Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ipswich 28th Jan - 2nd Feb 2012

After finishing 4 night shifts on the Friday we headed up to Ipswich on Saturday 28th to spend a few days with my family. The weather was turning cold, heralding a Siberian cold snap, but it was dry and sunny as we headed across the country. From the train between Plymouth and London the best sightings were greenshanks on the River Teign and the River Exe, 4 fulmars prospecting the cliffs near Teignmouth, a roe deer and at least 10 red kites.

Sunday 29th and Mum had to work so we had use of the car for the afternoon. We headed out to Needham Market and David dropped me off at Needham Market Lakes, a small nature reserve, while he went to look round the antiques shop. It was odd to see miniature power boats racing on the lake considering it is a nature reserve and a great crested grebe was seen skulking at the back of the lake keeping out of the way of the boats. A kingfisher in a classic pose on a branch overhanging a small stream was a good sighting and also seen were a little egret and common gulls amongst the black headed gulls.

The antiques shop had closed down so after an hour David picked me up and we headed off to Risby for some more antiquing.  While David looked around the antiques shops at Risby Barns I headed off for a walk in the surrounding fields, passing my late Great Grandmothers and my late Great Uncles bungalows on the way. I saw a hare running across the fields before it appeared to just disappear as it settled down into its run. Also seen were quite a few fieldfares flying over and a small flock of golden plover feeding in a ploughed field with some common and black headed gulls.

While driving around the Suffolk countryside it was surprising to see buzzards soaring overhead or feeding on worms in the ploughed fields. They are a common sight here in Devon but I never saw buzzards when I lived in Suffolk. However since moving to Devon in 1986 they have spread ever Eastward from their strongholds in the West, supposedly due to a lack of persecution from gamekeepers.

We headed back to Ipswich and visited the hospital to have a look around the grounds for some waxwings that have been reported there for a few weeks now but we were out of luck. However the next day (30th) we returned to the hospital on the way to Woodbridge, this time with Mum as well, and we found a flock of around 70 birds as soon as we arrived at the main entrance. They were sat in the tops of some trees trilling away quietly and looking like fluffy pink starlings and I managed to get a few photos despite the poor light.


More waxwings

Woodbridge was cold and grey but I walked along the river path for an hour while Mum and David went shopping and I managed some nice bird sightings. A lone avocet was a surprise and a male tufted duck was bumming bread scraps amongst the mallards being fed by passers by. 2 bar-tailed godwits were seen amongst the black-tailed godwits along with grey plover, dunlin and redshank. Little grebes were diving out on the river, at least 8 were seen.


Tufted Duck
Black- and Bar-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit

Tuesday 31st and David had to travel back to Plymouth due to work commitments but I went for a walk on Chantry Park, my old local patch and where I cut my birdwatching teeth in my teenage years. It brightened up as the afternoon wore on but it remained cold. I found a pile of feathers and a bill under a hawthorn bush which was all that remained of a goldfinch from a recent sparrowhawk kill.

Goldfinch feather

Stock doves were much in evidence feeding in the surrounding fields and flying overhead in small groups. Jays were very vocal and showy too. Numerous brown rats were seen and were quite oblivious to my presence as I walked along the paths around the small lake. A long tailed tit was seen carrying some lichen in its bill, a sign of Spring coming despite the cold weather.

The small lake at Chantry Park - my old local patch

Wednesday 1st Feb and Mum and I went for a walk at Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve with Mums friends Liz and John. It was bright and sunny but bitterly cold in the Easterly wind and large parts of the marsh were frozen over. A red-legged partridge was heard but I failed to see it. A woodcock was flushed from the side of the path, flying off over the trees and out of sight, maybe a recent arrival from the frozen continent. Pintail, wigeon, mallard and teal were resting on a small patch of unfrozen water with a male shoveler and a pair of gadwall. A lone black tailed godwit was feeding on the marsh and golden plovers were seen flying over nearby fields. Brent, greylag and Canada geese were also seen along with a single little grebe and single flyover snipe. On the way home we stopped off at Ipswich hospital to see the waxwings but were out of luck and they haven't been reported from here since we saw them on the Monday.

Thursday 2nd was sunny and bright again and I headed home on the train. Greenshanks were seen along the River Exe again but not the Teign. 5 red kites were seen between London and Westbury and a single roe deer was seen again.

 And so it had been a very pleasent but tiring trip with some good wildlife sightings.

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