Tuesday 28 November 2023

Lowestoft Life - 28th November 2023

Yesterday was a complete wash out.  It was grim from before dawn to nearly midnight with periodically heavy lashing rain.  I hid indoors and entered stuff onto iRecord and reminisced about summer insects.

Today was glorious but I had to sit in and wait for the gas man to come service our 50 year old back boiler and after it was given the all clear at midday I headed down to Southwold to meet up with the Whitfields for an amble around the town marsh.

Following the exploration by Antony and myself last Thursday I worked out that a full circuit could be done which would take in more of the flooded meadows. We parked up near the water tower and walked down York Road.  The meant that the light was good looking east over the fields and before too long I had located the Lesser Yellowlegs as it fed with its scattered Redshank relatives.

Essence of Lesser Yellowlegs

It was now largely grey and white with a hint of some wing markings and quite a pronounced supercilium while the legs were vivid yellow.  Margaret suggested custard but we had to qualify that with it not being M&S Finest Madagascan Vanilla kind of yellow but more a vivid cheaper Bird’s version…

A single Golden Plover was with the Lapwing and both species gleamed in the low winter sunshine while just a couple of Curlews dotted amongst them this time.  A Cetti’s Warbler called from the reedy ditch but there were no errant Wagtails around the pool margins.  The Carlton Marshes Eastern Yellow Wagtail returned two days after our calling bird here and Bradders had another at Benacre briefly on Saturday.  I just wish we had actually seen it!

Turnstones were mumping crumbs from a chap on a bench down at the river mouth and off shore may have looked calm but the swell was huge and amongst those waves were at least 120 Scoter actively feeding but the light was tricky and I could not find any Velvets.  A single female Eider and three Mergansers headed south along with three Pinkfeet with two Cormorants!

Turnstones and buddy

The walk back on the inside path gave excellent views of the Barnacle Goose flock and we read loads of rings amongst them.  Those two small Greylags were again present although not immediately obvious and it was clear that the bills were also pinker rather than fully orange, especially towards the end where the pale nail was quite obvious.  I have put something out on Twitter so see if anyone else has any thoughts about whether they could be of more northerly origin but they are Greylags and I suspect the post will be glossed over.

The Barnacles were spectacular and although close were suitably cautious of us standing there watching them.  The white glowed golden and the black and dove grey gleamed.  There is something very special about a flock of wild Geese and these naturalised Barnies are no exception.  I will post further once I hear back on some of their origins.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Lowestoft Life - 24th - 25th November 2023

I was down at Pakefield Beach just after dawn yesterday morning. It was cold and short squally showers were moving through but the sea was very quiet with just six Red-throated Divers north, nine Scoter in the Bay and just as I was leaving a flight of ten windblown Barnacle Geese battling north along the beach.  They were picked up at Winterton under an hour later.

The man who feeds the gulls every morning did me a favour and his bread dump gave me a smallish 1w Caspian Gull on the green as a bonus amongst the throng.

Southwold for some Christmas shopping afterwards and it was even colder in the town but a cup of coffee and cheese and marmite brioche whilst watching the sea produced seven surprisingly competent surfers cruising the rollers to the south of the Pier while a dusk visit to Henham for a pants seasonal fair was marginally improved by a Woodcock in the headlights as we left 14 minutes after arriving…

And so to today and another early at Pakefield Beach.  It was even colder (3c apparently) and I could not feel my finger tips after the first ten minutes.  The big waves of last night had undermined the steps at the southern end and they were closed off and there had clearly been a new landslip near the Coastguard look out and the Gulls, Crows and even the Snow Buntings were distantly visible on it with two Sanderling on the beach itself.  Kessingland looked incredibly wet and I later found out that it was impassable north to south due to some new pools.

The sea was quiet once again with just a few Red-throated Divers, 32 Scoter of which 23 were in the Bay once again and three groups totalling 36 Shelduck north were more than I have seen in total since watching here.

A Woodcock headed for shore and made landfall somewhere to the south, looking wonderfully odd as it jinked expertly through the wave tops while I followed two male Blackbirds in for the last half mile of their epic journey willing them to make it safely which both did, ditching into the Elm copse on the beach.  I can’t imagine what goes through their tiny little minds after flying non stop for so long only to reach the safety of a foreign shoreline. Do they experience relief upon landing or is it just the migrational imperative that gets them from A to B with feeding being the first thing that they think of?  A 1w Yellow-legged Gull was on the cliff top green with the feeding frenzy.

The sun had appeared but it was raining too so I abandoned in need of a coffee before then taking myself off to Links Road car park for another look at the sea.  I certainly saw the sea and in fact it came very close to shaking my hand once or twice along the seawall but of bird life there was just a few distant Gannets and the usual snaking flocks of Cormorants.  Unsurprisingly I did not see any Purple Sandpipers and only one Turnstone.

Great Black-backed Gull

From here I cut inland to try and find Oulton Marshes.  The car park was almost full and the rain had returned but I stuck my wellies on and wrapped and headed out for a circuit of this never visited reserve. After glancing at few expected leaf mines, I ended up out on the muddy track through the marshy fields where the ‘winking’ of Pinkfeet could be heard.  Most were grazing in a grassy dip but every now and then you could see rusty brown heads and pinky fronts appear for a look round.  The took flight on frosted wings in several similar sized groups and I tallied 220. To think I only live a couple of miles from here in a straight line and perhaps I will have more over my house as the winter goes on.


The were big Gulls, Little Egrets and Rooks in the field and a Grey Heron spooked several Common Snipe and amazingly two Jack Snipe which, as I have seen happen before when I was at Rainham, are more than happy to climb high and fly far when they feel they need.

A single Chinese Water Deer was noted and two Kestrels were hovering while the area overlooking Peto’s Marsh at Carlton (once I had got my bearings) added five female Marsh Harriers and a very determined Red Kite that was harrying the massed flocks of Wigeon and Teal. 

Marsh Harrier

Red Kite

Red Kite

Red Kite

The cold was getting to me so I followed the path back through a Sallow corridor and the woods that brought me back to the car adding two circling Buzzards, scolding Cetti’s Warbler, Goldcrest and a party of Long-tailed Tits in the process.  The short route home took me past Mutford Lock where a Shag was sitting up on the jetty.

Both mines on Sallow - awaiting the oracle


I had warmed up and settled in for the afternoon I persuaded myself to head back to Pakefield Beach at 1430 on the off chance that they may be something moving as east Norfolk had had a few Little Auks, Puffin, Shearwaters and seaduck.  I had only been there five minutes when I picked up my own Little Auk twirling away inside the sandbank breakers as it headed north. I am not entirely sure when I saw my last one but I always marvel at how tiny and determined they are.  It made it past the big Gulls on the last of the sandbar and disappeared towards Ness Point.

Little Auk

I think that all the sightings today have been going north so they must have gone past in the dark or much further out before working their way back up again.  The three lost juvenile Brent Geese briefly dropped into the green before two hounds sent them off once again and three adult Med Gulls were down on the beach but strangely I have never seen one join in with the bred feeding melee up on top.

Down on the beach there were yellow and blue men (not Minions I think) preventing people from going down the beach towards Kessingland and more where gathered around that landslip I noted earlier and as I type this bomb disposal have just blown up something that was revealed within it.

Let’s see what tomorrow holds.