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Friday, 31 March 2017

Waiting in

Waiting for a sofa to be delivered on Friday March 31st was eventful as I heard 2 Chiff- Chaffs calling from Fallowfields, a Song Thrush plus a Small White and 1 Peacock seen in the garden briefly. In the wildlife pond, I was delighted to see 4 Caddis Fly larvae. One was crawling up a twig and I managed to secure some pics. Having visited the dump twice to dispose of the old sofa sawn up and dismantled the previous night, I visited the Netposts and unforunatelt Maritime College students were cuprinoling some boat sails all over the net posts area so no Black reds here. A look on the Oval revealed 1 White Wagtail (the far side) and 1 Pied Wagtail. A look at Corton old SW and the holiday park revealed little save for 5 super returning Sand Martins flying over the north end of Sunrise caravan park.

Scarce spring migrants around the net posts

On Thursday 30th March, at 5.50pm, I parked up by the net posts, just north of the Birds eye factory on the North Denies and as I got out of the car I could see an ash- grey female type Black Redstart perched on the nearest post it stayed there for a few short minutes but just flew as I was setting up my camera a dog walker had stopped and was looking with his dog at heel around 40 yards away but even at this range it had spooked the bird. Apparently it had flown to the bushes by the Birds Eye factory as I was informed by another birder from the big lens brigade (exact replica of mine!) It then flew onto the net posts again and was actively feeding at one time it caught a large caterpillar and being around 30 yards away we got some middling shots. As I was photographing this I heard the scratchy song of a male and what must be a male, albeit first year bird in ash grey plumage, the second Black Redstart, of the evening, was seeing on top of the middle of a horizontal post behind us. This birder promptly left, I was soon joined by another this time with a Sigma 150-600mm lens set up his only optical aid (what no bins!) and we saw a Wagtail flock actively feeding and moving initially by the grassy area just north- east of the net posts, various dog walkers were pushing them north- west from here. At least 3 were fine White Wagtails, 2 of them males.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Eider and Godwit breaks the week's duck

Having missed for the second weekend running White Wags at Corton, a Wheatear at Corton ORT (Mon after work), Waxwings at Gorleston (Tues after work), I was wondering when my luck would change. It certainly didn't when I took a look at the Netposts late afternoon on Wednesday 29th March, I failed to see the Black Redstart (probably given the runaround by the multitude of visitors here both 2 legged and 4 legged) seen earlier. A look in Hamilton Dock for the Eider that I have missed 4X since it was first seen finally gave itself up and incredibly it was showing really close to Hamilton road, at one point it was on the very edge of the dock. Initially I looked west and saw it albeit against the light slightly but moving down to the fenced part of the car park the sun rays briefly lit up the area and I was able to get some reasonable shots of the bird with the sun behind me. It was a fine male immature Eider, a wonderful bird to see especially as it afforded me very close, even "Ferguson" views, so named because of some friends of mine, really good birders, often get jammy close views! But this reflects the time they spend out in the field which is probably more than I do. I gave OFB a ring and he said he would come straight away! As I looked back at the muddy spit, waders included 4 Turnstone, 3 Oystercatchers and a fine but unexpected Bar- tailed Godwit moulting into summer plumage. I saw on the concrete step and the bird was constantly feeding just in the water as it fed ever closer until it turned and started walking back constantly feeding. It was later seen on the mud in the eastern corner. As Roger arrived literally a minute after I had seen it was gone and the male Eider was bony rapidly swimming away and poor Roger saw it feeding by the sand bank over the far side of the dock.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Weekend catch up

On Saturday 25th March, in the garden, a Peacock butterfly settled briefly on the ground before flying off. I walked down to the scrape at Carlton Marshes, the fine male Garganey was swimming on the scrape in the distance and joined Teal, when they were spooked and it flew to the right around 20 yards. Later a Water Pipit flew up and calling flew towards Oulton marshes. Walking back I counted 15 Small Tortoiseshells and 1 Peacock all settled on the north path by Whitecast marsh. By the east wood, 3 Chiff- Chaffs were singing from the alders plus 2 Goldfinches seen and a female Siskin. On Sunday 26th Marsh by the old Coastguards garden, opposite Battery green and the multi- storey car park, a fine female Firecrest was seen flitting in a bush in the south east corner.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Virtually nothing

On Friday 24th March, a quick look around Hamilton Dock, Ness Point, Oval, Netposts & North Denes produced virtually nothing only notable bird seen was a female Sparrowhawk flew out of a small pine opposite the entrance to the Oval and flew towards the entrance.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Eclectic mix of Garganey, Parakeet, Frogs & Purple Sands

On Sunday 19th March, I headed down to Minsmere and on entering the North hide, on first scan across I picked up the male Garganey asleep on the bank to the west of the hide in the foreground looking right just left of the West hide. Typically in resplendent plumage. On closer inspection I could also see the female Garganey also asleep sat just right of a male Teal. Nice to see after missing this species repeatedly last year on several unsuccessful trips to Minsmere in the spring. As the female stood on the bank, it was striking that she had a really pale cream underbelly. Constant scans of the marshy area to the east of the hide failed to pick up any of yesterdays quartet of Jack Snipe the best I could find were 3 Snipe. I also tried in vain to catch sight of an early sand M all to no avail. A Buzzard flew over the trees in the distance leading inland of Sizewell Power station. Sawbills were elusive for me, as I failed to see the Smew or the Goosanders at Island Mere. Little else seen there. With time pressing, I headed back home and was delighted to see 2 adult Frogs in the fish pond sat guarding the frogspawn. Heading just round the corner to Oulton Community centre, only a minute after I arrived, I heard the distinctive "kee-kee-kee" screeching of a Ring- necked Parakeet and the female Ring- necked Parakeet flew in from the east at 5.20pm right past me, I could see the bird was a female (no neck collar) and she perched up in trees just west of 20 (Woodlands) Oulton Street, the tree with 3 Rooks nests in it. She perched on the right hand side, a green bird with very long tail. I quickly set up my scope but then looked again and she had gone! Nofurther sign for me. At Ness Point in fading light, I saw 5 Purple Sandpipers on the far rocks just opposite the compass, 1 flew north before I left and later 6 Purple Sandpipers on the rocks by the NE corner of Ness Point, as I couldn't rule out the birds seen later flying a little way north after I had left the compass viewing area, I had to conclude I had seen a total of 6 Purple Sandpipers rather than 10!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Another showy diver in 2017!

On Saturday 18th March, at 4am I could hear the rhythmic 'purring" of courting frogs coming from the fish pond, on investigation later in the day 2 adult Frogs seen plus an athletic smaller one that lept away when I approached the pond. This purring was a lovely sound and I'm sure its the result of counting frogs, it was very therapeutic. At 8am, I was walking around the south side of Carlton Marshes, hoping to see the Diver, I initially saw little on the Scrape although 3 Lapwings were in display flight on fields to the left (south). As I took the path to walk around the west side of the scrape and join the irrigation ditches by the sluice, passing a Mute swan, on a soke dyke, I noticed the fine Red- throated Diver showing well and I crawled slowly along but when the bird had dived and was able to run quickly into position without disturbing the bird. The bird was fishing around 20- 30 feet away but in my crouched position the reeds were obscuring most views but patience enable me to get some shots when it swam into some unobscured areas of the dyke. I also noticed Andrew E crouch down along the northern bank path. We had some superlative views of the bird that spent most of its time in the western corner of the dyke, but it would make occasional forays into the middle of the dyke occasional fishing and catching the odd Stickleback. It was noticeable overtime dog walkers went past even if the dogs were on lead or close at heel (pleased to report most were) it unsettled the Diver and it had been asleep on the bank it woke up and rather ungainly scrambled down to the water. If it was in he water it would swim to the furthest eastern part of the dyke and giving us superlative views down to 9 feet at times! We viewed at these times from the iron fence where I was joined by Andrew E and Rob Will who had just arrived. With Lowestoft's finest here (Andrew & Rob not me!) it wasn't long before Andrew spotted a Red Kite (with a primary missing) flying over it flew past the scrape and then hanging over Share Marsh, being fairly low (just above or below the distant telegraph lines) we had prolonged views and ecven saw it later over a south- west wood at 10.50am, Rob spotted one, a distant second Red Kite, an immaculate bird (no primaries missing) flying in from the west. It flew right over us and then flew over the Scrape and then over Share marsh. Other raptors included 6+ Buzzard flying around including 3 together, a female Marsh Harrier and Kestrel. 2 Water Pipits flew singly to the scrape with a higher pitched 'seep" call. Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron (flying around) and Redshank also seen on the scrape.

Waveney Forest surprise birds but no reptiles

On Tuesday March 15th, I spied the 8 inch circular diameter of frogspawn in the fishpond first thing. having a look around for butterflies and some early reptiles, so no 500mm lens with me. I was only able to see a Comma butterfly that was by the 2nd A site, the far western end around half way along by the path right hand side as you walk north. As I was walking back just before the old car park by a line of tall pines aligned direct due west in the middle trees 9where the old log pile used to be) I heard a pine cone drop and suspecting Crossbills, I looked up and was surprised to see a large Mealy Redpoll, feeding on a pine cone! A large almost crossbill- sized bird, looking fairly white as I looked at it back on but with a streaked white rump and a couple of white tramlines down its back and reddish front cap patch and forked tail. Another bird flew out and perched on a bare conifer branch half way up the tree, a fine female Brambling she stayed on her perch for a good ten minutes.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Brecks trip

On Wednesday 15th March, an early start out at Santon Downham, from the bridge we walked a mile east along the river, hearing calling Yellowhammers, until we reached a fallen down tree where the footpath diverts, just before that I heard the faint tapping of a Woodpecker but couldn't see anything as we arrived here. About an hour and a half later we heard the kee-kee-kee call of a Lesser- spotted woodpecker but again couldn't locate it. We saw around a dozen Redwings here. We left at 10.50am had we stayed until 11am we would have bumped into Carl B, Ali, Maurice & Roy, who saw it at 11am. We reached the Goshawk site around 20 minutes later and there were already 3 cars here. Including the very sharp tour leader Marcus N, who picked up our target birds. Almost immediately we saw a fine immature Goshawk flying around and then brief views of an adult Goshawk.Later on the immature Goshawk flew right in front of the woods good views through the scope showing distinctive broad wings and a reasonably long tail with dark brown banding on a lighter grey tail. Carl B, Ali R, Roy H and Maurice B then turned up just before the Goshawks started to show really well. The upper parts were mottled brown above and dark bands on the flights feathers, a really smart bird. Later adult Goshawk the flew left looking almost Buzzard sized with great big fluffy cotton wool almost wrap around undertail coverts, grey upper parts dark hood around the eye and whitish underparts with shortish tail and a heavy hip. It later flew right. we also saw around a dozen Buzzards and a smaller Sparrowhawk. Whilst travelling a mile south of this site, I spotted a fine Red Kite flying over the field. We then went to another site for Great Grey Shrike where we bumped into Mick F, who'd just been watching it, it had just dropped down and out of sight by an island of bushes and a couple of small bare trees. In a fenced arable type field, I saw 2 Wood Larks fly in, really well marked birds looking almost 'Whinchat like' but they then run down a furrow away from us but were later seen feeding in the furrow half way down. Meanwhile Roy shouted and we saw the fine Great Grey Shrike perched on top of a very tall mature tree. Later it was seen down a ride of newly planted confers perched on the top of these too. We then searched for Tim's camera bag as he couldn't find it, apparently it had been mistakenly taken and with the power of twitter and Keith D's help from Great Yarmouth we were able to reconnect Tim with his camera and big relief all around. Next stop was Santon Downham, down the feeder tunnel, a Nuthatch kept coming to the peanuts from the right hand bird feeder and a female Brambling drank from the concrete water ground dispenser. The tour leader then picked up 2 male Hawfinches and two fine male were feeding on white blossom near a distant tree. Walking down to the bridge, a Crossbill came to drink by a watery area we overlooked albeit obscured totally by reeds. It flew off but then 2 Crossbill, and finally a further 5 Crossbill flew into a bare tree and later flew up to a tall tree where the 7 Crossbills including a male, immature male, female and at least 2 immature birds. By a very close bird feeder, male Reed Bunting and Great and Blue Tits seen feeding here. Back at the tunnel a fine male Brambling drank from the concrete trough and later perched in vegetation by the right feeders. Jenny informed me she had seen some frogspawn in the fish pond later today.

Cambridge trip

On Friday 10th March a calling Grey Wagtail again heard from the garden at 11.18am, travelling along the A!43 just west of Ellingham at 12 noon saw a migrant Red Kite circling low over the fields by the road. On Saturday 11th, a Grey Wagtail them joined by its mate, seen by the viaduct by Byron's Pool near Grantchester and 2 Chiff- Chaff heard plus 4 Redwing in Grantchester meadow. On Sunday 12th March, at the Cambridge Botanic Garden, a Green Woodpecker seen in a tree plus 10 Redwings were in the trees on the eastern perimeter of our accommodation at Lord Byron Inn.

7 and 9 March round up

7 March- c20 Waxwings in tree just south of the Ole Frank Pub, Gresham Ave, Oulton, Lowestoft 7.15am 4 Goosander (2 male, 2 female) Oulton Broad fr Yacht club + a Cormorant drying its wings on the jetty by the yacht sailing club 7.30-8.40am , missed Slav Grebe seen by RCS 7.15am where has it gone? On 9 March- a calling Grey Wagtail just flew v.low & W over garden patio as we were having lunch , Fallowfields, Lowestoft-we saw its yellow belly! 1.51pm Redhead Goosander 1 still Oulton Broad otherwise appears to be a mass clear out today at Lowestoft- no Slav Grebe, no HMs & no Waxwings 3 Frogs calling to each other in the fish pond, in garden today no sign of frogspawn so far!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Sunday 5th March

On Sunday March 5th, there was no sign of the House Martins Kirkley House/ CEFAS labs early am have they moved on? Back home a calling Red- legged Partridge v.briefly landed in Bosquet Close 8.49am it ran behind some parked cars and even before I had time to go out with camera, cat (not ours!) flushed it off! 63 Waxwings regularly (3X) returning to tree by Ole Frank pub, Gresham Ave, Lowestoft up till 9.45- 10.15am at least 2 colour ringed birds. 17 Waxwing again at Chedgrave Ave, Lowestoft 3.30pm, 2 female Eiders 4pm on the sea one straight out 100 yds out off Arbor Lane, Pakefield. By the grain silo, a Peregrine perched on the top rail of the tower, later a 1st Winter Shag Lake Lothing was seen swimming on the river at Asda before flying west over the river.

Lowestoft early and late

On Saturday 4th March 66 Waxwing (flew in groups of 20, 40, 6) Gresham Ave by Ole Frank pub again on berries, between 9 - 9.12am then flew high NW. A fine Slavonian Grebe seen very distantly along the west end of Oulton Broad swam along with 5 Great crested Grebes it swam left and then suddenly it swam right ahgain towards the distant blue and white cruiser boat. A Redhead Goosander we initially thought had a green head proved to rufous coloured an a female, it suddenly flew towards us and settled near the yacht club. Oulton Broad plus a Common Sandpiper at Mutford Lock this afternoon, no sign of the House Martin early afternoon or late pm.

Ole Frank Waxwings

On Thursday 2nd March, 17 Waxwings sat in a tree and they then flew onto a berry bush by Ole Frank Pub, Gresham Ave, Lowestoft until 4.45pm.