Friday 23 February 2024

Lowestoft Life - 15th-23rd February 2024

15th February:

The pond project was started in the very mild conditions and thankfully the digging in the front garden was easy going and it did not take too long to create the hole and level it up.  There was even time for some landscaping and squeezing in a couple of Foxgloves and Ferns I had laying around.  






The huge pieces of rope that I recovered from the foreshore at Rainham all those years ago now have a their third lease of life as the borders for the paths having been used before as the rail to haul yourself up the super steep Darnley Road garden.  I am glad I did not leave them behind.

16th February:

A frustrating couple of hours out at Carlton Marshes after breakfast where, as I reached the bank overlooking the first part of Peto’s all the distant Black-tailed Godwits got up and began to circle and swirl and after splitting into two flocks I managed to pick up the Long-billed Dowitcher amongst them but after merging and splitting once again about 150 headed north towards Oulton Marshes and the others swirled back down. 



I sloshed my way along the top of the muddy bank to get a closer view but despite searching, the LBD was not with the remaining 150 or so Godwits and must have headed off with the first group.  In fact it did not return for five hours.  There was plenty more to look at with two each of Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Redshank and Ruff while a Curlew flew through and several Snipe were flushed up when the Duck were spooked by the Marsh Harriers.





Just Black-tailed Godwits

I suspect that I was the first person down the bank that morning as I put up two Jack Snipe from the top of the track which headed out onto Peto’s.  Two Kingfishers played chase down the channel and Reed Buntings and Cetti’s Warblers were warming up alongside them.

There were no booming Bitterns but a couple of Great White Egrets were lazily following each other around.  How long before they breed here?

With no Dowitcher to keep me any longer, I plodded back seeing four Barnacle Geese out on the marsh and picking up three Water Pipits although as usual they were in flight only.

Barnacle Geese


That evening Antony and I popped down to Frostenden Corner to see if any moths were on the wing after dark.  The woods were very quiet; in fact eerily so.  We found a few Dotted Border and Pale Brindled Beauty and a very well marked Spring Usher but there should have been more.  Seven Spot and Orange Ladybirds and Birch Shieldbugs were found along with the usual molluscs and one new Slug that I have asked for help with.

March Moth

Spring Usher

Pale Brindled Beauty



Birch Shieldbug


The Tawny Owls were vocal and mobile but neither of us could shake the feeling of being watched.  I am not easily spooked and love the dark but with both of us feeling uneasy we gave up after an hour and headed homewards.

There were a few moths at the Wrens from the previous night with Acleris cristana with its little punky tufts, Clouded Drab, Angle Shades, Common Quaker and both Dark and common Chestnut.

Acleris cristana 


A Hebrew Character in my trap at home was quite literally the first moth I have caught this year.

Hebrew Character


17th February:

It was foul outside nearly all day when a message came through on the local group that the pesky Purple Sandpipers were all roosting up at the end of Links Road.  The timing was impeccable as the rain had stopped so a quick whizz to the northside very quickly resulted in a flock of 12 snoozing on one of the concrete slabs along the beach.  The odd eye opened but only a rogue wave briefly woke them up.  They have been a real pain for me to see this year so I was pleased to have finally caught up with one of my favourite waders.


Purple Sandpipers

Several adult Med Gulls loafed around offshore but the sea was very quiet which was a good job as the heavens opened once again.




22nd February:

It feels like it has not stopped raining for days but I needed to move the pond project along and so I pooped around to the Wrens in the morning to scrounge some aquatic and marginal plants along with some Scabious, Sorrel and Salad Burnet for the meadow project, some trees to plant out behind the garage and some spare rocks to try to do a bit of landscaping.







The rain was always in the air but I persevered and was quite pleased with my efforts.  I still need some deeper water plants but it is starting to look more pond like, albeit slightly contrived at this early stage.  I have Ramshorns and Water Louse so there is at least some mobile live in it now!

I had almost finished out the back when the sky blackened, thunder rolled and peas sized hail crashed down.  I made it into the garage with only a mild battering from the heavens!



Volume up!


I found both Beautiful and Common Plume moths and a nicely marked Angle Shades caterpillar before the rain.

Angle Shades

23rd February:

It was not raining… in fact the sun was trying to push through but it was still only 3c at 9.30 which was just a bit down on recent days.  I headed south down to Westleton in the hope of finding some heathland birds.  If I had looked at the local news I would have stopped at hen Reedbeds or somewhere on the way down and may have just connected with the White-tailed Eagle that was heading north!  Never mind, at least it appears to have deviated before Benacre and not ended up over Lowestoft.

I parked up at Track 42 and ambled down, scanning the skies as I went.  Buzzards were everywhere with at least ten trying to make the most of little bit of warmth and Skylarks were singing high above.  I have not seen a good Dartford Warbler for some time but I was not to be disappointed here with at least four males and several females around me in the yellow Gorse and Heather.  With a little patience I got some superb views.  










Dartford Warbler


A pair of Woodlarks came and joined me on the path calling softly as they did so and ran on clockwork legs before the male got up and started singing above me.



Woodlarks

Cladonia sp



Even the high points are saturated

News of Cranes over Carlton and then Benacre had me scanning the skies once again while wandering through the Birch woods.  Oddly they were very quiet with not one Tit flock and I only heard a couple of Wrens and a Great Spot.  It was too cool for any insects at all.

Holly and Seven Spot Ladybird

I walked back with news that the Cranes were now over Reydon and heading south-west and scanned the skies.  Eventually I picked them up way off to the north and still tracking westish.  I guessed that they could have been all the way up towards the Blyth. 

Cranes - I dread to think how far away these were!


Lunch beckoned but I took a wiggly route back home via Wenhaston and Blyford where I checked the flooded valley for the Cranes.  They were not there but I did find about 40 Curlew and five Redshank amongst the Gulls while a Treecreeper sung from the flooded Poplars.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

The Brecks - 19th February 2024

 A www.blueeyedbirder.com adventure:



Another early start and a meet up at Mayday Farm did not go quite according to plan with a severe accident on the M11 holding up some of the crew.  Despite the later start and some persistent drizzle we stuck to the plan and were greeted but grey skies full of the song of Woodlarks who did not seem to mind the weather.



The Cherry Plum had fully opened in the last week and there were drifts of fluffy white blossom lining the path and positively glowing in the poor light.  There were fewer small birds on the circuit this time but Crossbills actually did the descent thing and perched up this time while Linnets were now in the main the clearing.  The only Brambling were a few odd birds with the Chaffinches beyond the Beech trees where Marsh Tits were found with the Tits foraging on the ground.

 Crossbill

Crossbill - Colin Berwick


Nuthatches and Treecreepers were singing but proving difficult to see and the Common Buzzards were now up and about as the sun briefly poked through but seeing a Goshawk on this route would have been pure chance so we plodded back towards the cars passing a pair of Woodlarks foraging by the first crossroads where they were already collecting food.  Is it possible that they already have young in the nest?




Woodlark


Woodlark

Woodlark - Colin Berwick


With a tad of warmth the Cherry Plum blossom now had big Buff-tailed Bumblebees and both Eristalis tenax and pertinax in attendance as well as nine gleaming Red Admirals.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Eristalis pertinax

Eristalis pertinax

Red Admiral

Red Admiral


On to our regular Goshawk spot where the breeze helped our efforts and we soon had magnificent views of a big brown immature female (probably two) and an adult male along with many Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and even an immature Peregrine that had a real good go at the Wood Pigeons.


Goshawk


The Gos had already eaten as it was very crop heavy and explained its lack of interest in the panicking Pigeons.  A Yellowhammer called a metallic chink from the nearest tree and a pair of Stonechats were using the old trailer as a lookout for lunch.  

Stonechat  - Ivor Hewstone


We left the pigs quarrelling over their own lunch and headed back to Lynford Arboretum for our own.

Thankfully it was not as manically busy this time and after grub we walked down to the tunnel by the wall where in short order we were watching about 20 wonderful Brambling and at least three Hawfinches once again.  There was even a glimmer of sunshine which accentuated the wonderful colour on both species. Singles of Yellowhammer and Siskin came down to bathe in the small pond.








Brambling & Hawfinches - the two main protagonists

Brambling - Colin Berwick


Siskin - Colin Berwick


We slowly walked the loop with Goldcrests, Coal Tits and a Great Tit sneezing energetically like a Marsh Tit before we found the real deal further along the trail.  Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were ‘chicking’ and yaffling and a male Firecrest started his fizzy little song and put on a very good show, albeit quite high up in the Ash trees.

Dunnock - Colin Berwick


We spent some time down at the bridge watching the commoner Tits and their Marsh Tit friends coming into the feeding area along with a couple of blue triangular Nuthatches while a flock of buzzy Siskins and a few Goldfinches were feeding in the lakeside Alders. A medium sized bat with quite prominent ears was slowly flying around the bridge. My gut said Daubenton's but only Ivor managed a pic of it. 

Daubenton's Bat? - Ivor Hewstone


It was getting chilly and the light was going so we ambled back pleased with the day’s efforts seeing six Yellowhammers now waiting in the tree tops while the Hawfinches invisibly called.

Nuthatch - Ivor Hewstone


Marsh Tit

 Yellowhammers - Ivor Hewstone