Saturday 23 April 2016

Suffolk Wildlife Trust Oulton Marshes, near Lowestoft

We decided to see what was about on Oulton Marshes, a reserve we had not visited before ...

I noticed the bramble, which has helped me to identify the gall as ...

... Bramble stem gall (Diastrophus rubi) ...

... you can read about it on this site by clicking and scrolling down a bit

The sound of birdsong in the reeds and willows was wonderful.

Sadly there was no tea garden in sight!

There were a couple of Shovelers (this is the male) ...

The slug seemed to be enjoying a dandelion ...

... while we watched the train ...

Teasels ...

Shovelers ...

Mute Swan

The great outdoors!

We could just see the ziggurat tower of St Mary's at Burgh St Peter.

Last year's Teasel

Traffic jam on the Broads?

New growth ...

... and old reeds

I love the pattern

Not quite ...

... Swan Lake ...

... more a case of 'up tails all'.

Thursday 21 April 2016

'The Migrant Waders' - day of the launch

This is the day on which The Migrant Waders will be launched in Colchester.

This beautiful book is lavishly and exquisitely illustrated by designer Ella Johnston. You can see some of her drawings on the accompanying poster here in the Dunlin Press shop. The book, beautifully produced and edited by MW Bewick and Ella Johnston of Dunlin Press, is 'a collection of illustration, evocative prose, poetry and reportage that follows the migration routes of wading and shore birds from the high arctic to the tropics.'

One of the contributors, Samantha Franks, is a Research Ecologist with the BTO. Martin Harper is the Conservation Director of the RSPB.

My Bittern poem has been included; and in a serendipitous way, I see the RSPB have just posted a piece by Rachael Murray about this elusive bird, known more often by sound than sighting. The Bittern, as I recall, was one of the threatened species to feature in the RSPB 'Conservation' board game that we used to play in the mid 1970s. I saw my first Bittern some thirty years later at Minsmere, and have since seen - and heard - a few more on the reserve. 

Tuesday 19 April 2016

More images from RSPB Minsmere

The Water Vole on my previous post may have been the highlight of our visit to Minsmere this last weekend, but there were many other lovely things on offer. Spring is burgeoning and the willows and birches are bursting forth. 

We were really hoping to see Bearded tits, but it was the afternoon and like a number of other birds, they were deep in the reedbeds. Every so often we heard the distinctive 'ping', but they eluded us. We were told we should get there much earlier in the day.

Bearded tit - from last year. Such fabulous birds ...

There was quite a gathering in the woods on the way to Island Mere and we were told that the excitement had been caused by a female Blackcap, not that you can tell very easily from my photo!

We nearly always hear the Green Woodpecker's yaffle. This time we only saw one, and it was a fair distance away, almost beyond the reach of my zoom, so apologies for the blurry image below. 

This handsome Snipe had perched in the reeds a short distance from the Island Mere hide.

We were able to get a good view through the open windows.

I could award these two in the photo below the 'noisy' prize, but perhaps that should go to the Little Grebe!

A couple of Marsh Harriers were flying high over us in the thermals.

The photo below shows the view from the BBC Springwatch cabin, looking down towards Island Mere. The sea is off to the left, beyond the confines of this photo, where - unfortunately - the view is rudely interrupted by the white dome of Sizewell Power Station.

The path back to the entrance to the reserve was very muddy. How about this for a sign ...

We called in at Snape Maltings on our way home, unable to resist a quick photo of the rainbow over the reedbeds ...

Monday 18 April 2016

My First Water Vole sighting of the year

A prominent ripple was the first clue to animal activity at RSPB Minsmere ...

 ... We were delighted when the ripple was followed by a Water Vole, swimming in front of us.

The creature tucked itself into a niche under the footbridge ...

... and began chewing a reed.

Just look at the difference in size between the front claws and the back ones! The front paws leave a star-shaped print in the mud.

I rotated the two photos above by 90 degrees to allow for an easier view. Water Voles always remind me of Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, who had his own rowing boat.

These beautiful animals are a protected species in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. They are also listed as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Water Voles declined drastically in the 20th century, initially on account of invasive farming practices and then as a result of the spread of American Mink.

I have logged the sighting on the Wildlife Trusts' sightings form.

It was a good afternoon for mammals. There were large quantities of rabbits and their young out in the sunshine.

They were hopping about and sitting peacefully when there was sudden pandemonium in the ranks. David (who has posted his own Water Vole photo) watched a stoat chasing one of their number into the thicket of bramble and gorse. I missed the stoat, but saw white tails bobbing in all directions.   

There were plenty of red deer about. I have only just noticed the rabbit to the left. 

The BBC Springwatch team will be back here before long.