Friday, 21 December 2012


On this date in 1980 I was out birding at Pipers Vale and observed c350 Tree Sparrows.  

We can thank intensive farming practices for the decline of many bird populations.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Low Water Count

Thursday 20th December 2012

The weather today was dreadful, certainly not the best conditions in which to count wading birds.  By the end of the count, three hours later, I was soaked.  My section to count was between Cliff Quay and Bridge Wood.  I counted just over 3,000 Knot, the highest count so far this winter and there were over 1,000 Dunlin, which is also a good count these days.   However, Black-tailed Godwit and wildfowl were absent.  The Peregrine was on his usual perch high up on the bridge and there was a Sparrowhawk at Pipers Vale.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Arctic Redpoll

This morning I was birding along Aldeburgh.  Out a sea there were a few Red-throated Divers but on the beach I had cracking views of a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll.

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Monday, 3 December 2012

Trimley Reserve

Last night unwanted visitors tore off the shutters and broke into the Visitor Centre.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Mushrooms can be found all year round but it is the autumn and early winter periods that are the best times for finding them.   Beech woods are without doubt a very rich habitat for fungi. Pine forests, especially where trees have been felled many years ago, are also productive. However, mushrooms can be found almost anywhere, for example, playing fields, meadows and parks.
Chicken of the Woods

Mushroom hunting is a fun outdoor activity for all the family.   There are many varieties, shapes, sizes and colours.  Many of the fungi species have interesting common names such as Chicken of the Woods or Plumbs and custard.

Plumbs and Custard

By breaking down dead organic material, they continue the cycle of nutrients through ecosystems. In addition, most vascular plants and trees could not survive without the benefit of their symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi that inhabit their roots and supply essential nutrients.

Sulphur Tuft

Some species of fungi provide numerous drugs (such as penicillin and other antibiotics), foods like mushrooms and the bubbles in bread, champagne, and beer.

Experts say that there are up to 15,000 known species in the UK, but many more remain unknown to science.

More than 1000 insect and other invertebrate species depend on fungi during their life cycle, using them for food, shelter and breeding - many could not exist without them.

Beef Steak

 Codes of practice:

·           Look and enjoy their beauty, take photographs rather than specimens.

·          Leave fungi for others to enjoy

·         Do not disturb leaf litter in the search for immature fungi, or you are likely to destroy many immature specimens and perhaps kill their mycelium as well as plants and other creatures that share the same habitat

·         Be aware that some very rare fungus species are protected by law and must not be picked or their habitat disturbed

Friday, 30 November 2012

Trimley Marshes

On stepping out of my front door, early this morning, I was confronted by a frosted car that had to be de-iced before I was going anywhere.   I picked up my trainee in Felixstowe then headed on to Trimley.   As we approached the reserve we flushed a Woodcock up from the track and although there was still an hour or so to go before sunrise at we passed at least a dozen Robins that were already out and about.

Despite our nets being up were up before day light we did not catch many birds, a few more Blackbirds, several Greenfinches and a Chaffinch.  Birding was more fruitful with hundreds of wildfowl, a wintering Ruff, Marsh Harrier, 6 Egyptian Geese and a Bullfinch.   There was also a Short-eared Owl on the reserve, which we did not get to see.

We did, however, find a dead Porpoise on the shingle island.
Dead Porpoise on the shingle island

Trimley reservoir


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Poland - Flashback & Memories

Main gate of the Bialowieza Primeval Forest

Wow! found by Dorothy

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I was checking on the Peregrines at Felixstowe docks this morning and found it interesting that the remains from 12 species of bird were found under their favourite perching area: Black-headed Gull 3, Shoveler 1, Woodpigeon 1, Feral pigeon 2, Dunlin 1, Knot 1, Grey Plover 1, Redshank 3, Snipe 2, Woodcock 3 plus 3 more hanging down from the crane, Oystercatcher 1 and Avocet 1.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Trimley Reserve

The Trimley Round up.  Number 12.   November   19th 2012 

By Anna Alam
Yesterday the estuary at Trimley marshes shined like a diamond in the wonderful autumn sunshine.  The last few weeks have certainly been like gems, as we have experienced a ‘purple’ patch on the reserve.
During the last month there has been a good visible ‘migration’ as we have seen birds on the move.  In October and November along the bridleway there have been hundreds of Blackbirds arriving and feeding on the fantastic berries on offer to them.    The last few weeks have resulted in over 150 Blackbirds being ringed and processed. An exercise which contributes significantly to our understanding of ‘migration’, as well as how birds are coping in an ever changing world and in so many cases, in a decline of habitats.  Other species to visit the reserve these last few weeks have been Redwing, Fieldfare and Song Thrush.  On November 6th we ringed a lovely Fieldfare and over the last few weeks have also ringed a good number of Song Thrushes.
November 6th we also noted a   very late group of 7 Swallows departing our shores.
The smallest species of bird in Britain is the Goldcrest, Just weighing a few grams and the size of a fifty pence piece.  They really are lovely and colourful with their Yellow crest for a female and for a male a Gold.  This autumn has seen a significant number arrive at Trimley and we have been able to ring a good number.  It is hard to imagine such a tiny bird travelling all the way from Scandinavia and the Nordic countries to spend winter with us.  Other tiny birds that we have seen and ringed include Redpoll and Siskin
Another striking and colourful bird to make a visit this month is the Waxwing.   We had 8 on the 12th November eating the berries of Viburnum opulus just outside the visitors centre.  Such exotic looking birds and there have been good sightings around other areas of the county.
Visitors to Trimley often hear the very melodic song of the Cetti’s Warbler.  The shrubs by the visitors centre can be a favorite singing post for this very distinctive little bird. However, it depends on thick vegetation for its survival.  The importance of Trimley reserve for this species as well as other marshland birds is hugely significant. This autumn we have seen a good increase in numbers on passage.  We have ringed at least 2, which will contribute, significantly to our understanding and subsequently their survival.
Early yesterday morning on a glorious sunny day and walking along the sea wall I heard the call of the Kingfisher.  Today we had the privilege of ringing one.  Looking at the colours of this beautiful little bird tells us that nature is truly amazing.
If you want to know more about ‘what’s going on’ at Trimley check out the SWT Trimley Reserve facebook page.
Thanks to Ernie, Dave and John for their hugely valuable counts and sightings.

Trimley Marshes

It was lovely  at Trimley, a bit chilly at first light, then the sun woke to warm us up.  The reserve is such a wonderful place to while away a few hours or in our case nearly all day.  There is always something different to see and experience and today there was lots of bird activity.

We caught our first Trimley Kingfisher.
Anna loved this bird

Female Kingfisher (green/blue not blue/green)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Levington Lagoon

We had another wader ringing session last night; the lagoon was an eerie place, no moon, consequently it was very dark, and it was not long into the night before the fog rolled up the estuary.  Calling waders in such circumstances needs to be witnessed to appreciate  how wonderful our estuaries can become after dark.

We colour ringed another four Redshanks.  Due to the darkness 8 Lapwings were caught, it is unusual to catch this amount; Grey Plover and Dunlin were also added to the nights tally.

Observations included c20 Snipe.

Driving home in dense fog, in the early hours of morning, was was a bit of a nightmare.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Trimley Reserve

A Short-eared Owl put in an appearance over the weekend.

Today visible finch migration involved Sisken, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.  There was a Marsh Harrier hunting over the reserve and there were 8 Waxwings.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Trimley Reserve

Two Ruff on the reservoir this morning.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Port of Felixstowe

This morning, in a cold strong wind blowing in off the sea I stood on the quayside at Felixstowe Docks watching Peregrine Falcons.  I was with Peter Merchant and Alan Tinline who was from the Port, and we were discussing various matters relating to the Peregrines.

There is a pair at the Landguard Terminal and we were treated to some wonderful ariel manoeuvres.  The female has been ringed on the right leg with a long orange ring, which suggests that it was ringed in Holland.

Under their favourite perching area, which is high up on one of the cranes we found the remains of Grey Plover, Snipe and Woodcock.
Female Peregrine on one of the lighting towers

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Trimley Resere

While Anna and I were erecting nets in the dark we could hear thrushes calling in the bushes.  They were patiently waiting for day break to gorge on the berries.  As in previous days there was an abundance of thrushes, including c70 Fieldfare.  Also, early this morning we had 7 Swallows flying southward.
Fieldfare one of three caught this morning

Monday, 5 November 2012

Reserve News

Trimley Marshes; waterbird numbers are increasing, thrush migration is ongoing with more Song Thrush and 19 Fieldfare.

Levington; In addition to the regular variety of waders there were two Waxwings and a Dartford Warbler today.

Newbourne Springs; Excellent weather, excellent reserve, Bullfinches, Green and Spotted Woodpeckers and lots of Blackbirds feeding on a variety of berries.  Also a late Comma was seen.
Spindle berries

Fungi on the heath

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Trimley Reserve

It was a cold frosty start to the morning.  Still lots of Blackbirds feeding on the berries, we caught 32 plus several Song Thrushes, Goldfinches and two more Goldcrests.  We also caught a Collared Dove, which is a rare bird for the reserve.

Visible migration included over 1,000 Woodpigeons in small flocks flying over westward.  At the moment waterfowl of many species are abundant on the reserve along with 72 Avocet.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Levington Lagoon

A very enjoyable night at Levington Lagoon; the weather was lovely, crisp, clear skies, full moon and a big tide.   After thirty years of catching wading birds, the event of the night was almost a somersault with a full twist whilst going after a mallard, which was running along the bottom shelf of the net.  Drenched but no photos to prove it except for a pile of muddy soaked cloths in my greenhouse waiting to be hosed down before I wash them properly.

We colour ringed a few more Redshank; several gorgeous Golden Plovers, Dunlin, Snipe and of course the Mallard.
Golden Plover

Monday, 29 October 2012

Trimley Marshes

Suffolk has been invaded by thousands of Blackbirds from the continent these past few days.  At Trimley we have hundreds of Blackbirds, which are all feeding well on the hedgerow berries.  Apparently, it is a poor year for some berry producing trees and berries sustain our thrushes over the winter period.  So refrain from trimming hedges until after christmas or at least until the berry crop has been eaten.

It's a sad fact that unfortunately, all too often, too many hedgerows never get the chance to have berries.

Among our catch at Trimley we had 20 Blackbirds and two more Cetti's Warblers.
Hundreds of Blackbirds today

Female Cetti's Warbler

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Ernie Lucking is top birder when it comes to finding colour ringed Redshanks; yesterday he read another ten combinations in a roosting flock of 58 on the lagoon.

There was also a Black-throated Diver reported on the this section of river.

Last night was the highest predicted tide of the month and at 4.3 metres they do not come much higher than that unless there is a surge tide as well.  I ventured out to hopefully catch more Redshank in order to individually colour ring them as part of the Orwell Turnover Project.  A chilly night, no moon, cloudy so it was very dark; there was a few light rain showers and light winds at first but by the early hours of morning it was blowing a gale.  Sadly, as usual, there were several people from another walk of life, out lamping for foxes.

Catching was slow at first with most birds being caught in the early hours of the morning.  We were on the marsh for 8 hours and caught 24 birds, that figure may not be high but given the degree of difficulty in catching these birds it was a good nights work.  We colour ringed another 9 Redshank, and caught Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Grey Plover.

I can't wait for the next set of tides.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Anna, wrapped up warm, holding a Godwit

The Bar-tailed Godwit just prior to taking flight

Friday, 12 October 2012

River Orwell

At times the Orwell estuary can still produce tranquil moments. I was out surveying again and found a very late reed warbler in a sallow by the soak dyke.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Trimley Reserve

First thing this morning the skies were clear and it was cold, then came the fog followed by sunshine.  We had the first Redwings and Song Thrushes of winter and during the foggy spell we had a small fall of goldcrests.

Male and female Goldcrest

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Trimley Reserve

The weather was lovely, chilly at first light then warm sunshine.  Visible migration included at least 400 House martins, a few Swallows, finches were flying over all morning, Jays totalled 38 including a flock of 23.  There were lots of geese and ducks on the reserve; other observations included kingfisher, Buzzard 3, Sparrowhawk and Bearded Tits.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Trimley Reserve

Swallows, House and Sand Martins moving through the site all morning.  Also, there were 20 Jays, a record number, in the bushes by the Visitor Centre.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Trimley Reserve

The Trimley Round up.  Number 11.     September 30th 2012. 
By Anna Alam

The autumn equinox has certainly made an impact on the reserve this week, with a drop in temperatures particularly early morning.  However, the last few days have been bathed in the wonderful gold tints of sun, that the autumn season kindly offers us. The brief summer we had has now quickly disappeared but we are looking forward now to our winter visitors and all the surprises that autumn passage may produce.

The last week has been a very memorable one, when on the 22nd September a Red backed Shrike was seen on the reserve.  One lucky visitor from Hadleigh enjoyed its presence and reported it on BINS. A bird on passage, with a few pairs now found in Scotland, it breeds in Scandinavia as well as in the Mediterranean.  Trimley reserve is a welcome stop over point; particularly as it offers some of the habitat it prefers, eg, thorny thickets.

Approaching the reserve and as you walk up the bridleway look out for frequent sightings of Kestrel, and Green Woodpecker.  The viewing platform should also offer good views over the reserve and if you are lucky good sightings of Marsh Harriers and Buzzards. Today John saw 5 above the Barn, flying high and soaring in the air currents.  It was a lovely sight to see on a lovely sunny Sunday morning.

Excitement is really the order of the month for October.  Already the sounds of autumn are here on the reserve.  If you want to hear that familiar sound and see the sights of this season, the reserve is the place to be.  Geese are showing in good numbers now and what a fantastic experience, just standing on the sea wall and watching and hearing them come in, after feeding on the estuary. As the winter months beckon large numbers will begin their return.  The sounds of Canada, Greylag and one of my favourites, Brent Geese are really a magical experience.

Autumn also sends an invitation to some of the loveliest wildfowl species to visit us.  The reservoir hide is now a great viewing area for some good numbers of species that are coming in on a daily basis.  On Saturday 29th September a lovely Pintail was seen and more of these should be arriving.    Certainly, today there were good numbers of Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufted Duck    Also look out for large numbers of Coot (not a duck but classed as a water bird). We wait in anticipation for some winter specialities and hope we may get Smew and Goldeneye again this year.

The summer flood has had good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and today some lovely Ruff were seen.  Our two Wigeon, which spent the summer with us, are now joined by many more, having returned from their summer breeding grounds.  This week there has also been an increase in Teal. These can easily be identified as the Males have a very striking head, which look like a Harlequin.

We look forward to October and this lovely time of the year and we wait for some of our lovely winter visitors to return. If you visit the reserve enjoy the walk down to the reserve and look out for the changing leaf colours on the trees along the bridleway.

Cattle grazing the last of the grass

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Birding at Sizewell

The easterly winds brought seabirds to our coast in numbers today to the delight of birders.  I was birding with Carol and Anna and in only a couple of hours we had seen almost 200 Gannet, several duck species including Common Scoter, several Arctic Skuas, one Great Skua and a Sooty Shearwater.

Yesterday at Trimley reserve there was a Red-backed Shrike reported.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Orwell Wader Turn-over Project

Below is an excellent photograph taken by John Kemp of a Black-tailed Godwit loafing on a rising tide.

The godwit was ringed at Levington in 2008 by Newton & Wright as part of a Natural England & BTO 'Turn-over' project to find out the population using the estuary over the winter period.  Redshanks are also individually colour ringed.

The godwit below has now been seen 10 times; Breydon Water, Freston (R Orwell), Welney, Trimley Marshes and Mistley Walls (R Stour) where the photo was taken.

Photo by John Kemp

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


This photograph was taken a long way from home but it does not matter where you go in the world wildlife is being threatened and destroyed beyond belief.  Our government with their allies are no different yet here in the west we are supposed to be educated and a cut above the rest.

I am still looking for this handsome fellow at Newbourne but maybe only in my dreams.

The angle of this shot shows the Proboscus Monkey to be very handsome.
Endemic to Borneo

Friday, 14 September 2012


The night sky at Levington last night.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Landseer Park

Landseer Park is situated in the centre of a large housing estate to the east of Ipswich.  In the not to distant past there was a wonderful diverse mixture of habitats with mature trees, woodland, scrub, wet meadows, fen areas to streams and ponds, which covered the whole of the valley.  However, during the 1950’s and 1960’ much of the valley was in-filled with domestic refuse.  All that remains from that era now is the wooded area on the high ground between Clapgate Lane and Cliff Lane.

A large area of the park is undulating open regularly mown amenity grassland with large areas of herb rich grassland, acid grassland which has developed into a lovely mosaic of grassland types.  There are a number of scrub areas planted on the perimeter slopes some of which are maturing into wonderful habitats.  

Landseer Park woodland

Orb spider

Trimley Marshes

The Green sandpiper is a passage migrant, breeds in subarctic Europe; nests in old Fieldfares nests,  The species winters in southern Europe and tropical Africa.

The bird pictured below was captured and ringed at Trimley.
Green Sandpiper in moult showing new inner primaries, old outer and
 old secondaries.


Another derelict site in Ipswich.
Small Wood Reed

Thursday, 6 September 2012


Recently I have been snowed under with survey work in and around Ipswich, very enjoyable and great weather too.

Superb area of acid grassland in Ipswich (not a building to be seen).

The Mint Moth a common micro, lots about at the moment.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ransomes Europark

Whilst I was surveying today I found several new Wasp spider colonies and good numbers of Long-winged and Short-winged Coneheads.
Female Wasp spider

Long-winged Conehead

Monday, 27 August 2012

Ransomes Europark

I was out surveying this morning for a few hours and noticed that there were lots of fresh Red Admirals on the wing.  I also found some Dark Bush-crickets.
Red Admiral on nettle

Red Admiral sunning itself 
Dark Bush-cricket (male) 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Trimley Resere

The Trimley Round up   Number 10     Week ending 18th August. 
By Anna Alam

The best things in life are free’  

 On Monday 13th August a fantastic summer morning at 5am,when the sun had not yet risen and in the lovely dawn light, 2 young stags just stood and watched me from a short distance. So quiet and with such fragile elegance they glanced and walked back into the trees.  Experiences such as these are hard sometimes to even imagine and they leave forever a lasting memory.

Summer has at last arrived and it appears to be staying for a while.  The grazing cattle and their growing calves are at last enjoying some well-deserved heat and dry weather here at Trimley.

It’s been a good few weeks on the reserve for birds and as migration has started we wait again for our new arrivals, however short their stay on the Trimley reserve.

During the past few weeks there have been some excellent sightings.  Little Egrets have been visiting in increasing numbers and on 12th August Dave and Ernie counted 39, a fantastic sight to see.  The lovely Black- tailed Godwit, in the region of 50+ have been seen during the day.  However certainly this number increases to over 300 after dark and at roost. This was certainly the case on Wednesday 15th August.

Other notable sightings include Wood Sandpiper and Ruff and Paul Oldfield early on 18th August saw 3 Juvenile Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 4 Green Sandpipers, and 3 Common Sandpipers.  During the week there have been up to 10 Green Sandpipers, 12 Greenshank, 4 Ruff and 5 Spotted Redshank.  

Out on the reservoir hide some of the Lesser-black backed gulls and black-headed gulls we ringed in June can be seen on the rafts where they hatched and where they call ‘home.’ They certainly have grown and now really look like gulls in their juvenile plumage. It is hoped we can keep track of their movements via their rings.

The Swans and Cygnets are doing well and their black juvenile plumage is actually good camouflage in the Trimley waters. They can actually be quite difficult to see even on a sunny day. 

There appears to be quite a ‘hustle and bustle’ going on if you walk to many of the hides. The Greylag Geese and Canada Geese have finished their moults and can now fly to the reserve after being in the refuge of the estuary. After a few weeks of what seemed a very quiet reserve their honking and cackling are back with us, which is a very welcome, and reassuring sound. 

Waders and Gulls however are not the only birds to mention, Passerines are also busy with preparing for migration.  Sedge and Reed Warblers are now making their long journeys back to Africa. Unfortunately Trimley has experienced its lowest number of these species for many years Let us hope that the juvenile birds we ringed this year come back to us again.  Last month – July 15th we were excited to see another ringed Reed Warbler this time from Lisbon. In April we were lucky to have another from San Sebastian. These are such exciting events and the importance of the reed beds are vital for their survival.

Other birds in very good numbers on the reserve or on the edge of the reserve are Goldfinches and Yellow Buntings with their very distinctive calls. We have also seen some lovely Bullfinches, Whitethroats, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroats, which has included a good number of juvenile birds.

Over the next week if you come down to Trimley look out for Stonechat and Whinchat who are now making their journeys back to Africa. Also look out for mammals including Water vole and Otter.

Thank you to everyone who visits the reserve and contributes to the observations.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Trimley reserve

There was a Wood Sandpiper this morning; other highlights include 30 Little Egret, Spotted redshank, 4 Greenshank, 3 Common sandpipers and 7 Green Sandpipers.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Out and about

Two hours spent on Lower Hollesley in lovely sunny weather proved to be very rewarding.  There were several Grayling flitting over the heather; I checked a Dartford Warblers nest, which had previously held eggs but now had three young but were too small to ring.  I was then shown a Skylarks nest, my first ever built in pure heather.

It was then off to the coast to a Corn Bunting hotspot, where at least six males are on territory.  The first nest was on the ground in grass and had three young birds and a second nest was built about twelve inches from the the ground in a thick cover of wheat and held two eggs.
Two Grayling

Skylarks nest built in heather

Young Skylarks

Skylark chick

Corn Bunting nest with two well marked eggs