Monday, 26 May 2014

Back on patch and a photography present :-)


Pictures first for a change :-)

Swallow

Garden Warbler

An intent looking Little Owl

Large Red Damselfly

Mediterranean Gull
The patch has been neglected over the past couple of weeks, so the list has no doubt suffered, I know I have missed another Red Kite at least! I did manage to add 4 HOUSE MARTINS (82) at the end of a guided walk back on the May 12th. Since coming back from Suffolk, I have managed a couple of walks, a CUCKOO (83) calling early on the 23rd was good, I was starting to wonder if I would get one on the patch this year. On Saturday from the house a couple of MEDITERRANEAN GULLS flew north and seemed to go down nearby. A walk Sunday morning produced 47 species which included KINGFISHER, LITTLE OWL, COAL TIT, a singing REED BUNTING. I also came across a family of NUTHATCHES and found a second nest with young in being fed regularly. The highlight was finally finding SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (84) although just one which is slightly worrying as we normally have at least three pairs here. There were a few Damsels and Dragons around, Beautiful Demoiselle, Blue tailed Damselfly, Large Red and Azure as well as well as a Four Spotted Chaser and several Downy Emeralds. Butterflies were scarce though with  just an Orange Tip, Brimstone and about 4 Common Blues. Back at home and 11 MED GULLS dropped into a field opposite us giving a chance for a couple of pics.

On Friday I attended a photography course that my Wife bought for me for my birthday back in December. The course was on how to take pictures of birds in flight and how to set-up etc.. It was a really enjoyable day and not sure how much I retained from the day but certainly it was good practice and I did use a different set-up to the one I normally use and will give it a go in the coming weeks. Here are a few results from the day......











Saturday, 24 May 2014

Suffolk Secrets....

There aren't really any secrets but the title is the name of the company we booked a little flat in Aldeburgh with, for our stay in the area from the 17th- 22nd May. An early morning walk after a five star Fish and Chip supper on Saturday night proved pretty productive. We walked towards Thorpeness and cut in onto the North Warren reserve. LITTLE EGRETS fed in the shallow lagoons and SEDGE, REED and CETTI'S WARBLERS all sung in the first few hundred yards, best of all was the BEARDED TITS whizzing across the reeds regularly and dropping into to what must have been their nest site. Along the disused railway line NIGHTINGALE, GARDEN WARBLER and BLACKCAP were all heard. The reedbed area was also very busy 4 HOBBY, 1 BITTERN seen flying flying low across reeds and a couple of MARSH HARRIER completed the scene. Later in the day a SANDERLING and a WHIMBREL were seen during a stroll along the beach.

Hobby just about to take an unfortunate dragonfly!!

Our next long walk was the Sailors Path heading from Snape Maltings back towards Aldeburgh, this wasn't quite as long as we had anticipated as an early morning 5 mile run had taken it's toll!!!!!  Despite the aching limbs we walked probably another 5 miles or so. A NIGHTINGALE was heard near Snape Warren where a WOODLARK was found with a beak full of food and a DARTFORD WARBLER called a couple of times otherwise it was fairly quiet but I did enjoy good views of GREEN HAIRSTREAK butterflies something I don't see often and a couple of CUCKOOS were calling on and off. An early evening visit to Hen Reed Beds near Southwold added a second BITTERN in as many days.
Green Hairstreak - Snape Warren

One of my favourite walks was the one we did Tuesday, we parked on Westleton Heath and walked on to Dunwich Heath followed by Minsmere to the Island Mere hide. There is always a lot to see from the large herd of RED DEER to DARTFORD WARBLERS and WOODLARK to AVOCETS, BITTERNS, HARRIERS and HOBBIES not forgetting a few SOUTHERN MARSH ORCHIDS. We missed Adder which I was hoping for and also missed the Purple Heron that appeared later in the day.
Dartford Warbler - Westleton Heath


Woodlark - Dunwich Heath

Sand Martins - nesting near the Minsmere Visitor Centre

The other thing I was really hoping to see was OTTER, so at around 5am Wednesday I walking to Island Mere Hide again and was going to stay there for approximately 3 hours with just Otter in mind. I arrived to find a couple in the hide who had seen Otter at 4.30am!!! this is a familiar story for me and Otters, by 7 am they left with no more sightings, although we had seen BITTERN in flight 7 times including 3 in the air at once and had been continuously serenaded by booming Bitterns, Bearded Tits and Water Rails. I stayed in the hide and at 7.25 a ripple on the left caught my eye then nothing..... until a couple of minutes later when my first OTTER came into view! brilliant!! not fantastic views but that didn't matter.
The last action of the break was another walk around North Warren where a HARRIS HAWK sat on the edge of the marsh and most excitingly a TURTLE DOVE flew through.
One of several Bitterns seen while waiting for Otters

Not exactly sure what this male Marsh Harrier had caught but a hearty meal, possibly a Little Grebe??

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Patch additions for the year

Dad got his first GARDEN WARBLER (79) on the 23rd April, I picked up one a few days later on the 27th. Several have now arrived, as summer migrants continue to slowly be added to the year list. A busy period at work meant very few visits last week and my first proper walk was yesterday morning. I did get an interesting report from a local lady of an Albino Heron in the week which flew up out of the stream, the lady knows Little Egret and has seen many, so was happy that this bird was much too big, Great White Egret? Who knows but always interesting to hear what other people are seeing and either way I would have been happy to see that.
So back to yesterday, the RED LEGGED PARTRIDGES were seen again, 2 pairs of SWALLOWS are now in residence and a pair of REED BUNTINGS were by the lake also a pair BULLFINCH flew up from here. A KINGFISHER flew from near the moat and the WILLOW WARBLER was still in song from its favoured spot, still not sure if it has found a mate though. The first of 2 NIGHTINGALES was seen and heard near the stream, the second was just off Digdog Lane and was shared with a couple who had never seen one before, most enjoyable for the three of us. Another chat with a regular walker around the castle revealed he had seen a Coot a week or so ago, another bird I haven't connected with yet this year here.
The second walk of the day, in the afternoon with Bec, started well when a HONEY BUZZARD (80) was seen over Park Field it drifted north being harassed by crows. Finally I found a Common Blue Damselfly and what I think is a Beautiful Demoiselle the first this year. A few butterflies were around 3 BRIMSTONE, 1 ORANGE TIP, 4 SMALL WHITE and  2 SMALL TORTOISESHELL. The last action of the day was 2 SWIFT (81) heading north before we headed home, 48 species today, some good weather and meeting some nice people made it extremely enjoyable.

Cold Play...............




Beautiful Demoiselle?

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Fleeting Dunge visit

Waking at 5am, I decided to get up and head for Dungeness. I was undecided whether to seawatch first or look for the Black Winged Stilts reported yesterday, as they would be a Kent tick for me. In the end I made the wrong decision and parked in the ARC car park and walked onto the reserve heading for the hayfields. I did see my first CUCKOO of the year and there were SEDGE WARBLERS and COMMON WHITETHROATS everywhere. I added RAVEN, 4 MED GULLS and several BEARDED TITS but there were no Stilts and in fact no waders at all on the hayfields. Eventually I headed for the sea stopping off on the causeway between ARC and New Diggings, there were good numbers of Terns. Among them was 1 LITTLE TERN, 2 BLACK TERNS and at least 1 ARCTIC TERN with the rest being COMMON TERNS, a really nice stop, before heading off to the sea news came through that the Stilts were back on the hayfield! I met up with Neil, Jan and Paul and enjoyed good views of the BLACK WINGED STILTS (2) plus a WOOD SANDPIPER and LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. In hindsight I could have seawatched for a couple of hours before looking for the Stilts but it was good to be out and about, away from the local patch for a change. A couple of shots from today.....
Sedge Warbler

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat




Black Winged Stilts
 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Another catch-up

It is still a struggle to find new arrivals here at the moment but they are still coming, COMMON WHITETHROATS (75) are now up to 4 and there are now 2 NIGHTINGALES in residence. SWALLOW numbers are also up a bit and finally at the weekend a pair look like they will stay. The best recent bird was on an early weekday walk with Pete, when a LITTLE GREBE (76) was seen being chased by a MOORHEN, it disappeared quickly and I haven't seen it since but it's the first one since 2010.
There were mixed fortunes at the weekend, an early walk Saturday was very quiet and I struggled to get to around 30 species. Yesterday improved with a couple of walks the first new bird for the year was a fine male WHEATEAR (77) which stayed around most of the day and after waiting patiently I managed a couple of pics. There were 87 WOODPIGEON on the fields with good numbers of Corvids and a few STOCK DOVE. Further around the walk a LESSER WHITETHROAT (78) was quietly moving through a mature hedgerow. Several butterflies were on the wing ORANGE TIPS, SMALL TORTS, PEACOCK, SMALL WHITE and the first SPECKLED WOOD of the year.
Still no Cuckoo, Garden Warbler or House Martin but still plenty of time, also no dragonflies yet although at home a couple of Hairy Dragonflies flew through the garden.
A few pics from recent visits.....

Pheasant

This Little Egret dropped by briefly

Yellowhammer



Pleasing to find a spring Wheatear and for the light to be good

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The last couple of weeks

It has been hard work inland with nothing changing much, until the last couple of days here, what was pleasing was a singing WILLOW WARBLER (71) that has now been singing in the same spot for around 10 days, it would be great if it found a mate as Willow Warbler hasn't bred here for at least 5 years maybe more. Things changed on Friday 11th when the first NIGHTINGALE (72) sang from one of the favoured spots, soon after hearing it 2 SWALLOWS (73) flew north. The morning was completed by a GREEN SANDPIPER (74) from the hide, a great hour before work!
This morning there were 2 NIGHTINGALES, 2 WILLOW WARBLERS and 13 SWALLOWS flew north in three groups. Otherwise a REED BUNTING was at the lake, the first for some time also seen this morning and not seen for while was a fine male KESTREL, I was starting to think both these birds had deserted the patch as I hadn't seen either of them for almost 2 months! SPARROWHAWK was also good to see after not being seen for a while. Below are a few pics from he last couple of weeks.


Jay

Amorous Jays

Great Tit

Ladybird



Nuthatch

This mornings Sparrowhawk

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Calm before the storm?

It's been a fairly quiet time on the patch although to be honest I haven't visited as much as I would like. CHIFFCHAFFS are around in good numbers and the MANDARIN have been seen a few more times after their long absence. The BARNACLE GOOSE (68) that seems to spend most of its time between here and Warrens Pittswood patch has been present on and off over the last week or two. Also a big surprise was the first RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE (69) for at least two years, when a pair flew up from the the field just below the moat, last Wednesday morning. This weekend saw a few LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS flying south with HERRING GULLS yesterday and today the first BLACKCAP (70) on patch was found close to the west end of the upper lake. Other birds have included KINGFISHER, LITTLE EGRET and 7 BUZZARDS yesterday. Here are a couple of pictures from the last week.
Early morning sun

Linnet

Long Tailed Tit

Yellowhammer

Peacock

Barnacle Goose