Sunday, July 06, 2008

Suffolk Sandlings...

This week we have been away to the Suffolk coast. The weather was exceptional, with bright sunny, warm days throughout. We took wellies and coats expecting the worst, but we didn't need to wear a coat all week.

We stayed in the village of Westleton a few years back but I had forgotten how pleasant and scenic it is. The whole place is a naturalists dream especially if you hail from the grim north. There were new or nearly new species on just about every corner we visited. I was particularly interested in the Dragonflies and Butterflies, but the plants were good too, but I simply didn't have time to take it all in. Something to look out for next time maybe.

Click on the images below for a bigger view...



Above - Our holiday home for the week. A great base with heathland only 200 yards behind the house, Minsmere 2 miles away and 2 country pubs and a restaurant within 100 yards. We ate in all three and the suffolk cider took a hammering...



Above - Westleton Common, right on our doorstep. Home to Silver studded Blues and Purple Hairstreaks, Green Woodpeckers and Muntjacs, visited every day several times on Bunty's walks...



Above - This is Dunwich Heath complete with birch wave sculptures, just down the road.


Above - I was pleased to find 4 singing male Dartford Warblers around the small car park at Dunwich. One was even nest building at this late date. On one evening we had good views of Nightjars at Westleton Heath ( not to be confused with Westleton Common, a mile or so away).




Above - Silver studded Blue Butterflies were showing very well on Westleton Common. A stroll around with Bunts and I counted 70+ in a very small area. They rely on the black ants nests and the ants to tend their caterpillars. They were even easy to find at dusk as they roosted on the top of low heather clumps...



Above - These were a great suprise. We found 5 or 6 Purple Hairstreaks around some smallish oaks at the common car park. To put this rubbish pic in context, when we first noticed them flying around, one landed so I took this photo on full zoom. I reckoned digiscoping would get me some great shots, but despite several more attempts I didn't see another one settle. They just chased around like maniacs at the tops of the trees.




Above - This family of Spotted Flycatchers entertained us in the pub garden while we had Sunday Lunch....



Above - Pennywort or Navelwort depending on which book you look at. Supposed to be commoner on westerly coasts. Any further east and these would be in Holland...



Above - Ever felt you are being watched?

We spent some time looking for the many Dragonflies and Damselflies that abound here. Best sites were Minsmere river at Eastbridge and the River Waveney at Geldeston ( Iain's book came up trumps here )...




Above - Fantastic watery habitats full of wildlife. Marsh Harriers and Barn Owls flying around while flocks of Banded Demoiselles chased between Yellow Water Lillies. I even got a 10 second view of a Cetti's Warbler, one of 4 belting out their song, before it dropped into thick veg...



Above - Oh, and yes, a pub garden comes in handy too. This is the Lock Inn ( geddit?) at Geldeston the garden backing onto the dykes of the River Waveney...



Above - Banded Demoiselles were common at many sites, with 50+ at some rivers. Groups of males would chase a female around the water surface...



Above - Black tailed Skimmers were seen in a few sites. They are quite agressive chaps harassing the daylights out of any other dragons who dare to enter their territory.( Except this one is a Scarce Chaser and much much rarer!)



Above - This female Broad bodied Chaser was the only one seen during our stay.



Above - 6+ Norfolk Hawkers were in the dykes behind the Lock Inn. Great creatures, patrolling a yard above the water surface then hovering right in front of you. Very rare in Great Britain only to be found here and the Norfolk Broads...



Above - Another rarity, this female Scarce Chaser was our only one. I had given up hope when Jane found this one loafing on some fallen branches. The black marks up the body centre and the black wing tips and bases are good id features.



Above - Four spotted Chasers were seen at a few sites but were great value as they tirelessly chased Emperor Dragons and other Four Spots out of their 'patch'.



Above - A pair of Large Red eyed Damselflies again on the rivers beside the pub above. We didn't see the rarer Small Red eyed though they had been around the Minsmere River a few days earlier.



Above - Emerald Damselfly. Look at the colour of those eyes...We also saw Emperors, Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Azure, Common Blue and Large Red Damsels.



Above - Sometimes you get a suprise. Jane asked what this was swimming over the river and before I looked I had visualised a water vole. I was over the moon when I saw it was no vole, but this 3 ft long Grass Snake sunning on the lilly pads at Minsmere River. I tried digiscoping it but couldn't get on it well enough. The scope views were fantastic though...



Above - Water Figwort.





Above - Some scenes of Southwold...with Jane and Bunts in there too...



Above - The dunes had some Sea Holly...



Above - and Sea Bindweed...



Above - Peacock Butterfly caterpillars...



And finally a sunset at Walberswick. The end of a great week.

Work tomorrow. Now, where did I put those maps of Cornwall...

12 comments:

Goosey said...

What lovely photos, and you saw so much. Does your partner share your love of nature too? I have never been to Suffolk but your piece today has made me think it's worth a look. The grass snake is photo is amazing. BW Goosey

dean said...

Told you i`d be envious Stewart. Some great sightings & cracking pics there.

foggy said...

welcome back some nice photos there plus some cracking birds and wildlife ill have to go sometime

Ipin said...

Cracking stuff, you may well have answered my catterpillar question.....

mosstrooper said...

Spanking report Stewart, and an excellent set of images to boot

abbey meadows said...

Gteat post Stew. Lovely photos. Sounds like a perfect base for a wildlife holiday.

Boulmer Birder said...

Thanks for your kind comments all.

G - Jane is more tolerant than interested. She has been dragged along into it for years now, though she has always liked things like Moths, Mammals etc, but birds are bottom of the pile. Especially little brown jobs, seawatching and juvenile waders...

D - Ta.

F - Cheers. I'll let your blog 'bed in' then add a link.

I - I'm pleased I could assist...

M - Who are you? Do I know you? I like the new blog though even if I don't know you, same as Foggy I'll give it a week or so for some posts and add as a link...

AM - Its right up your street Nigel, with loads of interest even on a half hour dog walk.

Anna said...

Great pics!

Went to Minsmere for a weekend a couple of years ago - wandered around Dunwich for hours and saw nothing except a few goldfinches. Mind, it was really hot, don't blame the Darties for hiding away from me.

I'd certainly go again, but I think it deserves more than a weekend.

Boulmer Birder said...

Thanks Anna. I went there in 2002 and didn't get a sniff of a Dartford in late April when they should be most active!

oldcrow61 said...

Wonderful pictures, a joy to look at.

Boulmer Birder said...

Thanks OC...

st said...

Stew, been busy.
going green, as i read that post. Some varry nice stuff.
I think next years early holiday might be down that way.
This years was in the freeman, not great for wildlife.