Saturday, 11 July 2015

Dunwich and Minsmere

Friday July 10

Up early to deal with the overnight moth trap before leaving for Suffolk - our first visit this year. An occasion in itself, we tried to visit the area monthly in the past. 
What a lovely morning to be walking on Dunwich Heath. Sunny and warm but not hot - yet - with a pleasant breeze. It was 300 metres before we heard our first Dartford Warbler. We then saw one on the path in front of a couple of birders, who were gazing into a tree. That's birding! The birders turned out to be a very talkative UK Australian from Tasmania, on a visit with his wife.
After he'd moved on, we saw regular glimpses of juvenile Dartfords flying into isolated trees (that's not right) and adults rising vertically into the air, singing,  before plummeting back into the heather. I tried some photography from a distance, as I'd carried my 300 lens, with very limited success. Pretty poor in fact. My first pics of this warbler though........
Frazzled female Dartford Warbler

On to Minsmere, where we parked roadside in order to walk through the rhododendron tunnel to Island Mere. A few past their best orchids in the verge, Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing from the woods. 
Plenty of room in Island Mere Hide despite the photographers occupying one end. That is, standing with their long lenses on tripods, obscuring five seats. We sat in the centre and were soon rewarded by a Bittern fly-past. We were looking into the sun and my camera was set on aperture priority = fuzzy dark outlines.
During the hour and a quarter we sat there, gazing at Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes and Mute Swans, two Bitterns made occasional flights along and across the water, once coming closer to the hide.

One distant Hobby far to the right, a family of six Marsh Harriers and three fishing Common Terns, completed the list. Very pleasant but the constant buffeting of a strong wind straight into the hide sent us out to get warm again. More like hot out of the breeze.
Blue Damselflies zipped around.... I took this photo at home - on Pam's hand.

Leaning on the rail edging the entry ramp, this year's Moorhen chick fed far below.
Here's an aerial view......

There was also a sign marking the site of this year's Springwatch joke - we were bored from the start - Spineless Si the Stickleback, had been filmed. Every programme ad nauseum. We saw some blue-eyed Sticklebacks in the very shallow brackish water below and I took some pics.

Head first in his nest
 Pleased to get back to the car, we drove to the Centre and I decided not to walk any more. I had intended photographing Dragonflies on the pond. Not to-day thanks.
Home in time to enjoy the before and after tea overs in the first Ashes Test Match. Aus were out quickly this morning for 308 and we whacked over 400 by close of play. I love seeing us play with this freedom. There was even a 20/20 switch hit 4. We need to get them out to-morrow as rain is forecast for Sunday.

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