After a 19 hour day yesterday most tents slept through their alarms. My tent was lucky enough to still be up early enough to see Max and Ben sorting through the Moth trap from the night before, however the truth was most people were shattered.
Above: One of the moths I do know and that is a Poplar Hawk Moth...
Above: The bug, beetle thing is a Cockchafer...
After this we set out for a day's exploring at Landguard, however just as we were setting off we realised that one of the tents inhabitants hadn't woken up yet... So after a 20minute delay we were finally off for our 45 minute journey and for most people a 45 minute sleep.
We arrived at Landguard Bird Observatory at just after 07:15 in the hope of finding something magical that spring migration still had left in the tank. We were met by the warden from the observatory and he gave us a tour round the old military fort and explained to us what it was like to work at the observatory. We then headed up to the look out and this was where a moth trap had been set up the night before. We were able to get close up to this moth trap and see what had been caught overnight. This included a Polar Hawk moth, Elephant Hawk moth, cream spotted tiger moth, and also a superb Beautiful Hook tip moth which was a first for the observatory.
Above: presumed Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Below: Cream Spotted Tiger moth
Above: Cream Spotted Tiger
Below: Elephant Hawk Moth
Next 2: Poplar Hawk Moth
Next 2: Beautiful Hook Tip
We then had a quick look out to sea, however all was calm. We then went for a tour round the observatory and out onto the reserve. We were shown the mist nets and different types of techniques used to ring birds, however the only thing that we caught were 3 baby Great Tits. Just before we headed on a Reed Warbler could be heard singing its head off from somewhere nearby showing us that migration was still in full swing and something could turn up whilst we were there.
Unfortunately the Reed Warbler was just an exception and so we spent the next half an hour meeting the locals. These ranged from House Sparrows to Ringed Plover, and it was great to be able to see their chicks running around enjoying the sunshine. Just before we left a group of Pied Wagtails came down to feed on the grass nearby and gave us superb views of these little gems. We then left Landguard and headed off to Hollesley Heath for some Dartford Warbler and Woodlark action…
Next 2: Rabbits
Next 3: Male House Sparrow
Next 2: Ringed Plover chicks
Next 4 : Ringed Plover
Below: Male Pied Wagtail
Once at Hollesley Heath we could hear our first Woodlarks of the trip. It took some careful squinting into the sky before we could finally pick one up over head, and as if to mock our desperate attempt to see it, one flew straight over our heads and off into the distance. This was a great moment for me, because Woodlark for me was a lifer meaning that I hadn't seen one before which to me seems odd especially as I visit RSPB Arne regularly enough that I should see at least one in the summer months.
We then headed along a narrow path to sit in wait for a Dartford Warbler to show, but with little luck. We did however see Linnets, and Stonechats, as well as listening to Yellowhammer, Willow Warblers, and Chiffchaff song. We did however have an amazing Yellow Wagtail fly over us, which then circled the sheep flock, before flying straight back over our heads, which for many of us was our best ever views of this species, and what a treat too.
We then got a call from David that there was a Dartford Warbler about on a path parallel to us and sure enough within 10 minutes we had all connected with this individual albeit fleetingly and in flight only for some of us, and with that we headed for our pub lunch.
Above: The heat haze kind of spoilt a perfectly good picture of a Linnet
Below: Woodlark superbly captured by James McCulloch (jiainmac.wordpress.com/)
Above: A truly magnificent shot of the Yellow Wagtail by Elliot Montieth (elliotsbirdingdiaries.wordpress.com)
After lunch we headed out to RSPB Hollesley Marshes. Here we decided that a second bird race was in order due to the tie at Lakenheath, however this slowly deteriorated into another draw as the two groups merged in the middle. My group when we were separate headed to the hide first and immediately we found a rather tired Swallow sitting on the fence in front of us giving everyone superb views.
From inside the hide we could see a Marsh Harrier over the tall poplar trees at the back as well as Redshank, Shelduck, Gadwall, and loads of nesting Avocet. We were also accompanied by the chorus of Cuckoo, Reed Warbler and Cetti's Warbler song. A pair of Linnets in the end stole the show coming in and out of the nest that they had built just to the side of the hide giving everyone exceptional views. Others also saw Little Grebe and also a female Teal here, which I unfortunately missed out on.
Above: Barn Swallow
Above: Avocet, Shelduck, and Redshank
Above and Below: Linnet
We then headed round towards the mouth of the river and the sea wall where you could do a bit of sea watching. Just before I got to the wall those that were already there had a pair of Mediterranean Gulls fly over them giving superb views.
Once I was at the wall all was quiet, bar the 10 Common Terns feeding and annoying the Herring Gulls that bobbed up and down on the current. There was a little tower thing on the inside of the wall and we went inside it to investigate. Inside was empty space used well by the animal kingdom, with a Wren nest and screaming Swallows (presumably nest building) being the highlights.
We then headed back round to the other hide slowly and of course Toby and Ben stayed behind and heard and I believe saw a Sandwich Tern rocket past them which would have been a lifer for me had I seen it.
Above: Here is a photo of the Med Gull that I missed by Elliot Montieth (elliotsbirdingdiaries.wordpress.com)
Next 4: Common Tern by me...
On the way to the next hide I spotted 2 Stock Dove fly up into one of the dead trees out in the marsh land area, alongside a Lesser Black Backed Gull and a Little Egret.
Once at the hide it was all the same really however an Oystercatcher and Grey Heron was a nice addition to the list.
Above and Below: Yep the Barn Swallow was still there
Below: More Avocets
We then headed back to the Mini van and unfortunately had to say goodbye to David, Ben, other Ben, Toby, and Elliot so that they could get their trains and cars respectively on time.
We then had a debrief back at the Nunnery and totalled up the bird species list to 104, which smashed last year's record of 101.
We then all said our goodbyes before parting ways.
When I arrived at Thetford station I met Angus and his Dad waiting for the train to Manchester Pic, and so I shared their train for one stop. Along the way we tried to see if we could find a Crane or two but with no luck.
And so after taking 5 trains and over 3 hours, I finally arrived home. This trip was amazing and it was really great to meet so many like minded people and to make loads of good friends. My life list now sits at a much healthier 172 Species and with a target of 180 for the end of the year it would look as though I am on track.
I have decided that I will put all the Twitter accounts and Blog pages for the young birders at the trip so that you can see their accounts from bird camp. I would also like to take this chance to thank both the BTO and The Cameron Bespolka Trust for all the time and effort it takes to organise and put on an event like this.
Keep a look out of the next week for a blog post about my trip to RSPB Rainham Marshes, and Blashford Lakes.
Here are the links as promised below:
The BTO team – @_BTO | bto.org
I have been a birder since i was 8 however only really started to be able to go out to places by myself in Summer 2016 (Blame the parents) My blogs will be from all over the place, but mainly from RSPB Rainham Marshes and Totteridge Valley! Photography done by Samuel Levy aged 16.