Tuesday, April 01, 2008

(not) Spring 08 holiday, day 9

Our last full day of holiday and the sun is shining and the wind is down, ok rain is forecast for later but you never know!

We started out by driving to Dunwich village and parking at the beach car park, then walked along the south edge of RSPB's Dingle Marshes (http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/d/dinglemarshes/index.asp), you can tell how some of the locals treat it by the number of spent shotgun cartridges lying around...

There are good numbers of both Meadow Pipits and Skylarks, this one took off close-by so I managed a snap before he got too high:

On the pools a number of ducks and waders, including this small group of Dunlin feeding:

There were at least four Little Egrets too, including this one that flew close-by:

At the end of Dingle Marshes we turned to walk along the edge of Walberswick Nature Reserve, though like Hickling Broad this is more a space for birds in summer and proved to be very quiet in respect of wildlife, however the noise level was high due to the continual gunfire (3 hours non-stop) from what we assume was some sort of shooting competition on a nearby estate, which made the eight mile walk a bit depressing again. If we can't have a total ban perhaps we could start with one weekend a year with no shooting, just one? We did see a pair of Marsh Harriers, including this male:

not a great picture but it does show the distinctive plumage clearly. A Cetti's sung really close-by and then made the very briefest of appearances. As there was so little about we completed the walk quite quickly so made first for nearby Dunwich Heath to try and get more pictures of male Dartford Warblers, but no bird song/PDA thingy and no birds... Next stop Sizewell to try and see a Black Redstart. We bumped into a couple of birders who'd been to Minsmere that morning to see the Bluethroat and were like us looking for a Black Redstart. We did get distant views of one on the other side of some impressive barbed wire fencing.

On the way back to the car park we noticed a large police van, with another pulling into the car park. I was challenged by an officer as to my business, so I told him about the Black Redstart and pointed out the conveniently placed information board that talks all about them. He replied by pointing out that he was part of the armed response unit that had been called in by site workers. I don't think the police were comfortable with four people dressed in 'outdoor wear' carrying binoculars, tripods, cameras, telescopes, etc. mooching around the perimeter of a nuclear power plant and if you're planning a trip to Sizewell or any other nuclear power station I'd bear that in mind at the moment.

We decided to move on swiftly and were running out of ideas so decided to head back to Minsmere for the end of the afternoon. The path to the Bluethroat (I wanted some more pictures this time taken in low wind and a constant light) was only passable in wellies and the route the other way would have taken the rest of the remaining light so we walked again to the Island Mere hide. We did spot this Chinese Water deer off the path, it looks so nervous:

Along the path another birder pointed out a Firecrest, it was moving too fast to photograph but was a stunning bird to see, and only our second sighting of one. On the water in front of the hide, this drake Teal, I think Teal plumage is beautiful:

There was female Common Scoter out on the water but too far for a decent photograph.

As the light faded we popped into the Bittern hide, but no Bitterns about, end of April through to early June is the best time to see them, whilst they're feeding young. We were however delighted with this Kingfisher, which perched in the reeds in front of the hide and stayed there for a good ten minutes, giving everyone in the hide a chance to move into the corner of the hide and have a good look:

That picture is worth a closer look. Our final sighting of the day, a group of Red Deer heading down to drink from the river in Minsmere at dusk, only one photograph came out due to the very low levels of light:

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