Tuesday 14 May 2024

Suffolk Coast - 8th May 2024

A www.blueeyedbirder.com adventure:

A private tour for Gavin and Matt saw us meeting at the Eels Foot in East Bridge at 6am where the brand new rather splendid Swift Tower that was unveiled the day before already had Swifts enthusiastically circling.

It was not overly warm or sunny but at east it was no windy and the dawn chorus of Acros, Bitterns, Cuckoos and shouty Cetti’s Warblers was a fine way to start the day.  We walked all the way down to the Sluice with Garden Warblers rambling away and Lesser Whitethroats rattling while Bitterns booming were a constant deep noted back drop to the entire walk.  It was wonderful.  Marsh Harriers – mostly males – were out over the fields and reedbeds and a dog Fox stared at us with his mouth full of furry breakfast until the Crows also saw him and he went on his way.

Marsh Harrier



A Great White Egret was out on Levels where the herd of Red Deer grazed and Lapwings tumbled. Down at the Sluice a group of Kittiwakes flew purposefully close north along the beach and I at long last added Common Tern along with Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns amongst the thronging cacophony of Black-headed Gulls.  A group of seven Knot and two Dunlin came in over the beach and onto the scrapes but with breakfast beckoning we began to retrace our steps.

 Red Deer 

A male Bittern with a vivid blue bill base poked his head out of the closest emergent green reed stems and we saw two others flying around while the booming continued.


We bumped into my old friend Bob Flindall who now lives in the village and a showy Garden Warbler sung alongside us while we caught up.

Garden Warbler

Back at the Eels Foot I  joined the lads for a fry up and a fortuitous catch up with Steve Piotrowski before we wiggled our way through the lanes towards Westleton Heath driving past seven Nightingales in the process.

It had warmed up a little and had become hazy but out on the heath the Dartford Warblers put on a good show as they moved too and fro with food or foraged while Woodlarks could be heard but not seen up in the blue.

Linnets and Yellowhammers were found and the Stone-Curlews seem to have settled down which was good to see.  A longer circuit than I usually take took us through some cleared habitat and it seems like they have scraped back almost to the ground surface in an attempt to encourage the Heather that had died back in the recent drought-ridden summers to regenerate.  It was fairly quiet to be honest but we did see several more Garden Warblers along with Blackcaps, Long-tailed Tits and heard pesky elusive Bullfinches.  A family of Stonechats were already out of the nest but there were no Tree Pipits or the hoped for Redstarts.  


A warm spot held Small Coppers and a little flurry of Adela reaumeralla dancing over the Brambles.  A single Brown Silver-lines was the only other moth found while a patch of Bracken held several very vocal Common Shrews.

Small Copper

Heath Speedwell

Adela reaumeralla

Brown Silver-lines 

Lunch was taken down at Minsmere before a walk through the woods in the pleasant sunshine with the luminous lime green Oak leaves, grey brown trunks and dark green floor grass making the woodland glow.  Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were predominate in the chorus and we picked up our first Hobbies from the Bittern Hide before pressing on to Island Mere.



Broad-bodied and Four Spotted Chasers were seen along with several nonstop Hairy Hawkers and blue Damselflies. Small Coppers and Small Heaths were joined by Orange Tips and Peacocks and Nomada flava were seen at a couple of spots.

Nomada flava

Four Spotted Chasers

Bombylius major

Small Heath

Small Copper

Bitterns were incredibly vocal and we had a couple of brief flight views and the Hobby numbers increased with at maximum count of 16 at one stage. I looked for a Red-foot but no joy.  Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were constantly on views and the Black-headed Gulls were joining the Hobbies in attempts to catch aerial insects.

Bearded Tits were seen zipping across the reed top but as usual barely stop and we got lucky and even saw one of the Cranes move between pools in a short low flight at the far west end. Our walk back increased the level Great Whites to two hazy dots and Cuckoo and Tawny Owl were both heard.  It was all very pleasant.

A final walk down the North Wall allowed us to watch the Andrena barbilabris taking the first watch on the sandy path sides before the summer main event and the Nightingales were just starting to warm up again with more Garden Warblers for lyrical company.

Andrena barbilabris

The Sand Martins seem to be up at Dunwich this year rather than by the car park but all came back down to the reedbeds to feed as we walked down.  There is something very special about the fizzy rippling calls as they flick past, attached to each other with invisible elastic.  They always remind me of my Dad coming home from work and telling me that he had found some nesting in concrete drainage pipes alongside the River Roding in Barking and he then took me down there to see them.  Forty-four years later and they are still using the same pipes.  

Down at the end of the bank Kittiwakes were loafing in the sea and a flock of 13 Sandwich Terns headed north while a chance glance up saw a first-year Spoonbill flying straight at us and them over head and off north but of the two Cranes that had got up over Island Mere there was no sign.


Med Gull

We stood and watched the Stonechats and even a showy Lesser Whitethroat before walking back.  A final stop at the dipping pond gave us a new family of Moorhens, Whirlygig Beetles, several Smooth Newts and a very speedy Grass Snake before bidding our farewells and heading our separate ways after a most successful day out.


From here I headed inland to meet up with Jim and Jacqui at their friend’s place at Bunkers Hill Farm in Bramfield and very lovely it is too with four self-catering cottages and three well-appointed Shepherds Huts.  It is set in ten acres of lovely farmland, pasture and woodland and would be a perfect place to stay over should you wish to join me for a Suffolk coastal jaunt.  Brown Hares were I the Hut field and Yellowhammers were in the hedges during my short coffee visit and it was a lovely way to end up the day.

Bunkers Hill Farm

I called into the Wrens on the way home to finish up dropping Lesvos pins for their upcoming family holiday and got to see some cool moths that Antony had caught overnight.


worn Oak Tree Pug & White Spotted Pug

Puss Moth

Rustic Shoulder Knot


Zophodia grassulariella - a 6th for Britain - well done Antony

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