Thursday, 30 December 2010

Newbourne Springs

Work parties are held fortnightley throughtout the winter period.  At the last work party the volunteers were coppicing and working on the heathland.  Mike Wise our voluntary warden is always looking for more help; so if you fancy lending a hand please come along.  The next work party is scheduled for January 8th.
Photo by Julie March

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Trimley reserve and Levington update

All the open water areas and dykes are still frozen at Trimley, waterbird activity is confined mainly to the seaward side of the sea wall.

The lagoon at Levington is also frozen. One Spotted Redshank there today whilst on the saltings and mudflats there were several thousand waterbirds.  Yesterday, 34 Red-breasted Mergansers and 12 Goldeneye were reported and at nearby Loompit Lake there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull (Will Brame).

Friday, 24 December 2010

Trimley Reserve

The reserve is still frozen.  Wildfowl (Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Pochard and Shelduck) c1500 hugged the shoreline as if waiting for an imminent thaw of the reserve.  All the wader species that you would expect to find on the estuary at this time of the year, including Avocet were feeding on mudflat adjacent to the sea wall.  Several hundred geese, including Brent and c100 Golden Plover were on the marshes.

The photo below shows a frozen winter flood area.
Double click to enlarge

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas

I would like to thank all of the volunteers who have given their time so generously and supported me in so many ways over this past year. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas.
Merry Christmas


It was a cold murky morning on Hazlewood marshes.  I was with our contractor, Tim Day, who was restoring 600m of dyke and replaceing a broken sluice.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Shingle Street & Ramsholt

Shingle Street was bleak this morning; the sea was rough and there was a cold strong north-easterly wind.  I was out birding with my boss; we watched Snow Buntings flit and forage amongst the sparse vegetation on the beach.  On the shingle island at the mouth of the Ore there were c200 Cormorants along with a small gathering of gulls.  Our walk took us around Oxley Marshes; numerous Blackbirds and a few Redwings and Fieldfares foraged in the berry laden hawthorn bushes.  Curlews and Lapwings were on the meadows and we flushed a Woodcock. 

At Ramsholt we had Avocet, Rock Pipit and Green Sandpiper.  Not too many birds were seen but none-the-less it was a very enjoyable morning.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Trimley Reserve

Driving a 4x4, I drove as near to Trimley reserve as I dared before walking the rest of the way.  The reserve was covered in deep snow; the most I have seen in twenty years.  Wigeon hugged the shoreline along with a few Redshank and Turnstone and waterbirds had abandoned the reserve.  Everywhere was frozen and fallen snow still clung to the reeds and willows; with sub zero temperatures the reserve looked bleak and hostile, yet so beautiful.  A lone Marsh Harrier quartered the reed bed to no avail and a Fox searched the icy reservoir for dead or dying birds.

Holywells Park Canal

The canal was frozen except for a small open area of water in the pond area, which held a few Mallards, a Moorhen and a pair of Mandarin Ducks.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Freston WeBS count

Today we had freezing conditions again with overnight snow up to three inches deep.  So far, there has not been much let up in these severe weather conditions.  As a reminder, our waterbirds are daily living on a knife edge without having to contend with such harsh weather conditions.  It is imperative that these birds are not disturbed. I was involved in the monthly Water Bird Survey (WeBS); my count section was on the Orwell at Freston.  The shoreline was frozen; however, a few birds flew in to roost, which included 320 Black-tailed Godwits, 55 Oystercatchers, 70 Redshanks, 120 Dunlins, 15 Turnstones and 105 Shelducks.

Black-tailed Godwits coming to roost

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Orwell estuary and Trimley reserve updates

Today I was involved, with about 44 other fieldworkers, in a coordinated low water count of the Stour and Orwell estuaries. My patch of intertidal was between Cliff Quay and Bridge Wood saltings. I counted 1,600 Dunlin, the highest number for many years, other species included 248 Redshanks, 465 Oystercatchers, 127 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Scaup, 39 Great-crested Grebe and 20 Little Grebe.

Observations these past few days at the Trimley Marshes wetland reserve have included Waxwings, Red-headed Smew, Mandarin Duck, white-fronted Geese and a Pink-footed Goose.

Gulls, ducks and Geese on the reservoir at Trimley

Friday, 10 December 2010

Oulton Marshes

We had a site managers meeting at Carlton Marshes for updates from our team leader Dorothy Casey then we had a walk round Oulton Marshes, led by Mat Gooch, looking at recent management work.  Since my last visit it was quite obviouse as to how much restoration work has been completed, the wetland reserve is looking great.

We held our Xmas shared bash at the Carlton VC and in the afternoon Mat gave us a demonstration of how the Trust's new foot-drain machine carves out grips.

Observations on Oulton Marshes included several Woodcock, 2 Marsh Harriers, 5 Egyptian Geese, 2 Barn Owls, several Snipe, Sparrowhawk and a wintering Chiffchaff.

Site Managers on Oulton Marshes

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Trimley Marshes Reserve

Volunteers Mike, Rob and Tom cleared more brash during another bitterly cold day.  Observations included 29 WAXWINGS in the Visitor Centre bushes.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Trimley Marshes Reserve

Lots of management work achieved today thanks to a Green Team from the Environment Agency. Ten enthusiastic youngsters chopped (bow-sawed) their way through the hedge and burnt the brash. The baked potatoes and camp fire soup was great and the camaraderie was even better. The fire was burning well and it was becoming darker by the minute when someone produced a big bag of marsh mallows; the day was finished off with a well earned natter and toasted marsh mallows.

I would like to thank Andrew Rainie and his team from the Environment Agency for all their hard work and for making the day a great success.

There was no time to look for birds today but we did flush a Woodcock earlier in the morning and when we packed up some of us saw a Short-eared Owl.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Trimley Reserve

Freezing fog with no let up all day.  Before first light I saw a Fox on the bund caught in the dockland floodlights and had beautiful close views; it did not run but just nonchalantly strolled ahead of me.  A little later another fox was scavenging the saltmarsh and then I had a third walk across the frozen reservoir on tip-toes which was so comical.  A Water Rail was searching for morsels on the saltings.  It is a tough time for our wildlife.  The foggy conditions meant that it was quiet and still until a Peregrine and a Kestrel had a ding-dong of a battle right above me.  All the thrushes were present feeding on the abundant berry store in the hedge and to top it all I saw three Waxwings feeding at close quarters by the Visitor Centre.  I thought that this is a tough job as I sipped my hot coffee.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Trimley Marshes Reserve

Observations today included a Great White Egret Flying over the reserve, seven Whitefronted Geese and one Pink-footed Goose and a Common Scoter on the river.

The number of bird species seen on the reserve now stands at 230.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Newbourne Springs

Site management meeting; observations included Little Egret, c80 Siskin and 3 Woodcock.