Friday 12 April 2024

Lowestoft Life - 1st - 12th April 2024

I have been back from Sri Lanka nearly two weeks now and have reacclimatized to Lowestoft Life.  I pottered out on the 2nd April down to the Pakefield Beach patch – probably for the first time this year.  The sea was predictably quiet but I did not have much chance for a look as the first of several squalls came through.  A female Black Redstart on the beach was a pleasant distraction from getting wet and the rainbow over the church provided a photo opportunity.

On the 3rd a potter around the Broadland countryside resulted in more plants and some ‘I must be able to find a use for them’ cast iron frames for the garden, a fine crab sandwich at Waxham Barns and three silent but very low Cranes overhead.


The garden has occupied much of my time and it has come on fabulously in my absence with carpets of Dandelions, Cowslips and Primroses amongst the last of the Narcissus and many of the plants I have poked into the ‘lawn’ since August really starting to show through. 

I found a good use for four of the frames as a basis for taller supports for my plants and spent time adding new insects to the garden list with the first Anthophora plumipes zooming around the Pulmonaria, Dark-edged Beeflies on the Bugle and several Hoverfly species including two Eristalis, Eupeodes, Syrphus, Helophilus and Meliscaeva.  Bombus terrestris, pascuorum and lapidarius have all be regular too. Red Admiral, Peacock, Green-veined and Small White and Holly Blue have all popped in while the sun is out.

While I was away the local birds have at last discovered the feeders and I know have hoards of House Sparrows and regular Starlings, the odd Blue Tit and Robin, the Pigeons and pair of Blackbirds that come in every morning for mealworms.  A pair of Siskin even dropped in! Buzzards and Sparrowhawks have been daily and I heard a Moorhen late on the 3rd and Tawny Owl on the night of the 7th but that was Fulmar barrelling over the rooftops on the 8th that took even the local gulls by surprise.  The garden list now stands at 81.

I have been mothing most evenings and although it has been quite slow I have added several new species with Early Grey, Small Quaker, Esperia sulphurella, Twenty Plume and Frosted Green and last night a Great Prominent became the latest addition.  A Diamond-back was presumably a migrant.

Clouded Drab

Clouded Drab, two Early Greys and Hebrew Character

Common Quaker

Early Grey

Frosted Green

Small Quaker

Twenty Plumed Moth

Great Prominent

My birthday weekend revolved around family being up and we popped out to various garden emporiums and such like and even managed another crab sandwich although we opted to share them this time.  The farm shop had more of those metal frames and some metal grills and I sort of filled my car up around my parents for the latter half of the day but it did not prevent my dad snoozing all the way home.

Great Mullein, Giant Yellow Achillea, Scabious, Ox-eye, Purple Toadflax, Betony

On Wednesday 10th I met up with Pat Hart for the first time in ages for a stroll along the coast. It was delightfully calm and warmish at Westleton Common and the Nightingales greeted us upon arrival and at least three males gave superb performances at close range and sometimes fully in the open. 



Woodlarks were singing, originally from the wires and then up overhead with three males competing for the air space.  It will always be one of my favourite songs.  Song Thrushes, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Chaffinches joined in and Brambling called from the Birches.

Calliphora vicina

Eristalis pertinax

Epistrophe eligans

The coconut scent of Gorse infused the whole day

Seven Spot Ladybirds were everywhere

First Green Longhorn of the year - Adela reamurella

After soaking up the Nightingales we moved onto Westleton Heath for another short circuit.  Dartford Warblers were chattering away with the males foraging and singing at the same time.  I think they were enjoying the sunshine. 

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

There were more Woodlarks with some Skylarks in the mix and Linnets and Yellowhammers were dotted around the heath too.  A kettle of gulls had raptors higher up in the same thermal and there were at least ten Buzzards and three Red Kites up there and scanning around showed several more Buzzards and a couple of Sparrowhawks along with a male Goshawk that plummeted into some pines.  Two male Emperor moths were careening around.



We were lucky enough to find a pair of Stone-curlew in a field which was a surprise.  They actually really stood out against the pale flinty soil.  Nightingales sung from the scrubby edges but I was surprised not to hear any Willow Warblers – although I suppose it is still early.


A Tawny Owl did a full hoot from the pines and Common Lizards were basking along the trail edges but try as I might I could not find the singing Goldcrest for the now aurally challenged Pat.  It must be very frustrating for him.  The calls of Med Gulls in the pig fields greeted us back at the cars.

A very large Pond skater on a dew pond

Common Lizard

Minotaur Beetle

Bombus pascuorum on Storksbill

Helophilus pendulus

Early Forget-me-not

On to Minsmere now for a full circuit.  Nightingales greeted our arrival and a Marsh Tit was singing as we drove in and the walk down to the Bittern Hide gave me the chance to find Treecreeper for Pat too.  Orange Tips, Speckled Woods and Whites were on the wing.

Speckled Wood

It only too a few minutes in the hide to pick up a Bittern flying low over the reeds and several were booming around us.  Marsh Harriers were literally everywhere with several on view at all times and we were even lucky enough to see a successful food pass.  Sedge Warblers were fizzing away and we could also hear Water Rails and Little Grebes and the constant ‘kaaaow’ of Med Gulls.

Grey Heron

Sandwich Tern

Med Gull

Looping around to the West and South Hides gave us good views of the breeding Avocets, rich chestnut Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks and Gulls and Sandwich Terns ‘erricked’ above us.  The wind was picking up once again but we still managed to hear Bearded Tits and more booming Bitterns but strangely there were no hirundines.

We had lunch up on the dunes overlooking The Levels.  The now very cool wind was in our faces as we sat with legs dangling off a bench but across the marshes we still managed to find four Great White and eight Little Egrets, displaying Lapwings, a flock of Barnacle Geese and two imposing Cranes with fluffed up bustles.  Wouldn’t it be great if this lingering pair stayed to breed?

Cranes and Barnacle Geese

essence of Great White Egret and Red Deer

The walk back was somewhat brisk as the temperature was dropping quickly in the strengthening wind but an male Adder that was trying to curl up and stay warm was a pleasing find.



After coffee and cake we stopped to look at the Ant-lion pit and for the first time saw some proper action as a Bibio sp fly struggled to avoid capture with only an already deceased Woodlouse helping its cause. 

From here we headed back up to Carlton Marshes (picking up Antony en route) to have a look for the Purple Heron that had been mobile all day.  A thankfully short walk later saw us ensconced in the Tower Hide for a session of scanning.  Luckily for Antony he picked it up not long after we arrived flying along the back but a large Sallow obscured our view and only he saw it.  It never came out the other side.  We soon discovered that any Grey Heron, Great White or Little Egret that flew or walked behind this tree also never emerged - sort of localised spatial anomaly that only affected these species.  Bitterns were obviously immune and two flying episodes included them reappearing out the other side!

It was now ridiculously chilly and we stuck it out till 5.30 before calling it a day.

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