Monday, 3 October 2011

A Weekend in Suffolk........

Friday morning (30th Sept), we drove to our friends house right next to the RSPB's North Warren reserve near Aldeburgh in Suffolk. After some gorgeous home-made terrine and a refreshing beer, we walked over to the reserve. North Warren always looks promising to me and does turn up some good birds, today though it was a little quiet to start with and we did a circuit that took us away from the reserve and back in at another entrance, there are paths everywhere up here and the length of your walk can be whatever you want. Off the reserve a LITTLE OWL showed well in the sunlight but a bit too far for a picture to do the bird justice and 6 CURLEW flew on to Aldeburgh golf course as we headed back to the reserve.

Little Owl
Once on the reserve more Curlew could be heard, the odd CHIFFCHAFF called and a few SISKINS were flying over as they probably are everywhere at the moment. Finding the bench in the north east corner that overlooks the reed bed we sat for a while as the sun disappeared behind the trees, a female MARSH HARRIER dropped in partly to roost maybe and partly to get away from the attentions of a couple of local crows. We could hear WATER RAIL and BEARDED TIT while we sat on the bench and a HOBBY zipped by in front of us. With time pressing on and a pint of Adnams and some Fish and Chips from the 6th best establishment in the country calling (according to The Times), we headed back. Very good they were too.

Marsh Harrier, North Warren

Saturday, we watched England just get passed the post against the Scots, then headed off to Westleton Heath for quite a long walk across Dunwich down to the sluice at Minsmere and then through reserve, completing the circuit back at Westleton to watch the Red Deer Rut. It was again fairly quiet, though several Red Deer were seen on our way across Dunwich and DARTFORD WARBLERS were still making a lot of noise as they were two weeks ago when I was up here, accompanied by at least 3 STONECHATS.
Red Deer

A few BRENT GEESE flew south just inside the thick sea mist, a couple did get a little closer to shore. The scrape was again full of BARNACLE GEESE, joined by a fair number of CANADAS and GREYLAGS now. I saw one BEARDED TIT and heard a couple of others but they didn't pose, a LITTLE EGRET did show well but I had the camera on the wrong setting and didn't make the most of it!

Brent Geese

Little Egret

Barnacle Geese
It was a beautiful walk helped, obviously, by the stunning weather. The last stop was the Red Deer rut. The deer were seen distantly, not really doing much, there was a very impressive Stag, who looked like he didn't have much in the way of opposition, as in other blogs, things hadn't really got going yet. As we left the 'rut', I spotted a WHINCHAT on top of the heather and 6 WOODLARKS flew over, a very nice way to end the day. Sunday was another belter of a day, we took our time deciding on a walk and came up with Walberswick and the edge of the Blythburgh Estuary. Within a few minutes of being there we came across a good mixed flock, which included lots of LONG TAILED TITS, 1 COMMON REDSTART, a couple of CHIFFCHAFF and a surprise DARTFORD WARBLER. A WOODLARK flew over a bit later on and after taking a wrong turn somewhere, we found a WHEATEAR and had stunning but brief views of 2 KINGFISHERS, one of which hovered momentarily in front of us, I'm glad I didn't grow up in America when cowboys were around, I wouldn't have lasted long, my camera didn't even leave my side before the birds were gone!!

Long Tailed Tit

Dartford Warbler
We had almost reached the raised bank to the estuary when I decided to check my phone, which I kept on silent for the walk, the first message I had was from Stephen, the Sandhill Crane was showing at North Warren!!!!! then a text from Steve advising the bird was on Sudbourne Marshes, I casually mentioned this to Dick and it was about turn!! By around 3.30pm, after noting COMMON BUZZARD on the journey, we were watching, what I believe is Britains fourth SANDHILL CRANE, a lifer for me, giving very good scope views, it looked happy feeding in the ploughed field, considering how much the bird has been moving over the last few days, I was pleased it hung around long enough to get to see it. I have, laughably, put on a photo, more to say I was there, certainly not to show off my camera skills or lack of!!

What a great finish to a great weekend, good company, good food, good walks, good weather and good birds, perfect.
Thanks to Dick, Jan and Bec for letting me end a nice walk so abruptly and thanks to Stephen and Steve for the messages :-)


Adam said...

Right place, right time. You lucky so and so!


Anonymous said...

Great photos, Alan. And well done on connecting with the Crane.

Steve Ashton said...

A good account Alan of what sounds like a very good weekend. The weather was glorious and to have the Crane drop in on your doorstep so to speak, topped it off nicely. Well done, I like the Dartford Warbler shots.

Phil said...

You might not be quick on the draw Alan but you certainly paint a good picture. Very nice account and well done getting the Crane!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Adam, I was lucky, I've missed the last 3 birds I've looked for so this was very welcome :-)

Hi Dean, Thanks, I couldn't believe my luck!!

Hi Steve, Thanks, I thought I was going to be out of luck as it seemed as though the Crane was going to be moving on from site to site.

Hi Phil, Thanks, it was a really enjoyable weekend, I'm looking forward to visiting our friends again over the winter period maybe.

Warren Baker said...

hi Alan,
I dont think that little trip could have gone any better could it, unless you bought the winning lottery ticket while there !!!

Well done mate :-)

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Warren, Cheers, Maybe I should have got one!! That was my second UK tick this year, they are getting harder to come by these days.

Greenie said...

Alan ,
Great account of a great trip .
Shame the rut wasn't happening , I think the high temps have mucked things up . Tried Knole again this morning - nothing .

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Greenie, Thanks, I was looking forward to the rut, I was around last autumn and heard the bellowing and clash of antlers.
I wondered if it was the temperature that was having an effect, maybe by the end of this week things will change?