Danny P onto them too. I could see he was standing in the Dunes and photographing them on the Broad edge where I had originally seen them with Chris.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Goosander at Leathes Ham

On Sunday 30th November, another dull day, a look from Asda revealed 1 Cormorant sitting on a post. Having checked Twitter when I reached home, I went out in the pouring rain and managed to get good views of a fine male Goosander, complete with dark green head (which looked black in the appalling light) and pinkish flush to the breast and underparts a super bird which swam past the island. Around 24 Pintail, 12 pairs. 9 pairs all together on the close island. A sharp call revealed a fine Kingfisher flying past from left to right. The rain was getting worse so I beat a hasty retreat to the car, all ready to return armed with camera early the next morning.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Shore Larks!

On Saturday 29th November, a very long walk from Kessingland to first the eastern edge of Benacre Broad edge and then Covehithe Broad edge was initially very cold and with a biting easterly wind. Birds were few and far between, but what I did see was quality. On the Pit, 2 Little Grebes seen. Then meeting up with Danny P and Barry W, I decided to check the Broad edge and immediately saw 2 Shore Larks actively feeding here. A female Common Scoter was on the north east part of the Broad. The Shore Larks fed on the Broad edge for 10 minutes before flying south. Walking down to Covehithe broad, a dead Bull Grey seal was sadly lying on the beach. Then incredibly, after meeting Clive N, 3 Shore Larks flew to the Broad edge giving good views albeit in poor light. As they flew in, one bird called, a lovely liquid "eehhh-diiidi"sound and they started to feed by the Broad edge. They feed here for 10 minutes before flying a little further north to the north east side of the Broad feeding again. Many thanks to Danny P for giving me a lift from Covehithe back to Kessingland. Very handy, especially as I had to back home by noon.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Two wet Waxwings

At around 12.30pm today on Sunday 23rd November, I drove past Tennyson road again and 2 of the 3 Waxwings were sat on the aerial again, one then both flew down presumably to feed on the berries by the old people's home courtyard. Both birds looked very wet in the steady rain that was falling at the time (which lasted typically all day!)

Waxwings at Tennyson road

I drove down Artillery Way on the morning of Saturday 22nd November, hoping to see the Waxwings that had been seen there over the last few days, no luck so I drove down to the battery Green roundabout and drove back and parked in Arnold Street as I could see at least 1 Waxwing perched on an aerial. I was joined by Paul & Jane F. It was soon joined by 2 more and they regularly flew from here in to a berry tree in the inner courtyard of an old people's home. walking around from the Tennyson road entrance, 1 and then 2 Waxwings were seen on the berry laden tree. They fed for a while and then flew back to the aerial. All 3 Waxwings were either seen on the aerial or the chimney pot. The birds would frequently flycatch, flying up high then swooping down and settle back on the aerial. When we were joined by OFB and then Jon E. We waited and several times 1 or 2 birds would fly down and feed from berries from the tree before flying up again.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

RIP Malcolm F

I was very saddened to hear that Malcolm F had passed away at the weekend. I had known Malcolm since the early 1980's, he used to live, I believe, at Reydon and then moved to the Saints near Halesworth, Suffolk. Often, I would quite literally, bump into Malcolm whilst birding around Southwold, Benacre or Minsmere. Malcolm was an excellent birder, finding many rare birds, including a Serin at Southwold. Above all, I remember Malcolm's cheerfulness and exuberance, despite occasional bouts of ill health. Malcolm was very keen to get to a bird and wouldn't allow any vegetation to stand in his way. He was well liked and was a very sociable man and it was always good to have a chat with him and share in his extensive ornithological knowledge. Looking back at my blog, it was Malcolm who advised me to look at Sizewell for the King Eider on Nov 15th 2010 and due to his excellent advice, I was able to add a very smart male King Eider onto my Birthday list. More recently, Malcolm and I had shared an incredible experience of watching an Osprey which fished on Blythburgh estuary (8 Sept 2013), it was Malcolm that put me onto a Glow Worm larvae wriggling across the path ahead of us. In more recent years, Malcolm had also embraced social media particularly Twitter. He described himself on there as "an old birdwatcher in the Saints, a rural area of Suffolk, North East of Halesworth." I used to look forward to his tweets about him seeing Turtle Doves in his garden. Something we would chat about when I saw him. On Twitter, he followed 74 people (including my tweets) and I was 1 of his 75 followers. He will be very sadly missed by all his birding friends and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. RIP Malcolm.

Redwings and Tawny Owl

Last night 18th November at around 10am I heard several Redwings flying over the house and the call of a hooting Tawny Owl nearby.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

2 Brents at Ness Point

On a further trip to Ness Point on Sunday 16th November, I was pleased to see Danny P, and he pointed out there were now 2 immature Brent Geese on the jetty and sure enough I saw 2 immature Brent Geese feeding right at the end of this promontory. There were again feeding on the seaweed and one even fell asleep at one point. Before an immature Herring Gull harried one of the Geese and caused it to fly inland in a south- westerly direction at 9.50am. Within a minute the other bird followed too. The return of the rain put paid to any further birding during the day.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A wet day

First thing, I was at Gorleston and sadly there was no sign of the Desert Wheatear but a Grey Seal was seen swimming north out to sea briefly. At Ness Point, a fine immature Brent Goose was seen on the finger/ Jetty fed on the seaweed here. The Goose spent most of its time, half way along but on a return visit it walked straight up to us, just a few feet albeit in the pouring rain. Later, on a walk along to the southern end of Ness Point, revealed a Purple Sandpiper which fed on the rocks. Plus 2 calling Rock Pipit were seen just north of here on the rocks too.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Windswept Desert Wheatear

On Tuesday and Wednesday night I had heard several Redwings calling whilst flying over the garden. What a difference a couple of days makes! My trip lunchtime today Thursday 13th November, at around 12.15pm I drove back to Gorleston beach and was greeted by murky grey skies and a brisk strong south- east wind. I walked along could not initially see the bird but something flitted past and into a tuft of grass by the beach wall opposite Cliff Avenue. Another bloke had seen it in this area and I met up with ex- Pat Geoff who'd spent the last 20 years in Australia and was back home making his home at Lowestoft. A dog walker with a dog flushed the fine female Desert Wheatear out by the wall and it flew back on the stone ledge and showed well before being seen by the posts and then flying further along. With the sand starting to blow around time to gt the camera safely in the bag and get back to work! At 8pm this evening I heard at least 4 Redwings flying over Tesco's Supermarket at Gunton.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Desert Wheatear Fest continues at Gorleston

A lunchtime pop down to Gorleston Beach today Monday 10th November at 1.20pm, just 5 minutes away in the car. I walked down under the ornate bridge and ravine and the excellent female Desert Wheatear was on the beach showing really well. The light was perfect with the sun fairly low giving a lovely yellowy glow which we normally only get during the golden hours (first or last light). It was good to see Paul from Dereham on a lunch break from work he was carrying out at Gorleston. She was initially by the wall catching black flies and skirting around us just feet away and we were both taking full advantage with our respective camera gear. She was exceptionally confiding at times and ran towards me on several occasions and often she was only 3 feet away and too close for the camera, I just savoured the incredible experience of a visitor who'd come all the wall from North Africa or the Middle East being so close. She favoured the area by the submerged groyne frequently perching on the posts. Later on mealworms were scattered here by another birder/ photographer on the post and she returned to feed. Later she became a bit more wary when she flew towards the middle of the beach on the red triangular end piece to a groyne almost completely submerged in the middle of the beach. From here, she later flew to the tideline. After an incredibly enjoyable 50 minute lunch break (and pictures in the bag and well satisfied) I returned to work.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Tale of 2 Desert Wheatears

On Sunday 9th November, it had rained all morning, and walking along the seawall I saw the fine male Desert Wheatear, looking rather wet and bedraggled sat on the sea wall directly directly opposite the net posts. It sat on the west wall edge of the sea wall. Later on when the sun came out, it showed along this same wall attracting a small gaggle of birders and bird photographers camped by the western wall, including Penny C and others, it flew nearer the caravan site and showed down to 8 feet, I managed to get a few more pictures here and was only disturbed when a door walker walked along this part of the wall pushing it along on two further occasions until she realised what she was doing and steered the dogs away. Meanwhile in the Turbine yard at Ness Point, the immature Red- backed Shrike was seen on the bramble bush slap bang in the middle of the yard. It flew to the walled area and bathed in a puddle on one occasion. I then went onto Gorleston and the excellent female Desert Wheatear. We watched her from the raised walk way half way along the promenade, between the Pier Hotel and the cafe. She was initially seen on the beach and half submerged groyne posts. Later on I walked down onto the beach and the female Desert Wheatear kept returning to an area close in by the promenade walkway where mealworms had been left. Several times she came in really close to within 6 feet on one occasion, I stayed put with 4 bird photographers. The behaviour of some "birders"/ "birding photographers" and I use these terms loosely, left a lot to be desired as they pushed the bird north along the promenade before they perched her back towards us. She ran onto the flat concrete floor area, feeding on the mealworms the bird then ran past us and onto the beach. Whilst on the beach, without being disturbed, she then decided to fly a long way north heading to the area by the breakwater.

2 Desert Wheatears & 2 Suffolk Ticks: Surf Scoter and Ravens

On Saturday 8th November, the day started early at Gorleston beach, parking early on near the Pier Hotel, the excellent female Desert Wheatear was seen close to the northern promenade (leading to the Pier) and was seen on the sand and flying onto the rocks by the edge. The female Desert Wheatear lacked the blackish face and had less black in the wings with the same sandy buff plumage and thin black bill and tail. She would occasionally fly up onto the walkway and then eventually flew over to the rocks by the Duck pond. Next up was the fine male Desert Wheatear on the sea wall at Lowestoft, there was a group of around 20 people huddled in a semi circle and 2 lads lying on the seawall path way with their hands outstretched and a few meal worms. The bird was mainly perched on the sea wall but would occasionally pop down and feed on the mealworms. A whole ethical dilemma arises here. Do we feed the birds? If the bird runs out of natural food, surely it will move on? If it is fed will stay too long in an area where it shouldn't be and more likely to sucoom to the cold/ lack of food once the artificial feeding stops (once all the photographer have go their pictures?) Also feeding the bird the wrong type of mealworm i.e. the larger ones with hairs that sickens the bird (the hairs causes it to gag) and it could lead to its demise. Whilst out to sea, a relatively distant Pomarine Skua flew south, briefly harrying a Gull showing white underwing flashes. A twinkling call revealed a Snow Bunting flying south over us which quickly flew down onto the beck and showed for three minutes before again flying further outh. taking Ricky, Paul and jane F we drove down to Stutton Ness and parking at Stutton Village Hall we walked the mile long walk down to Stutton Ness. We arrived a gaggle of birders looking out over the estuary towards Essex town. Matthew D was there and he said there was a reasonably close Great Northern Diver which swam closer and showed well. We were also directed onto a distant Scoter swimming between bout boundary markers, only when the bird swam this side of the closest bouy could we definitively identify it as a female Common Scoter. We also saws female Red- breasted Merganser fly past and right. Rob and John who had joined us went off to scan the estuary round Holbrook Bay, within ten minutes Rob came back stating he may have the Scoter, we looked across Holbrooke Bay and half way out swimming by an orange bouy directly in front the cranes of Felixstowe wa the excellent immature Surf Scoter. It had a heavy triangular shaped bill, dark brown plumage large whitish area on th cheeks. It held its tail up high (like a Ruddy Duck). It swam right and often dived. A dark brown plumage with an extensive white area on the face. A second female Red- breasted Merganser flew right. Walking back by a set a side strip and hedgerow, we saw a fine Brambling. Next stop Orford, where we parked at Gedgrave Hall, we followed the footpath west up a hill and then north, where we saw an isolated conifer belt, looking south were the fields and the marshes. We walked around, we saw 2 Buzzards and a female Marsh Harrier. At 3.55pm, just as the light was starting to dim slightly I looked outh and saw 2 fantastic Ravens flying off the marsh I quickly put Ricky onto these birds and we watched them fly over the pines where they dipped out of sight, 1 Raven then flew north under some overhead wires and the long wings, splayed fingers and diamond shaped tails clearly seen along with the large size and heavy bills, Suffolk tick number 2! We had become separated from Rob, John, Paul & Jane F but waving at them did enable Jane to catch one of these super birds. Both Ricky and I were really elated and celebrated with a high 5!!! A superb day with an unprecedented 2 Suffolk ticks, sometimes I go a full year without seeing a new bird species in Suffolk!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Little Auk & Desert Wheatear (Thanks Rene!)

From 7.50am to 9am I sea watched hoping for a Little Auk, none were seen during the first part of the sea watch although several flocks of Brent Geese c15, 18 & 22 flew south, a large Auk flew North, 5 Wigeon flew south and several small flocks of Common Scoter 15, 18 and 22. In bound migration included a Song Thrush and several Meadow Pipits in off. Then at 8.40am I suddenly saw a Little Auk flying north, it pitched onto the sea in front of the sea defence rocks stayed here of 5 minutes before flying again and pitching down again and settling on the sea around the first groyne north of the Point I quickly hurried over and took 4 shots of it at mid distance before it flew north. Just before I had to leave (for a funeral) I bumped into Chris M. As I was attending a funeral, (a Brambling was heard calling outside Gorleston crematorium. I had left my mobile at home and was shopping in Tesco and very fortunately bumped into Rene, who said "Have you seen the Wheatear? It's showing really well down to a few feet". "Which Wheatear" I replied. "A Desert and it's on the North Denes!" Rene clarified. (I Should have left my mobile in the car!) I raced back home, grabbed my bins, scope and tripod and camera gear and raced to the site. Parking at the Links road car park, there was a group of people looking a little North along the sea wall and in the last decent bits of the fading sunlight, there it was, a fine adult male Desert Wheatear in winter plumage, with varying amounts of black on its face, wings and completely black tail. As always a really smart bird and like the others I have seen also very confiding. It was initially seen at mid distance using the eastern most sea wall as look out it often hopped onto the beach and then back to the wall, carefully treading back along the car park the bird flew towards us and perched on the wall again, sometimes it flew onto the seawall path before flying back to the eastern most sea wall again.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Shrike & Lesser Whitethroat

On Saturday 1st November the immature Red- backed Shrike was showing well at Ness Point by the Bird's Eye factory orange windsock. Other birders were staying in their cars too so the bird was unfazed and regularly feeding. I then had a tweet to say the Hoopoe was still at Framsden, so wanting to get some shots of the bird in the sunshine I drove down and didn't see it despite SUffolk BINS saying the bird continued to welcome all comers well it didn't welcome me on this occasion! On Sunday 2nd November, at 12.30 pm a Grey wagtail was heard and then sen flew just above the garden and north. a tweet from Rob stating the Lesser Whitethroat was still in mariner's Score, I drove down parked in the High Street directly opposite the entrance to the score and was very jammy (for once) as the bird started to show well in an ivy covered sycamore. It simply flew right into the tree. There were 2 sycamores together and it was seen just seen above the clad ivy area, initially looking a very sandy brown bodied bird it showed a grey head white throat and sandy brown back.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Redwing heard from back garden

Early this morning Fri 31 October, I heard a Redwing calling several times either from the back garden or in the scrub just beyond on Fallowfields.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Returning Purple Sandpiper

Taking TOIL from work on Wednesday afternoon 29th October, on yet another grey day, I arrived to see a group of 5 birding photographers surrounding a reasonably confiding Purple Sandpiper, my first returning bird of, dare I say it, the winter. It was perched up on the apex of one of the coastal defence rocks, it then flew even closer feeding along the edge of the inner ledge. The sea was very high and spilling over onto its eastern tip. It then flew to the rocks by the finger and then fed from along the other ledge just north of there around the rock, it frequently had to skip or even fly to escape the high tides coming in. I was disappointed to see again people standing far too close. Again no sense of fieldcraft and the bird's welfare not considered at all. Consequently and unsurprisingly the bird had gone to ground and I missed it. Little was moving out to sea.

Breydon Rough- legged Buzzards and very confiding Hoopoe

On Sunday the 26th October, at first light at be nacre no sign of the hoped for Hoopoe which was really disappointing. 1 Wheatear and 3 immature Brent Geese on the Broad were the only birds of note seen. At Breydon a really long exhausting 2 1/2 mile walk along the north wall, eventually produced the goods when first a hovering Buzzard and the first one Rough - legged Buzzard patrolling the railway line area and by the windmill. Before it settled on a bush. A second Rough- legged Buzzard flew around much closer and settled in a small tree and gave the best scope views of a perched Rough- legged Buzzard that I have had in a long time.18 Golden Plover, Wigeon and Teal flying over were also seen. possibly a third Rough- legged Buzzard was sen on the walk back hovering over a near field. back at Kessingland Sluice, I finally saw the superb confiding Hoopoe, a superb bird feeding from within the pumping station compound. As I walked by I was conscious that there were around 20 people string at it and I had to walk past badly feet away. I needn't have worried as it continued feeding. It ws only when it flew out of the compound and fed on the grass just east of there that I was able to start taking picture. It would characteristically probe in the ground for ood find a grub and then toss it in the air and catch it in its long down curved bill. Wonderful to see, but difficult to photograph in the exceptionally poor light. It carried on feeding here before once again flying back to the compound where I saw it down to 2 feet! Amazing! later it flew out and fed along the ridge leading to the only pit left and a whole line of photographers stood parallel to it and were taking pictures of it like a scrum of paparazzi snapping an "A" list celebrity. It later flew to the area just west of the compound where it hopped around the bank leading down to the river.

Surf Scoter in Holkham Bay & 2 Grey Phalaropes

On Saturday the Scottish birding team was re-assembled John H, Tim H, Tony S and myself and we arrived at Lady Anne's Drive Holkham at around 8.0am, 2 parties of Pink- footed Geese were seen in the mid distance and flock were flying over all the time. As we walked out to the bay, I noticed a small flock of mostly 15 immature Brent Geese on the near shore. From the dunes and we scanned the sea, some Common Scoter could be seen plus a male Velvet Scoter, black with a "white wing clip" and just next to it was the excellent near adult male Surf Scoter with bright orange bill and when it turned a waking great white patch on the nape which really stood out but only when it turned its head. It swam along dived occasionally and spent a lot of time flying down the bay and then back again flying in a little closer. Further down the shore line, a sharp eyed John spotted the Grey Phalarope feeding, actually walking along the shoreline and pecking for food. We approached it and watched it for some time as it walked up and down the shoreline. Driving down to salt house, viewing from the duckpond in the further pool in the field, I spied the 2nd Grey Phalarope of the trip this was swimming in the water swimming and feeding sometimes characteristically spinning around, presumably to disturb invertebrate in the water ready for it to snap up for its lunch.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Wednesday afternoon at Leathes Ham

Wednesday 22nd October, afternoon taking TOIL from work, I headed down to Leathes Ham and immediately saw around 8 pairs of Pintail (16 birds) really close. Walking around the path, I checked the parties of Lon- tailed Tits to no avail, I then bumped into Ali R, we saw a couple of Chiff- Chaffs then heard the Yellow- browed Warbler call and a few minutes later, then we spotted it flitting around in the scrub for several minutes. It showed a cream supercilia and 2 wing bars. Whilst on the ham pond, a female Goldeneye was seen too. I then drove to Ness Point, seeing John H in his car driving away. In the bush by the orange wind sock, the immature Red- backed Shrike perched on a bush, I parked close by and was getting the camera ready when a factory worker walked out and flushed the bird and I didn't see it again.

Monday, 20 October 2014

A quiet Scilly 2014

This year on Scilly was disappointing. No big birds and few opportunities for photography. The best chance I nudged the camera onto the wrong (manual setting) and messed up what would have been good shots of Barred Warbler, the only excuse that I can pass muster is that I'd had no sleep the previous night having co-driven down to Penzance from Lowestoft. On the boat trip over we saw a close Balearic Shearwaters. several Auks flew past, a Pomarine Skua flew by, plus a Great Skua and several Meadow Pipits and Linnets seen flying low over the waves. Arriving on Scilly, after dumping the luggage, we walked up to the Health centre and in gardens opposite the lane, particularly on the right side, by a flowering Palm, a superb bulky grey Barred Warbler skulked among the flowers, firstly it was obscured and then it sat almost right out head on and its breast and head seen really well as it showed for a couple of minutes before it flew right. A trip to the airfield revealed the fine pale Short- toed Lark feeding on the grassy area beyond the closest runway. Several planes taking off and loading forced it to fly a short way slightly further back. Meanwhile first one the 2 Clouded Yellows flew past. A Redstart, female type was seen in a gap of some gorse bushes. Further down on a fence Whinchat perched.

Distant Burnham Norton Steppe Grey Shrike

A last minute dash up to North Norfolk to Burnham Norton, taking the turning on the right through the village and carrying onto the end, parking an unusually free car parking area and a 10 minute walk to the spot where the Shrike was. A couple I spoke to said it hadn't been seen for half an hour and I was fearing I would dip out (and all too common occurrence this autumn) Fortunately, the bird popped up onto a bush by a distant gate. It was the superb Steppe Grey Shrike. it slowly started to make its way along the fence line towards us when suddenly a sharp shower spooked it and it hopped down and disappeared. The shower sone dissipated but it was a full half hour before we saw it again by the bush by the gate and then it started to make its way along the fence line towards us, before it flew eastwards over a field, it was then seen along a very distant hedgerow, before it once again flew back along the fence line working its way towards us before it flew west over the field and perched onto a bush, before finally it flew to a distant hedgerow.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Yellow- browed Warbler at Lowestoft Cemetery and a bathing Shrike

Driving back from Minsmere, I headed straight for the Lowestoft cemetery and John Turner House. Walking into the Cemetery I quickly caught up with Andrew E then Rob Wil, but it was a group of Bedfordshire birders who relocated it in a tree just 50 yards from the Folly western entrance. The bird was calling frantically and by moving around to the eastern side of the tree we saw the fine Yellow- browed Warbler. It was near the top of the tree, but by moving to the east of we had good views as it flitted between this tree and another where the foliage met. The cream super cilia nd wing bards showing well and as always a smart clean bird. It flitted around the foliage catching insects and as always a delight to see. Equally delightful, was the immature Red- backed Shrike at Ness Point by the bushes, hunting for food. It spent some time perched on the fence at the back before coming onto the close bushes and after Dick W had just left the Shrike flew down to one of the puddles and bathed for some 5 minutes before flying back totally bedraggled. It then went to ground for 10 minutes before again hunting from the bushes for food.

Sunrise start catches the Minsmere Little Crake

A very early start saw me entering the Bittern hide at Minsmere at 6.50am, it was already light and the Crake had already shown. My error in arriving 20 minutes later had no knock effect however, as I entered a packed hide but with room in the third row back to set up my scope. I stood next to Dick W & Paul & Jane F. After just 10 minutes the bird was seen, a wonderful immature Little Crake, It had been seen at the far pool walking around, or rather running around the at the back on the mud. However, when I saw it It crept out from the right of the far pool at the nearest edge (which narrowed to a pint at its nearest edge) whilst was slightly covered by a few reeds. The immature Little Crake walked out and around and then walked left. It later popped out and walked right, then I saw it come out again from the right. The small size and typical Crake like appearance ruled out Water Rail and the structure, particularly the protruding primaries and prominent fine white face and lack of barring ruled out Baillons. All in all I saw the bird for around 5 minutes wandering around and most of the distinctive feature were observed. Incidently, this was the 3rd bird for Suffolk the last being in 1973, also at Minsmere. A walk around the Scrape viewing from the East scrape hide, revealed many Black- tailed Godwits at least 50, and 3 Dunlin. We also saw 4 Spotted Redshanks in their grey winter plumage in the south west corner too. From the public hide, returning Wigeon 100 were back in some numbers as were 3 pairs of Pintail, with some asleep on the island. We were also fortunate to see several small parties of erupting Bearded Tits, usually around 8 in number, 3 distinct groups seen. Plus a pair of Stonechat on gorse by the path. Walking back along the North marsh, an immature Bearded Tit was showing well in the reeds.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

A confiding immature Red- backed Shrike at Ness Point

Since coming back from holiday, on Wednesday 24th September, I tried for the RB Fly at Kensington Gardens and in common with the 3 Greenish Warblers, LG Shrike, Barred warbler, YB Warbler this autumn, I missed it, wandering around the gardens in the afternoon for 2 hours failed to see it or anything else of note. Good to see Jeremy from GOR & Geoff from Beccles though. On Thursday, a dash down to the Turbine yard at Ness Point failed to reveal any of the trio of Black Redstarts although I saw a nice Wheatear here. On Saturday 27th September, I viewed the superb immature Red- backed Shrike from the sea wall, the following day, seen again plus 2 Bonxies going south, 5 Gannets flew northout to sea plus a fine Harbour Porpoise swimming north. On Saturday 4th October, the immature Red- backed Shrike was showing exceptionally well along the bushes bordering the eastern edge of Bird's Eye Factory and using the car as a mobile hide I managed to get close to the bird without disturbing it, indeed at one point it was too close for my lens set up. The Shrike was busy catching wasps and I noticed it took great care to get rid of the sting at the back end of the insect before devouring it. Looking out to sea, I a saw a Bonxie flying south. Seeing Maurice we had a chat then I drove seeing a group of 6 Meadow Pipits on the deck a couple of the their number briefly perched on the fence before flying west. I then drove to an enclosed area just south of the Orbis centre and was delighted to find my first belated Black Redstart of the autumn, a delightful smoky grey bird with fiery red tail that first disappeared behind some pallets before later being seen just to the left of a blue skip. Joining Rob Wil, Andrew E and Paul & Jane F we witnessed a remarkable passage of Bonxies flying south, some 69 Bonxies were seen by me flying around, some settled on the sea, some harried gulls, some were reasonably close where you could see the white wing flash on the wings. also seen amongst the Bonxies was the smaller longer winged Pomarine Skuas 2 were seen flying south. Small groups of waders included 2 Dunlin and 4 Dunlin and a sanderling flying south. Whilst 5 Red- throated Divers flew south singly. Some 268 Brent Geese in total flew south mostly in groups of around 20. 5 Gannets seen flying north, 8 Common Scoter south, groups of 8, 3 and 2 Wigeon south and 5, 6, 2 and 6 Teal south too. Another Black Redstart flicked up and perched on the wooden wall separating Ness point from the SLP dockyard. We also saw a fine Hobby departing these shores and flying out and the south over the sea. Whilst conversely small groups of 20, 18 and 8 Starlings flew in too.

The Birds & Wildlife on the Greek island of Kos

Just returned from a very enjoyable holiday to Kos, from Tuesday 16th to Tues 23rd September 2014 one of the eastern Dodanese Greek islands off the southern coast of Turkey. On Wednesday 17th after the rep had told us about all the excursions were walking back in the hot sunshine and just by the pool on the path ahead were there was a pool of water, incredibly, a Snake was drinking from here, when it saw us it froze, I dashed back to the hotel room, grabbed my camera and took some pictures before it quickly slid off behind some bikes in a corner to shelter, it was a superb Black Whip Snake. We also saw a Hummingbird Hawk Moth flying around too. A Sardinian Warbler was seen in bushes on the left side of the hotel at the front. Going to Tigaki Salt Lake, we noticed a few Red- veined Darters and a group of 19 Greater Flamingoes, with 1 juvenile amongst them. Walking around the scrubby area, I saw 5 Red- backed Shrikes, 5 Whinchat and 3 Plain Tiger butterflies flying around. Also seen on the Salt pans were a group of 4 Ringed Plover. In the evening around the hotel, I was delighted to see another Red- backed Shrike on a distant bush and the chortling sound of Bee- Eaters revealed around 8 flying around as ever, rainbow coloured birds. As night fell, I saw a Preying Mantis, sat next to the outside door of someone else's room next door but one from us. On Thursday 18th going to Kos looking at the archaeological sites no Lizards seen, but at Kos castle by a particularly large expense of wall a Starry Agama Lizard seen and a Yellow Wagtail sp heard only as it flew over. Up to 3 Swallowtail butterflies seen here by a grassy area. In the evening at the hotel, I first noticed a Hummingbird Hawk Moth perched on a smoke alarm in the hotel cocktail bar, which didn't move from there for the rest of the week. On the Boat trip to several islands, 11 Cory's Shearwaters seen plus several Yellow- legged Herring Gulls, Shags and on the island several Rock Grayling butterflies and Southern Meadow Browns. On Saturday we explored the Magic Beach and saw a large 4 foot long Grey Lizard that ran round to a cylindrical hole in the middle of a sand bank. It was later seen perched just outside the hole and I managed some distant shots. When we visited later it was seen at another cylindrical hole nearby. Several Red- veined Darters and Rock Grayling butterflies seen too. On Sunday 21st, the North wind had died down and we visited the abandoned village of Old Pyli, up to 4 Wall Lizards seen including a confiding individual close to the path, that was well photographed. At the top, it was wonderful to see 2 Black Stork soaring overhead, at Zia, 1 Common Buzzard flew overhead. and Great Tit and Coal Tit heard here too. In the evening it was great to see first 1 Green Toad by the rim edge of the hotel eastern path with 3 at the very end and another 1 further along, totally 5 Green Toads, I noticed one move towards an insect and the tongue shot out caught it and swallowed it. On Monday 22nd September, early morning at the hotel by a back hedgerow a Mediterranean Skipper and Holly Blue type butterfly seen. At Psaldi Salt Lake a Spotted flycatcher seen in the tamarisks plus 19 adult Greater Flamingoes At another abandoned village, a Clouded Yellow butterfly seen.(the juvenile had disappeared and replaced by an adult. 5 Crested Larks seen including a very confiding singing individual at the side of the road. At Magic Beach, the Lizard was seen again plus a Hoopoe flew over the road as we just turned off the main road. By the Agios Stephanos Basilica temple by the beach, 7 Starry Agamas and they all were very photogenic posing on the side and top of the wall sometimes just inches away!. At Kalimnos 31 Bee- eaters flew around on the way back, were seen on the mount overlooking an impressive vista looking down to a village countryside. In the evening, 2 Green Toads seen along the Eastern path of the Hotel, 1 Preying Mantis briefly landed on my arm then on the ground. 1 Gecko and then a Turkish Gecko seen too. There were 3 Wall Lizards seen- 1 with a Gecko at the Hotel front. On Tuesday 23rd September, a bigger foot long Wall Lizard seen by the eastern hedgerow of the Hotel plus around 5 Starry Agamas along the front. Whilst around 8 Swallows, a House Martin, 2 Alpine Swifts flew over the front of the Hotel. Finally a Chiff- Chaff heard and a Sardinian Warbler were seen.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Rogue Kingfisher!

Sunday 14 September, 2 Wheatear down Hamilton road on waste ground just N of road, 1 Wheatear on sea wall and then rocks at Ness Pt. At Net posts, a Wheatear on grass and amazingly a Kingfisher heard and then seen flying north over sea wall then headed west over the net posts and my head and appeared to go South again over Whapload road!

Wryneck

On Sat 6 Sept at Benacre sluice, a Wryneck not seen briefly for 7 sec but wait it after 3 hours showed quite well feeding in grass just south off copse by Pit. Up to 4 Hobby flew overhead calling soaring just over our heads, 2 Buzzard also and 10 Wheatear seen here too.

Track to Radar Lodge

On Wednesday 3rd September, after work at a very sunny track along Radar Lodge, together with Danny P, a Spotted Flycatcher perched at the side of some trees and tall weeds either side of the track ahead. A more elusive Pied Flycatche was seen around the Sycamores & Whimbrel heard too.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Elusive Critters!

A before work visit to Corton OSW on Friday 29th August failed to reveal any birds hardly surprising when I only had 10 minutes! Another visit at lunchtime was more successful and dead on 12 noon, I could see bird as soon as I got there, the excellent juvenile Red- backed Shrike perched on the north - eastern end of the wires. It perched here for all of 1 minute, before it disappeared and I could not refine it despite much searching. A Whinchat flew from the compound and disappeared in the middle of the beet field again never to be seen again. An evening trip to Southwold old Sewage works was disappointing, a great spot but in a 2 and a half hour vigil, no sign of the Greenish, a really elusive bird and not seen since 5.20pm apparently, (I arrived soon after) whatsoever by me, although a bird that flew across the path and into a tree late on, looked interesting but we couldn't relocate it. Best bird seen was a Swift that flew past us and west and several 5 Chiff- Chaffs. A fine Southern Hawker patrolled the pathway and flew around me curiously, also flying around were 20 Migrant Hawkers continuing their recent influx.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Pied Fly saves the day!

Corton was devoid of any migrant birds, this afternoon, Wednesday 27th August, by the sewage pond a mating pair of Migrant Hawkers all curled up on a tree branch would have made a stunning shot had I had my camera. an immature Green Woodpecker seen, a Blue & Speckled Wood butterflies and loads of Migrant Hawkers. Good to bump into Chris M & Peter N. We decided to look for the Pied Flys found by James at Gunton. By the Dip Farm Football pitch in the north- east corner flycatching and flitting about in a Hawthorne bush exactly as James described, I first saw the Pied Flycatcher fly out and then back into the bush after Peter N had whistled us over after he had refund it. I next saw it perched at the back of the bush showing the white in the wing. It then flycatcher and then perched so its head could be seen well and then the whole bird was seen out in the open briefly before it flew left top a Holm Oak and out of sight. A Robin, Chaffinch were also in or around this bush and we were joined by Nick B and then an immature Green Woodpecker flew to the edge of the field by the fence too. Several Migrant Hawkers were seen here too. A look around Gunton warren revealed the usual dubious characters but sadly no birds.

Garden Visitors

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we made the best of the appalling weather, 2 Chiff- Chaff were seen around the back of the garden and just over the fence, a male Migrant Hawker was seen on the rare occasions flitting around it wasn't raining and on Monday a juvenile Herring Gull got forced down into the garden with the heavy rain and when the rain abated it didn't appear to want to leave the garden, Cosmo, our cat, didn't know what to make of it either and I herded the Gull sheep dog style (stressing it a little as it vomited twice a horrible bread mixture!) down the passageway and to the front garden and onto the road, I stayed with it until it decided to run down the road and finally launch itself into the air and freedom!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

More Waders at Carlton Marshes

On a sunny but windy evening, I made my way up to Carlon Marshes Scrape on Sunday 17th August, 3 later 4 Swifts (on the way back) were seen flying low above the track half way along giving great views of a summer migrant just about to depart for far away shores. Over looking the scrape, I saw very few waders initially, a close Greenshank, 5 Dunlin then the 3 immature Little Ringed Plovers seen plus 2 speckily backed Wood Sandpipers seen and possibly a third bird. A few 5 Sand Martins were seen flying over th scrape as well as 1 House Martin. Walking back the female Marsh Harrier seen flying away and the 4 Swifts were hawking low above the track on the way back.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Waders at Carlton Marshes

On Saturday 16th August a walk down to Carlton Marshes revealed 2 Green Sandpipers on the Scrape, later another was seen making 3 birds. In the far right hand corner, a golden crowned female Marsh Harrier was perched feeding on something. Further scanning revealed 3 super immature Little Ringed Plovers, 4 juvenile Ruff also flew in on the left and we were busy walking and feeding as they walked west. After the female Marsh Harrier had flown left a Greenshank was seen on the scrape plus a Common Sandpiper. Walking back, a female Sparrowhawk flew low and north over the track. By the Oak trees near reception a Little Owl flew in.

Cosmo found

Delighted to say we found Cosmo yesterday afternoon, apparently in the thunderstorms on Thursday he had ran for shelter in our next door but one neighbours car! Really relieved that the car was in the shade as he must have been in the car for around 24 hours. My leafleting of over 80 properties and a day off work had done the trick as we was really worried about him. He seems no worse for wear but we are keeping a close eye on him at present with only supervised access outside at present.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Lost our much loved Tabby cat Cosmo

Lost our much loved 1 year old male Tabby cat Cosmo From the Bosquet Close/ Fallowfields/ The Pastures area of Parkhill/ Parkwood, North Lowestoft on 14 Aug 2014 Please could you check your garages, cars outhouses, greenhouses. If you have any information please let us know, or if you accidently ran him over please let us know, or there is a new 1 year old Tabby in your area, or you have found him injured & taken him to the Vets. He is micro-chipped with full address details. He loves to chase a stick around the garden and is very partial to cat food, ham, chicken, fish and cat biscuits. He also doesn't kill birds or reptiles/ amphibians We are very concerned about him & we are desperate to get him back/ find out what happened to him. Please ring: 01502 733686 & ask for Peter or Jenny (there is a reward for any info leading to his recovery/ fate)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

White- rumped Sand at Rush Hills Scrape, Hickling

On Saturday Aug 2nd and the second American in 2 days, late morning I drove to Hickling and around midday (having dodged a downpour!) I arrived by the hide at Rushills Scrape and the WR Sand had gone apparently flown left. A scan through the waders revealed Common sandpipers 2, Green Sandpiper and 1 Wood Sandpiper plus an ad Little Gull in the water. Eventually after 30 minutes someone was going directions to a wider creeping around the in the yellow flora yo the left of the scrape, we went over and could clearly see this was the greyish White- rumped Sandpiper with a more attenuated rear end than Dunlin and sporting streaks on the breast and flanks suggestion an immature age rather than adult as previously thought but the date seen tends to rule this out, so adult it must be. I saw John H there and he very kindly showed me show Swallowtail larvae, some 3 individuals on Milk parsley by the side of the path just past the hide. On Sunday 2nd August I went back armed with a couple of cameras one with 1500 400mm lens and my trusty 150mm macro lens. I saw the caterpillars again onMilk Parsley plants just beyond the hide and I was lucky enough to see the original there Swallowtail larvae still on the plant originally shown to me the previous day but also to find a further 3 Swallowtail larvae all seen separately, with 2 of them on the Milk Parsley right by the path edge so I was able to get pictures without any disturbance to them whatsoever. A very striking larvae rivalling the caterpillars of the Hawk moths in my book.

Franklin's Gull at Breydon: 37 years of waiting

On August 1st, a tweet just as I was leaving togo to work around 7.40am, stating there was a Franklin's Gull on Breydon and I quite simply ran to the car jumped in and drove there. I arrived at 8am and just beyond the hide was Peter A and the finder, plus Tony striding up too!! (couldn't resist that one). The bird was still there a magnificent moulting adult Franklin's Gull, my first ever and a bird I had been waiting to see ever since I missed the bird at Lowestoft in 1977, a mouth watering 37 years ago! The 1977 bird was famously found by the late Brian B, who was the bird man of Lowestoft and whose influence, fieldcraft and local patchwork influenced many of the movers and shakers on the Lowestoft scene today. This is certainly the rarity I have been waiting longest to see. The Franklin's Gull was on the mud the nearest bit looking west over the lumps and the water, it was seen in front of Gulls near a tyre and could be easily distinguished by its typically slate grey back. It was slightly smaller and more compact then Black- headed Gulls. With the forehead white and a thick blackish area stretching diagonally up from the black eye cupped white eye rings (above and below the eye)It showed a blackish and red bill with dark grey legs. Because it was a moulting adult the primaries were all black with no white wing mirrors that I would expect to see in a non- moulting adult. A really fine bird and it then flew over to the northern flats where it could be seen slightly closer in flint the bird was really distinctive with a characteristic white underwing almost Kittiwake like. At 8.50am, unfortunately I had to leave for work.

Treecreeper Garden Mega!

On July 31st early morning, I saw a bird fly onto the trunk of the Cherry tree at 7am and then crawl up revealing it to be an excellent Treecreeper with a wide super cilia, a fine bird to see in the garden!

Garden Wildlife

Another hot sunny evening on July 22nd revealed calling Chiff- Chaff just outside the garden, a Whimbrel calling flying overhead but not seen and 1 Red Admiral.

Collared Pratincole at Minsmere, Garden & Winterton

On the Tuesday a trip to Minsmere was in order, going first to West Scrape no sign of it there I then traipsed all the way over to East scrape after receiving Rene's tweet and saw rene at east Scarpe hide. he informed me that I had missed the bird by 10 minutes... an hour and a half later still no sign although it had settled behind an island out of view and surely hadn't gone? We were entertained, by a delightful group of 21 Little Gulls, not only appreciating their appearance but also their distinctive calls as one by one or in small groups of 2 and 3 they gradually took to flight and flew east over the hide and seawards. It was only when Adam R arrived and said it was still showing from the North Hide that we all bundled over there squeezed in and eventually sound a seat and the bird was seen sitting just in from to some vegetation on the island a fine Collared Pratincole. It's identity was confirmed when it flew and I noted the chestnut underwing and caught a hint of the white trailing edge on the secondaries as it flew frequently around the spit in he east scrape area. On the 16th July, the first Migrant Hawker of the season, a female was seen perched on foliage at the from tot the pagoda. A female Brown Hawker was seen briefly too. A trip to Winterton on the evening of 19th July, in the hope of a possible Bridled Tern, yielded good views of c15 Little Terns and Grey Seals but little else.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Great Knot at Breydon Water

On reaching home after work yesterday I was very surprised (I am swamped with work) at the moment current) I was surprised to find a whole host of messages about a Great Knot at Breydon Water! Here we go again I thought as the last alert of one of these had proved to be an erroneous identification and I had thought it was just a Knot and raised doubts at the time. So leaving home at 6.10 by 6.40pm I was pulling into the Rugby club car park and walked what must have been a 2 mile walk along the south end of Breydon where we appeared to be almost along the Burgh Castle end. I joined the 80 strong throng of birders and was directed to the further end of the estuary along the western bank where it was seen on the western muddy bank just metres from the the river channel. Directions were good where it was seen "underneath" and between a windmill in the distance and a telegraph post. It was seen just behind a trio of BH Gulls. It appeared slightly larger than a Knot with a more attenuated rear end (a bit like Baird's Sandpiper) It had had a slightly longer black bill which appeared thicker at the base. What was most obvious was the blackish on the breast which appeared to contrast with the more whiter underparts with black spots on the flanks. It showed more rufous brown on its back too and showed pale straw coloured legs. It was indeed a fine adult Great Knot in full summer plumage. Only the 4th record for Britain, a rare British tick for me and the first I've seen since my trip to China in 1999. A great bird and a great find by the Yarmouth birder. It spent its time busily feeding on the estuary before finally flying right and seen at the same distance just by the Tern platforms. Other birds seen on the estuary included 6 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Greenshank, Whimbrel, Black tailed Godwit and 5 Avocet.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wood Sandpiper at Carlton Marshes

A quick visit to a very wet Carlton Marshes, following the monsoon rain this afternoon which actually hammered down. I waded and hobbled through the puddles all the way down the path and from Wilton's Mount, I could clearly see the Wood Sandpiper over the far side and 3 Little Egrets although curiously no Garganeys could be seen at all. I walked around to the other side and from the west side, the Wood Sandpiper was seen very close to the path and great views were seen, albeit in very poor light. Walking back going past Spratts' Water, a fantastic Hobby flew past from left to right again a close view.

Brown Hawker in the garden today

Still having a prodigous amount of work to do today, Saturday 12th July plus the fact I badly stubbed my toe on the cat's scratching post in the hallway (but fortunately no Beckham style broken metatarsal bone so need for any orthopaedic advice at work!) I was hobbling around and couldn't get out, certainly not walking down to Carlton Marshes scrape. I turned my attentions to the garden, in a break from my Library Quality Assessment Framework work that I need to submit by the end of the month. I was delighted to see Ringlet & Small Tortoiseshell butterflies in the garden and the superb Brown Hawker seen in flight late morning rested on the wooden horizontal beam of the pagoda as the sun shone directly on it from late afternoon, my best shots were taken at a slight side angle to the Odonata where the fine female Brown Hawker settled and allowed a few shots before she flew off.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Brown Hawker in the Garden

At 7.30pm, on Thursday 3rd July, on this extremely hot day, I walked out in the garden and heard a rustle from the Copper beech and was delighted to see a female Brown Hawker Dragonfly fly quickly west and then over the back fence and out of sight. She had a brown abdomen with yellow spots by the side. A very wary individual but I'll keep a look out tomorrow, they can often hang around and have posed exceptionally well for the camera in previous years, here's hoping!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pyramidal Orchid at Gunton

Both yesterday evening, Tues 1st July and this evening, Wednesday 2nd July I was delighted to follow up James W's tweet regarding the Pyramidial Orchid at Gunton. Arriving at the site, I quickly spotted this fine plant. It was already in flower, perhaps slightly past its best, as the lower flowers had died, but still looking really impressive This was only my second of this species in Lowestoft (or first if you count Corton outside Lowestoft!). It was situated within the Gas compound along the western side at the back and was a delightful plant to view. At 7.30pm yesterday, the sun was fading behind the wood behind me but at 6.40pm tonight, the sun was still sufficiently strong to shoot at F8 at ISO 100, always the defacto settings I tend to use for plant photography, but I do vary settings according to what I am photographing. I was also delighted to bring my Aunt along who only lives 100 yards further down the road, she was delighted to see the plant too.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Rosy Pasteur again

On Sunday 29th June, the adult Rose- coloured Starling was again seen along Pinewood Avenue, Lowestoft perched on the bushes in the garden along the alley. It was seen here at 4.35pm perched in the bushes it eventually flew down to the garden but then flew back, had a snooze before perching at the top of the bush before flying south- west with a group of around 30 Starlings. I then went to Wrentham and again failed to see the really elusive (for me) escaped Black Kite, this is a really big bogey bird for me in Suffolk (along with Scarlet Rosefinch), having started my Black Kite dips way back in 1979, I have tried to twitch 10 birds over the years, culminating with missing one seen from Carlton Marshes when I was there this year!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Another missed Black Kite

On Friday 27th June, Frog seen in the middle flower bed of the back garden. On Saturday 29th June, I just missed the escaped Black Kite around the Benacre estate having been seen in flight at 8.50am in a field by the Benacre estate, 2 Hobbies were seen here distantly and then one flew past too. I looked from 9 to 1.40pm and there was no sign of it, but watched Swifts flying into nest under the eaves of a building off Mill Lane and opposite the Bowling Green & Tennis courts. A Spitfire flew round also.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A few Swallowtails around the Broads

Travelling north along the A12 just after the turn off to Lound a male Marsh Harrier flew west over the A2 and flew across the field. A look at Strumpshaw fen today, I walked down toward Prof George's House and in a clearing a few birders were gathered and a rested Norfolk Hawker showed very well here and posed well for the cameras as did a less photographed Ringlet. At the garden, cloudy weather revealed little and walking on the fen, I photographed a showy Viparous Lizard which was seen on the left side of the boardwalk then scuttled across and away. Returning from the loop, it again scuttled back across the boarded path. Walking further along I saw and heard a Cuckoo calling from a bush in the reeds near the middle and photo'd a male Black- tailed Skimmer on a reed stem. Walking back just before the boardwalk I saw a couple lingering and they said they had 2 Swallowtails here, sure enough 1 Swallowtail flew out past us and across the fen. At Catfield Fen, reached by turning off at Cat field and heading for the large church taking the narrow single track road just before it signed Fenside and taking it right down to an area of deep water and a sign. Parking here I walked past the house on the right and walking through the wood turned left at the end and took the first part of the square walk. Just before the end of the first straight track, I looked over flowering brambles and saw a Swallowtail feeding around the bramble flowers. Walking along the next side of the walk, by a cut pool area 2 immature Lapwings and 1 adult Lapwing seen. Past the disused mill, I saw a Swallowtail fly down a dyke. Along the third side of the path turning right, I saw another feeding Swallowtail albeit with a large chunk taken out of its left wing. Despite walking further I saw little and returning an immature and adult Sedge Warblers seen. Plus a female Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds. During he walk 2 Grey Herons flew past separately. Back to the area where I saw the first Swallowtail it was still there feeding on the flowering brambles and once it even flew right over and directly past me before flying back. Despite showing well it wasn't close enough to photograph.

Short-toed Eagle at Ashdown Forest & Lesser Emperor at Filby

The crack Scottish team was re-assembled for a twitch down to Ashdown Forest for the ST eagle, John H, Tim H, Tony S & myself. I reached John's at midnight and we drove through the night to Gill's Lap car park at Ashdown Forest in west Sussex. An absolutely stunning place we stopped near hear in the dark and I heard churring Nightjar. At Gill's lap car park there was the spectacular vista of looking over the valley. During our watch from first light, we also heard churring Nightjar here plus we heard purring Turtle Dove and they were eventually seen, 2 Turtle Dove perched in a distant dead tree. Bullfinches were heard too. Just after 8am, a young lady birder said there's a raptor coming in from the right and sure enough a pale Eagle sized bird soared in low and perched in the top of spine tree, it was the magnificent 2nd summer Short- toed Eagle. It showed mouse- brown upper parts and very pale whitish below with brown streaks around the upper breast and the a few on the outer edge of the wing coverts. It sat in this distant tree just down from the ridge. It then flew down to another pine tree in the valley, we walked down to get a closer view. It sat here for a while before flying around, sometimes soaring around, hovering briefly and also using its tail as a rudder kite- like as it flew. It flew up to a pine on the ridge and then flew right someway, again seeing its tail used a rudder, another brief hover before it perched on top of another Pine. It spent some 20 minutes sat here until a Carrion Crow and 2 Magpie mobbed it and it flew further away and out of sight. We then drove down the road a mile and parked at Old Lodge car park, walking down we saw a close young Wood Lark in the long grass, although no time to photograph it as we were on a strict time limit. By some Pines to the right a fine male Redstart was seen feeding a juvenile Redstart. walking around the path we checked the pools and then went down a steep hill to an area where they were too interconnected pools with a wooden foot bridge in between. Almost immediately I was aware of 2 flying Odonata, a Four- spotted Chaser and another mysterious one. Whilst by the footbridge, a superb male Beautiful Demoiselle was seen. I then got my bins onto the other Odonata, it was an Emerald and looking at it my first impression was of dazzling Christmas light it was that dazzling, surely a Brilliant Emerald. It spent all its time in flight switching between the pools and often flying around the more shaded area. It then settled briefly in grass the other side where 3 birders sat carefully. By looking at the featured photographed them we were able to eliminate Downy E. I was never able to see it completely at rest as it often flew after a short rest. Walking back we saw by a pool first a Keeled Skimmer that showed well and a Small Red- eyed Damselfly although I didn't look at it for too long because of the heat. In the afternoon after we got back I drove straight to Filby Broad, looking along the boardwalk, 2 Fisherboys were constantly casting every 5 seconds far from ideal to see the intended target, but at 4.10am, after sighting 1 or 2 unidentified Hawkers and both Norfolk & Brown Hawker, another Hawker was seen circling around the NE tip of the Broad the water directly in front of the far eastern end of the Boardwalk it flew my way and looking down on it, I could clearly see the blue saddle at the base of the abdomen, a fine male Lesser Emperor, but as it flew past the boys, their tiresome casting almost hit and it swerved out of the way, it appeared to want to fly around the western end of the boardwalk but the casting forced it to fly strongly west. In the evening I went down to Hamilton road and saw the colourful escaped Red-rumped Parakeet calling a strange high pitched call from the roof of Pryce's building. The bird has been around this area and Battery Green for a week or so, an escaped bird but I was still keen to see it.A load of Starling flew by the hangar and the fine Rose- coloured Starling was seen amongst them, it flew to railings and then remained faithful to one Starling as they both flew to a light by the wind turbine. They spent around 20 minutes here before finally flying past us, the RC Starling had a more fluttery flight, and then dropped down by the Helicopter hangar area in the harbour.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Elusive RC Starling

I had an hour to look for the RC Starling from 1.40 to 2.40pm, apparently it hadn't been seen for 3 hours, at 2.20pm in cloudy weather the Rosy Pasteur was seen perched high up in a Leylandii way back 2 gardens back from its usual garden. I had too leave at 2.40pm and it started to show apparently after I left.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Hummer again in garden

At 6.03pm on Tuesday June 17th, a Hummingbird Hawk Moth was again seen very briefly for all of 10 seconds as it hovered around the eastern end of the Red Valerian plants before it flew off and disappeared.

Rosy Pasteur at Lowestoft

On Tuesday 17th June, early morning 7am to 7.50am the bird spent much of its time in Clive's back garden I saw it only twice once when it pecked briefly in the large bush and a second time when it perched on an arterial just north of Clive's house. Following a long lunch break from 1.50 to 3.50pm I drove straight to Pinewood Avenue. By the junction of Pinewood Avenue and Breydon way, the bird couldn't be seen. However walking across and taking the same passageway as the previous night, I saw Rob Wils, the Norfolk bird photographer and he said he had the bird perching right out in the open in the second bush. Walking carefully around, the fine adult Rose coloured Starling, the Rosy Pasteur as it is colloquially called, was still there albeit partially obscured. With last night's experience in mind, I tracked back to the alleyway over looking the garden and saw the bird in a better position albeit the lower body was obscured. A really smart bird with jet black head and upper breast with pink bill (with black at the base) Pink mantle and scapulars, the upper scapulars showed a dark brown band extending back, with black wings and pink rump black tail and pink underparts and black scalloped under tail coverts with pink legs. The pink belly had a few fine streaks of brown too. The Rose- coloured Starling perched up in the bush looking around facing first right then left before they all flew. It was next seen back in Clive's garden. Seen perched up in the far back east bushes before it flew across the garden towards us and we then saw it perched up showing well in the large bush in the middle of Clive's garden where I was able to get some great shots through the hedge. It flexed its head showing its pinky head crest and was seen well here before it flew down and I had to reluctantly leave to go back to work.