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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!:
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.
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.
I had seen reports from a local odonatologist that he had seen a Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly on our local patch amongst the more abundant Blue-tailed Damselfly. This has now been confirmed and apparently this is now the only site in (the former county of) Avon for these damselflies. What is just as exciting is that this is the 23rd species of dragonfly noted in the park, meaning that we now have more than half the country’s species at the site.
I therefore thought that as there is a Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly in the park this would be a good time to go and try my hand at photographing dragonflies and damselflies and then try the even more difficult task of identifying them.
Around Duchess Pond there was indeed an abundance of dragonflies and damselflies and here are some of my photographic attempts. I’m less sure about my ID skills.
I may have photographed others!
Other than moorhens, coots and Canada geese I didn’t see many birds except fora very cheery song thrush which posed very nicely for me.
A week’s holiday in St Ives didn’t lend itself a lot to bird photography (unless I wanted to spend my time photographing gulls making a nuisance of themselves in the town and even I would have felt too much of a Wally doing that). However, despite the mediocre weather and the restrictions caused by the G7 conference in nearby Carbis Bay, we did have a lovely time visiting some of the great gardens of Cornwall and walking some of the magnificent coastal paths. We even spotted a few birds too.
At Tremenheere we particularly loved the exotic and sub-tropical plants (reminded us of our trips to South Africa) and the wonderful views of St Michael’s Mount and Mounts Bay. All three gardens had decent cafés too.
After our visit to Tremenheere on the first day we also had a walk around Marazion Nature Reserve run by the RSPB where there were swallows, martins, whitethroats, grey herons and egrets.
On our second day we visited Trengwainton Garden near Penzance and then headed north to the coast to walk a section of the coastal path with views of Cape Cornwall and Botallack Head and its tin mines famous from the tv series Poldark.
Later in the week we spent a day in and around Hayle (on the estuary and at Godrevy Point) and saw quite a few birds. The National Trust has been working closely with their tenant farmers to find ways of improving wildlife across the high yielding broccoli fields and everywhere you now see the purple flowers of a crop called Phocelia which acts as a green manure, reduces the need for fertilizers and is a great nectar source for bees and butterflies
The aircraft carrier tucked behind Godrevy lighthouse served as a constant reminder of the G7 conference at Carbis Bay
Phocelia looks spectacular on a sunny day – not so today
We stopped at Trerice NT (near Newquay) early on our journey home for a well-earned coffee stop after the exertions of packing up and tidying our holiday let.
We had a walk along the River Frome at Snuff Mills in Bristol this afternoon in the hope of seeing juvenile dippers and/or juvenile kingfishers of which I had seen reports.
We didn’t hang around as the forecast wasn’t good. I did stop to take some photos of some of the flowers in the garden at the entrance to the park – the volunteers who maintain the garden have done a splendid job and on a better day I must return and try to do them more justice.
We didn’t see any of the juvenile birds on our way out but on the way back we did see 2 juvenile kingfishers thanks to a local birder who had spent some time tracking them down. We didn’t stay long as the rain, which had been threatening all afternoon, decided to spoil our fun.
Our last day in Anglesey and its been heavy rain and winds; hence the run of blog posts. However we did get out for an hour in the morning and went for a short walk (and a coffee) at Penmon Point. Despite the foul weather I did get a few of photos including a curlew and some eider duck.