Sunday 5 November 2023

Lowestoft Life - 31st October - 5th November 2023

Halloween was quite a bright day so I pottered down to Pakefield Beach. Ten Long-tailed Tits foraged with some Blue and Great Tits and a couple of Goldcrests but no stripy sprites were to be found.  There were plenty of Robins though and a single brief Mealy Redpoll and the Blackbirds were still coveting the few Haws left.



Wood Pigeon


Wood Pigeon

Nerines seem to be a very popular Suffolk late autumn flower bed species and there were still several banks of gleaming pink.

Back at home the first Long-tailed Tits moved through the front of house Limes and the moth trap held four Light Brown Apple Moths, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Silver-Y and Rusty Dot Pearl with both Common and Beautiful Plumes in the garden herbage while Eristalis tenax and both Bombus pascuorum and terrestris were on the last of the Yarrow and Purple Toadflax.

A Chestnut from my garden on the 27th 

and an Oak Rustic from Antony's

Four adult Mute Swans whistle winged over the house late afternoon adding another to the growing list.

The 1st November dawned very windy as the start of Storm Ciaran made its way up the Channel and I spent a very productive session from 0930-1000 down at Pakefield Beach sheltering in the lee of the big Sycamore.  Birds were moving and two imm drake Goosander and a Guillemot close along the beach were both PB ticks and I finished with 179 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 24 Wigeon, six Teal, male Mallard, five Scoter, 54 Gannet, and a good selection of waders too with 262 Dunlin, 37 Knot, Purple Sandpiper and Curlew.  Eighty Starlings arrived in off along with a single Skylark while 20 Greenfinch were foraging on the beach were there were a few less dog walkers than usual.

The storm hit overnight but the urge to look at the sea was overwhelming and Antony and I were at the Links Road car park by 0950 on the 2nd November and but jauntily positioning the car we were able to have the windows down and scan the raging sandy brown sea from the comfort of the car while the rain lashed down and the wind shook the vehicle like a tenacious last autumn leaf .

Little Gulls were the ‘thing’ for the session with at least 81 seen getting blown north over the frothy cappuccino waves.  Many seemed to be coming from just behind us and I think they were being pushed slightly inland from Ness Point (where the breaking waves were towering over the sea wall!) before fighting back to the sea half a mile north. Everything else was going south and we notched up three Kittiwakes, Med Gull, Red-throated Diver, 22 Brent Geese, 12 Scoter, six Shelduck, seven Tufted Duck, five Golden Plover, Grey Plover, two Dunlin and six Knot.  The effortless way that most of these birds battled into the wind was a joy to watch.  A ball of 200 Starlings made it in but only just, skimming the waves to reach landfall – another miraculous journey accomplished.

Later on I gave Pakefield Beach a go between 1530 and 1550 before torrential rain forced a retreat but I did see my first local Yellow-legged Gull – a third winter and five Little Gulls and a Common Scoter headed south.

The day after a big storm is often the time to find the windblown strays so I dragged myself down to Pakefield Beach and was ensconced at my spot by 0655.  It was still windy but there was little moving but it was worth my hour with a cracking 1w female Velvet Scoter flying along the beach and into the bay.  She was not the Mutford Lock bird as she was paddling around Hamilton Dock at the same time.

Velvet Scoter

A 1w Caspian Gull flew by and six Little Gulls twisted in and out of the waves along the sand bar while out to sea there were literally hundreds of Cormorants heading out to feed somewhere to the south and I reckon at least 600 were present. Three Wigeon and a female Common Scoter were also seen along with two juvenile Brent Geese that were initially on the beach before relocating to the greensward on top of the cliffs where they fed amongst the dog walkers with no fear whatsoever.  Hopefully they would know when to move off.  They were very approachable and the storm must have separated them from the their parents leaving them without their invaluable survival advice.

Brent Geese

Brent Geese - Antony Wren

Both Mealy and Lesser Redpoll were seen along with two Siskin, ten Meadow Pipits and a bounding Grey Wagtail.

Back at home a vocal Grey Heron was new and a late female Tachina fera was briefly potted so that I could look at claw to last foot segment ratios to discover if I had found the almost identical species recently found in Suffolk!

Tachina fera

Tachina fera

Saturday was an entertaining friends at home day which allowed some time to pop out for a while this morning.  We started at Mutford Lock where the female Velvet Scoter conveniently flew in as we turned up and put on a star performance for us along with an immature Shag that we subsequently found out is an Isle of May colour ringed bird.  A Kingfisher dashed under the bridge and a Little Egret was trying to follow the movements of the Shag along the shore in the hope of fry being pushed to within striking distance.

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter


Little Egret

On to Links Road for a look at the sea which was flat calm.  A few Gannets and Cormorants were all we managed for our efforts along with a single Curlew and Brent Goose and a calling Snow Bunting that snuck past us.  Several Med Gulls were loafing around as usual.

Ness Point only held the roving Bird’s Eye Turnstone flock but no Purple Sandpipers and we were then lured away to look for a flock of local Waxwings that had already moved once again but I am sure that they will settle in this winter given the numbers drifting south at the moment.


A cup of coffee at Carlton Marshes and then a walk down towards Peto’s.  The marsh was lacking in any wildfowl at all which was odd but we did see a few Lapwing and a single Snipe along with quite a few raptors with five female type Marsh Harriers, three Buzzards, two Red Kites and a Kestrel. 

A Cetti’s Warbler called and a pair of Stonechats were flycatching from a bramble clump where the ginger backs of Chinese Water Deer grazed without concern.

Two Great White Egrets slow chased each other across the marsh as we said our farewells to the North Kent Lesvos Massive.

Fireworks were followed by some local Aurora chasing and either our eyes and phones were rubbish or it was hiding from us as all we found was a fantastic snaking Milky Way stretched across the heavens.

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