Friday 3 May 2024

Lowestoft Life - 26th April - 2nd May 2024

 26th April

News of a White-tailed Eagle on the deck at Carlton Marshes had me hotfooting it in that direction (ok – needed a lift due to a frozen shoulder) and a pleasant walk allowed me to miss it by a few minutes.  That walk down is just soooo long at times!

However there was plenty to see with Grasshopper, Reed, Sedge, Cetti’s and Willow Warbler all in song and Cuckoo and Swift were new to my fictional British year list. Down at Petos two Bitterns were booming and three Whimbrel were on the scrapes along with two Snipe, Avocets, Lapwings and Redshank.  There was no sign of the Green-winged Teal with the normal ones.  I ambled back picking up my first Variable Damselfly and Hairy Hawker and big fat Mesembrina meridiana.

Chinese Water Deer

Mesembrina meridiana

As is typical with this lovely reserve, the Eagle reappeared in the distance as I got back to the car. Oh well.  The late afternoon was spent at the Outlaws caravan in Bucklesham where Swallows performed circuits and Brown Hares were in the fields.  The journey back allowed a pop into Saxmundham where the 18 posh Waxwings were feasting on Cotoneaster berries behind Waitrose. I thought I had missed my chance to see them this winter.  Never expected them in late April.

27th April

A cold wet day but I managed an hour between three and four at Pakefield Beach.  It was heaving with dog walkers despite the weather so I decided to concentrate on the sea.  It was murky and quiet but I did see 28 adult – near adult Gannets, ten Kittiwakes and seven Great Black-backed Gulls going north along with my first Fulmar for my patch that cruised along the beach. Odd that I got one over the house before the coastal patch.

Sycamore barely budding yet

29th April

Time in the garden today.  It is really starting to come together and it just needs some warmth to bring things on.  Anthophora plumpies were still cruising around along with my first garden Osmia bicornis and I can safely say that ‘birds’ are now a part of the garden scene.

30th April

I had arranged to meet up with the Whitfields for a day on the Suffolk coast and we began down at the Martello Tower at Slaughden for a lengthy walk around Aldeburgh Town Marsh.  I had only ever looked over it from the seawall before so it was a venture into the unknown.  It was bright and cool with just a hint of warmth and we ambled around the site until lunchtime.  About 30 Whimbrel were dotted across fields in small groups and their whistles were a constant backdrop sound along with Reed and Sedge Warblers chattered in the ditches where Bearded Tits pinged and moved back and forth with food for the nest.  One male even did the decent thing and perched up for us.


Four pairs of Stonechats were found but no Wheatears or Whinchats, and Yellow Wagtails flew over calling but we never saw even one but Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits were more obliging. Marsh Harriers were quartering and a Great White Egret was on the other side of the river where two Spoonbills also drifted purposefully south.  On the river itself we found three each of Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwits and a single rusty Bar-tailed Godwit fed with the latter allowing a useful at distance shape comparison.  Med Gulls headed south towards Halvergate and could be heard long before we saw them.

Meadow Pipit

Reed Bunting


A male Dotterel had been present the previous day and we got lucky and the birder in front us re-found it just before we got to him.  It was on the edge of a muddy pool and after a cursory look at us with those big dark eyes he promptly went to sleep.  I am not sure if this is my first in Suffolk? 

With it looking like he was settled down for a while we carried along the wall where it was just warm enough for Gooden’s Nomad Bees and St Mark’s Flies to be feeding on the Dandelions.  The route back towards town took us through some hedge lined meadows where Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were heard and the allotments at the end were home to a rattling Lesser Whitethroat which even perched up in a Willow for us.  The allotments back straight onto the marshes and I can only imagine the invert life on a warm day.

Gooden’s Nomad Bee

Helophilus pendulus

St Mark's Flies

Sea Aster flowering...

Endothenia gentianaeana

We cut back through the middle once again and a pair of Jackdaws were out collecting nest material.  Both appeared to be Nordic birds with obvious white half collars.  It seems like small numbers of these eastern birds are now resident around here – I saw a couple in Lowestoft last summer too.

Myathropa florea

Nordic Jackdaw

Nordic Jackdaw

Lunch was taken at Thorpness Mere with Sand Martins zipping around but it was beginning to cloud up and cool down but we stuck it out on the benches which did allow us to watch a male Mandarin rather incongruously chasing a pair of Wood Ducks!

Walberswick next for a quick look at the sea.  I was hoping that the Scoter flock would be offshore.  It was but probably a mile and half south and half a mile out – mere haze dots so there was no chance of the Surf Scoter.  Eight Common Scoters were closer in and an adult Kittiwake and four Sandwich Terns were seen while two Whimbrel were in the tidal pools.

Back inland to Westwood Marshes where a now chilly walk in the woods was disturbingly quiet with almost no birds of any sort – just the odd Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.  Two Nightingales sang down near the marsh edge and from the middle track we saw Bearded Tits and had great views of Marsh Harriers.  I could see the Scoter flock off the distant beach – oh well.

A variant plant in the stands of Brooms

Cream Spot Ladybird

With the light fading we rounded it up with a cute a little Cucumber Orb Spider on the car.

1st May

Sunshine!  A potter up into the Broads saw me stopping at Ormesby Little Broad for a walk down the trail. A Garden Warbler serenaded me from the car park – still one of my favourite songs of the summer.  Large Red and Variable Damselflies were basking and there was a good selection of Butterflies with three Whites, Orange Tips, Peacocks and Red Admirals.

Variable Damselfly

Variable Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Down at the Broad I tried not disturb a lovely lady doing her meditation and waited till she had finished before stepping into the platform.  It was very tranquil down there with just the Reed Warblers and Great Crested Grebes drifting across the water while a Greenshank circled high above on its way to the northern peat bogs.


Green Alkanet

Lunch at Waxham Barns (but not in them this time) and then a very warm sheltered walk along the inside of the dunes. The Alexanders were full of insect life and many of the flies were sunning themselves on the Brambles too.  I found nine Hoverfly species, three Bumblebees and loads of Sarcs and Calliphora as well as eight Butterflies including my first Brimstones of the year!  Large Red Damselflies were the only Odonata. Silver-Y, Green Longhorn and Nettle Tap moths were seen.

Eristalinus sepulchralis

Eupeodes luniger

Calliphora vicina

St Mark's Fly

Harlequin Ladybirds

Red Admiral

Red & Black Leafhopper


Nettle Tap

Harlequin Ladybird

Red Campion



Both Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing but there were no obvious migrants while well inland towards Horsey I could hear duetting Cranes and could imagine them posturing and dancing.  With the coast road closed towards Horsey I had to loop back into Hickling. I always drive slowly down this road in the hope of one day finding Cranes in the marshy, sedgy fields.  Today was that day and an adult was quietly rooting for tubers at the back of the one that had Cattle Egrets in the winter.  Willow Warblers in the Birches sent me home with a smile.






Mothing at home for the last few nights has been slow but several new species have been seen with my first Least Black Arches, Bright-line Brown Eye, Pale Prominent and Muslin Moth taking the garden list to 134.

Least Black Arches

Double Striped Pug

Bright-line Brown-eye


Pale Mottled Willow


Garden Carpet

Yellow Barred Brindle


Pale Prominent

Early Grey

Nicrophorus humator - a very stinky Carrion Beetle

Pyrochroa serraticornis - another garden first

2nd May

I was up early to do the moth trap and hearing a Lesser Whitethroat rattle from somewhere off towards Britten Park for the garden list before dragging myself off to North Cove and Castle Marshes for a walk in the solitude of the damp woodland. The sun was just hitting the fence beyond the railway and it was covered in basking flies and in a couple of sessions here and on the surrounding Nettles I found 11 Hoverfly species, lots of Musca autumnalis, Calliphora and Sarcophaga and several others that I was confident to actually put names to!  There were four Bumblebee species, Common Wasps and several Nomada flava while Common Lizards seemed more interested in warming up than eating the flies within easy reach.

Baccha elongata

Cheilosia variabilis

Cheilosia variabilis

Eristalis pertinax

Helophilus hybridus

Helophilus pendulus

Meliscaeva auricollis

Rhingia campestris

Calliphora vicina

Eudasyphora cyanella

Eudasyphora cyanella

Graphomya maculata

Lucilia sp

Mesembrina meridiana

Musca autumnalis - female

Musca autumnalis

Phaonia sp

Sarcophaga sp

Sarcophaga sp

Scathophaga furcata is most likely

Bombus pascuorum

Bombus terrestris

Common Wasp

Nomada flava

Large Red Damselfly 

Large Red Damselfly 

Large Red Damselfly 

Common Lizard and Helophilus pendulus

Common Lizard

Common Lizard

Cucumber Green Orb Spider - Araniella cucurbitina ss

Pisaura mirabilis

Seven Spot Ladybird

The loop through the woods gave me three pairs of Marsh Tit, a pair of Bullfinch and a very vocal Cuckoo which started up whilst I was taking a picture of Cuckoo flower. It was shadier in there and there were less insects but I did find a Hairy Hawker and a fat Tachina fera.

Cuckoo flower


Great Tit

Marsh Tit

Adela reaumurella

Nettle Tap

This immaculate Poplar Hawkmoth was initially tangled in some web before I moved it.

Eyelash Cup

Tachina fera
Wandering Snail

A Grass Snake slunk alongside a ditch and was my first for some time although I then found a second one as I walked out onto Castle Marshes. 

Grass Snake #1

Grass Snake #2

A Water Vole went plop and Sedge Warblers were spaced out along the path side with Stonechats and displaying Meadow Pipits out over the sedgy meadows where a single Lapwing displayed.  Unusually I did not see a Marsh Harrier but was happy with my first Hobby of the year and another Cuckoo. Down at the Waveney there were Variable Damselflies in the reeds with Red & Black Leafhoppers, Pyrochroa serraticornis, Blue Shieldbug, Pisaura mirabilis, Alder-flies and some mobile Red Admirals, Orange Tips and Green Veined Whites.

Sedge Warbler

Gulliver and the Gull Wing

Variable Damselfly

Variable Damselfly

Red & Black Leafhopper

Pisaura mirabilis

Xysticus sp


Pyrochroa serraticornis

Blue Shieldbug

Lipara lucens

Common Lizard

A lazy day before heading south to Walberswick with Mr Wren at 4pm for a rather speculative look for the Surf Scoter.  The Common Scoter flock was exactly where I saw it on Tuesday but we enthusiastically yomped along the shingle to get closer.  To our surprise the flock not only came closer but we actually picked up this immature drake with some ease as they bobbed up and down in the heavy swell.

Twelve Gannets, eight Kittiwake and 42 Sandwich Terns headed north and eight Whimbrel were on the beach pools where a Short-eared Owl was quartering.  A very dead Porpoise was somewhat ripe once we got past it and we only spent time looking at the fabulous beach flora on the way back once we had got back past it!

Double flapping in a puddle

Sand Sparrows


Sea Pea

Sea Cabbage

Sandwich Terns

With mission accomplished we headed for home.

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