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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Tribute to Ricky Fairhead- the best of friends

It is with great sadness that I am writing this post in an affectionate tribute to one of my oldest friends- Ricky Fairhead who sadly and tragically passed away on 15th November this week aged just 53, far too young. I first met Ricky at Art GCE class back at Lowestoft's Denes High School in 1979 and we quickly forged a strong friendship based on our shared interests of rock music and birds. Ricky was just getting into birdwatching and I offered to take him down to the North Denes at Lowestoft to look for Snow Buntings, these were the first birds he saw as a committed birder and was a new species for us both. Over the 1980's we frequently birded together most weekends first using pedal power and then motorised transport in the form of motorbikes and later cars. The local patch was all important for us and we cut our teeth and learnt the basics of fieldcraft and bird identification whilst regularly patrolling the North Denes and Ness Point at Lowestoft, Fisher Row (Oulton Marshes), Benacre Pits & Broad, Walberswick and Minsmere. In this way, Ricky became a top Suffolk birder, liked, admired and respected by all who met him. He was particularly adept at finding rare birds and his many finds, particularly in Lowestoft, over the years included mega finds 1995 was a memorable year (a "classic year" as Ricky would call it) such as finding a Pine Bunting, an a accidental vagrant from Siberia at Radar Lodge, Corton on 28th October 1995 (found together with Robert Wilton), and a particularly intelligent and intuitive thing that Ricky did when he had just heard the Laughing Gull at Minsmere had flown north, was to check Ness Point. He duly found Lowestoft's only Laughing Gull (with Robert Wilton), an accidental visitor from North America, (on the Bird's Eye Factory roof, Ness Point 8th July 1995) I was one of the first people he phoned (no Smart phones then) and I was able to nip down immediately and see it for 10 minutes before it flew off. Ricky has also found many other rarities including Melodious Warbler, Radde's Warbler, Dusky Warblers, Marsh Warblers, Barred Warblers, Pallas' Warblers, Yellow- browed warblers, Wrynecks, Red- backed Shrikes etc. One really intuitive and smart thing that Ricky and Rob Wilton would do would be check news on BirdNet (a rare bird news service for the UK) and see if there had been any influxes of rare birds and if so check suitable habitats in the Lowestoft area. This policy paid off time and time again. Ricky and his exceptional bird identification skills and knowledge was held in such high regard by Suffolk birders, that he was invited and served several terms on the SORC, Suffolk Ornithological Records Committee, the body of experts that adjudicates on rare bird records sent in by fortunate observers. In the 1980's Ricky, Robert Wincup and later on in the decade, we were joined by our young protege Robert Wilton (from 1989 onwards) and we all became a close knit quartet of friends frequently birding the patch together. Ricky and I took the young sociable Robert Wil under our wing and with the blessing of his parents, mentored him and he has grown to become one of Suffolk's top birders, all due to Ricky's expert guidance. I shared so many wonderful moments with Ricky over the past 38 years, not least the birding holidays we shared together including the Spanish Pyrenees, Mallorca, the former Yugoslavia (now Southern Montenegro- together with Rob Win) Israel X2 (together with Carl B & Ali Riseborough) and Morocco (together with Carl Buttle & Ali R) and finally China in May 1999 (together with Andrew E). Great times! The picture of Ricky (below) is taken just south of Larache in Morocco, after he had just expertly found an American Ring- billed Gull, a rare vagrant to that country. We shared many great experiences and hair raising adventures particularly in Morocco! Perhaps our hardest trip in the UK was our trip together to twitch an Alder Flycatcher at Blakeney Point, North Norfolk on 25 September 2010. The 2 and a half mile walk on sand was hard enough but we we were also buffeted with wind, rain and hail lashing our faces, Ricky typically laughed this off and was, as always, great company making the onerous walk up there actually enjoyable despite all that the weather literally threw at us. When the sun suddenly came out, just as we reached the Plantation, we had good but brief views of the bird. The smile on Ricky's face afterwards said it all. We both really enjoyed that trip, although it was hard work getting there and back. We had worked hard for the bird that day! Ricky wasn't just a top birder, he was an top class all-round naturalist too and he lead the trend for birders diversifying their wildlife interest to include butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles & amphibians and Orchids. I shared this interest too and Ricky spent several summers trail blazing and surveying the local area (together with Robert Wilton) finding and mapping new areas for butterfly and dragonfly species adding greatly to the both the Butterfly & Dragonfly updated Atlas for Suffolk and adding greatly to local conservation. Indeed many of his excellent photos are published in the "Suffolk Dragonflies" book published in 2016 as a result of the Atlas info contributed too by Ricky, Rob Wil and many others.He even found a rare Common Hawker Dragonfly on one of these trips at Burgh Castle. He realised, ahead of most others, how important it was to expand his interests to all wildlife, in order to enrich our lives even more. We shared a great love of Orchids too and he was always keen to share his knowledge (he gave me detailed directions and well illustrated maps to pin point the exact location of Violet Helleborines in Groton Wood, near Hadleigh, Suffolk- which I found easily due to his pinpoint directions) and I was delighted to accompany him on Orchid twitches in fairly recent years to see Early Spider Orchids at Samphire Hoo, Lizard Orchids at Devil's Dyke, Newmarket and the rare white form of Southern Marsh Orchids at Market Weston Fen SWT. Ricky and I also enjoyed going to the talk by Simon Harrap at Great Yarmouth Library on 16 April 2013 on Britain's Orchids, we were both glad that our our well thumbed books "Orchids of Britain and Ireland" authored by him, were duly signed. Ricky did exceptionally well to identify and find a rare Pugsley's Marsh Orchid at Carlton Marshes once. During our very last times together, when I recently visited Ricky frequently in Hospital, he was still pioneering wildlife recording by talking about the spread of False Widow Spiders locally, which he'd found recently in both Bradwell and Gorleston. Ricky was kind, caring, enthusiastic and had a great dry sense of humour and was the best friend anyone could have. His kindness and caring nature was often shown. Two examples spring to mind; first when I mentioned the lack of Frogs in my new pond, he very kindly gave me a large old margarine tub full of Frogspawn. The pond in our garden is now blessed with many descendants from that tub! Secondly, when Ricky rang up one time and I casually mentioned I had just discovered a flat tyre on my car and was having great difficulty in removing the wheel nuts (they were too tight!) and low and behold within half an hour, he had arrived at the door with a large cross monkey spanner and within a few minutes he had expertly changed the tyre for me. What a great mate he was. Ricky was also enthusiastic about his hobbies and he loved seeing rare birds but also seeing a wide variety of wildlife. He loved his music too, ZZ Top, Status Quo and Steve Earle I remember were particular favourites and he loved ZZ Top doing the "chicken dance" movements during their "Sharp Dressed Man" song. I also had very happy memories of attending concerts with both Ricky and his younger brother, Ian, seeing such great bands as Status Quo, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and Kiss. Ricky would often give them the ultimate accolade of "classic!" Ricky was very practical too, being perceptive going on courses to become a potential painter and director when his employment was in jeopardy with the Sanyo factory threatened with closure. Ricky was a diligent and hard worker, after leaving school, having spells working at the Sanyo TV factory (assembling Televisions) in Lowestoft, working for several summers in 1992 & 1993 for English Nature as the Nature reserve warden at Benacre where under his stewardship the rare Little Terns and other wildlife prospered, he even found time find a rare Scarlet Rosefinch (June 6-7 1992) there, too. Ricky then spent many years as a valued employee at Bird's Eye Factory, before his early retirement due to ill health just a few short years ago. It is heartening to know he met his future wife, Debbie there, and both his younger brother, Ian and great friend Robert Wincup worked there too. Ricky also expertly dug out a great wildlife pond at his and Debbie's garden in Bradwell, where they had a multitude of wildlife including breeding Emperor Dragonflies and the occasional visiting Tree Sparrow (now a rare bird locally). I was delighted to be invited to his and Debbie's wedding celebrations in July this year where he cut a particularly dapper figure, he was indeed the "Sharp Dressed Man" Ricky's likeable and funny dry sense of humour was illustrated when we had gone out birding together and occasionally we didn't see anything (which was rare as he was such a sharp observer, he often found good birds on our trips together) he would call it the "worst trip ever" in a jocular manner. In particular I remember this happened after several trips to Minsmere. Although of course we had many great moments there, too. Ricky was also famously unlucky doing seawatching and with his typical sense of humour, he often called it "the worst seawatch ever!" but his luck changed after visiting Australia down under. On 5th September 1999, he shared a magical seawatching trip (off Perth in Western Australia) imaginatively called the Perth pelagic, with then ex-pat Robert Wilton, and they both saw many good seabirds. After he moved to Bradwell, his seawatching luck changed and he saw many good seabirds off both Gorleston Pier and the local sea shelter nearby. Some of the last occasions that I was birding with Ricky (treasured memories), was when I travelled back from Wales after visiting family at Christmas in December 2016 and I had diverted to twitch some Bean Geese at Bradwell, I was particularly pleased to see Ricky at the side of the road with his trusty scope. Almost as soon as I had arrived, Ricky spotted the Beans flying in and we enjoyed good views when they landed. I was also fortunate to see Ricky and Debbie birding this Spring 2017 overlooking Rollesby Broad where we saw both Arctic and Black Terns. Only just a few weeks ago, I heard he was out birding on the Yarmouth South Denes. Ricky was one of those few people that everyone liked, he was a very popular guy and tributes have flooded in from his many friends (both locally and further afield) and his followers on Twitter. The local wildlife/birding scene at both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth will be much the poorer without him. He enriched my life and it will be all the poorer without him. I miss him greatly. My sincerest condolences and very deepest sympathy go to his wife Debbie, brother Ian, his father and all the rest of his close family and his many, many friends. Rest in peace, Ricky.

Hawfinches at Sotterley

Arriving at Sotterley early am on Sunday 19th November, it was a nice sunny morning and I saw some birders scoping something from Rectory Lane, so parking at the old Saw Mill, I quickly walked back and joined the birders who included Paul & Jane F, always nice to see them plus another birder. Jane had the scope set up on a bird in some trees between 2 ivy clad trees at the far end of the Paddocks field. She kindly tried to show me in the scope, but each time I looked it had moved, until on my 4th attempt I finally saw the head an shoulders of a fabulous female Hawfinch. Now with me eye finally in, I spotted up to 2 Hawfinches, a male and female feeding in the trees, but frequently moving and subsequently being obscured by branches and foliage. Moving into the main park by the road just south of the Dell, I first heard and then spotted 3 Hawfinches fly in (from the east), they were then seen in the Hornbeam and then flew over to Oaks where they gave intermittent views. Another 2 Hawfinches then flew in. One female Hawfinch showed particularly well for me, being right out in the open perched on bare branches near the top of the tree on the right hand side for all of 30 seconds. Fleeting views were seen of several birds after that. Also seen was at least 1 very vocal Nuthatch on the very top of a bare branched tree. A rattling Mistle Thrush flew by. A Sparrowhawk flew overhead. A newly risen Buzzard flew up from the Dell briefly circled overhead before flying south. Nice to see Paul W, who then joined us and both Paul and I drove to Weston where we found the Oak tree with the hole (just after the bridge) viewing from the right of where we parked there was initially no sign but as I looked again the excellent Tawny Owl was perched right in the hole looking left it was only there for 10 seconds before it retreated back into the hole. A Mistle Thrush, 18 Redwing flew south and a female Sparrowhawk flew west.

Birthday blues

I had taken Wednesday 15th November off as it was my birthday and decided to visit Ness Point first I managed to see 1 Purple Sandpiper on the old wrecked seawall with around 8 Turnstone on the rocks just north of Ness Point. Nothing in Hamilton Dock. At Heathlands several tit flocks but nothing with them, nothing in he Dell. On Kessingland North Beach, a beach buggy was driving up the beach surveying so no birds seen. 1 Sky Lark seen flying up on the way back. At Hall Lane, Oulton really good to see Danny P, who quickly put me onto the female Ring- necked Parakeet sitting on ivy in a large tree it quickly flew behind the tree and was lost to view.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

No Blue Tail

On Tuesday 7th November, several Redwings heard flying over the house during the evening. On Wednesday 8th November around 4 Redwing first heard and seen flying west just beyond the back garden fence. On Thursday 9th November, having finally shaken off a bout of flu (and I had had the flu jab on 1st October!) that had floored me during the previous week, between 7.45am and 9.10am, my first chance of going for Lowestoft's bird of the autumn, the RFB, failed to see it unsurprisingly, given my consistently bad luck in birding. I tried looking through railings south of Mariner's Score. However, I did see my first Fieldfare of the autumn perched up in a tall ivy clad tree. Whilst a Grey Wagtail called and seen flying north over us. Plus 2 flocks of 8 Siskin , so 16 in total, observed flying over us going south.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Weekend of of Little reward

On Saturday 28th October a look around Corton revealed 4 Redwings around the churchyards several heard around the old SW. On Sunday 29th October, at Ness point, with strong northerlies, a watch with Derek M revealed a Bonxie going north and 8 Little Gull (around 6 ads 2imms) plus 2 very small dark birds with very fluttery flight flying north, flying very low over the waves, from memory the jizz was exactly right for Petrel, that would have been my guess, but they were obscured by waves, not everything seen on them least of all the white rumps and only seen for 2-3 seconds and therefore not seen at all well.

Corton seawatch

Wed 27th October, a watch along Corton from the Corton benches with the irrepressible James B early afternoon, revealed 3 Little Gulls flying north 2 ads 1 1st W imm. flying distantly but recognisable.

Ring Ouzels eventually along Kessingland cliffs

On Sunday 22nd October, Coal Tit in garden again on feeders, saw along the Kessingland North Paul W beach and he kindly pointed out the lone Lapland Bunting feeding slightly further along the beach and I enjoyed this bird for around 3 minutes before it suddenly took to flight flew past us and disappeared behind tussocks around 100 yards north. We failed to find it but saw a Sky Lark along the beach instead. I was keen to see the Ring Ouzels that had been along Kessingland cliffs, I met Jeremy, and we scanned the cliffs, a dog walker flushed a brief view of a male Ring Ouzel that flew up the cliff and into the busgh at the top. No further sign, so I was walking off back when 2 pale faded male Ring Ouzels flew past me and right. I gestured for Jeremy to join me and after 10 minutes he joined me and one was seen perched on a tiny bit of vegetation just just a bit of sand.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Lapland Bunting on Kessingland beach

On Saturday 21st October, at 9.05am a calling Treecreeper flew into garden from Fallowfields (whilst I was in the garden) & climbed up 2 the Apple Tree and the middle tree (on what was only my second garden 2nd Garden record) Parkhill, Lowestoft. Having to stay in until 10am, I finally got out just after 10am and parking at Rider Haggard Lane, I walked down to Kessingland North beach. A Meadow Pipit flew up and several c5 Gannets seen flying south over the sea. I met up with Richard D & Paul and Jane F, they had just seen the Lap bunting fly north, I had been searching around the red post to no avail. After a search, where we saw 4 Brent Geese flying south close in, Paul said he had a bird and it flew down to 3 tussocks of Marram grass. A little further south, we picked up the fine Lapland Bunting feeding by the first of the 3 tussocks of Maram grass where it then flew to the middle one and then the first one it then showed really well but often obscured, in shadow or always on the move so it was very difficult to photograph.

Garden sightings

On Thursday October 19th, there was heavy Redwing passage south during the evening over Bosquet Close, Parkill, N.Lowestoft at 7.40pm, when calls were heard every 5-10 seconds, 1 first heard a Redwing call this evening this after work at 5.45pm. On Friday 19th October, a Coal Tit was seen again in the garden feeding on the left hand sunflower seeds at 8.10am plus Redwing flocks on Fallowfields at least 8 & 12 strong early am too.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Exhausted Brent Goose along North Beach

On Sunday 15th October, a Grey Wagtail flew over the garden at 11am calling but not seen. walking north from Ness Point at about half way along I saw a Brent Goose on the sea along the rocks on the North Beach, it was swimming around the rocks even standing on the rock and flapping its wings it kept trying to search for something to eat. I took a few pics but it looked exhausted, it was swimming dangerously close to the rocks of the original seawall (the last picture accompanying this text clearly shows the strong eddies and waves) something had to be done to save the poor bird getting injured or worse. So after seeing the poor bird being buffeted by the sea around the rocks, I stood up and gently coaxed the poor bird out to sea and it then swam north for around hundred yards towards the groyne, which I knew was seaweed encrusted, and like a homing beacon, it headed for one of the groynes northern wooden supports, which had copious amounts of seaweed on it. The hungry bird then spent a long time voraciously feeding on the seaweed. I left it in peace still feeding, lets hope it gives it the strength to move down onto its wintering grounds. At Ness Point, by the compass, I saw an adult Mediterranean Gull flying south close in. The male Eider was in Hamilton Dock over the far side in the south western corner, after eluding both Neville S and I yesterday. Checking both Crown (where a Grey Wagtail heard flying over) and Maltsters score I failed to see any YBWs although it was late in the afternoon. Between 10.25 and 10.35pm I heard first one and then another Redwing, newly arrived Scandinavian immigrants, calling in quick succession and flying south over the house.

Porpoise and Bramblings

On Saturday 14th October, a look around Hamilton Dock, it was good to see Neville S, but little did I know at the time I should have been looking seaward as a WBD was flying past around that time, I took some scenic shots of Ness Point for my forthcoming talk and Andrew broke the news. As Andrew was leaving just north of the finger I spotted a fine Harbour Porpoise with its characteristic "rolling over" motion. It surfaced about 4X. A look around Warren House Wood and Gunton Dunes failed to reveal much save for a Parasol Mushroom on the green just south of the Wood and a Migrant Hawker flying around too. Look around Lake Lothing later revealed 1 Little Grebe on the water and looking from the bay just beyond the railway bridge, a Little Egret feeding by the side of the rocky edge was a new one at this site. As I was about to leave, I heard the rasping call of a Brambling from a tall tree just south of the bridge and 5 Finches flew out the last one calling the rasping call, a Brambling as it flew. I heard another rasping call from the tall tree just north of the bridge, and another calling Brambling flew out from the tree flying north. at 1.20pm in the garden, I heard the call of a Coal Tit, it was in the left hand tree, it called again before flying over to Fallowfields.

Phalarope & Yellow- brows

On Sunday 8th October, a check around Gunton woods failed to reveal any YBW, but calling 8 Siskin flying over and constant Redwing calls heralded their return, just 1 Redwing seen flying over. A look at Ness Point failed to reveal the YBW there although good to catch up with both Chris M and Rob Win. Rob & I checked Mariners and Malsters Scores, a YBW watched by someone else seen flying off but un-tickable views for me. 4 Chiff- Chaff seen here and a male Blackcap seen. Next stop was Southward Flash so parking at the last space available by the water tower I walked down and saw 1 couple set scoping the flash. No need o ask them where it was as I picked up instantly, a super Grey Phalarope, constantly feeding in the water along the left hand edge, often obscured by grass along the northern edge, but occasionally it would venture into the middle having a wing stretch and preen or two before recommencing its feeding. 2 Ruff suddenly walked into view from the far side. Mid afternoon, a tweet from Craig about hearing a YBW from trees bordering the Station Road children's playground and I drove straight over. As I was walking across the field, I heard the bird call and the first bird I saw looking in the large sycamore was the excellent Yellow- browed Warbler, flitting around showing typical white belly cream super cilia and 2 cream wing bars, I watched the bird for around 2 minutes before it flew right. Checking Old SW, I heard a Yellow- browed Warbler from the hedge behind but I didn't see the bird. A look in Belle Vue Park, by the Ravine just east of the bridge revealed a male Great- spotted Woodpecker that flew into a large tree in the top most branches.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Carlton Marshes this evening

On Sunday 1st October, approaching the Carlton Marshes Scrape, I saw a Migrant Hawker flying around, it didn't last long as a Hobby tore through caught and fed on it whilst flying over the scrape and then east. no sign of Little Stints this evening at Carlton Marshes missed by 1 minnute! On the middle of the Scrape were 3 Black- tailed Godwits and 2 Dunlins feeding on the water. Round the other (southern side) side 2 Green Sandpipers flew off and as the light was fading 20 Ruff flew in, whilst14 Snipe+ and a Barn Owl flew west of the scrape and one hunted over Share marsh.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Red- throated Pipit at Landguard

After an agonising wait, after first hearing of a switchable RTP at Landguard on Wednesday and having left work at 4pm that day I had judged leaving home at 4.30pm (when I found out) I wouldn't arrive at Landguard until 5.45pm and it would be practically dark by 6.30pm, leaving only 35 mins birding time factoring in a 10 minute walk to the spot. Saturday dawned bright and early and I was ready when the first BINS message came through around 7.35pm. Around 70 minutes later I was pulling into the car park and followed a couple of birders walking across the common to the southern tip. People were gathered half way down the easternmost boardwalk roped off the area bordering the beach which was grassy with sueda either side bordering the boardwalk and by the seaward side. I made my way to near the front. Only problem was it wasn't immediately apparent where the bird was. After 5 anxious minutes, I finally picked the bird up. a superb Red- throated Pipit, which was actively feeding to the left of the grassy channel feeding in and out of the vegetation. Fleeting views were seen, but then it fed by the side of the boardwalk often obscured by the weeds. It came close by the first post but mainly feeding by the second and third posts along, occasionally showing very briefly out in the open but was always active moving and feeding. A heavily streaked bird, it had a whitish super cilia, dark streaked brown crown, it showed distinctive whitish mantle stripes further emphasised by bordering black mantle stripes. It was also streaked on the rump (unlike Meadow Pipit) It had a fine bill with yellowish base. Underparts it showed a pale peach throat, which was quite distinctive in good light but less so in poor light.the rest of the underparts were a uniform cream white with streaks on the breast and flank sides. Unfortunately at 10.15am, a dog walker ignored requests and deliberately walked along the boardwalk and inevitably flushed it. It flew up called "pssst" and flew north and appeared to settle in the distance along the north common. However, despite me hearing it call 'pssst' around here at around 10.40amthere I didn't see it or know which direction it was flying in. This was the second bird I have seen in the Uk, my first one seen on Tresco, Isles of scilly. I have previously heard one flying over north at Stirrup's Lane, Corton, but this is a mainland and Suffolk tick. As we walked over I heard the distinctive drawn out "teez" of a Tree Pipit, but couldn't see it. Initially I walked over and saw a Wheater by a fenced off area, the Wheatear was quite confiding. 4+ Wheatear seen in total. As I was photographing the Wheatear, I spotted a fine Clouded Yellow butterfly flying left behind it. I then met Barry W and a group he was leading. It was seen on several other occasions along the common. My first look over just north of the cottages, a female Redstart flicked up onto the wall of the cottage, whilst a Whitethroat flew from one bush to another. Just north of the cottages by a fenced area, first an obliging female Redstart seen perched and then on the ground and back on the fence again. Whilst a male Redstart seen by bushes as I walked by behind the fence, a female Whitethroat flew into the bush too. The Clouded Yellow butterfly flew past us again here. I walked back onto the common hoping to get some pics of the male bird on the fence but it flew. It then posed on the fence and then finally in a small bush then large bush by the track and was inevitably flushed by a dog walker inadvertently. The RTP was later picked up along the middle common where distant, feeding around c20 Meadow Pipits which were slightly smaller and browner. The RTP was more grey- brown above and whiter below. but good views were seen feeding in the short grass. It later flew to the edge of the south common and standing on a mound I had very close views where it fed by some bare sticks. It later flew of its own volition back to its original area, where we good views again. Albeit, against the light, so Barry W. and I walked around the beach edge and had much better views looking from the fence over to the boardwalk, where it was again feeding near the boardwalk, it ran out on the open and showed reasonably well here.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Yellow- browed at Corton

On Tuesday 26th September, after checking this precise area the day before after work, it was good to get a tweet from Rob H to say he had just had a YBW. At 6pm I arrived and just 30 yards down the track, I heard the "tusk" call of a YBW and a bird was seen flitting in the right hand side of the track. I saw a bird which showed silky white underparts. It flew over the track and although we didn't pick it up even when Rob & I went over to the eastern track. Back at the other track, a bird flitting about flew back left and I saw the main body of the bird with double wing- bars, the fine Yellow- browed Warbler. It then darted left and 10 seconds later we heard a distant YBW call, surely a second bird? It eventually flew back and then flew back 10 yards to the road, where I saw the creamy brow and head of the bird as darted about in a tree. It later flew over to a very mellow- leaved tree at the middle of the track at 6.33pm.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hard work on local patch

A look around Corton on Sunday 24th septenber was very disappointing despite the east wind blowing with the only species seen 4 Large White butterflies, a Grey Wagtail was heard calling as I did the loop path back to the car bordering Stirrups lane. A Green Woodpecker flew up and flew left as I was entering the Corton church car park. Nothing at Radar Lodge. A look around the Denes revealed 6 Pied Wagtails on the Oval and I was relieved to finally see a Wheatear this autumn perched on the fence of the northern perimeter of Ting dene permanently sited caravan park. The bird perched there for a while before flying down back into the fenced off area. A young and Adult Herring Gull perched on the west and east wall of the seawall near Ness Point.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Little Stints & Phalarope again

On Saturday 23rd September, walking down to Covehithe Broad which is fast becoming my favourite birding spot with a combination of field hedges, trees, beach and broad some nice varied habitat and a very picturesque spot. No sign sadly of yesterdays RN Phal, but 3 fine Little Stints seen at the back of the Broad initially. Looking out to sea, initially a Red- throated Diver flew south and also amongst some Gulls I could see a Bonxie or Great Skua sat amongst some Gulls its thick body broad neck and distinct face and bill betrayed its ID, after a fe minutes it flew up showing the white underwing flashes on the primaries and it flew south. When I looked back on the Broad, the Stints had disappeared, then they were seen back at the back they suddenly flew the trio flying north and round again and then 2 flew over us and settled in the seawater inlet to the Broad. I and John R who was also there carefully approached them and got some reasonably close pics along the far side of the inlet albeit in poor light but they then flew to the Broad edge, we saw them here too. A Hobby then flew from north to south over the back of the broad. A calling Grey Plover with black "armpits" flew over the beach and right above me before flying south. Later, the 2 Little Stints had ran to the extreme northern edge of the broad by the beach and approaching very carefully (I had the advantage as I was dressed all in beach biege) we got eventually within 5 metres of these birds without disturbing them as they were both asleep and now bathed in sunlight. Eventually one work up started feeding and then the other woke fed and then they flew of the own accord back to the broad edge further south. Walking back a fine male Stonechat perched on scrub seaward then landward side of the path. A fine calling Goldcrest seen by the trees by the track. A hovering Kestrel seen by the farm then perched on overhead wires. Later seeing Carl B when driving back to Wrentham, he directed me to 25 Egyptian Geese and 1 Barnacle Goose in the middle of the flock in the field to the south of the road by the first house. At Minsmere east scrape, a distant juvenile Red Necked Phalarope still spinning like a top clockwise along the left hand end of the east scrape to disturn invertebrates to peck at from the water's surface seen late am. Later it moved to the very back of the east scrape. There were also 3+ Little Stint much closer to the hide, 1 bird flew to the island with the big stick running along the far edge, it returned several times. 3+ Ruff seen including the white male with orange legs, a winter- plumaged Knot was amongst some c300 Black- tailed Godwit, c20 Dunlin, one Snipe seen on an island and whilst scoping the Phalarope, 2 Bearded Tits seen in reeds behind they were a male bird and a juvenile. Finally back at Minsmere car park, a fine adult male Migrant Hawker seen flying about.

Pied Flycatcher on the North Denes

On Sunday Sept 17th after a tweet from Rob Win, I drove down to the Links road car park and looked in the sycamore copse just 100 yards south of there where I saw Carl B peering intently in, we saw the fine Pied Flycatcher flitting around low down almost at ground level, several Magpies higher up maybe making it a little nervous! It occasionally showed perched briefly on bare branches and posed briefly for the camera. Amazingly this was Suffolk's first autumn bird this year! An adult winter Mediterranean Gull seen in the car park later but no sign of the Redstart. On Tuesday 19th Sept, the usual Buzzard was perched on the tree just south of Hopton roundabout seen after work. On Wednesday 20th returning from Frettenham via Acle straight it was almost dusk and a Buzzard flew from left to right low over the road.

Curlew Sand & Red- necked Phalarope

On Saturday Sept 16th a walk down to the scrape at Carlton Marshes revealed the fine Curlew Sandpiper still early morning Carlton Marshes scrape right in the middle of a group of with 6 Dunlin, (Lowestoft & Lizard land tick, the Curlew Sand not the Dunlin!) right in the middle of the scrape, when they flew the white rump was seen clearly they flew around then returned just west of the middle of the scrape and at the old building an immature Little Owl showing v.well at barn perched on the metal sheet before flying up to the eaves. The fine juvenile Red- necked Phalarope still at Minsmere East Scrape this evening, spinning around clockwise like a top, seen from the left side of the hide it was mid way back, 3 Hobbies flew around at the back above the trees around Bittern hide, one Hobby flew right over the scrape from the beach over the hide and low over the scrape, 2 male Mandarin one sat by the ducks at the back of the bund, one left of the west hide and 4 Bar- tailed Godwit nearby, 3 Ruff including the white male individual with orange legs, no sign at all of Citrine Wag between 4- 7pm.

Return visit to Corton OSW

At Corton Old sewage works this evening, on 13 September, a Whinchat still, 10 Sand Martin, 3 House Martins (seen mainly from the churchyard car park), 2 Chiff- Chaffs Corton Churchyard hedge and tree but absolutely no sea passage off Bakers Score, Corton earlier.

Whinchat back at Corton OSW

On Tuesday September 12 after work, a male Whitethroat flew up to the fence and disappeared into scrub in the south- east corner at Corton OSW, plus a Whinchat perched on the northern fence, plus 14 Sand Martins overhead this eve, lovely to see these fine birds, but wasn't there was a seabird passage going on missed again!

Citrine Wagtail at Minsmere

On Sunday the 7th September, after hearing the Citrine was still there I headed straight to Minsmere following Paul & Jane F in via the entrance road, we walked/ ran to the East Scrape and joining the throng along the right hand side of the hide there was anxious wait of half an hour when the bird had just walked behind an island. I heard a calling Yellow- Wag type call a high pitched "tslie" call and I saw a Wagtail which flew back to the island and Dave H said the Citrine was there. The superb distinctive immature Citrine Wagtail was actively feeding to the right of the island in front of some bare sticks. It had all dark bill and legs, greyish aoppearance with pale cream- white super cilia, whitish throat, 2 striking broad white wing bars below the grey mantle and darker wings and white on the rear underparts and vent. It then disappeared behind the island again before walking out again and feeding by the stick area again.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Osprey & Wryneck

Hearing the Osprey was back on Saturday 9th September I drove down to Blythburgh estuary seeing lots of Black- tailed Godwits plus a pale summer plumaged Knot and 2 Ringed Plover, the Osprey was seen perched on a far post of the Osprey just south of the Southward water Tower from the angle I was viewing. Walking back a calling Yellow Wagtail flew up from the field and flew south. Having been delayed coming back, I went mid afternoon for the Wryneck as I walking down Kessingland Dunes I could see Steve P talking to a few people and he indicated it was still on show and showing well. I joined a small crowd of people watching it looking east where the fine Wryneck was seen perched on a bush, it dropped down and moving around, we saw it feeding on the path by the bushes. We watched it here for sometime before some birders with dogs who walked around the bush not to flush it then flushed it. It flew into a elderberry bush in the gorse before once again flying back to the path. Where this time I looked south as it fed again.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Birds & wildlife of Rhodes part 2

On 2nd September, at breakfast a Sub- Alpine warbler seen in the bushes and a Spotted Flycatcher seen in Pines on the hill opposite. At Rhodes town, walking up to the Grand Palace a slightly tatty Scarce Swallowtail was seen feeding on flowers enclosed by a rectangular wooden box. It was quite confiding. A Pallid Swift flew over the Knights Grand Palace of the Grandmasters, and going through the entrance a fine close view of a Crag Martin that flew and perched above the entrance arch. 2 Yellow- legged Herring Gulls seen perched on the rocks by the harbour. On 3rd September on Sunday in the Hotel grounds a Sub- Alpine Warbler was seen in the pines area. At Garoudas bridge, a repeat visit revealed an Egyptian Grasshopper seen jumping out of the vegetation near the bridge. A respondent Scarce Swallowtail flew across the dry riverbed fling west. Driving over to the east side, driving down the stoney track, a magnificent Short- toed Eagle flew up from the ground and flew away. Back at the Atrium Palace Hotel at Kalathos. By the bushes to the west side of the hotel, settled a Long- tailed Blue butterfly. On the lawn, 16 Black- headed Wagtails fed on the lawn, whilst close still was 1 White Wagtail seen. Also by the pool was a confiding Little Stint and 5 Crested Larks. On 4th September the other side of Lindos, a female Sparrowhawk flew past the road and under the ridge. A drive south down to genadi beach initially only revealed 3 Crested Larks and House Sparrows. By the side bushes on the south side of the dry river bed, a Sub- Alpine Warbler and a Sardinian warbler plus a Darter Dragonfly. At a pond at the end, 3 Stripe- necked Terrapins seen that plopped into the water as soon as they saw me, plus a Black- headed Wagtail that flew down to drink and then perched in the bush. Whilst overhead a Swallow flew by. A Scarlet Darter settled on vegetation close to the water whilst up to 3 male Lesser Emperors flew around and settled tantalisingly on reeds the far side. Scrambling back up the bank, a confiding Egyptian Grasshopper initially showed well. Whilst walking back I heard some unusual 'takking' near a bush I looked into a large Tamarisk with thick central branches and amazingly, an Olive- tree Warbler, there was no doubting what it was, a large (Great Reed warbler sized bird) grey Hippolais warbler with long dagger like bill and yellow on the lower mandible, came out and looked at me barely 10 feet away then hopped back and I had the presence of mind to change to my 150mm macro camera and take 2 pics of it. A fantastic new species for me. Also skulking right of that was a smaller Sub- Alpine warbler. On Tuesday 5th September, at Keraki Gorge, I dove down to a magnolia coloured bridge, a female Kestrel flew by. A 'chortling' Bee- eater was heard but not seen. I parked the car by some bushes, where a faded male Red- backed Shrike was seen. walking north along the dry river bed, Goats were seen, just past a Solar farm, where another male red- backed Shrike seen perched on a fence, a Blue Rock Thrush heard singing but not seen. In evergreen trees a Blue Tit seen, plus 3 Crested Larks seen around the dry river bed plus another male Red- backed Shrike by shrubs at the side of the dry river bed and assorted darters. Driving back near Lindos, a female Sparrowhawk flew across the road.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Birds & wildlife of Rhodes part 1

On the first day Wednesday 31st August, after our eventual arrival on the Greek island of Rhodes, the journey comprised seeing 4 Hooded Crows and 1 Raven. After arriving at Pefkos, which took an hour to find the hotel, pity there isn't an app to pinpoint your hotel as we always struggle to find our hotel, having always booked the hire car from the airport. From the hotel room, the next day Thursday 31st August, looking right past a fence into scrubby area I saw House Sparrows and a Sub- Alpine Warbler which hopped up from a distant bush, Collared Doves and a croaking Raven flying over. A female Red- backed Shrike hunted from the fence once dropping down and successfully catching an insect. 2 Hooded Crows also flew overhead. We then drove to the Valley of the Butterflies, on the journey a magnificent Scarce Swallowtail flew past. a real misnomer as it is actually the Valley of the Moths, specifically Jersey Tiger Moths. Paying our 5 euros entrance fee at the very tacky entrance, with sadly a stall selling actual pinned butterflies in cases which I find absolutely abhorrent and disgusting in this day and age. We made out way up a gently sloping path following a stream, first odd Jersey Tiger Moths were seen on the bark of the trees, but as we made our way further up more and more were seen until they completely covered the tree trunk of a tree and the lee of a wall, literally 10's of 1000's of Jersey Tiger Moths seen. An incredible sight, I half expected to bump into David Attenborough with a filming crew. At the end, one alighted on me briefly before 1 alighted on a German tourists jeans and he kindly allowed me a couple of pics. I also took some in relatively well lit bark of a tree. I made my way back and we saw people photographing something, it wasn't a moth but a fine Freshwater Crab, another Freshwater Crab was seen further down the stream. In the meantime by the bridge area, I saw a fine Jersey Tiger Moth underneath the bridge with its wings spread out showing the red colouration on the lower wings. A Wren was seen in the valley by the stream. Walking outside the entrance, 2 Wood Grayling butterflies were seen fluttering around the tree trunks. Jenny & I then went onto the Kalimaras Archaeological site, a wonderful female Black- eared Wheatear seen perched on one of the site walls, she then flew into a tree. There was a lot of white in the tail, typically extending and extending in dagger like white fronds, a distinct characteristic of this species. Also perched on the wall was one Starry Agama, one of 5 Starry Agamas seen in total. A Sardinian Warbler was seen in the heathy scrub, a Red- rumped Swallow flew past. One showy Starry Agama crossed the path and rested by the side of the path briefly. On the second morning on 1st September, of our visit to Rhodes, at Pefkos, it was wonderful to see a swirl of 12 Honey Buzzards appearing over the cliff edge swirling around and then they wheeled right over the hotel and then out to sea towards Turkey. Typically long winged birds with longish pointy heads and banded tails, compared to Common Buzzards. At breakfast a male House Sparrow came to beg for food, both a Swallowtail and Scarce Swallowtail flew past and left by the pool area. Moving onto the resort by the Atrium Palace Hotel, Jenny & I parked the car we first saw 1 Red- rumped Swallow flying about and then we saw 4 Red- rumped Swallows perched on the wires. On the well watered grassy lawn, 5+ Black- headed Wagtail walked around feeding. I also saw up to 3 large Hawker/ Emperor dragonflies in flight only. The notes of my observations at the time stated they had a yellow comma clip around brown eyes and a brown head, a light blue segment at the top of the abdomen and brown rest of the abdomen. On checking back home, there was no doubting they were 3 superb Vagrant Emperors, the only problem they didn't settle for any pictures. I left Jenny on the beach and drove to Genadi Bridge, over a dry river valley hoping to see Rufus Bush Chats, I didn't seen any. Some Skimmers seen either Keeled or more likely Southern seen on a couple of bushes they were also very shy and didn't settle for photos. A couple of Red- veined Darters seen. I also saw a Violet Dropwing, with violet abdomen and then tend to point down when perched rather than being vertical. On the east side of the bridge over the far side, a mysterious grey bird flew to another bush and then flew back towards the bridge, ID uncertain. Further down the valley, a female Red- backed Shrike perched in a bush was easier to identify. Up to 5 Crested Larks were seen too. Walking down the side of the hotel to get some much needed refreshment at a cafe, a tatty Lang's short- tailed Blue was seen on the flowers and 2 Lizards only heard scuttling away.

Wedding visit and unexpected array of woodland birds

On August 27th I visited Coleslaw Hall, Upper Peover, near Knutsford, Manchester for my cousins daughter's wedding. There was a very showy Heron in the grounds that allowed a very close approach even with my 150mm macro lens. One time it was by the bridge by the pond another time it stood near some reeds and posed beautifully for the camera. The following day and early morning walk revealed 3 Nuthatches in one Oak tree followed by 3 Chiff- Chaffs, Treecreeper, a GSW, Blue & Great Tits it was nice to see this one tree alive with woodland birds. 2 Nuthatches were also seen by trees closet to the Hall too. Looking over a nearby field, 3 Buzzards soared in the air including a very pale bird. An unexpected wildlife oasis!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Dotterel at Covehithe cliff field

Receiving a BINS message that Carl B had found an imm Dotterel at Covehithe cliff field just N of the metalled road. On a really close muggy afternoon, an hour or so later I walked down to the site. Tt was in the cliff field (formerly a pig field) now a potato field. Initially I couldn't see it but seeing a group of birders in the north-east corner path I knew where to go and sure enough the fine immature Dotterel was only 7 ploughed furrows in. Good to see Ali R, Carl B & Neville L here. Thanks to Ali for putting me in the best spot to see the bird. This fine bird spent most of it's time sitting down, it initially stood up but then sat down and spent the entire duration watching it sitting down. I then visited the Broad with Neville L it was immediately apparent there had been a massive amount of erosion, trees from the 'cliff' just south of there had fallen into the sea and the hide was only approx 30 metres from the beach and we saw around 60 Dunlin, a single Greenshank in front of the hide, Kingfisher fishing from the posts in front of the hide. Steve P popped in briefly to retrieve his notebook. We saw around 30 Black- tailed Godwits and a smart summer plumage Bar- tailed Godwit at the back. An Avocet flew into and settled in low water at the back. 4 Knot seen, 1 in wp, 1 in full sp and 2 in transitional plumage. Strangely enough no Sandpipers seen. Back at the Dotterel, Chris M & Peter N were in attendance an finally when the sun came out I managed to manoeuvre around without disturbing the bird and get some reasonable pics, the bird stood up once when some dogs on leads were passing on the path, once they had gone it soon settled down again where I left it. Several 5 Speckled Wood butterflies seen around the vegetation of the metalled road as I walked back.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth outside work!

On leaving work a tad late yesterday, Friday 25th Augus at 5.15pm, I was glad I did so as I instantly saw a Hummingbird Hawk Moth taking an interest buzzing the guttering bordering the R&D offices, it flew gradually south, I shut the western doors to stop it flying in and it then flew strongly south, about 6 miles away it would receive a very warm welcome!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

"Why does it always cloud over me?"

Sung to the tune of Travis' "Why does it always rain on me?", one of Jenny's favourite songs, I could well ask the question each time I walk the 2 miles to the top of Carlton Marshes it always clouds over! On Sunday 20th August, mid morning, again I was pleasantly distracted along the dykes, where I met an elderly couple who had spotted one Fen Raft Spider this time from the main boarded area where one was sat on a Lily pad, just right of a particularly thick Water Soldier plant sticking out of the water, by the three fronds cut off half way up. The lady also found a second further along past the big bush, in a bowl shaped indentation, along the far side of the dyke, another Fen Raft Spider was facing down onto the water. Walking around past Spratts water, a couple rather annoyingly trailed just behind me, so I was unable to get a shot of a Kestrel on a gate post and a Black- tailed Skimmer on the path ahead of me. I also saw Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell butterfly briefly here too. No birds seen on the Scrape apart from a Mallard! At the top, a female Great Diving Beetle (with finely lined back) was on the path and scurrying to get into cover, she safely negotiated the path into a side area. A slightly tatty Wall Brown butterfly was perched on the bare part of the path and later perched on the wall, it flew and is a very unobtrusive butterfly, but when it perched on the wall it was doing exactly what it says on the tin! Also on the wall, were up to 3 skittish tiny Common Lizards (boding well for the future) and slightly further along was the most obliging Common Lizard I have ever come across. It spent well over an hour on the wall just past a thistle and was an absolute joy to photograph, pity the sun had gone in. A very fine male Migrant Hawker flew in and perched underneath a weed. Nothing along the north die of Scrape. IN the dyke I saw an adult and 2 young Moorhens that just eluded the camera, It was really good to catch up with Alan & Edwina B in the car park afterwards and I hope they got to see some of the Fen Raft Spiders.

Trio of Goodies at Breydon

On Friday 18th August, following a tweet from Tommy C, I headed over to Breydon and was rewarded in seeing a trio of goodies (no, not Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke Taylor and Bill Oddie) but the first bird seen feeding vigorously with its long neck exercising its long spatular shaped bill from side to side was a Spoonbill in front of the Tern platforms. There were lots of Med Gulls, Avocets, Godwits and amongst the Gulls, I saw the magnificent Caspian Tern facing left. I couldn't see any smaller waders. It's black crown was starting to moult a little into whiter winter plumage. Its big bill looking more reddish than orange it was facing and left and slowly walked left. Suddenly, I spotted an immature Arctic Tern with very bouncy flight flying left and over the Tern platforms it even perched on one of them. It stood out from the more elongated Common Terns.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Surprise Hummingbird Hawk Moth in garden

Whilst on the phone to Mum on Monday evening at 7.53pm, I noticed what looked like a Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding from the top flowers of the Buddlea Davidii bush in the garden. Rushing outside this was confirmed and I watched for a minute before it suddenly disappeared at 7.55pm. My first of the year.

North Beach Terns

On Monday 14th August, I drove down to the Link's road at the North Denes, I was fortunately to watch a flock of 19 Common Terns a mixture of 10 adults and 9 immatures. That was the highlight of the evenings birdwatch. 2 fine summer- plumaged Turnstones were seen in the near corner at Hamilton Dock.

Sunday afternoon at Carlton Marshes

On Sunday afternoon, 13th August, I looked around the dyke area, meeting up with Rob H, and I was pleased to find a Great Raft Spider and show this to Rob, looking at the dyke just 5 metres east of the bridge, viewing from the field and looking over the far side. A good start but the time spent looking at this meant I was walking later than expected past and taking the west path, a Chinese Water Deer was walking down the path towards me, I froze the Deer kept walking until it saw me, turned round and walked away. It was later heard crashing through the reeds as I walked west. The Scrape was disappointing with just 3 Redshanks, 4 Lapwings and 5 Snipe seen. No sign of the 'Islandica' Godwits. Walking around the river loop I was too late for any Wall Brown butterflies, but this lead to prime Barn Owl time. First, a Barn Owl was seen hunting regularly over the Scrape area and returning to a tree nearer the Oulton Marshes reserve. Another Barn Owl perched on a tree as I walked past and stopped got some shots before other Owl photographers moved and sadly flushed the bird. Having no truck with this bad fieldcraft, I left and stood at the regular place, where a Barn Owl hunted in the field north of the main track and swooped down right in front of me where I was able to get one good shot as it emerged.

Following morning

The following morning after driving back from Wales, at 7am at Carlton Marshes, the adult Little Owl was showing very well by the canister area, using my converter on the zoom lens (extending my range) I managed to get a couple of good shots at range without disturbing the bird. With really good light I was able to extensively crop the image.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dippers in Cornwall & Wales and a Dragonfly surprise!

Travelling first to Cornwall to see family in both Corwall and Wales. First wildlife of note was a Red Kite that flew over the M25. First stop was Ninestones on Bodmin Moor, where my brother, showed me a Dipper by a waterfall area. Although it was 300 yards downstream from this, I managed to get a record shot of it, it was reasonably confiding but the light was appalling. Later when it was raining I found another Dipper sheltering from the rain under the second Tunnel underneath the bridge. Checking out the stream area later on I was delighted to see a Golden- ringed Dragonfly although it didn't pose that well for the camera. In Wales, I walked down to the Cymisfael stream area, I saw 2 Dippers down the stream, 1 posed well and I managed a few pics. Plus around 6 Banded Demoiselleswere seen by the bridge. Mostly 5 males (1 female).

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Carlton Marshes Owls

Thursday 28th July, up to 3 Barn Owls were flying around putting on a good display and the juvenile Little Owl seen by the dilapidated building opposite the entrance to Carlton Marshes albeit in fading light. The following morning early on Friday 29th July, I joined another photographer who was already there at 7am, looking at the side of the building by the entrance track to the reserve. There were very sunny conditions, the juvenile was first perched on a middle wall and then it flew over to the east facing wall where we moved to the barrier and it eventually settled down amongst the ivy and having a quick nap, some good pics were obtained, we remained at the barrier so the bird wasn't disturbed in any way.By 8.30am I had to leave for the long journey to Cornwall.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Bits & Bobs

On Saturday 15th July at around 12.30pm a Red Kite flew west over the A12 just before the Wangford dual carriageway. On Saturday 22nd at 10.30am heard a Whimbrel fly over the garden (called 3X) but not seen. Red Admiral, Comma & Large White butteflies seen in the garden. Sunday 23rd a Hawker dragonfly seen fly over the garden, probably Brown.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Marvellous Minsmere

On Sunday 9th July, Walking down to the Bittern hide, a lady said one was showing and sure enough grabbing a seat in an almost packed hide next to Paul & Jane, I could see the Bittern skulking around the edge of the reeds. At one point it stealthily leaned forward and then I could only describe it as flopping into the water, it caught something and ran back into the cover of the reeds again. After around 45 mins of waiting as if on queue a shout went up at 10.30am and the fine Purple Heron flew east and went down in some reeds half way between this hide and the south hide in the distance. On the way back through the woods, we were shown some Badgers excrement, literally a big dollop! At the car park, we bumped in to Rob H & along the north wall initially after some careful searching we had seen 2 Six- belted Clearwings in flight by the Birds foot trefoil. But when Justin & Chris L came along with some pheromone lure. Our third attempt on the other side of the path (south side) Justin said he had one, a fine Six- belted Clearwing and it posed beautifully on the ground and the the cameras!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Carlton Marshes evening visits

Mon 3rd July and Thursday 6th evening visits on Mon the Little Owl was perched on the post by the gate but flew as I drove down. Waiting at the first field. I eventually saw 1 Barn Owl fly across a minute after I had left the prime location so failed to get the pics. On Thursday I saw Rob H and Gavin. We had 3 Barn Owls hunting and the Little Owl was perched on the top of the wrecked building.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Abusive man along Breydon south wall & a fine male Red- backed Shrike

On Monday 26th June, I thought I was going to have a very pleasant walk in the evening down along Breydon south wall to look for a Red- backed Shrike around 2 miles down the path bordering the estuary by the Pumphouse. But I reckoned without an encounter with an extremely disturbed and volatile man (c40 years old short brown hair, brown shirt) walking 2 small dogs. One was white one was chestnut. He had driven his light blue car up a track just south of the farm and got out just ahead of me. He stopped regularly to tend to his dogs which were on a lead. I was following behind and both went wild, he requested I stop so he could tend to the dogs I waited and waited and waited. Five minutes later, I said it was best if I get past, so the dogs would calm down. I suggested he should keep better control of his dogs on a public footpath and what followed an appalling diatribe of the Anglo- Saxon invective and threatening and abusive language that no sane person should hear. He shouted at me at the top of his voice, threatening to "fXXXing do me in, break my legs, break my cameras and the camera lens, next time I see you down here I'll get you etc etc. I just carried on walking, I met 2 lady walkers a few minutes later and warned them of this extremely volatile and abusive man and this led to further abuse being shouted at me for another 5 minutes. I carried on walking and just before I got to birders and the bird, I was subjected to further levels of abuse for a further few minutes, by this individual, who was obviously turning back. I was very relieved to reach the safety of the birders, seeing Rene and other friends, they sympathised with me and certainly there was safety in numbers, thank goodness. I did not take any pics of this man or of his car, as evidence, because I feel it would have driven him over the edge and I could have come to serious harm, had I done so, I would have taken the evidence straight to the Police station at Great Yarmouth. I have never ever been subjected to such levels of vilification and abuse in East Anglia before. Be warned! The fine male Red- backed Shrike was seen on a distant fence, a fine male with immaculate plumage grey head, black mask chestnut brown pack and pink flush to the underparts. The Shrike perched on the wire by the third post from the end. It flew onto a bush by reeds further north before eventually flying onto a bush nearer the pumphousr. In a really close bush, a Reed warbler showed well briefly too.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Winterton delights

On Saturday 10th June, a visit to Winterton resulted in me seeing the an Emperor dragonfly flying over the Dunes. Muy main quest was easily seen literally sticking out like a sore thumb, a fine summer- plumaged White- winged Black Tern sat amongst the Little Tern colony. Several times it flew out to sea and flew back again. Meanwhile I watched Little terns fishing close in shore and saw 2 sat on the back. Really good to see Dave J, ex NLIS colleague. An excursion over to the Toad pools revealed Dave discovering a Smooth Newt by the side of the pool and I saw it clamber into weedy vegetation. Dave directed me over to the square fenced pool slightly NW of there inland and was delighted to see 2 Red- veined Darters, one resting on the sandy sides and 1 perching on the reeds. I also saw lots of Natterjack tadpoles too. As I was photographing the RV Darter on the reeds using my 500mm lens, a male Roe Deer literally walked past me barely 30 feet away, initially it was against the sun, but I froze and as walked up to a bramble bush, I waited till it walked behind this and I stealthily crept up to the bush where it was again 30 feet away in really good light and managed to get some nice shots before it slowly walked off southwards. Walking back 2 Yellowhammers seen also plus a Hairy Dragonfly.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Orchids at Thelnathan Fen

On Wednesday 7th June, having a work trip to Fulbourn, I was able to call in at the SWT reserve of Thelnathan Fen (between Diss and Bury St. Edmonds) and arrived parking at the side of the reserve, Some botanists were here chatting. Walking along I could see lots of Orchids, Southern Marsh and Spotted and what I hope were Early Marsh Orchids by the path slightly further on and slightly past their best.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Emperor deceased

Sad to say I found a male Emperor Dragonfly freshly dead (it wasn't there first thing when I fed the garden fish in the other pond) on the edge of the lawn by the wildlife pond, at 1.30pm on Mon June 5th, it wasn't mauled at all seeming to indicate it wasn't taken by the cats. The worst sort of first record for the garden, I was hoping to see and photograph a live one in the garden. It was duly buried in the garden.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Strumpshaw Swallowtails

Before I went to Strumpshaw I called in at a Norfolk location where I have been successful in the past for Turtle Doves. Happily I heard the purring almost straight away coming from down the lane. It was also evident there was a pheasant shoot nearby but I looked up and saw the excellent Turtle Dove flew up to a higher branch in the canopy of the tree. I looked straight up at it and wandered back along the lane where I got a fine view of this rusty backed beauty. Delightful to see as always. Bouyed with this, I drove onto Strumpshaw and I managed to park up the road and was delighted to see the garden was still as it always was and a crowd was at the top because there were 2 fine pristine Swallowtails in active feeding flight drinking the nectar from the sweet williams. It was ironic that as soon as Rob Wils left both butterflies became slightly more obliging and I got my best shots at this time. A walk around the reserve revealed just 2 Scarce Chasers, a male and a female. From the Fen hide, a Grey Heron, a Mute Swan lead 2 cygnets swam away. By the woods just before reception, a caged flowering Bee Orchid and a flowering Common Twayblade were both caged. Back at reception, a tatty Swallowtail flew around some fenced flowers for a while. Back at the garden another slightly tatty Swallowtail was feeding at the top.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Ness Point and Carlton Marshes

A quick look at Ness Point confirmed the Painted Ladies were no longer there, as I arrived at Carlton Marshes a female Whitethroat seen briefly and walking up the central path, I retraced my steps when I saw a Barn Owl hunting really close to the western path to Whitecast marshes. The Barn Owl flew and perched on a post close to the car park. But flew off east when a cape tried stalking it. I looked around Carlton Marshes couldn't see any Raft Spiders on the Scrape the young Lapwing were still around as were 3 Black- tailed Godwits in faded summer plumage. Whilst up along the river wall, 2 Wall Browns, 3 Small Tortoiseshells and around 4 male Scarce Chasers. 1 of the Chasers posed nicely for the camera. Male and female Banded Demoiselle seen too.

Ness Point wildlife

Adult Black Redstart seen at Ness Point on Sunday afternoon in the murk. On Monday 29th on asunder evening, 2 Painted Lady butterflies flying around the Red Valerian mostly settled on the path on the south side of the Orbis Energy centre.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Grounded

What seems like the third spring/ summer bank holiday (Easter & August last year) on the trot with car problems I was restricted to wildlife jaunts within walking distance. On Sunday 28th May at about 10.34am- 11.15am a fine Small Copper butterfly was seen on the Red Valerian in the garden (definitely not far to walk there!), it spent most of its time on here posing nicely for the camera but had occasional jaunts over to other flowers too. At around 3pm in the afternoon, our cat Comet was interested in something in the bushes and I went to investigate and an Eyed Hawkmoth suddenly flopped onto the ground, I saw it for around 10 seconds before it flew off unscathed and it therefore sadly eluded the camera. On Monday, at around 11.30am on Fallowfields, I saw an initially wary female Broad- bodied Chaser but eventually she settled on a perch and posed very nicely for the camera.