23rd January 2018 – Eastville Park

Eastville Park in the rain in winter is more about fungi and lichen but this afternoon I saw the first celandine of the year and the yellow theme was maintained when a grey wagtail came close and brightened up a miserable afternoon. Through the gloom the catkins also looked quite a picture.





MT1D2544MT1D2550MT1D2549MT1D2548MT1D2547Grey wagtail

You would think it would be all about ducks on a day like today (and there were quite a few)  but there were plenty of other things to see and (try and) photograph.

MT1D2554Black-headed gull

MT1D2562Mute swan

MT1D2566Canada goose


MT1D2571Herring gull

MT1D2572Herring gull


MT1D2577Long-tailed tit

MT1D2581Long-tailed tit

MT1D2589Grey heron



MT1D2614Female mallard – the special one

The rain was quite persistent and I was quite glad to get home.




22nd January 2018 – Stoke Park

After relentless rain yesterday it was not surprising that it was very wet in the park today. I saw three goldfinch as soon as I arrived in the park and then a male and a female stonechat.

On the lake there were a dozen mallards, 2 moorhens and a grey heron which flew from one side of the lake to another, giving me good opportunities for photos of birds in flight.

There were only three black-headed gulls but plenty of crows and a single blackbird.

A very pleasant hour spent on a dull afternoon.

MT1D2398One of three goldfinch which didn’t really want to show themselves


MT1D2416Male stonechat on 2 different perches

MT1D2468Mallard in flight

MT1D2476Pair of mallards in flight

Grey heron flying from one side of Duchess Pond to another:











MT1D2482Mallards looking very handsome

Black birds





19th January 2018 – North Somerset

Just a chance for a few photos whilst on a visit to Midsomer Quilting at Chilcompton in North Somerset.

Collared doves, robins, pied wagtail and meadow pipit,

DSC06981Unusual to get 2 robins together?



DSC07012Collared doves in a barn

DSC07018Meadow pipit

DSC07038Pied wagtail

DSC06987Bucolic scene in North Somerset

DSC06998First snowdrops of the year

DSC06975Rainbow over Chew Valley Lake on our journey to Chilcompton


Winter Levels – The Somerset Levels as seen through the eyes of quilter Judy Hayward on a frosty morning





16th January 2018 – Stoke Park & Eastville Park

It was good to be back on my home patch and get some good views of our local birds.

I started in Stoke Park and was instantly treated to two stonechats in the boggy section.




Even more to my surprise was a common snipe that jumped up out of the bog and flew over to Duchess Pond (too fast for me to react).

On the pond I could only see a grey heron.


In Eastville Park there was no sign of a kingfisher but the black-headed gulls were doing a good job diving for fish in the lake.




The mallards are starting to look good again with their new plumage.


However, they are not as good at posing as the robins.




On the way home I went up the small stream that feeds in to the River Frome and was well rewarded with views of a dipper and a yellow wagtail.








A crow with a large mouthful of bread and a magpie caught my eye before the rain started and I scurried home.




12th January 2018 – Suffolk Coast

After a week of murky and, at times, bitterly cold weather in Suffolk, today we were blessed with a gloriously sunny day which warmed our spirits (which certainly weren’t  at all low anyway) and allowed a chance of some decent photographs.

We spent the morning at RSPB Minsmere and then in the afternoon we moved on to the Blyth Estuary at Blythburgh and saw a great variety of birds.

Off the coast at Minsmere (more like a mill pond today) we had good views of red-throated divers and on the reserve the best was a male stonechat and some dunlin which were being given a hard time by the lapwing.

On the Blyth Estuary there were thousands of birds and in particular we had good views of avocet, redshank, shelduck, oystercatcher, curlew, whimbrel, pintail, lapwing and huge flocks of gulls. It felt really warm standing in the sun watching them and was particularly interesting seeing their plumages in the beautiful sunshine as they regularly took to the air.

MT1D1509Red-throated divers

MT1D1554Common snipe taken in to the sun


MT1D1606Pied wagtail

MT1D1659Male stonechat

MT1D1657Redshank and greylag goose ignoring each other


MT1D1772A (charmless) goldfinch amongst the gadwall

MT1D1779A lapwing photo bombing a dunlin and teal

MT1D1783Lapwing chasing off dunlin

MT1D1786Dunlin in flight

MT1D1605Tufted ducks comimg to the party


MT1D1732Dunlin between two (out of focus) shovelers

MT1D1685Pheasant wondering who is following him

MT1D1686Greylag geese

MT1D1803Long-tailed tit in the woods

MT1D1816A colony of avocets

MT1D1841Avocet feeding with its swiping action




MT1D2071Avocet in flight

MT1D2162A mixed flock with a whimbrel centre stage

MT1D2173A deceit of lapwings


MT1D2163Cormorant, avocet, shelduck, curlew, lapwing, oystercatcher, pintail, wigeon, redshank, black-tailed godwit, dunlin, gulls and probably even more

Click below for gallery of photos from today:





11th January 2018 – Walberswick

Not really worth a blog today as it has been too rainy and foggy to take any nature photos. However, after lunch at The Crown at Westleton there appeared a smudge of blue in the sky and so we stopped off at the quay in Walberswick and I couldn’t resist a few snaps of some herring gulls and a redshank.







10th January 2018 – Suffolk

Well, we have been out in the fresh air for most of today; I think it’s the longest I’ve been outdoors on such a gloomy day. Fortunately, it’s been much milder and must have reached 6 degrees centigrade at some point. However, it has certainly not been a day for photographs (even with modern digital equipment).

We were a little frustrated in the morning as we tried to reach Benacre Broads National Nature Reserve but all the signs seemed to warn us off saying that the paths were private and part of a conservation area. Other signs warned of the danger of coastal erosion so we were well and truly stymied. Nonetheless we enjoyed our walk and even visited  St Andrew’s Church at Covehithe built in the ruins of the old church and which was where the P. D. James mystery, Death in Holy Orders, was set and a television episode was filmed at the church ruins.

DSC06946St Andrew’s Church at Covehithe – built in the ruins of the old church

On our way back we stopped off at the Blyth Estuary near Blythburgh and managed to see plenty of waders and gulls. Even in the gloom, with everything looking black and white, we could make out shelduck, curlew, redshank, dunlin, black-tailed godwits. lapwings, avocets and a huge flock of (mainly) black-headed gulls.

MT1D1286The view across the Blyth Estuary towards Soutwold

MT1D1262Shelduck, redshank and dunlin

MT1D1319Silhouette of a redshank in flight

MT1D1294Black-tailed godwits




We then moved on to RSPB Minsmere but, other than seeing common snipe from two of the hides, there was nothing of interest (at least we could see nothing of interest) and settled for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

MT1D1431Common snipe from the North Hide

MT1D1427Pied wagtail

MT1D1454Common snipe from the Wildlife Lookout

MT1D1449The only thing we saw from the Bittern Hide – a raptor on post D





9th January 2018 – Walberswick National Nature Reserve

Having had a nature free day yesterday (more out of necessity than choice as it was  even really too cold to enjoy pottering around the shops and cafés in Southwold) today we chose to have a walk around Walberswick National Nature Reserve. Fortunately the biting cold wind of the day before had subsided and, although the dismal light was not good for photography, it was not too unpleasant for walking.

The first part of the walk took us along the Sandlings Walk (long distance route from Ipswich to Southwold which explores what remains of the once extensive Sandlings Heath). There were great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, blackbirds, robins and wrens and a single buzzard. On the heath land to our right there were lots of crows and sometimes small flocks of starlings. To our left there were extensive silver birch woods. We passed Westwood Lodge, an interesting large 16th century manor house with a huge turret which was still sporting a very large fully-lit Christmas tree .

DSC06890A pheasant more worried about the distant shots than our prescence

DSC06880A robin breaking cover

DSC06883Crows on the heath land

DSC06885Not much bird life here

At the furthest point from our base in Walberswick we had a choice of taking a return route through Dunwich Forest or a route through the reedbeds of Westwood Marshes. We chose the latter in the hope of seeing some wildfowl but the reeds were so tall that all we saw were a pair of marsh harriers, a grey heron and a mute swan flying in the distance, although we did hear the pinging of bearded tits,  several Cetti’s warblers and occasionally a cacophony of wild fowl from behind the reeds.

DSC06898The silver birches would have benefited from a ray of sunshine or two


DSC06901Plenty of interesting fungi to see


DSC06907… and lichen

The beginning of this section of the walk was interesting and testing. Our guidebook told  us that “the footpath takes you through an area of wet woodland with willow and alder trees and then through dryer birch and oak woodland before emerging in to the reedbed”. The footpath through the “wet” section was elevated and well maintained and quite easy, but the “dry” section was often a quagmire and at times almost unpassable.

DSC06915Not much chance seeing the wild fowl in the marshes behind the reeds although we occasionally heard the pinging of bearded tits and the easily recognizable sound of Cetti’s warblers


DSC06926We could just make out  tags on the distant marsh harriers

DSC06931The welcome sight of the ruins of the wind pump which told us “home” was not much further

We missed out the shingle section at the end of the walk as we didn’t want to be subjected to the coastal winds and we could see a quicker route to the Bell Inn which, by that stage, was a more attractive option

DSC06938Dunwich Bay in the distance

By the time we arrived home we had covered 10 miles and would have been feeling virtuous except that any good it had done us had probably been wrecked by the pint and the ploughman’s in the pub.




7th January 2018 – RSPB Minsmere

We went to RSPB Minsmere on a bright but bitterly cold day full of optimism. This time last year, although a dull dreary day, we had seen many species of birds and had had good views of lots of waders. This year, on arrival, we were told that many of the hides were inaccessible due to flooding and that the East Scrape was no longer a scrape but part of a larger lake caused by the rains and a series of high tides which prevented the area from draining.

MT1D1019This view from near the visitors’ centre showed the East Scrape in the distance fully flooded.

We were told that the Wildlife Lookout was accessible but when we reached the path we discovered that at least wellies were necessary if not waders. We went on to the Bittern Hide. As soon as we arrived there was plenty of action with cormorants, mute swans and marsh harriers in flight. But it was not a pleasant experience as the sunshine was so bright that it was painful to sit there alone watch the birds.



DSC06849Marsh harrier from the Bittern Hide.

We reckoned that the same would apply at Island Mere and so we made our way back to the visitors’ centre for a coffee. Through the woods there were great tits and long-tailed tits.

DSC06871Long-tailed tit.

After a warming coffee we decided to brave the cold winds of the North Wall and head towards the sea. There was nothing to see en route and only a few lesser black-backed gulls on the coast. It was, however, much too cold to hang around. We did find that we could get to the hide on the East Scrape by skirting the flooded path but the rewards were not great with only very distant waders (mainly lapwing) at the back of the East (formerly) Scrape and 3 dunlin.

MT1D1084In the bright sunshine Southwold lighthouse and pier can be seen across the heavy seas of Dunwich Bay

The heavy seas reminded me of the storms of 1286 and of the mid 14th Century which washed away the town of Dunwich which are mentioned in the book I am reading by Rosamund Richardson “Waiting for the Albino Duck – how birds can change your life” and which, if the cold weather persists this week, I shall get a good chance to read.

It really was much too cold to hang around so we scurried back to base to catch up with some sports action; however, this brought me no solace as Arsenal  put in a disgraceful performance to get evicted from the FA Cup in the 3rd Round. At least Wendy could feel some satisfaction as their victors were Nottingham Forest (although she was decent enough to hide her glee).





2nd January 2018 – Eastville Park

There was persistent rain in the morning but fortunately there was a little window of opportunity with the weather to get out this afternoon (back on home territory in Eastville Park); however, it was quite dark and, although my young companion and I managed to spot 2 male kingfishers regularly around the lake, it was difficult to get clear photos. But never mind eh! Oli enjoyed the afternoon pointing out the kingfishers to people who had never seen one and enjoyed chatting to Cliff.

MT1D0948One of the two male kingfishers at the lake today




MT1D0968One of six cormorants at the lake


MT1D1008The grey heron spent an awful lot of time looking but never took the plunge.

MT1D0934Thought this photo of a squirrel might be the best nature photo of the day at one stage.

Oli’s photos  on his page.