Monday 14 November 2011

Marshland Habitat (2): From Dead Wood to Dunlin

We are greatly enjoying our exploration expeditions in Suffolk. The light was fading fast as we set off, but we were delighted to see so many Dunlin (albeit at some distance) out on the mere. I have never knowingly watched these birds before. Another first for me.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, the reedbed landscape is usually only punctuated by sails or church towers, windmills or ... dead trees.

These 'corpses' are apparently not the result of disease or strikes by lightning. Rather, they are reminders of the time when the old fields were flooded.

Particularly high tides breached the bank in this area near Snape back in 1953, creating a large area of mudflats. In days gone by, the barge sailors referred to one of the wide stretches of the river Alde as 'Troublesome Reach'. It is still possible to see withies - long wooden stakes used as markers - standing proud from the river bed, to guide the vessels along the deeper channels.

We saw most of our birds out on the water, but there were one or two rustles in the leaves overhead. This Great Tit was pretty camouflaged in the sunlit mosaic of turning autumn leaves.

We seem to have seen more Ladybirds than ever before this year. There were one or two Seven-spotted ones (Coccinella septempunctata) on the stinging nettles.


David Gill said...

For the 1953 flood see here.

Thank you for sharing some great pictures.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely photos. Dunlin are lovely birds to watch. I've not seen many ladybirds this year, last year was a good year up here for them i seem to remember

Adam Tilt said...

Glad you are enjoying yourself out there and well done on the Dunlin. Looks like the weather is being kind to you.

Andrea said...

hi Caroline, maybe that tree died just recently, or else 1953 is more than half a century earlier, exposed trees would have decomposed already. We have extensive flooding of our plains here too this year, which just happened now. A lot of circumstances contributed to the mishaps.

Caroline Gill said...

Thank you for your comments, David, CGP, Adam and Andrea. I understand, Andrea, that it was the 1953 storm that wreaked havoc with these particular trees. In Britain, interestingly, there have been many instances in which a marshy landscape has actually contributed to preservation (see here and here - section on archaeology - for examples ...)

Mary said...

I love that big old dead tree! Great shot!