Tuesday 18 April 2023

A Suffolk Weekender - Day 2 - 16th April 2023

www.blueeyedbirder.com Suffolk adventure:

It was a misty start and damp underfoot although the air was dry which was a little peculiar. We met at Carlton Marshes and walked out along the footpath towards Petos.  Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaffs were all in song and a Cetti’s shouted over the top of them.  I had just remarked about the chance of a Barn Owl when one appeared in front of us and effortlessly hunting the damp pasture.  From looking at our pictures it looks like it may have lost its left eye which could explain it rather ropey landings!

Barn Owl

Wood Pigeon

One of the Sedge Warblers eventually showed itself which was a relief after the little buggers hiding all day yesterday and a couple of Meadow Pipits were engaged in half hearted parachuting.  The dead Reed and Great Willowherb stems were festooned with the drooping webs of Larinioides cornutus webs which were covered in droplets from the mist that was slowly lifting.

Dancing Midges

Furrow Orb Weaver web - Larinioides cornutus

Misty Cows - Enid Barrie

Furrow Orb Weaver web - Larinioides cornutus - Enid Barrie

Sedge Warbler - Philippa Carr

Chinese Water Deer glared at us from the Sedges while Rooks and Jackdaws probed around them and Brown Hares lolloped from one clump to the next. A pair of Stonechats popped up and Reed buntings were considering getting started but the chill grey conditions were obviously stymying any enthusiasm.

Chinese Water Deer

Pond Rush

Once down at Petos a Great White Egret was predictably on view and we spent the next couple of hours scanning the pools and scrapes in ever improving light.  A couple of Swallows twittered over and Lapwing, Redshank and Avocet were all displaying across the marsh.  The hunt for Wagtails only gave us a solitary Pied but all that looking did produced two Little Ringed Plovers, five hidden Snipe and a smattering of Wigeon and Teal and pleasingly, a drake Garganey that must have had a snorkel given the amount of time it spent with its head under the water!

Great White Egret

Greylag, Canacle and Barnacle

Avocet bust up and unamused Shovelers

Two Bitterns were booming from the west side of the track – one of which was quite close and two male Wheatears were stop-start running around the field, gleaming with peachiness.  Two Bitterns suddenly came out of the distant reeds and performed a lengthy chase across the marsh before both dropping out of view. Regardless of the distance, it was still a great encounter.


Sedge Warblers were now warming up and some were engaging in display flights while a melancholy Mistle Thrush sung from the north side of the river.  Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were always on view and it was blue sky by the time we turned back and a gleaming russet Red Kite was added to the list along with two Kestrels. A second Great White Egret dropped in and in the ditch below the Water Soldier was almost at the surface for another season.  I used to have this in my pond at home when I was a kid.

Water Soldier

Great White Egret

Red Kite

A couple of Peacocks drifted by and a Nursery Web Spider lounged on a leaf but was not quite ready for action. Chironomid Midges danced in clouds of thousands along the path and a couple of newly emerged Alder Flies alighted on me as we walked along.  The Cigar Galls of Lipara lucens were evident in the Phragmites wherever we looked.

Lipara lucens 

Lipara lucens - the cigar gall

The Grasshopper Warblers refused to sing but we did find a couple of hidden pinging Bearded Tits and several musical Linnets but with the appearance of the sun, the site was becoming very busy very quickly and so we retreated for a coffee and cake after a successful morning out.

Brown Hare - Antony Wren

North just a short way to Gunton Woods where the sun was now beating down at a heady 15c and a short circuit of this cliff top site was most productive with at least one male Firecrest being seen well and heard singing and taking a string dislike to the pair of Goldcrests that we found building a nest in some Ivy on a sapling. A glance up as a small bird flew in gave us all good views of a female Brambling which is always a bonus addition on a mid-April day out.  Greenfinches wheezed overhead and punters screamed in Pleasurewood Hills beyond.


There was a fine mix of quite aged native trees with some interesting flora beneath including native Tutsan, Primroses, Wood Anemone and Comfrey and non-native Alexanders, Few-flowered Garlic and Flowering Currant.  The Rabbit cropped edged had Early Forget-me-Not and Storksbill and attending Hoverflies and Dark-edged Bee-flies but a male Brimstone was the only Butterfly seen.

Early Forget-me-Not


Wood Anemone


Green Alkanet

Tutsan - two stem ridges

Young Horse Chestnut leaves

Few-flowered Garlic - great taste!

Flowering Currant



Melangyna cincta - a new one for me

Syrphus sp - male

Bombylius major

Lunch in the car park and then across the road to Gunton Warren.  It was pretty bird free (although Antony and I did hear a Whitethroat as we pulled up).  The potential for migrant landfall here is amazing with cliff top and undercliff to search in the right conditions.  I was just amazed I had not been pointed at it before.  It is largely an area of Bracken, Gorse and open areas dotted with Ectoedemia heringella infested Holm Oaks and the odd Rowan, Sycamore and Hawthorn.  It felt ‘rare’.

Ectoedemia heringella

Norway Maple flowers

Sea Buckthorn

Insects held most of our attention with several Emperor Moths attracted easily and feisty Green Tiger Beetles dashing across the bare areas before flying a short way and starting again. As usual they were difficult to track. We crossed the road and came back through the very warm and sheltered  Pine, Aspen and Poplar belt and in this sun trap we found a wealth of insects on the highly scented Alexanders.

Emperor Moth

Green Tiger Beetle

Green Tiger Beetle - so cryptic

There was a good selection of commoner Hoverflies with the bonus of only my second Didea fasciata. Calliphora vicina was common along with several almost bronzy Eudasyphora cyanella and a small Gymnocheta viridis.  

Didea fasciata

Didea fasciata

possibly a male Platycheirus albimanus

female Platycheirus albimanus -  Antony Wren

Myathropa florea

Eristalis pertinax

Syrphus ribesii - hind leg seen well

Helophilus pendulus

Epistrophe eligans

Eupeodes corollae

Eudasyphora cyanella

Eudasyphora cyanella

Eudasyphora cyanella

Eudasyphora cyanella

Gymnocheta viridis

Calliphora vicina

Calliphora vicina

A few Bee-flies were seen and Bombus pascuorum, terrestris and lapidarius were cruising around along with Andrena flavipes and a nice orangey Andrena nitida. A single Nomada goodeniana was seen on a sandy area.

Andrena nitida - Antony Wren

 Bombus pascuorum

Nomada goodeniana

It was so good to feel warm!

On again back into Lowestoft to Ness Point for the outside chance of a late Purple Sandpiper.  In fact we were lucky and found two although they were feeding alone behind the bulk of the breakwater and we only saw them when a large wave pushed them off towards the harbour.  The Turnstones were a little more photogenic and posed on the slipway and outside the Birds Eye gates as usual!

lounging Turnstones - Antony Wren

Chilled Turnstone - Antony Wren

This left us with one final stop in the middle of town to get up close to the Kittiwakes.  They were utilising the newish plank stack on the side of a building as well as every other available space in the entire block that also included the main church and all its ledges and crenelations. The noise was wondrous and incredibly loud as it echoed off the houses and offices and came with that unique fishy seabird colony smell.  The only difference between Lowestoft and Bempton Kittiwake watching is the looking up rather than looking down.

Should have taken down the scaffolding earlier!

Kittiwakes from the car park roof - Antony Wren

It was a fitting end to another fine day in the field.

The following morning there were some moths in the trap back at the Wrens which also suggested that the season are finally changing and even the Anthophora plumipes were back whizzing around the garden although it was a little chilly once again.  A brief stop at Abberton Reservoir on the way home gave me both Common and Lesser Whitethroats by the Centre and Yellow Wagtails and my first Common Terns from the Layer de la Haye causeway.  Now to get sorted for Lesvos on Thursday.  

Early Grey 

Frosted Green

Hebrew Character

Brindled Beauty

Powdered Quaker

Garden Carpet

March Moth

March Tubic

Swallow Prominent

Swallow Prominent

Puss Moth

Puss Moth

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