Monday 30 October 2023

Lowestoft Life - 24th-30th October 2023

I was out checking the moth trap on the early morning of the 24th and birds were obviously still on the move and I very quickly racked up 27 Redwing along with the first three Fieldfare and a Ring Ouzel for the house list!  A Grey Wagtail and a few Mipits moved over too and a small party of Wigeon whistled as they headed towards Oulton. 

I had seven moths of six species in the trap with a smart Clancy’s Rustic, Angle Shades, a tiny Silver-Y and a dark Gem along with the almost expected Light Brown Apple Moth and Large Yellow Underwing. 

Angle Shades


Clancy’s Rustic


A short walk at Pakefield Beach produced 12 Long-tailed Tits, a single female Blackcap and a late Swallow around the Oddfellows along with two hunting Kestrels.

My run of new garden birds while at the moth trap continued the next morning with Finches replacing the Thrushes.  A few Chaffinch and Goldfinch were moving and four single Redpolls were ticking all the boxes for Mealies being chunky and heavy fronted, pale underneath and all importantly sounding deeper and more throaty.  If I was on Shetland I would not have even questioned my logic.  Interestingly other local birders suspected that some of their fly over Redpolls were Mealy.   A gypping Crossbill soon joined the list too.

Rusty Dot Pearl and a fine Mallow were the meagre Mothage highlights



I headed out the front to clear the car out as I had some taxi duties that required my car not looking like a skip or smelling like a sweaty sock. Birds were still moving over and a couple of Rooks cawed and an opportune moment with the vac turned off brought the sound of ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ to my ears.  Pinkfeet!


One of the things I had always been jealous of with my friends around the East Anglian coast was the chance that Pinkies would fly over your house in the autumn.  It is by far one of my favourite autumnal sounds and here I was with vac in hand watching a skein of 42 head vaguely southish over my own Lowestoft home.  I was very happy.

Some jobs around Wrentham saw me misidentify four Egrets in a distant cows field at Wenhaston as Cattle Egrets.  I worked out how to get closer eventually and found that they were all Littles and not the expected Cattles. 

Green Brindled Crescent in Wrentham

Frustratingly the bridge being up in town late afternoon caused such a traffic snarl up that, combined with local temp traffic lights resulted in my having a paddy and fighting my way back home and not persevering for the Siberian Stonechat up at Corton!  Silly boy.

Naturally the next morning it was miserable but I still gave a Corton a go before the weather turned again.  It is an amazing spot and I will visit again.  Brent Geese were moving offshore and hundreds of Cormorants were streaming towards the sea from inland and I can only presume that they roost at Fritton Lake?

Wiffling Cormorants 

The trees held Goldcrests and several Coal Tits but I am not sure if the latter are a regular bird there and Fieldfares chacked from the Poplars.  Siskins pulsed through in small regular flocks before the blackening cloud had be retreating to the car.

The morning of the 27th was different again with thick fog ebbing and flowing in the town but I still headed down to Pakefield Beach for a look and I was glad that I did with my first Fieldfares for there as four came out of the Elms along with a three Goldcrest and a few Siskins but the star was a Hawfinch calling stridently in the murk as it moved south.

Some mid-morning shopping took us to the Gunton Tesco which allowed time to drop down Flycatcher Alley into the shelter belt by the Denes Oval where the Dusky Warbler had been residing for a few days.

It was a little noisy down there with visiting birders doing more chatting than looking so I moved away and soon heard the soft squelchy tack as it called from the where the bushes met the Alexanders.  One of the Robins pushed it out and chased it but I was happy with that  as I just wanted to hear it call.  It is high on my Pakefield Beach desired list – I have even chosen the spot!

A couple of Bramblings flew to the Sycamores and a Black Redstart flashed into the canopy too having appeared to have literally dropped out of the sky.  Suddenly a Yellow-browed Warbler started up in the same trees and although we were not close we could all hear it stridently calling in the canopy – once again hearing it was more than enough for me and anyway, there was frozen veg waiting in the car!

The weekend was spent entertaining both sets of families here for the first time as well as installing electricity to the garage down the garden, leaving today free to escape out for a few hours into some glorious late autumn weather.  I did add Chestnut to the garden moth list despite the rain!


A female Velvet Scoter on Mutford Lock near the Wherry pub in Oulton required a one minute walk before getting some excellent views but I was at bins only at that stage and so have utilised some of Antony’s wonderful shots.

Velvet Scoter - Antony Wren

Velvet Scoter - Antony Wren

On up the coast for an anniversary lunch at The Waterside in Rollesby before a circuit of the Hickling area. I stopped at Waxham Barns for a walk up to the dunes and trees. It was so calm, still and mild and I could hear Cranes bugling inland behind Brograve but despite getting some elevation they remained out of sight but the sound alone is now so evocative of the Broads.

Eighty Pinkfeet were in the closest wheat field and all around me Black-headed and Med Gulls were out catching winged insects (not ants).  The air was full of dancing flies, gnat and midges and there were still many Common Darters on the wing.  

Med Gull - there were at least 40

Flies and gossamer

Rabbits - I saw Brown Hares and Muntjac too

Ectoedemia heringella

Common Darter

Common Darter

I could not find the Hoopoe but there were Robins galore and a few winter Thrushes in the now largely bare trees.  I watched a flock of Long-tailed Tits forage around me and hoped for stripes but had to be content with fluffy Goldcrests.

With the clocks having gone back it meant a shorter day already so with the weather remaining fine I headed to St Benet’s Abbey to look for Owls.  I thought that there would be no one there and was not prepared for the randomly parked cars and lines of photographers at every gate and fence gap.  I am by no means anti photographer but I did not see a pair of bins amongst the thirty of so present.  I parked up and immediately saw a Short-eared Owl but all I heard was grumbles of ‘too far’ and not a camera was raised.  I know that it all about personal choice but I struggle to understand it. 

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Two more guys were following another Owl across a field beyond the Abbey so I decided to just go to the ruins and scan from there.  I had a very pleasant half hour with four Shorties and a very pale Barn Owl hunting at various ranges in glorious light.  I could see the cameras and not one was ever raised.


There were no Cranes to be heard but Water Rail, Kingfisher and Cetti’s Warblers were all calling along the big ditch and way off in the distance a long snaky line of at least 600 Pink-feet headed towards the coast from somewhere further up the Yare Valley. 

Pink-feet - a hazy line

Both Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer appeared to graze and we even saw one of each Owl as we drove back out while flocks of noisy Fieldfares were coalescing in the Hawthorns prior to heading off to roost.  Dusk came quickly.



Friday 27 October 2023

Brazil with Bird's Wildlife & Nature - 14th and 15th June 2023

14th June:  Unbelievably it was even colder when we got up at Jardim and headed out on our final walk before lunch. Ten centigrade required four layers! The forest was quiet and subdued and Eduardo was disappointed with our tally but for us it was still a memorable morning with another ten new finds.  

A male Purple Throated Euphonia 

Ant-thingies were again a main feature with 11 species encountered of which White-Shouldered and Amazonian Antshrikes and Rusty Antwren were firsts and we got better views of Amazonian Streaked Antwrens and Rondonia Warbling Antbird too. A Grey Crowned Flycatcher popped into view and Chivi Vireo (a split from Red-eyed), Reddish Hermit and Grey-chested Greenlet all moved through the trails although at least the latter showed for more than a couple of seconds!

A very large shiny black Ant but did not feel like a Bullet?

I rescued this large Wasp from a puddle


A very large flowered, spiny leaves and stemmed Solanum that resembles S pyrancanthus but isn't!

One of the red Passionflowers 

A very large Shieldbug - note the paucity of bird pictures!

Grey-chested Greenlet

Grey-chested Greenlet

Rondonia Warbling Antbird - it was very gloomy

A large Tanager flock gave us even better views of Swallow, Yellow-backed and Flame Crested and a pair of Pink-throated Becards were equally showy in the same foraging party.  Olivaceous, Straight-billed and Buff-throated Woodcreepers were all in one small area and the Point-tailed Palmcreepers were poking around the palm crowns in two spots and both Nunbirds were in parties gleaning the trails which were peppered with fresh Tapir tracks.  

For the first time all trip we had to navigate some tall grass and thankfully I was back marking and avoided picking up the heaving bundles of microscopic ticks questing from the very tips!  Once out the other side of this ten meter stretch there was some frantic taping of trousers and waist bands with a roll that Eduardo always carried with him. 

Ticklets - try not to think about it

We finished up with wonderful views of a small party of Santaren Parakeets in a marshy area where Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets dashed out from the emergent small trees and Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrants and Bar-breasted Piculets searched for food alongside Rufous Tailed Jacamars that dwarfed them.  

Santaren Parakeet

Santaren Parakeet

Rufous Tailed Jacamar

Rufous Tailed Jacamar

Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet - notice how fluffed up everything was

 Bar-breasted Piculet

 Bar-breasted Piculet

Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant - the smallest passerine in the world

Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrants

All the Swallows were all finding it very taxing once again while a female Chestnut-bellied Seedeater was a surprise as it moved around the vines where several dejected Swallow-wings were sat huddled.

Grey Breasted Martins - not happy

Grey Breasted Martins

Grey Breasted Martins

White-winged Swallows were a little bit more chipper!

Swallow-wing Puffbird - miserable!

Shiny Cowbird and Rusty Margined Flycatcher

Drab Water Tyrant

Greater Yellow-headed Vulture

Ringed Kingfisher

Before too long it was time for lunch and the final pack and then we bid our farewells to the magical Jardim before hitting the long and tedious road back to Cuiaba and our first flight towards home.

There were some birds to be seen with Toco Toucans, Eared Doves, Greater Rheas, Southern Crested Caracaras and Blue and Yellow Macaws and a sneak couple of Least Grebes found their way onto the burgeoning list.

Rain descended before dark and we boarded to São Paulo in a downpour and then left the plane with the heavens still releasing their payload.  It was cold and after midnight as we were driven to our hotel for the night.  The noise and lights of the city and the vertical rain made for a restless final night.

15th June:  Homeward bound after breakfast in São Paulo but we all did balcony watching and despite the weather still found more birds!  Plain Parakeets picked the pink trumpet flowers and the usual Great Kiskadees and Chalk-browed Mockingbirds were flycatching with Palm and Sayaca Tanagers, after an emergence of May-type flies while Pale Breasted and Rufous Bellied Thrushes probed the lawns.  Swallow-tailed and Glittering Bellied Emeralds sat dejected and damp and Blue and White Swallows zipped through the trees.  A Common Gallinule became the very last new bird of the trip taking us to a fantastic 418 species.

Plain Parakeets

Pale Breasted Thrush

Chalk-browed Mockingbird

Our journey home via Madrid was fairly painless after a truly memorable experience.  Visiting three such diverse habitats meant that there was always something new and exciting to see.  But it was not just about the birds.  With Jaguars, Capybaras, Caiman, primates, a kaleidoscope of Butterflies and other inverts, wonderful orchids, tasty food and great company; it was a trip to cherish.  Our thanks to the mighty Eduardo Patrial and our seemingly tireless driver Amilton for making the venture as seamless as possible.