Saturday, 15 June 2013
Returning from the supermarket and hearing breaking news of a Pacific Swift down at Trimley, the same old questions surfaced. When confronted with twitching one in the past would it stay? (Cley, 1993, missed that one by 40 minutes, after dilly dallying around!), was it really one (aberrant Swift, initially identified as a Pacific- Walberswick 2012) and could I get a lift with someone/ or give someone a lift?? These were quickly resolved when James B travelled over and I drove down to Trimley St. Mary the road leading down to the reserve was choc-a- bloc with cars and absolutely no spaces. Fortunately at the full- up car park at the end, some birders were walking back and they said I could take their space, so parking well off the road on a slope we finally got going. I walked past the avenue of trees where many years ago, 1992, I had seen my first White- throated Sparrow. A very long 3 mile walk which took around 40 minutes & after 20 minutes we forked right and half an hour later we had reached the path to the river and walking along here we joined the thronged crowd on the bank over looking a marshy lagoon. They included Rob Wil & Win, Andrew E, Paul & Jane F and a later arriving Rob Hol & Paul W) At the back were some Shelducks and Dick W (with Maurice B behind him) directed me to look here and after what seemed an age I finally connected with my first British Pacific Swift, an incredible bird looking browner than the darker Common Swifts it was with, c60 & with a very clear white rump, more elongated wings, and more attenuated end/ ie. tail, it scythed the air and often flew low and then high. When it was against the trees we often lost it for a few moments before it was picked up again. For most of the time the tail was closed but at times showed it was deeply forked tail and the underparts were clearly paler sandy scalloped appearance. It flew low over the the lagoon, obviously feeding on insects and over the heads of the Shelducks on the water, a House Martin was also seen here too. it then flew past the marshes to the right and then turned around flew up past the trees and higher up into clear sky before turning around and back over the Shelducks again. It kept repeating this circuit and occasionally even varying it by sometimes it would fly towards us, flying low over the lagoon and showing really well especially when viewed in the 'scope! No pics I'm afraid, as i didn't fancy dragging the camera and lens over 6 miles of walking! We also received the shocking news that Police were issuing parking tickets to all the cars parked in Cordly road, & my car was parked here!! Walking back, we encountered an anxious late arriving John H and a few minutes later we received a bit of a soaking! Lee E was directing operations in the car park. I was relieved when we got back to the car, that I hadn't received a parking ticket, although I had parked very sensibly well off the road & not blocking any drives or the road itself. In the garden in the evening, a Goldfinch for the second evening running singing from our TV aerial. In the fish pond 3 Frogs seen with one showing exceptionally well.
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
On Monday 10th June, early morning I looked for the Shrike for 1/2 hour but failed to see it. I was delighted in the evening to see it again. With the help of the finder James W, we tracked it, the female Red- backed Shrike, down to between 2 sycamore trees and a white post by the usual thicket of scrub. It showed well from approaching from the beach side but then flew and caught an insect, a bee(?), which it prmptly devoured on a curved piece of bramble between 2 sycamore trees where it remained for a good 1/4 of an hour before catching another insect and flying down out of sight.
Sunday, 9 June 2013
A very welcome tweet from James W had me walking along to Gunton Warren, seeing Rob Wil, James W & Josh, I walked a litle closer and following Rob's pointing, saw the excellent female Red- backed Shrike sitting on the edge of the bramble face on, after a while she hopped and turned back on, I managed a few shots and fairly close range but annoyingly was on the wrong focus setting on the camera. This was rectified seconds later but only after she had flown a few feet further back. The grey clouds were rolling in and I joined the Lowestoft Lizards and we enjoyed watching the Shrike initially she kept to near the sycamore but later on flew around 80 yards north of there before eventually returning. Then onto Southwold, parking at the harbour and walking up to the bailey bridge, met Steve & Dot who said turn right and walk 100 yards north along the old rail way line to a ditch near a load of cows and it was there. reaching a bushy area overlooking the ditch i could immediately hear the excellent singing Marsh Warbler, thanks to Richard, I saw the bird immediately as he directed me to the bird perching at the base of the bush on a thick branch extending right of the trunk. It then flew and was later seen in the reeds just in front of the bushes. Brian S arrived and he immediately located the Marsh Warbler singing from reeds at the edge of the dyke, always partially obscured I managed to get some half decent shots. As we watched the bird, a shout of "Turtle Dove!" went up and my first Suffolk bird seen since Sept 2011, flew over our heads down the path and north then west, great to see this species again. We then spent some time watching the Marsh warbler showing a yellow bill and gape, surprisingly dark for a Marsh Warbler but still sandy brown plumage and longer wings distinguished (as well as the amazingly varied song full of musical mimicry) from Redd warbler. A really enjoyable visit.
Just returned from a week's birding on the sunny Mediterranean island of Ibiza, perhaps best known for its club scene. Jenny & I avoided these and concentrated on birds, beaches and history in that order. In any wooded habitat you would expect to see Spotted Flycatcher and hear the "purring" of a Turtle Dove. La Salinas is perhaps the premier birding site on the island and the clue is in the title, which is used as a working salt works, a big browny tinged white salt mountain was stacked up over 100 feet tall to one side! Our first view of the Salinas was from the aeroplane on the flight in in and I thought I could see 8 Greater Flamingos. On visiting the Salinas on Sunday 2nd, these were confirmed as we saw 9 distant Greater Flamingoes. We viewed from the track that leads down to the restaurant at the end. In the Pine woods, I heard and saw Spotted Flycatcher and a Turtle Dove was seen and heard purring near the trunk of a Pine tree. At the end, I walked up a sloping cliff covered in bushes were I was hoping to see Balearic/ Marmora's Warbler. I was not to be disappointed as one was foraging in a bush just feet away, a small slim long- tailed slate grey warbler with red eye. It spent several minutes hopping in this bush and then flew to the one behind before flying to a larger bush at the back, where it was conspicuous for around a minutes before disappearing. A Spotted Flycatcher seen here too.On checking the same area when I walked back I saw the Warbler in the same area. An immature Blue Rock Thrush briefly flew onto the wall, before flying off. On Monday 3rd June, a stop off by a cemetary and a cafe revealed singing Firecrest (not see), a Woodchat Shrike perched on the top of a tree, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Thekla Lark. In the mountain area of Talissa, by the radar mast station. 1st one then 2 Firecrest showed really well amongst the Pine trees, several balearic Crossbills seen flying past, I picked up 1 or 2 immature Baleric Crossbills. Wandering behind the radar mast, at the back up to 9 Balearic Crossbills congregated, including a great red male on the fence then seen in the tree. On Tuesday a walk along the river at Santa Euralia revealed 3 Reed Warblers, a Cetti's Warbler and little else save for the obligatory Serins, around 5 seen. Plus by the area near the sea, a popular walkway sported 3 showy singing Serins and the then first one then 2 very showy Iberian Wall Lizards crawling out from a rock and occasionally eating ants on the path, the first Lizard had a shortened tail, whilst the second had a complete tail and looked slightly greener, both performed amazingly well for the camera's macro lens. On the Wednesday 5th June, at Cala Lunga, I photographed up to 3 Audouin's Gulls whilst a male Blue Rock Thrush flew in off the sea. On the way back from a viewpoint close to hear we saw a Woodchat on top of a telegraph post. On Thursday on the return to the Salina's, several Black- winged Stilts included one on a nest and adults with up to 3 young. The Balearic Warbler was seen and heard singing in the scrub behind the posh restaurant. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen here too. Whilst at the back up the hill, in a cultivated area, 3 Blue Rock Thrushs seen perched on the posts including 2 immatures and 1 adult male. On Thursday, at El Vedra, I didn't see any of the hoped for Rock Sparrows, but a Red- legged Partridge seen and looking back over a distant rocky crag, an excellent Egyptian Vulture seen soaring past it and to the left. Another stop by the roadside revealed 5 Iberian Wall lizards all fairly showy and another stop nearby revealed first 1 then 2 Painted Lady butterflies along the rough track. On Friday back at Cala Lungha, just back from the viewpoint area, a Peregrine Falcon flew past. walking down a track another Woodchat Shrike seen, an adult female seen.
Monday, 27 May 2013
Really impressed with the level of detail that the historical re- enactment team carry out at Kentwell hall! This afternoon, whilst watching an Elizabethen England Tudor recreation at 4.45pm a magnificent Red Kite drifted low over the walled garden and gradually drifted west (one of the secondaries on its right wing was missing) just like they would have done in Elizabethan England!
Sunday 26th May, I picked up John H & we drove to Lakenheath arriving there a creditable hour and a half later. Sadly, on the journey there road, the roads were littered with several Fox & Muntjac Deer carcasses (4 of each) but I was fortunate to see a live Roe Deer near the first Thetford wood. The car park at Lakenheath was absolutely bursting and we just managed to squeeze in and ambled down the track joining the crowds overlooking New Fen, where incredibly the male Red- footed Falcon was hawking for insects right over out heads! A really smart bird with a dark smokey- grey plumage with the vent and legs coverts a wonderful russet- brown. It was flying low over the patch of reeds bordering the path. It was flying up and down and flying up in the air, obviously catching insects and was later was joined by up to 3 Hobbies flying over the Mere. A calling Cuckoo revealed one flying left. A male Marsh Harrier also quartered the reeds. walking back another Cuckoo flew left. At Weeting Heath from the west hide 2 Stone Curlew seen both were initially standing with the closer bird moving and then settling down. Whilst just outside first one Spotted Flycatcher seen by the trunk of ivy clad tree close to the path, it flew in whilst further away another bird flew high up into the trees. These are my first sightings of this species for this year, yet another species which has declined rapidly in recent years. A walk at the reserve over the road revealed several calling Willow Warblers one calling from the top of a bush just by the path and then on the edge of a wood, we heard a delightful Tree Pipit singing, we then saw it it perched high in a deduduous not Pine tree and then another 2 Tree Pipits seen and heard later on. At East Wretham Heath, walking to a wood by a clearing just past a hide and looking across at a dead tree stump we heard the male Redstart singing and John picked it out perched near the top of a large bush (just left of the stump) before flew over to the tree stump, a resplendent male bird. It was seen a couple of times after this also. No luck at Beighton and we failed to see or hear any purring Turtle Doves, sadly.
Monday, 20 May 2013
On Sunday 19th May, a look at Pleasurewood Hills at 4pm revealed just 12 very late flowering Early Purple Orchids (flowering around a month late due to the wintry conditions) and maybe 20 in all with more non- flowering plants seen too. I am concerned about how dry this bank is getting and especially the incursion of bramble especially along the northern end. However, at another local meadow, (managed by the local wildlife trust) the difference was striking with a well managed site, I counted a personal record 43 Green- winged Orchids also coming into flower with one pale one seen (almost as pale as the Mediterranean sub- species) and one very deep purple one, too. Typically very stunted looking plants but when they are flowering they are absolute crackers well worth seeing!