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29th June 2018 – RSPB Minsmere

Our last day on holiday in East Anglia and we chose to revisit RSPB Minsmere – a combination of a good walk through woodland, marshes and coastland and plenty of opportunity for birdwatching.

There was very little activity in the first two hides (Bittern and Island Mere) but we did see a bittern in flight at the first. In fact there were so few opportunities for bird photos that my focus moved to insects and plants.

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FP5A0411Great crested grebe with small bird

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There wasn’t much on the North Bank and the Scrape and Levels offered little more than we had seen before.

FP5A0568Black-tailed godwits

FP5A0580Black-tailed godwit

FP5A0846Black-headed gull bombing Canada goose

FP5A0853Shelduck

FP5A0872Black-headed gull chasing oystercatcher

FP5A0877Black-headed gull chasing oystercatcher

However, on the coast we saw ringed plovers and little terns which, along with the common tern on their fishing trips to sea, made my day.

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FP5A0697Little tern bossing a ringed plover

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FP5A0744Common tern

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FP5A0823Common tern

FP5A0825Common tern

FP5A0828Kittiwake

We stopped off on the way back and visited Walberswick Church (new and ruins).

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DSC00046Walberswick Church

Click below for gallery of photos from today:

 

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28th June 2018 – Southwold

We had a very pleasant walk from Walberswick to Southwold and back. Not much to report except for some swallows, a few butterflies and the wild flowers behind the beach huts at Southwold , one of which was for sale (a single one) in an Estate Agents for £135,000. What a crazy world.

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27th June 2018 – Suffolk

In the last two days we have visited some of the smaller reserves in Suffolk as well as making another trip back to RSPB Minsmere.

Hen Reedbeds (on the River Hen just outside Southwold) is a delightful small reserve with a superb platform looking across the roadbeds where you can generally see marsh harriers, grey herons, little egrets as well as many other birds. There is also a pleasant walk along the Blyth Estuary with three hides.

There were good views of reed buntings,warblers, linnets and a family of kestrels and distant views of marsh harriers and grey herons but I had a lens more suitable for insects and so was quite pleased to get a photo of a six-spot burnet moth.

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On Wednesday we first went to Darsham Marshes near Westleton. Again a charming small reserve with a very pleasant walk through the marshes. I imagine for most of the year you would need wellies though.

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There were loads of butterflies but not so many dragonflies. The best of the birds were swallows and a tree creeper.

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We then went up on to Dunwich Heath to search for Dartford Warblers.

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Whilst the rest of the country was sweltering in a heatwave we had to wrap up to fend off the cold wind coming off the North Sea.

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But it was well worth it as we were rewarded with good views of Dartford Warblers.

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We then dropped down to RSPB Minsmere. Just looking at the notice board of birds spotted that day will give an idea of why we like Minsmere so much.

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A few of my favourites:

FP5A0335Avocets

FP5A0319-2Common tern

FP5A0192Black-tailed godwits

FP5A0178Kiitiwake

FP5A0167Whimbrel

FP5A0344Mediterranean gulls

Along the coast I managed to spot one ringed plover but kept our distance so as not to disturb it..

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Click below for gallery of photos:

 

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25th June 2018 – RSPB Minsmere

We love going to RSPB Minsmere (surely the Mecca for birders in the UK) as early as we can and at 7 a.m. on a lovely sunny day it was as magical as ever.

We were pleased to see the sand martins back and watched them for a while but I was quite frustrated  trying to photograph them.

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FP5A9080Sand martins

We headed out on the north bank and were greeted by the call of a cuckoo. I was very pleased to track it down and, although it was quite a long way off, I was even more pleased to get a photo (a first for me).

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We spent a little while on the beach as it was just so beautiful and then went to the East Scrape.

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What a cacophony at the East Scrape and what spectacular action. My favourite birds were the black-tailed godwits, the terns, the mediterranean gulls and the kittiwakes.

FP5A9243Common tern

FP5A9228Kittiwake

FP5A9182Black-tailed godwits

FP5A9177Black-tailed godwits

FP5A9248Black-tailed godwits

FP5A9377Sandwich tern

FP5A9286Mediterranean gull

FP5A9394Redshank

We didn’t stay long but continued round past the south hides to get back to the reception and café for some breakfast which was well deserved. En route we had a very good view of a whitethroat having his breakfast.

FP5A9363Whitethroat

Fully replenished we went to the Bittern Hide and eventually on to Island Mere.

We had good views of bittern, marsh harriers and a few grey herons and plenty of other birds, insects and fish.

FP5A9499Bittern

DSC09717Marsh harrier

FP5A9472Whitethroat

FP5A9523Little grebe

FP5A9541Four-spotted chaser

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We finished at 1 pm as we were quite exhausted and knowing that we would return later in the week.

On our return to our holiday property we were delighted (and amused) to be greeted by a partridge and 8 tiny chicks in the garden.

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Click below for a gallery of photos from today:

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24th June 2018 – Walberswick National Nature Reserve

A very early morning walk at 5.30 am (well if I wanted to watch England play in the World Cup at 1 pm I had to make an effort) was well rewarded especially with my first Common Ringed Plover of the year. (The football was pretty amazing too)

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Only minutes in to my walk and I spotted a muntjac deer in amongst the cereal crops.

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On the marshes there were lots of reed buntings and sedge warblers (not so easy to photograph) and a single skylark and a solitary pied wagtail. A couple of swifts soared the reed beds too.

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DSC09267Sedge warbler

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Swift

DSC09217Pied wagtail (or is it a white wagtail?)

I saw only two Common Ringed Plover – but what a joy.

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In the pools there were little egrets, avocets, black-headed gulls and oystercatchers but really a bit too far off for photos.

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DSC09474A meadow pipit (?) believing it was a ringed plover.

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There were not too many people around but evidence that someone had been clearing up plastic waste.

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There were some amazing vegetation on the beach too.

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The crops also looked great (even though the farmers must be complaining about the weather).

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The insects were happy too.

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Click below for a gallery of photos from this morning’s walk (apologies for so many ringed plover photographs.:

 

 

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23rd June 2018 – RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

As we moved from Norfolk to Suffolk on our East Anglia holiday we decided to visit RSPB Strumpshaw Fen which is on the River Yare in Norfolk, around six miles east of Norwich. The new road system around Norwich totally flummoxed our GPS system in the car and our journey took a little longer than expected.

The reserve has a full range of broadland habitats and wildlife and is a  pleasant walk round reedbeds, woodlands and orchid-rich meadows. One of the main reasons for visiting was to see the swallowtail butterfly. I achieved that within seconds of getting out of the car and was full of anticipation but once I got my camera out of the bag no other opportunity presented itself.

Nonetheless I did have lots of other photographic opportunities including (appropriately) the Norfolk Hawker, lots of fenland plants and, the highlight for me, a juvenile muntjac deer.

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FP5A9005Beautiful demoiselle

FP5A8972Marsh harrier

FP5A8958Lapwing

FP5A8950Black-headed gulls, chicks and eggs

Lots of wonderful fenland plants

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Lots of butterflies too

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FP5A8911Grey heron

FP5A8881Great crested grebe

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The encounter of the muntjac deer.

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Click below for gallery of photos from today:

 

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22nd June 2018 – North Norfolk

Although there was sunshine forecast for the whole day there was a cold wind blowing from the north and so we decided to go in land for a countryside walk. We walked from Blakeney to Glandford to the excellent telescope and binocular centre of Cley Spy to pick up on the circular Bayfield Bird Walk.

Bayfield Bird Walk Map

Our walk started promisingly with a grey partridge and a distant hare.

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There were great views all around from the Wiveton Downs Local Nature Reserve.

DSC09021 The windmill at Cley Next The Sea

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The first bird we saw was a yellow hammer (a first for me).

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DSC09060 Yellowhammer

The woods were truly magnificent but with only a few birds to be seen (black cap and tree creeper).

FP5A8632A tree creeper doing its best to hide

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We stopped at a quirky wild flower centre near Bayfield Hall and had a lovely lunch sitting in the sun in a sheltered spot with an opportunity to photograph some bees and beautiful demoiselles damselflies.

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Throughout our walk the countryside looked magnificent and, even though there weren’t many birds, there were some butterflies to compensate.

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Before the end of our walk we saw a kestrel, a chiffchaff, a grey wagtail and a buzzard.

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FP5A8774Chiffchaff

FP5A8795Grey wagtail

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At the end of our walk we came across a shell museum – but that was for another day.

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Click below for gallery of photos from today:

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21st June 2018 – North Norfolk

It was a sightseeing sort of day with a trip to the Blickling Estate. On the way back we stopped off at Cley beach and I had a few feeble attempts at a little tern at sea.

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DSC08721The only wildlife photo at the Blickling Estate

DSC08733The Blickling Estate

FP5A8562Little tern at Cley beach

Before sunset (on the longest day) I did see a barn owl at Blakeney and, although the quality of the image was poor, I was pretty chuffed.

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DSC08913.jpgDramatic skies at Blakeney

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And then a magical moment.

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20th June 2018 – Holkham Hall and RSPB Titchwell Marshes

We were having a day off “birding” today and were going to visit Holkham Hall. However, the Hall was closed but we did enjoy a pleasant walk around the grounds and to the (enormous) walled garden.

It was rather too windy to go for a walk on the beautiful beach at Holkham and so instead made a brief return to RSPB Titchwell Marshes which was not much further along the North Norfolk coast.

At Holkham there were amazing numbers of geese (mainly Barnacle but some Greylag and even Egyptian) with loads of goslings. Also we saw lots of swallows, a mistle thrush and even an oystercatcher feeding on worms on the lawn.

DSC08189Barnacle geese and goslings

DSC08188Egyptian geese

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DSC08444Mistle thrush

DSC08466Oystercatcher on the lawn

The highlight at Titchwell was a little ringed plover which posed at all sorts of angles.

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DSC08603Black-headed gulls

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Click below for gallery of photos from today:

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19th June 2018 – Blakeney and Cley Next The Sea

Another wonderful day round and about Blakeney in North Norfolk. Not so many birds photos today but lots of walking until the sun set.

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We walked on a circuitous route through the Blakeney Marshes to Wiverton Hall where we met the legendary colourful character Desmond McCarthy from the television series “Normal in Norfolk” which I include here, in my nature blog, as we had an engaging conversation about hunting and country life.

We also had a visit to the NWT Cley Reserve late in the afternoon – was it for the tea and cake or the hides? I would have to say that the cake was certainly better than the reserve today although we did see a ruff and a hobby.

DSC07985This must be the same redshank I saw two days ago in the same spot

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DSC08140Wild flowers at Wiverton Hall

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FP5A8407Marsh harrier

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Click below for gallery of photos from today: