Saturday, 21 October 2017

Suffolk wildlife walks

Last weekend I had a good excuse for a night out in my camper.  I had arranged to go on a fungus foray on Hollesley Common on the Sunday morning, so with the forecast predicting a calm and mild night I decided I would have a good walk on Saturday afternoon, and camp out Saturday night near to the start of the walk in the morning.

I set out after lunch on Saturday heading in the general direction of Woodbridge, then had the good idea of a walk at Martlesham Creek.  You can do a nice circular walk from the car park near Martlesham church, to the river wall, then back via the boatyard and through the woods.

Across the sheep field to the river Deben

Martlesham Creek

Looking back to the boatyard

It was a lovely afternoon, the sun came out, and I saw a good variety of birds including curlews, little egrets, a flock of around 30 lapwings, and lots of little grebes.  I saw a colour-ringed black-tailed godwit which I reported to the ringing scheme after I returned home, it will be interesting to find out where it has come from.

Spot the Bongo!
Returning to the car park there were some nice big chestnuts, just waiting to be picked up.  They made a nice snack for later.

After driving around Hollesley Common for a while I found the car park where we were meeting the next day, and decided it would make a good overnight wild camping spot.  I was able to tuck the van behind some trees away from the road, so it was not too visible to passers by, and far enough from the road to be fairly quiet.

Bongo in the woods, the road is behind the trees.
I had a cosy, peaceful night except for some noisy owls, and after breakfast had a little stroll in the forest while I was waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

Hollesley Common
We had a very interesting walk, with a very knowledgable guide, and saw a good number of fungi considering that the weather had been very warm and dry.  We found a hornet's nest and a nest of wild honey bees.  There were at least 2 woodlarks singing, confused by the warm weather I think, and we saw where the fallow deer had their rutting ground.  I was invited to see some moths trapped the previous night, which was great - I am thinking of getting a moth trap possibly next year, so it was good to see this one which was home-made and very productive.

I drove on to Butley RSPB car park, where I had lunch, and another walk along the river wall to the ferry slipway.  More curlew, godwits, lapwings etc.  This is usually a good place to see a kingfisher but I was not lucky this time.

Butley Creek

Back home about 4pm, a round trip of 70km.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Have camper, will travel

I have always wanted a campervan - the freedom of the open road and all that!  Well now I have one.  OK it's 20 years old, but I love it.  I intend to use it for wildlife and photography trips, even maybe a bit of twitching...

Here it is at East Lane, Bawdsey on my inaugural trial run a couple of weeks ago - I didn't want to go too far from home just in case!  I had a peaceful night except for a few fishermen coming and going from the carpark, and woke up to the fantastic sight of hundreds of swallows and house martins gathering to leave on migration.  

East Lane car park

After a walk along the seawall, I moved on to Hollesley RSPB reserve and then to Boyton marsh.  I had a lovely day out and the van was just what I hoped it would be, comfortable to sleep in, and a great base during the day.  Where to next? 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Listing update and resolutions for 2016

I have just updated my list and have realised that while I did not add much during 2015, there are still some big holes in it.  For example I attended an FSC course on mosses and liverworts a few years ago and still have a box full of envelopes containing bits of dried up moss - how many are on my list - that's right a big fat zero! So that's a job for this evening.

There are no fish on my list, that can't be right!  Nor any woodlice etc.  What about notes from that beetle course I did in 2004?

I have added a few more field guides over the last year, and acquired a basic stereo microscope, so little fiddly things should be a bit easier now.  I have also found that I can take photos of what I am looking at under the microscope with my phone (is that also called digiscoping or is it something else?)

I have successfully updated my copy of MapMate, with at least one record for everything on my list and intend to make more use of it this year.

Other Resolutions for 2016 include:
Getting out more at lunchtime - I work on a lovely estate which is not too heavily managed.  Lots of nice wild corners with flowers and insects galore.
Looking more closely at what is living in the garden/woodpile/compost heap.
Buying more pots.
Taking more photos.
Being more organised about sending in my records.

So plenty to get on with then....

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Short break in Studland, Dorset

The Bankes Arms

Thursday 30th April 2015
We arrived in Studland late afternoon after a fairly uneventful drive down, complete with terrier Alfie, and Terry's new sculling boat on the roof rack.  The plan was for Terry to meet with the local engineers who are helping him to produce new frames for sculling boats, and for Terry to give the boat a good testing by rowing round Poole Harbour.

We stayed at the Bankes Arms.  The room was small but comfortable, and the bar had a lovely open fire, good beer and a reasonable selection of home cooked food.  I had printed off several walks from the National Trust web site and once we had settled in we set off on the Old Harry Rocks walk.

Old Harry
This is a nice easy walk along the top of the cliffs to the point at Old Harry.  Some nice woodland plants were flowering among the trees.  As it was getting late we turned back rather than completing the circular walk, but not before catching some good views of a group of porpoises out to sea.  Judging by the accompanying gulls they had found fish.

Old Harry

Friday 1st May
Terry had a meeting with his engineer, so I set off after breakfast with Alfie on a 3 mile walk over Godlingston Heath to the Agglestone.  I was hoping to see Dartford warblers but the weather was not ideal for small birds, overcast and windy, and I was unsuccessful.  It was still a great walk with fine views over the heath to Studland Bay and Little Sea.

The Agglestone

Poole Harbour
After lunch it was time to test the boat in Poole Harbour.  Shell Bay Marine were kind enough to let us use their jetty, and Terry set off to see what it could do.  He ended up rowing completely round Brownsea Island, in some pretty rough water, and was very pleased with how it went.

The intrepid explorer

Alfie and I had a wander along the shore, passing a collection of houseboats and then found a comfortable spot out of the wind to have a rest after the morning's exertions.  Birdlife was fairly limited, gulls and oystercatchers mostly, but I did see a couple of Sandwich terns, my first this year.

House boats, Poole Harbour

Saturday 2nd May
After another good breakfast and loading up the car with all our gear, we wanted to have another try at seeing Dartford warblers and to have a look at the Little Sea.  I didn't expect to see too much on the lake which is said to be very good for wildfowl in the winter.  We followed another NT circular walk which included 3 hides, one overlooking the Little Sea and two by Poole Harbour. 

Again the weather was overcast and windy, and small birds were conspicuous by their absence.  We did see a male stonechat and a wheatear, other birds included linnets and meadow pipits and a confiding little grebe on the lake. 

By the time we had completed the walk it was time to head for the ferry across the harbour and back to Suffolk for tea-time.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

North Warren

I started the day intending to visit Minsmere, but after a quick look from the East hide and a very nice macaroni cheese in the cafĂ©, I decided to have a look at North Warren, an RSPB reserve near Aldeburgh.

I ended up doing the circuit known as the Reedbed Loop, walking in from the Leiston road through a very nice area of heath and grassland.  At the seat which overlooks the reedbed I was surprised to see a Harris Hawk which flew past quite low, calling and then disappeared over the far side of the reedbed.  I understand that an escaped bird has been in the area for some time.

View over part of the reedbed
Cutting through the woods and turning left when I reached the old railway line I soon reached another viewpoint over the reeds where 3 Hobbies were putting on a fine display, and a Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance.  If I had continued on this path I could have visited Thorpeness Mere - the House in the Clouds was visible over the wet meadows on the right of the path.

I continued to follow the path around the reedbed,  through some woodland, and past some cottages, ending up on a boardwalk leading to a very nice new viewing platform.  A pair of Marsh Harriers were displaying here, and the Harris Hawk put in another brief appearance.

Marsh Harriers

The boardwalk continued through some areas of cut vegetation which looked very promising for later in the year.  I saw a few clumps of Marsh Marigold in flower, a bit of a rarity nowadays.

Marsh Marigold
All in all a very interesting walk, one I intend to repeat soon.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

SWT Hazelwood Marshes

On New Years Day 2012 we walked The Sailers Path from Snape towards Aldeborough, and back.  We saw the sign for the marshes but did not have time to go any further.  So today we started from the Aldeborough end, parking in a small car park off the main road.

The entrance to the Hazelwood Marshes is about half a mile's walk along the Sailors Path which has recently been resurfaced.  The marshes themselves are managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Sightings included small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies, chiffchaff, blackcap and willow warbler.  From the Eric Hoskings hide we saw avocet, redshank, 3 greenshank and a big flock of godwits on the far side of the bay together with many smaller waders, probably mostly dunlin.  There were lots of shelduck in front of the hide, together with numerous teal and a pair of shoveler.

Bird of the day was a very obliging hobby which was hawking for insects low over the grazing meadow and ponds behind the hide.

1000 for 1KSQ

So now I have been tempted again!  To find 1000 species in a single square kilometre in one year - sounds a tall order you might think.  But we are talking species of any type of creature, plant, fungus, bugs and beasties.  And several people have reached 400 already.  To follow the latest stories or to join in see the blog:

My square is TM3137 which includes my garden and fields north of Felixstowe reaching as far as Kings Fleet.  My total so far is 113, so quite a way to go!