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!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patchwork Challenge

I have signed up to the Patchwork Challenge http://patchworkchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/

King's Fleet & Felixstowe Ferry

The first task was to define the borders of my patch, which must be no more than 3km2 in area.

It obviously had to include my garden, in Marsh Lane, and all the land in the Deben valley visible from the bedroom window.  I also wanted to include the footpath which leads from Marsh Lane to Gulpher Road, as this is a nice walk when time is short. 

King's Fleet made an obvious northern boundary , as did the River Deben to Felixstowe Ferry and the sea shore from the Ferry to the cliff top car park near the Golf Club.  The SW boundary follows Ferry Road back to Marsh lane.  On drawing this out using a mapping tool the area was calculated at 2.900km2- just right!

The rules state that  'The birds that contribute to your score must be within the boundaries of the patch (i.e. you don’t need to be), or, seen or heard while you are on your patch. So, heard only birds count, distant passing seabirds count, flyovers count, and birds flushed from the patch while you approach your site count.'

So this means that anything flying up the river, seen out at sea, or visible on the far side of the Fleet is still countable.

I am starting my patch list from today but also including the few interesting birds I had recorded earlier in January, which were basically Barn Owl and a flock of Linnets from a walk on 1st Jan and a Tawny Owl seen in Marsh Lane when I was driving home from work last week.  So today I will be recording all the garden birds and perhaps venturing out this afternoon to check the geese and swans visible in the distance from the house - weather permitting of course!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Good Walk

How is it that nearly 6 months have gone since I last posted to my blog?  Lots has happened, not least that I am now living permanently in Suffolk.  I still have a base in Norfolk but visiting is restricted even more now as I am working full time.

Anyway, after all the excesses of Christmas, I felt in need of a good walk this afternoon, even though the weather was not particularly promising.

I walked down the lane to the river wall, and then headed upstream.  The tide was falling but not a lot to see on the mud.  A large flock of golden plover was put up by a small launch, the only boat seen moving on the river.  The Brent geese seem to be down in numbers this year, less than 500 on the fields today, some making the most of the flooded areas for a good wash.

View over the flooded fields towards the Ferry

I took shelter from the strong wind by walking on the narrow strip of salt marsh on the far side of the seawall.  I disturbed a small bird which looked dark enough to be a rock pipit, but although I sat down and waited it didn't return.  Further along were 4 turnstones and a little egret.

By the R Deben looking upstream.

I walked as far as the jetty used by windsurfers in the summer, then turned for home.  I followed the track behind the bank to keep out of the wind as much as possible, and was rewarded with the sound of bearded tits calling and a brief glimpse of one in flight over the reeds lining the dyke. 

I'd had a good walk, and although I had a head wind it was very mild, and by the time I got back the hat and gloves had come off, so hopefully burned a few calories.