January 4th 2015

4 Jan

Quite excited as today Lynda and I are off to the Suffolk coast for a spot of birding. The morning is frosty but sunny and cold -1C.

Our first port of call was to be Dunwich Marshes but en-route I picked up 2 new species. By the old gravel pits at Withersdale Street I picked up 2 Egyptian Geese in a field and near the Blythburgh water tower a Song Thrush flew over the road in front of us.

We started walking from the beach car park in Dunwich at 10:20, already there were a few dog walkers out and about. It was strange walking on the shingle defense bank because it was frozen solid. Although lumpy it was actually easier to walk on. I have never experienced it in the state before.  Because of the hard frost most of the standing water on the marsh was frozen but there were still a few areas of open water.

Managed to pick up some new waterfowl for the year plus a few shorebirds but the bird of the morning was Hen Harrier, a fine male quartering over the marsh.

Black-headed Gull (10)
Great Black-backed Gull (3)
Carrion Crow (4)
Cormorant ( 4)
Common Redshank (20)
Skylark (10)
Pheasant (10)
Shelduck (4)
Reed Bunting (2)
Teal (50)
Rock Pipit (1)
Dunlin (20)
Snipe (3)
Greylag Goose (50)
Wigeon (10)
Shoveler (4)
Lapwing (10)
Meadow Pipit (3)
Mute Swan (6)
Herring Gull (6)
Little Grebe (1)
Gadwall (2)

After leaving the marsh we entered Dunwich Forest and returned to Dunwich village. Here we had views into the wood on our right but still had occasional spots where we could scan the marsh.

Chaffinch (2)
Magpie (2)
Carrion Crow (4)
Greylag Goose (6)
Mallard (6)
Lapwing (8)
Marsh Harrier (1)
Teal (8)
Snipe (2)
Long-tailed Tit (2)
Blackbird (2)
Shelduck (4)
Robin (1)
Great Tit (1)
Jackdaw (4)
Hen Harrier (1)
Coal Tit (1)
Pied Wagtail (1)

From here we drove to Shingle Street, this is one of my favourite places on the Suffolk coast. Today the parking bay was full, just too many people. It was mid afternoon when we arrived so fortunately some of the people were leaving. The tide was low revealing more of the shingle banks than I had seen before.  Being so late in the afternoon I was hoping for perhaps another Hen Harrier or a Short-eared Owl.

The first thing which was noticeable was a large gathering of Cormorant out on a shingle bank, 200 birds in total, there were a  few shorebirds in amongst them which meant getting a little closer to positively id even with the scope. Dunlin, Turnstone and Grey Plover. Continuing further along the sea defence bank we got closer and closer to the prison. As I was scanning around a caught a glimpse of a bird just before it dropped below the inner sea wall. I was sure it was a shorty but had to wait a while before it re appeared.  This time it cam our side of the wall flew along and back, occasionally flying much higher. It was a short-eared Owl as if one was not enough it was joined by a second bird and at times they flew together. Fantastic.

Suddenly the light dropped, I thought the sun had dipped behind a cloud, I turned to have a look but it was not a cloud it was a thick bank of fog, it quickly engulfed us the it became very dull and the temperature plumetted. that was pretty much it for the afternoon so we turned and headed back to the car.

Cormorant (200)
Grey Heron (2)
Turnstone (10)
Dunlin (50)
Grey Plover (6)
Herring Gull (10)
Little Egret (2)
Short-eared Owl (2)

This now puts me on 64 species for 2015. Back to work tomorrow but I will be scanning the roadside trees for Little Owl and the roadside fields for partridge and Golden Plover. Every little helps!

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