February round up

Well I can truthfully say the second month has been as good as the first and we have been very lucky to have had such a mild winter. The weather hasn’t kept us in on many days and to be honest we do need to stay in occasionally to keep on tops of routine jobs that need doing laundry etc!). We have had 23 more year ticks including two life ticks not bad for two months in. I was very glad to eventually catch the Pallid harrier as it took several attempts. Our other life tick was the Ferruginous duck, often called a fudge duck and was also one I was pleased to get as we had been disappointed by one a few years ago. Strange how some birds are particular about their breeding partner where as others, including many ducks, are more into free love! This was how our original fudge duck let us down as it was shown not to be pure!!!

Definitely the highlight of February was our trip to Suffolk, it was last minute inspiration and an excellent time. From the little Rock pipit as we walked to see the glossy ibis, to the warm welcome at the Eels Foot Inn.

 

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I enjoyed playing with my camera and taking some short video clips which I hope to do something with probably at the end of the year when I have time! Early one morning I was videoing this Mute swan when a young one swam alongside and they swam around mirroring each other, ’twas a beautiful sight.

There were ducks, waders and small birds to watch to say nothing of the huge bonus of the appearance of an otter! At last we saw our first Great spotted woodpecker of the years and I don’t think any day didn’t provide at least one Robin.  We met so many lovely strangers and I am not going to attempt to pick any favourites this month.

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Of course Suffolk was only a few days in the month we visited many other places, old and new. Moths have been almost completely absent again this month , I think they need the warmer nights to tempt them out. I hadn’t expected to be adding a sperm whale to our list, that was some sight but such a sad if inevitable end for him. A White stork was another surprise!IMG_8816 White stork (Custom)

The past couple of months have proved that Ian and I can be happy in each others company; I say this as we haven’t lived alone since the birth of our first gorgeous son in 1972! Two more equally gorgeous children followed and the three of them have always been and continue to be, the hugest blessing for both of us. Twenty years of fostering meant our time sharing our home with children has been longer than most peoples!IMG_7745 (Custom)

It has been fun getting out and about, deciding where to go and sharing successes and occasional disappointments. March has already got off to a good start and I am confident it will be at least as good as the first two!

Thank you for reading this blog, it is great to know you are with us! I do love comments partly as without them I don’t know who is reading as it shows me numbers but not names!!!

Here is the list of birds seen up until the end of February, the ones in bold are new this month, the ones in red are life ticks:

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Bewick Swan
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. White-fronted Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Barnacle Goose
  9. Brent Goose
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Common Shelduck
  12. Mandarin Duck
  13. Eurasian Wigeon
  14. Gadwall
  15. Eurasian Teal
  16. Mallard
  17. Pintail
  18. Shoveler
  19. Red-crested Pochard
  20. Common Pochard
  21. Ferruginous Duck
  22. Tufted duck
  23. Greater Scaup
  24. Long-tailed Duck
  25. Common Scoter
  26. Velvet Scoter
  27. Goldeneye
  28. Smew
  29. Red-breasted Merganser
  30. Goosander
  31. Red-legged Partridge
  32. Grey Partridge
  33. Common Pheasant
  34. Golden Pheasant
  35. Little Grebe
  36. Great Crested Grebe
  37. Red-necked Grebe
  38. Fulmar
  39. Cormorant
  40. Shag
  41. Bittern
  42. Little Egret
  43. Great Egret
  44. Grey Heron
  45. White Stork
  46. Glossy Ibis
  47. Red Kite
  48. Marsh Harrier
  49. Hen Harrier
  50. Pallid Harrier
  51. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  52. Common Buzzard
  53. Rough-legged Buzzard
  54. Kestrel
  55. Merlin
  56. Peregrine Falcon
  57. Water Rail
  58. Moorhen
  59. Coot
  60. Oystercatcher
  61. Pied Avocet
  62. Ringed Plover
  63. European Golden Plover
  64. Grey Plover
  65. Lapwing
  66. Knot
  67. Sanderling
  68. Purple Sandpiper
  69. Dunlin
  70. Ruff
  71. Common Snipe
  72. Black-tailed Godwit
  73. Bar-tailed Godwit
  74. Curlew
  75. Spotted Redshank
  76. Common Redshank
  77. Common Greenshank
  78. Lesser Yellowlegs
  79. Ruddy Turnstone
  80. Grey Phalarope
  81. Mediterranean Gull
  82. Black-headed Gull
  83. Common Gull
  84. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  85. Herring Gull
  86. Iceland Gull
  87. Glaucous Gull
  88. Great Black-backed Gull
  89. Rock Pigeon
  90. Stock Pigeon
  91. Wood Pigeon
  92. Collared Dove
  93. Barn Owl
  94. Tawny Owl
  95. Short-eared Owl
  96. Common Kingfisher
  97. Green Woodpecker
  98. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  99. Wood Lark
  100. Sky Lark
  101. Shore Lark (horned lark)
  102. Meadow Pipit
  103. Rock Pipit
  104. Water Pipit
  105. Pied Wagtail
  106. Wren
  107. Dunnock
  108. Robin
  109. Black Redstart
  110. Stonechat
  111. Blackbird
  112. Fieldfare
  113. Song Thrush
  114. Redwing
  115. Mistle Thrush
  116. Cetti’s Warbler
  117. Dartford Warbler
  118. Common Chiffchaff
  119. Goldcrest
  120. Penduline tit
  121. Long-tailed Tit
  122. Marsh Tit
  123. Coal Tit
  124. Blue Tit
  125. Great Tit
  126. Nuthatch
  127. Treecreeper
  128. Great Grey Shrike
  129. Jay
  130. Magpie
  131. Jackdaw
  132. Rook
  133. Crow
  134. Starling
  135. House Sparrow
  136. Tree Sparrow
  137. Chaffinch
  138. Brambling
  139. Serin
  140. Greenfinch
  141. Goldfinch
  142. Siskin
  143. Linnet
  144. Twite
  145. Lesser Redpoll
  146. Mealy Redpoll
  147. Bullfinch
  148. Lapland Longspur (bunting)
  149. Snow Bunting
  150. Yellowhammer
  151. Reed Bunting
  152. Corn bunting
Moths     6
Winter moth
Mottled umber
Pale brindled beauty
Early moth
Common quaker
Early grey
Other insects.  4
Wasp
Lacewing green
Ladybird 7 spot
Ladybird harlequin
Animals ( or What no wings! )  10
Rabbit
Stoat
Hare
Grey squirrel
Grey seal
Roe deer
Muntjac deer
Red deer
Sperm whale
Otter
Grand total  172

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Suffolk Tale

One of the real perks of our special year is the freedom that has come with it. At the beginning of the week we noticed the weather looked good in Suffolk so we were able to pack our bags, book a room and go.

I am not exaggerating when I say we have had a brilliant time including a tasty curry last night and  our farewell morning today. Last night we decided to set an alarm early again, to make the most of every moment and go to Island Mere hide before breakfast, but when the alarm went off we weren’t quite so keen, after all it was set to be even colder than yesterday! It didn’t take long for us to decide to go for it, after all it was our last morning near Minsmere, at least for this trip! It was another beautiful morning, I wonder if they are all like this in Suffolk!

I was right though it was cold, how do those little birds survive nights in the frozen reeds? This little Water pipit was busy nipping in and out and then going for a brief skate on the ice!

The hide was busier today and I am struck by the atmosphere there, they seem a friendly bunch who obviously know each other well but were happy enough to welcome outsiders. I have been enjoying meeting so many new people, mostly so friendly and some excellent characters. I think if Minsmere were our local reserve we would find our way to Island hide rather a lot of mornings to enjoy the usual and the unusual.IMG_8034 (Custom)

Mute swans looked stunning in the morning light and again the Marsh harriers were flying high. It does seem strange sitting in such a beautiful place with Sizewell looming in the background!

I didn’t know it then but very shortly we were in for such a treat, one of the highlights of our time away. We had briefly seen an otter swimming another day but this morning with ice on the water it made a fantastic appearance. He came out of the ice stayed a while then down he went again, repeating this until he reached the unfrozen water and off he swam. All in the hide were thrilled to have seen him so well.

Back to The Eel’s Foot for breakfast before checking out, if you ever need somewhere to stay in that area we do recommend it. We had considered leaving for home then and making a couple of detours on the way but we changed our minds and decided instead to go back to have a last visit at Minsmere then head straight home.  Due to a concern about Avian pox the feeders near the visitors centre had been taken down but the ever hopeful Pheasants that lurk under them don’t seem to have got the message.

Time to leave Minsmere with the hope that we will return again soon. Seeing how many trees have been newly cut down I trust there will still be plenty when we come back! Hoping too that the abundance of rabbits continues, I just can’t resist them!

Thank you for joining in our Suffolk tale, it has been lovely and reinforced our decision to take a ‘gap year’.

I thought it would be fitting to end this tale with a tail!IMG_8134 (Custom)

 

 

2 plus 1 before breakfast!

One advantage to our decision to get up for an early Minsmere trip before breakfast is that early really isn’t very early at all as the sun didn’t rise till gone 7am! So after a fairly good nights sleep we leapt into action and were in Island Mere Hide before the sun had made an appearance having seen a barn owl on our short journey and I was very pleased indeed. IMG_7773

The sunrise was beautiful and it was accompanied by a singing Cetti’s warbler (new for the year) and the sight of a group of Bewick swans leaving their overnight accommodation presumably to go and find a field to spend the day grazing in.

Marsh harriers were soon busying themselves and entertaining us and our fellow watchers. There was one particular bird I was hoping to see this morning and we knew they did often make an appearance there, Snipe. Suddenly Claire, one of the RSPB workers we had met yesterday, spotted a Snipe working its way along the edge of the water, another first for the year.

Two ticks before breakfast, not bad but it didn’t finish there. As we were closing up our windows in the hide someone spotted an Otter, brilliant although distant and swimming away from us. (We are going to Mull later this year and are really hoping to see Otter there.)

Back for breakfast then a return trip to Minsmere and another chance to look for the two Smew that we failed to find yesterday. After a bit of a hunt we found them and like so much they were very distant but seemed to be much nearer another hide across the water. Off we went and did indeed get better views but still some way away. We walked back the long way and saw several small birds including two small warblers that I am still not 100% sure what they were although they may turn out to simply be Chiffchaffs!

 

We had decided to spend dusk in Island hide again and hope for some more treats! The first thing we saw when we looked out was an empty expanse of water apart from two birds sitting in the distance, they were the Smew we had been hunting earlier! They were resting but later flew around and re landed before again taking off and leaving.  The evening light was beautiful and quite a few Bewick swans flew in presumably to spend the night.

I was delighted to see not one but two Snipe close in and feeding ferociously, just as the light was nearly gone a third Snipe joined them, a good day for Snipe and the end of another good day for us at Minsmere. Back to the Eel’s foot for something tasty to eat and hopefully a good night’s sleep, I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

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Our tally is now:

Birds 144

Mammals 9

Moths 6