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Sunday, 9 November 2014

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!

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