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8th July 2021 – WWT Slimbridge

We spent the morning visiting a few of the hides on the north of the reserve, walking as far as the Estuary hide. We didn’t, in fact, see many birds from any of the hides other than the first one. Here we had a very fruitful time with good views of avocets and chicks, tufted ducks and ducklings, green sandpipers, black-tailed godwit and (one of my all time favourites) little ringed plovers.

Avocet landing
Avocet seeing-off a black-headed gull
Avocet chick
Black-headed gull landing
Little egret
Common crane
Comma butterfly
Avocet chick
Green sandpiper
Green sandpiper
Avocets
Tufted duck
Black-tailed godwit
Little ringed plover
View from the Estuary Tower hide of the estuary – with not many birds in sight

We then drove up to Rodborough Common but I put my camera away and we succumbed to lunch al fresco at The Bear Hotel. No complaints about that.

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3rd July 2021 – Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk

Despite the disappointing weather we had a fabulous trip to this wild and remote shingle spit, the largest in Europe – Orford Ness is an internationally important coastal nature reserve, with a fascinating 20th century military history.

You take a short boat trip from Orford Quay and, as the National Trust website says ,”follow trails through a stunning landscape and a history that will both delight and intrigue. Discover an internationally important nature reserve littered with debris and unusual, often forbidding, buildings from a sometimes disturbing past.’

Unusual structures scattered across the salt marshes and shingle beaches of Orford Ness are remnants of the island’s unique history as a test site for communications and weapons systems.

The National Trust ferry Octavia approaching Orford Quay.

With Covid restrictions you are currently allocated approximately four hours for your visit and we spent most of our time exploring the wildlife. We did, however, visit some of the military buildings where there were exhibitions of the secret military past.

The National Trust’s website gives a very good account

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve

Currently there is also a physical and online art exhibition – Artangel’s Afterness (see the website https://www.artangel.org.uk/project/afterness/) and headsets are freely available but we preferred to listen to the sound of the birds, particularly skylark and oystercatcher.

Due to the bird breeding season we were only allowed to visit a small section of the marshes (red route on map below) but there was more than enough for us to see.

A telescope would have been useful to see the distant views of waders but many were close enough to see and photograph. There was one spectacular moment when, near the end of our visit as I was photographing a distant marsh harrier, a spoonbill flew directly overhead. I am embarrassed to say how many shots I took of this delightful bird.

Marsh harrier above one of the mysterious buildings (with another raptor on the roof)
Spoonbill
Skylark
Meadow pipit
Little egret
Redshank
Greenshank I presume – however its legs were very yellow so I even considered a Yellowlegs
Oystercatcher
Lapwing
Redshank
Starlings
Linnets
Marsh harrier
Shelduck
We had better views than this blurred photo of an avocet

Gallery of some of the buildings and landscapes on Orford Ness

As well as migrating birds the marshland and shingle beaches are also home to hares and rare plants and lichens.

Gallery of some of the photos I took:

Can’t wait to go back (even though I don’t expect to get such good views of a spoonbill again).

Gallery of just a few of the photos I took of the spoonbill!:

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2nd July 2021 – Suffolk

Photographs taken of dragonflies and damselflies (and a meadow brown butterfly) at a pool near Court Barn at Shelley Priory in Suffolk. I looked at this pool earlier in the week on a dull day and saw very little. The sun came out and voilà …

I look forward to identifying these on my return from holiday. It shouldn’t take long as many are repeats.

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1st July 2021 – Wolves Wood RSPB, Suffolk

No wolves but a close encounter with a badger in this ancient woodland. A few rays of sunshine brought out the butterflies with Speckled Woods, Ringlets, Red and (a first for me) White admirals.

Badger
Speckled wood butterfly
Ringlet butterfly
Red Admiral butterfly
White Admiral butterfly
White Admiral butterfly
Clouded Border moth
Any guesses?

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1st July 2021 – Wrabness Nature Reserve, Essex

The song of nightingales, a rare sighting of a turtle dove, sand martins, yellowhammers, whitethroats, chiffchaffs , kestrels and a red kite were some of the joys of this reserve on the Stour estuary in Essex.

Whitethroat
Yellowhammer
Sand Martin
Red kite
Greylag goose
Turtle dove
Kestrel
Whitethroat
Chiffchaff
Sand Martin
Little egret