Sunday, 27 April 2014
On Sunday 27th April, a lovely sunny morning attracted a lovely Green Hairstreak onto the Hebe bush in the back garden and it spent most of the morning up to 11.30am on the Hebe, the Lavendar and other bushes on the west side of the garden, the side in sunlight. It spent a lot of time resting on leaves and occasionally flew and alighted on other perches either mid way or on the top of the bush. I was over joyed, this is the first garden record! A walk over the Lound Causeway, or the Blue Doors Loke (the new name and I've never seen any blue doors here, although with the amount of illegal fly tipping that is dumped by the entrance to Corton ORT and Corton OSW, you never know!) As I walked along the causeway, I heard 3 brief notes of a Nightingale's song, I tweeted it out immediately (only the second Nightingale I have ever found in Lowestoft, the one at Fisher Row way back in the 1980's was t'other!) and had to wait 10 minutes before I heard a full blast of the extremely melodic song. It was just past the Lake southern side and appeared to be just west of the path or walkway, although I couldn't see it. What I could see were around 30 Sand Martins buzzing around over the water where there were quite a flies buzzing around. I could heard Blackcaps and later on both female Blackcap (west side) and male Blackcap on the walkway and the east side were seen. As I walked across o the hide, I heard 4 Lesser Whitethroats. From the hide I could hear a Reed warbler singing and as I opened the hide flaps up a Reed Warbler perched right out in the open a third of the way up a reed close to the hide, it stayed here until I got the camera out and flew into the reeds! Walking back several Orange Tip butterflies, 10 males seen during the Lound visit in total. walking back to the causeway, I heard 2 Bullfinches by the hedgerow calling. I saw Rob Wil & Win back at the causeway/ BD Loke and we were treated to an even longer rendition of the Nightingale's song this time it had moved to north of the Lake, but try as we might we could't see it. From the Temple, I took the track, I heard another Bullfinch and then a distant Cuckoo calling coming from the field north of the track and an overflying House Martin my first of the year. Taking the top path, I heard another 3 Blackcaps, saw a singing Whitethroat, checked the Gorse for Green Hairstreaks didn't see any. Driving back, I saw Paul & Jane's car, so I decided to join them back at the Loke, the Nightingale was again singing its rich fluid song, from its original position just south of the Lake near the footpath, indeed I saw it hop out between the "V" of the main trunk and a thick branch extending to the left. I could see the chestnut hues on its head and upper parts on the top part of the body and pale whitish/ cream below. Dogs running down flushed before either Paul & Jane could see it. But 20 minutes later it moved to the eastern hedgerow beside the track just 10 yards south of here and we saw fly out and down south of the lane showing its rich chestnut tones and reddy chestnut tail before it flew back into the bush again. Driving past Oulton Broad Mutford Lock Bridge, I was delighted to see the immature Shag on the jetty standing up at the end point. At Kessingland, there were birders and photographers in all 4 corners of the Dunes field. The Hoopoe was feeding down the middle west path, until a dog walker flushed it and it flew into trees just south of the Caravan park, I returned to the car to retrieve my bins left in the boot and a female Blackbird posed beautifully for the camera down the lane in excellent light. Returning to the Hoopoe, it later flew to the path extending west of the field and we saw it here resting and feeding before it flew into the middle of the Dune field but was repeatedly flushed by a birdwatcher with a young family, he drove it to the marram grass dunes east of here before it eventually was seen feeding along the middle east path and then ran south along the path, where it raised its crest in impressive fashion (but it was in shadow here- although I have pics) and then flew a short way to continue feeding on a sunlit to path going east, we also saw a singing male Linnet perched on the top of a bramble bush, he posed for the camera nicely too! and up a marram dune. It was feeding here before it flew over to the north eastern area where it fed and then flew again and over the Marram Grass Dune and onto the beach before finally it flew over and across the caravan park.
Saturday, 26 April 2014
I headed south to Kessingland yet again this morning, the Kessingland/ Benacre area is enjoying a real purple patch this spring. It was still early enough to avoid the hourly gridlock. Parking at the south end of Kessingland village I walked down the well trodden route to the Dunes and soon joined Chris M, Peter N and Paul & Jane looking at the wonderful colourful Hoopoe that was on the track ahead of us around 80 yards away. Thanks to Jane for letting me look initially through her scope, much appreciated. This fantastic bird was feeding down the path walking away from us and then it flew first east and then west where we saw it again feeding along the southern path bordering Kessingland Sluice. As usual a stunning bird with long dark down curved bill orange- brown crest with dark notches and the striking orange- brown plumage with black and white bars on the wings. It then suddenly flew to the middle of the dunes and wasn't seen for a while until I picked it up flying its characteristic swooping undulating flight low over the ground just to the left of a bush on the western edge of the Dunes. By this time Tony B had joined us and he keen to see the bird having missed it in flight and spent time waiting for it patiently to appear. So we made our way carefully along the southern edge of the Dunes and standing concealed behind a large bush, we could see the bird sitting on the western edge of the path here, where it rested for a good ten minutes. It then flew up flew up and south and then crossed east over the dunes towards the beach. Five minutes later it was seen flying back towards the dunes. A super bird and my first UK one since the popular Corton bird on 31 March 2009 (see my blog for that date "A real Bobby Dazzler!") We also saw on the Dunes 5 fine Wheatears, 4 males and 1 female by the paths. I had to reluctantly leave around 10am as I had promised to help with a move. No apologies for the distant accompanying picture, the bird was very flighty and wouldn't allow any sort of close approach, although 1 unknown chap tried and actually pushed the bird towards us. The picture is also very heavily cropped record shot. >
Thursday, 24 April 2014
At 9.55am I heard a Lesser Whitethroat calling from the southern perimeter hedgerow of the James Paget Hospital. Meanwhile in the evening, it was a case of third time lucky trying to drive south of Lowestoft, although again I got temporarily caught up in the nightly gridlock along Gorleston road, after 10 minutes I was able to turn around and divert via Sands Lane & Prospect road by 6.20pm I was parking at the end of Beach farm, Benacre. The Kessingland/ Benacre Spring purple patch was continuing and just after 6.30pm I was able to claim my share of it when I walked up to the donkey paddocks and I saw some birders who said it was at the far end. I could see the excellent Wryneck showing really well feeding right out in the open. I walked up and from behind a bush I watched it again before some birders walked up again and it flew to the bush by the hedgerow at the eastern end. After a few minutes it was back out again feeding right out in the open. It spent some time in a little dip feeding, occasionally its head would be seen popping up from time to time. Meanwhile in the middle of the field a "seep" call revealed a newly arrived (for me) group of flava wagtails, 2 fine male Yellow Wagtails with butter yellow heads, 2 female Yellow Wagtails and a fine male Blue- headed Wagtail with a male Pied wagtail at the back too. The male Blue- headed Wagtail loosely associated with the other lava Wagtails but keeping to the outer margins. The Wryneck the moved from the south- east corner of the field flying to its middle. I walked back and occasionally spotted it, until I came across it just 20 feet from the path, showing incredibly well it sat here for some 10 minutes before it suddenly shifted and flew back to the eastern edge of the field, where I lost it from view. walking back I first heard and then saw a newly arrived male Whitethroat in the hedge. 2 Oystercatchers then flew past and west. A very enjoyable evening and mostly just me with the very confiding birds and getting really good views and pics too, just wish the light had been a little better.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Gridlock! at Oulton Broad stuck in traffic for 1 hour yesterday, 40 minutes today & getting tweets regularly delayed (1 hour delay on ALL messages since the weekend) = no birds = cancelled trips 2 days running to Kessingland & Benacre = utterly fed up Peter!
Monday, 21 April 2014
Receiving tweets about a Nightingale at Corton today Sunday 21st April, hastened my efforts to check around the Corton area, something I was going to do anyway in the hope of locating some newly arrived migrants. Parking by the old Sewage works, I met Rob Wil and he kindly drove me to the parking space opposite the Corton allotments (ie. northern end of the village and opposite the first house south of the Corton Old Sewage works) We were kindly invited in by the gardeners and we initially heard the Nightingale singing from the eastern most hedge of a house bordering the western part of the allotments. It then fell silent when a cat walked into the bushes. We were joined by a birder from Belton and we next heard it by the roadside bushes and Rob Wil did rely well to pick it out as it hopped to the bottom of the hedge by a fence post (located by looking beneath the white ball fence post top of the house over the road! It then it hopped up onto the bare branches of a small tree/ bush in full view for a couple of minutes. It perched looking to the right sporting the rich chestnut upper parts and pale underparts with reddish brown tail. It then flicked down into the bush and out of sight. My first ever seen Nightingale in the Lizard area (I'd heard previous ones along Gunton Cliff, and twice at Fisher Row, once by the tea gardens (found I think by the late Brian Brown) and once in the vegetation just before the "Bowl clearing"- where the tea gardens path starts (found by myself) but this is the first time I had ever seen one in Lowestoft or indeed anywhere else in the Lizard area! A Swallow also flew over. We moved back to the roadside and viewing from the eastern end i.e.. the other side of the coast road, we heard the Nightingale singing in the bush it then moved through the bush and was partially obscured but it was just about ready to hop out in full view again before a car went past and it flicked down and out of sight deep in the vegetation. Walking over to Corton old Sewage works I heard a high pitched "psit" and was delighted to see the yellow belly of a Yellow Wagtail (my first of the year) fly over and head north. Walking up to Broadland Sands around 80+ Sand Martin were seen flying around the cliffs and I heard the 8 note whistle of a close calling Whimbrel I looked around everywhere and couldn't see it. My assumption that it was flying low north over the beach (which I couldn't see) were confirmed when I met Craig he said he'd seen it flying over the beach by Radar Lodge. I thanked & congratulated him for finding the NightingaleBy Corton old Sewage Works field (more coastal erosion had occurred and 2 Oystercatchers were seen in the field. Corton New SW revealed very little save for a couple of each of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell plus 4 Speckled Wood butterflies and a female Sparrowhawk dashing through low through the wood area just north of the complex. A trip into town in the afternoon, I spied another female Sparrowhawk seen perched on the fence just south of Denmark road in Lowestoft and west of the railway station in the early afternoon. From 12 to 12.20am, I went out into the garden from 12 midnight to 12.20am in the early hours of Tuesday 22nd April and saw around 15 meteors whizzing across the night sky. The best one suddenly appeared like a white light dot and then whizzed across the sky for 2 seconds and then abruptly disappeared.
Sunday, 20 April 2014
Receiving the twitter message very late 9.10am, (twitter problems again and delay in receiving the messages) I didn't reach Kessingland Beach until 40 minutes later and early birds Paul & Jane were already leaving. Walking up the Dunes it was obvious where the bird was because of the small throng of people peering at it behind a bramble bush, with 2 photographer standing or lying as lone sentinels either side of the them. I joined the first and managed some distant pictures of this fine male Dotterel that favoured an island of green grass amongst the pebbles, he would feed then run a short way as is so characteristic of the feeding action of Plovers. I later joined Clive N who was just standing north of the group and we got slightly closer shots. The Dotterel looked really impressive standing on a ridge and then it ran to a grassy stretch just south of the ridge. I then walked up to the sluice looking from the Northern side where I joined Ricky F, no sign of the Ring Ouzels along the southern grassy bank of the sluice where they had been seen. When we saw first a male then a female Ring Ouzel on the grassy area behind us i.e.. north of us and then we saw 2 "chakking" Ring Ouzels fly past us and north, so there were 4 Ring Ouzels. From time to time we would see a male perched on a bush male on the ground plus at least 1 female Ring Ouzel. When they were flushed again by dog walkers they flew back to the grassy ridge south of the sluice and all 4 birds were in view at once, definitely 2 males and what looked like 2 females? Another dog walker flushed them before we say for definite and looking west along the track we were on, just 20 yards west of us at least 3 Ring Ouzels, 2 males and a female seen, zipping in and out of the bushes. A Swallow also flew south. Before once again they flew north to the middle of the grassy area where they were seen again. Near them were up to 4 male Wheatears. Going back to the beach, I was joined by Dick W and we made our way to the seaward side where we were able to get quite close to the resting Dotterel without disturbing it. After a while it stood up did a series owing stretches and preening before it suddenly flew up and then south along the Dunes before Dave H picked it up flying past us and around 50 yards north of us where it settled more on he seaward side of the beach. We left it in peace and at Kessingland Sewage works, 5 Blackcaps all males were heard singing, nothing on the Sewage beds by the fishing pool, a Swallow flew over and back at the Common, a singing Lesser Whitethroat was eventually seen when talking to Ricky F and Steve, the male Lesser Whitethroat briefly sang from the near the top of a bush before hopping down again. Finally driving back, I stopped off at Oulton Broad and took a couple of pics of the regular immature Shag that was lying on the end of the Mutford Lock jetty.
At 1.20pm in the afternoon, a gorgeous male Orange Tip butterfly, my first of the year, flew into the garden flew into the north- eastern corner and briefly settled on the Aubretia before to flew back over the garden and south over the fence. At Carlton Marshes during the afternoon, I walked up to the scrape, On the walk up I saw a Swallow fly across the path flying south, I also heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling 2/3 of the way up on the right hand side, but couldn't see it. The Scrape had 3 Little Egrets on it but little else. Behind me, a Hairy Hawker flew by my first of the year and a good early date. With cloudy conditions and a brisk north- easterly breeze, birds were keeping under cover, I heard 2 Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warbler again at the spot I'd heard it on the walk up. At Spratts Water, 3 Willow Warblers, 5 singing or "takking" Blackcaps and 2 Chiff Chaff heard, plus another Swallow, first heard and then seen and a Green Woodpecker and I heard my first Whitethroat of the year. Walking back looking at the dilapidated building, the sun came out and sure enough, a Little Owl (they love the sun) peered out from the window and I also heard a Cuckoo calling tom the northern part of the reserve.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Sunday, 13 April 2014
This afternoon following Jane's tweet yesterday, Jenny & I travelled down to the A1120 tourist route to Framlingham and called in at the excellent Mickfield SWT reserve where we first saw 4 and 2 Yellowhammers on the ground, they flew up to the hedgerow and then in the field itself were hundred's of Snake's Head Fritillaries. Most were densely concentrated in the middle of the field with about 10 white varieties also present. We were there from 3pm and I had to wait around 20 minutes for the sun to escape the cloud to get some nicely lit shots. Fritillaries, along with Orchids, are my favourite plants and a chance to see a field full of hundreds fully out in bloom couldn't go unrealised. It was a real joy to see so many in one field.
Saturday, 12 April 2014
After 7 separate attempts to photograph the Dusky Warbler, I finally managed to connect and get a reasonable shot. As I walked down Fisher Row, a Green Woodpecker flew to a tree trunk just right of the path and just past the entrance gate, whilst up to 3 Willow Warblers were singing from the bushes just west of the track (First for the year). Over the track, I heard a Grasshopper warbler reeling first for the year, 4 Blackcaps, 2 males and 2 females, were were either side of the path in scrub and a delightful Moorhen nest with 2 adults and 6 youngsters diverted my attention. A Chiff- Chaff seen at the Bowl. I walked up the path to the tea gardens and met Don & Gwen who had just had some very good views of the Dusky, but true to form he it had gone to ground again. However, after just a few minutes, we heard it "takking" again and after a fruitless search to locate it somewhere in the tea gardens wood, I eventually spotted the Dusky Warbler zipping about in a tree just behind the hawthorne and in the very loose company of a Chiff- Chaff bush where it sat for several minutes on a horizontal branch extending out oft from the main trunk of the tree about half way up (but not photographable) it then flitted round, visiting the hawthorne bush several times before it flew out just east of there. It perched for a few seconds right out in the open on a branch for a couple of seconds (long enough for me to get 2 pictures) one was good, albeit in poor light. Don & Gwen then left, I am very grateful for their help in locating this bird. The Dusky flew back into the hawthorne by the path and then flew across the path into the northern most dyke running adjacent to the path, where it flitted around and perched on the vegetation just about the waters surface, I saw it couple of times here through the binoculars before I lost it and finally heard it "takking" by a bush just north of the path. I didn't see it again. Another couple came up and try as I might, I couldn't re-find the bird, but I did hear a Sedge Warbler singing, another 2014 first.
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
There were a trio of fine male Wheatears on the North Denes this evening on Tuesday 8th April, they were feeding on the grass but sadly were pushed from literally pillar to post by the sheer number of people and particularly runners on the North Denes this evening. They flew first along the southern edge of the Denes by the caravan park before they eventually flew north and then the 3 Wheatear were seen around the stone blocks and pipe and eventually they settled on the track near the Links road car park where in the temporary absence of people they lingered for quite some time in the fading light, where I left them undisturbed and free to rest. I have suffered for my art as I had to crawl through a bed of nettles to get close to these Wheatears to photograph them without disturbing them. As I write my legs and knees are still tingling pins and needles from the nettle stings, see the photos below to see if it was worth it!
Sunday, 6 April 2014
On Sunday 6 April, an early morning a look around Corton revealed a singing male Blackcap by the Old Sewage works and 2 Pied Wagtail in the Corton Church field. By Corton Cliffs along the northern edge by Broadland sands, I saw 20+ Sand Martins flying around the cliffs and by the cliff edge 2 Pied Wagtails and fine male White Wagtail. On Dip Farm playing field, another fine male White Wagtail was seen in the middle with a Pied Wagtail. Nothing seen on the North Denes or the Oval.
Yesterday, on Saturday 5th April, I walked down Fisher Row and just before the stable I looked at a showy singing Chiff- Chaff (pictured below) singing from the top of a tall bush. A male Blackcap was singing by the bowl seen in a tree. Another Blackcap was heard singing by the tea gardens. I went back to Oulton Marshes and standing in the usual spot after an hour, seeing Don & Gwen who regaled me with their luck of seeing the bird out in the open for 5 minutes. I had no luck, no sight or sound of the bird, until Tim B popped along he looked around 30 metres further down the path with 2 other birders, he gave me the thumbs up and walking down, I could hear the soft "tack" of the Dusky Warbler that was seen flitting around in the tree at mid height and then flew high up to a tree before flying back to the usual bush area where I had been standing. We looked here for a while no luck. Having looked in this week's Great Yarmouth Mercury, where they reported the free flying but captive (ie. not wild!) White Storks were nesting on top of chimney at Thrigby Hall at Thrigby Wildlife park. I thought that would make a good picture. So, a visit in the afternoon (this is the best time to visit with the sun swinging round to illuminate the Storks and the nests) to Thrigby was just the ticket. It costs £12.50 each to get in if anyone wants to get pictures of the Storks too (make sure you print off the £1 off voucher per person from their website to save a little money on admission). The zoo has plenty of big cats including Tigers, Snow Leopards, Leopard & Black Panther as well large Snakes such as Anacondas, Alligators, Tortoises', Otters, Baboons as well as the aforementioned White Storks, Demoiselle Cranes, Red crested Pochards & Sacred Ibis et al. I managed to obtain some shots of the nesting captive White Storks on top of the Hall. There were 2 nests on top of 2 chimneys, initially I couldn't see any Storks, by whilst the Tigers were being fed, 1 bird flew in then latterly the other. I finally managed to get shots best obtained from the tree line walkway situated just south of the Hall. In the evening a Redwing was heard calling "pssst" as it flew over the house.
Friday, 4 April 2014
On Wednesday 2nd April at 5.30pm, directly after work I made my way to Kessingland Caravan park, it's always a pleasure to see Paul & Jane (seen on the way in), especially when they updated me with the news that it was still there along the southern line of caravans mainly in the eastern corner bordering the edge of the park. They said, as others had mentioned to that it was a particularly showy individual with a much more elusive bird (the more normal behaviour of Ouzels) by the sluice, however I encountered the polar opposite reaction from both birds! As soon as I was walking up I saw, a glorious male Ring Ouzel with thick white crescent on the wings and silver grey on the wings and black plumage, just in front of two caravans on the southern edge in the astern corner by a small ornamental tree, but as soon as it immediately saw me (I was approaching carefully) it scampered under a caravan. Despite being ultra cautious in stalking, it continued to be very elusive, popping up but then darting for cover X4 every time I saw it, I wasn't particularly close either. It wasn't being being particularly obliging and I tried kneeling down waiting in one spot for a time but that didn't work either. With the misty smog depressing the light, I was also conscious that the what light levels we had would soon drop. So I made way to Kessingland Sluice and in particular I scanned the grassy green area just north of the only Pit left. I saw 2 birds, first a fine male Wheatear and a little further back another one another glorious male Ring Ouzel, this right out in the open. I decided to carefully walk along the road bending west wards and leave the brow of the slope to hide my approach, coupled with using bushes for concealment and crawling along very carefully and slowly I managed to get reasonably close to the bird without flushing it. Indeed it was feeding and even hopped towards me on several occasions. It was a super bird, with white breast crescent silvery wings and black scaly plumage and lemon yellow bill with black tip. I always really enjoy seeing these birds and this was being very obliging, I took full advantage by reeling several pictures. (Needless to say all the accompanying pictures and the header are pictures taken of the Benacre Pit/ sluice bird, the Caravan park didn't stay still enough for me to get any pictures or even observe for any duration of time). The Benacre Pit bird continued to feed working its way right, before it retreated a little and stood beneath a small bush for cover, where I left it. Walking back to the Caravan park, the male Ring Ouzel was still there, but this time it was flighty (I wasn't anyway near the bird) and it immediately flew 10 yards into the caravan site where I left it in peace.
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Tuesday 1st April I had some training at Fulbourn near Cambridge. We had some excellent training on Critical Appraisal of Medical trials/ procedures. During the day we heard the constant and uplifting liquid song of a newly arrived Blackcap and Chiff- Chaff calling too whilst a Brimstone butterfly flew past on 4 occasions. I took advantage of my geographic position afterwards of travelling an extra 10 miles west in the early evening to Fen Drayton RSPB gravel pits. The place, a fine RSPB reserve that really needs better information boards and signs put up for the visitor, wasn't very well signed at all and twice I went the wrong way and probably walked a mile further than I needed too. I did eventually meet a couple of birders who gave excellent directions (I am very grateful for their help) of going back to the funicular guide path for buses and taking the path right from the car park and following the walkway for 1/2 a mile running parallel with the funicular and then taking the second main path on the left just past a newly constructed dragonfly pool on the left. I followed these instructions and 500 yards along this path I found the hide. The excellent male Baikal Teal was the seen on the island to the right. An absolutely superb bird, an adult male in immaculate full breeding plumage. Structurally quite a chunky bird appearing slightly larger than a Teal with dark crown, bordered below by a white line it had a yellow face with green behind the eye and extending down to the neck. It had a thickish black line running down from the eye bending back slightly and joining back up to the bill. It had a lovely salmon pink breast, grey at the rear and striking vertical white line marking the area between the breast and the flanks in much the same way design as a GW Teal but being thicker whiter and more prominent. If that wasn't enough, the scapulars were very long and draped and sleeked back regally over the rear flanks, the scapulars were chestnut black and white coloured and draped over the rear flanks in an even more exaggerated fashion and longer in length than the scapulars on the breeding plumage of a male Garganey. The black under tail coverts were separated tom the grey flanks by a white line. A really smart bird, one of the smartest ducks you'll see and given its rarity in both world and British terms, its one I'd recommend seeing. This duck is fully winged and wary and with the recent easterly winds and records from elsewhere in Europe and appearing at the right time for duck migration (March) it appears to be a prime candidate for acceptance as a genuine wild bird by the BBRC, I urge you to go and see it if you can. It looks settled at the moment. Only the second I have ever seen, my first one since the one I saw on 2 separate occasions at Minsmere on the West Scrape in November 2001. It was quite active when I first arrived, looking around and preening for 5 minutes before it promptly went to sleep on the island. During the next 2 hours or so, its sleep was interrupted on around 8 all too brief occasions, when all it did was wiggle its tail as a precursor for poking its head out looking around have a mini preen and then tucking its head under again. Finally, it woke up and moved back a few paces and went to sleep again! Meanwile, scanning around, on the first island on the left, 2 Avocets were seen. Whilst on the far island to the left, an excellent Little Ringed Plover was running around the near edge on the right and then the middle of the island, ts sleek stream lined appearance and yellow eye ring differentiated it from a normal Ringed Plover and my first British one for a couple of years. Whilst on the water a fine male Goldeneye and female Goldeneye were seen. Walking back along the track, a Blackcap was heard singing and by the entrance, 3 Goldeneye, a male and 2 females flew past, capped a fine end to this very summery and warm evening.