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.



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