Wednesday, 14 May 2014

2nd May - Lakenheath, Suffolk

This May Day Bank Holiday we were returning to Suffolk, a cottage almost on the beach at Thorpeness was our base,  We have spend several May days here, and enjoyed good weather in what is a beautiful part of the country.  The plan was an early start and an early arrival at a superb RSPB reserve at Lakenheath.  Back in the late eighties, when I was heavily into twitching and year listing, and based in Essex, this location was farmland and poplar copses famous for its Golden Orioles.  Today after the RSPB has taken over the land and returned it to a fen landscape the Poplar trees still remain, but unfortunately the Orioles are now extremely rare.  The work though put in by the RSPB to return this reserve to its natural landscape of reed beds and open water is nothing short of amazing.  Reeds planted by had now have developed into one of the largest reed beds in the UK, and with it the birds and animals that live in that environment.

Leaving the car park early we walked down the path towards New Fen with Reed and Sedge Warblers singing from the reed beds on either side of the path, and away in the distance a Cuckoo was calling.  We stopped at the watch point on New Fen and looked out across the reed beds.

Apart from this lone Mute Swan that probably had a mate on a nest nearby, there was very little to see.  In comparison the songs of the warblers rang out, and ewvery so often the low sonic boom of a bittern, deep within the reed beds.

We walked on and came across the new Mere hide built and installed this winter.  the weather was not good, the dark clouds were rolling over us, and it looked like the possibility of a rain shower so we decided to check the new hide out.

 The beauty of arriving early meant we had the hide to ourselves, and as we entered a Cormorant was fishing in the mere, the light and reflections capturing it wonderfully

We watched it fish, and catch several fish, swallowing them quickly before it decided to fly away.  Ibn its place a lone Canada Goose took up its position in the lovely light and reflection.  Again it probably had a mate on a nest nearby and was taking the chance for some relaxation before the chores of parenthood kicked in.

In general it was quiet, the weather was quite cool, not conducive to a spring montage of activity.  A pair or Reed Bunting displayed, fed and sang from within and at the top of the Reeds.  The male being the most active.

As we watched the Reed Buntings a Water Rail scuttled across between the reed beds eluding the camera, something that was going to be a familiar story over the next few days.  The Reed Bunting activity was curtailed by a Marsh Harrier that came into view above the reeds.

But then disappeared from us, drifting across the reed bed and out of sight.  The light was constantly changing as the sun came out and then in, and dark clouds brought short sharp showers.  This change in light highlighting the reflections on the reed beds.

When the showers looked like they were going to give way to sunshine we left the hide and made our way to the look out across the large reed bed.  The sun unfortunately never really came out, but as we approached the watch point we were able to find a Reed Warbler that did show long enough for some photo opportunities

In addition there was a very loud Cetti's Warbler, and this Whitethrat that perched high on a bush to deliver it's song.

We hung around scanning the reeds in the hope that there might be a Hobby come over, or indeed one of the Cranes that were known to be in the area, but it didn't happen, and we had to be content with watching the adult coots feeding there young on the edge of the reeds

We made our way back to the car park, with very little else happening.  Marsh Harries flew over, Cuckoos called and Reed warblers sang, but it was quite cold, and not conducive to spring birding.

Our next destination was to be Thetford, and a walk around the River Ouse footpaths in the hope of seeing the otters there.  Our first port of call was a coffee shop, but after that we were not able to find any otters, so we headed to the cottage in Thorpeness.

After settling in we decided to explore.  The village pub was closed until 18.00, and in the distance we could see Aldeburgh, so we decided to walk there and see what the townm had to offer.  At first it was a shingle beach walk, but this turned into a grassy surface, and with the wind on our back we made good time.

Comming into Aldeburgh, the fishing boats and gulls increased

The fishing boats looking very picturesque on the beach.

The town itself was very "Suffolk" and we found a pub that served a lovely pint od Adnams "Ghost Ship".

The journey bvack was a different story, into a cold north easterly wind,but this only pushed us to do it in quick time.  A lovely pasta meal, and an early night and we were rready for another early start and the gems of Minsmere the next day

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