Monday, 31 October 2011

Beautiful Birds (29): Orford and Havergate

The striped lighthouse is at Orford Ness, a National Nature Reserve in the care of the National Trust off the Suffolk coast. The area is a particularly important breeding ground for the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons). There is also a Gull colony. We parked at Orford last Saturday afternoon, and took a blustery walk along the shoreline ...

... passing lots of boats ...

We were particularly interested to discover that Suffolk's only island, Havergate, is just a short boat ride away. The island is protected by the RSPB - and noted for its Avocets (such magnificent birds!), waders, ducks and Brown Hares.

  • Orford Ness (and Sutton Hoo) in the East Anglian Daily Times

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Eye-catching Insects (7): Ladybird

We went out in the autumn sunshine to photograph one of the round-towered Suffolk churches, Hasketon. While we were there, we noticed a flurry - or should I say a 'loveliness'? - of Ladybirds by the lychgate. For the most part, they were very active and therefore not easy to catch on camera.

The village sign

This photo shows the Seven-spotted Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) perched on an ivy bush.

The beautiful church, incidentally, is dedicated to St Andrew. The round Norman tower was re-worked c.1300. There is fine flint-work visible on the exterior.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Beautiful Birds (31): Black Swans ... and Flamingo update

I spotted these Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) at Snape some days ago, just as the light was fading. As a breed, they come from Australia. You can read more about them here on the RSPB site.

The RSPB South Suffolk Tweet for  21 October mentions that there was still a Flamingo around in the county [ ].  

These three (above) were not seen in Suffolk, but I thought they would add a bit of colour!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Beautiful Birds (30): RSPB Reserve Minsmere, Suffolk, UK

A Teal (not a Shoveler) ... shovelling!
David lining up the camera for a waterfowl fly-past

You can see the Mismere RSPB Reserve on the left and the North Sea on the right ... pretty chilly, too!

And here they come!

A Little Egret surrounded by a group of Teal, with their heads below the surface.
Is this a Bar-Tailed Godwit? No, I gather it's a Black-Tailed one.
We drove past the RSPB Deer Rut station ... into the Dunwich sunset.
Do take a look at David's Orwell View blog for more photos ... You may also like to see the RSPB Daily (e-bulletin), featuring the Little Egret we saw at Minsmere.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Eye-catching Insects (6): Moth

This moth flew up to my window, and I rather liked the 'chance' composition! 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Beautiful Birds (29): Starlings at Felixstowe

This Starling (and presumably its shadow) had a ring on its right leg.

It was dining off pizza ... and probably chips.

The container port near Landguard Point seemed to be home to a large number of Starlings ...

... though on this occasion, I only caught a few on camera, as they prepared for take-off.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Marshland Habitats (2): Roost at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, UK

The twilight roost begins as different species gather in flocks ...

... and daylight fades. 

Starlings gather on the roof at Snape Maltings ...

... taking to the skies ...

... in an ever-changing swarm ...

... until all is still once more. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Marshland Habitats (1): Snape, Suffolk, UK

David at Snape, first visit for about 20 years

The landscape known as Snape Marshes is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The area constitutes a wonderful wetland habitat, bounded by the River Alde in Suffolk.

I spent my teenage years in a village some five miles out of Norwich, close to the home of Norfolk naturalist, Ted Ellis. The marshland at Snape reminded me of Sunday walks on Surlingham Church Marsh, weaving in and out of the reed beds, keeping alert in case a Swallowtail butterfly or a non-native Coypu came into view.

There is something very special about reeds. They sway with the wind and emit a unique fragrance all of their own. There were some workers 'slubbing' (clearing the silted sections of dyke, in a sequence of rotation) with machinery while we were there to ensure that the habitat remains suited to creatures like the Otter.

We ambled out along the track, and turned to look back at Snape Maltings, now a music hall complex with shops and cafes.

If we were fooled by this gallant steed, it was only for a moment ... honest!

What a glorious site! I felt it could be straight out of a Cotman painting. The Thames barge from Harwich wove its way gently and gracefully through the narrow channels.

Suddenly there was a flicker overhead, as a Marsh Harrier (and here) began to hover.

We had seen the best of the daylight, but dusk brings its own rewards - and we THINK this may be a flock of Avocets (and here). I have enlarged and lightened a section of the photograph below in case any of you out there can confirm or refute our attempt at identification!

What an exciting initial foray into the 'wilds' of the beautiful Suffolk countryside. 

Compare with the banner photo here: are these Avocets, I wonder?