27 March 2009- First birds seen on entering the park were a pair of Grey Herons flying low and slowly east, no doubt heading into the nearby housing estate to raid local garden ponds. A large number of gulls were noted loafing over the park. Species seen were Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a single Great Black-backed Gull (54). Down on the ground or rather on the water the pair of Canada Geese were again seen on the Canal Pond. One of the birds had been up on the island and I wonder if this is indicative of the pair looking for a nest site. Moving to the moat, the female Mandarin was seen high up in a tree overlooking the play area before being spooked by the ongoing tree surgery. The Mandarin then took flight and headed towards the Canal Pond calling like a small yappy dog. Continuing around the moat a Kingfisher was flushed from an overhanging branch and then seen flying off over the park towards Bishops Hill! After walking the perimeter of the park and seeing most of the usual suspects I came across a large tit flock near the stable block. Mixed up with Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits were at least two Chiffchaffs and several Goldcrests. The flock was very active and incredibly mobile moving quickly to Pond 1 and then dispersing through the surrounding trees.
22 March 2009- A late afternoon walk around the park revealed both cricket and football matches in full swing on the meadows! After the football match was concluded it was interesting to note that a number of Magpies, Moorhens and Black-headed Gulls slowly appeared in order to feed where the game had been played and the birds were clearly interested in the disturbed grass and earth. A closer inspection revealed several earthworms on top of the grass no doubt attracted to the surface by lots of vibrations and to which the birds were attracted. Most of the ponds were quiet although the Canal Pond held a Grey Wagtail albeit briefly- this species seems always to be on the move when encountered in the park and very nervous of people. The pair of Canada Geese were noted at the back of the pond. Here, a male Kingfisher (told from the female by it's all black bill) was seen flying along the back of the Canal Pond and then to fly down the canal toward the Sluice. Whilst walking along the canal in the hope of seeing the Kingfisher again I stumbled over a Grey Heron which appeared to be "hunting" an apple core on the water surface. Eventually catching it the heron jumped into the air and flew out of the tunnel of trees to no doubt enjoy at least one of it's "five a day"fruit and veg'! Interestingly no warblers were seen or heard singing.
19 March 2009- An early morning visit turned out to be good from a "thrush" point of view. A singing Mistle Thrush welcomed me into the park and a Song Thrush was heard singing near by. Three further Song Thrushes were also seen in the park during my visit including a pair seen copulating- all good news for this threatened species. Numerous Blackbirds were seen throughout the park and four Redwings were noted feeding in leaf litter with Blackbirds in the Valley. A Grey Heron was seen again around the Canal Pond together with the Grey Wagtail. No sign today of any Mandarins nor any Canada Geese. Summer migrants are represented by the three singing Chiffchaffs along with a single singing Blackcap.
17 March 2009- A Grey Heron was seen at the Canal Pond, no doubt keeping an eye out for frogs and toads! It then flew into the trees at the back of the pond and was joined by a second bird which flew into the park from the direction of the wet dock. Good numbers of Redwing were seen flying over the park with a final count of 142 birds was made and all observed heading south-east. The female Mandarin duck was seen flying over the meadows in the company of two Mallards with all three birds being very vocal. The Summer migrant count remains at two species with one singing Blackcap and three singing Chiffchaffs recorded- hopefully, a Willow Warbler will join them soon! On the meadows, a number of Black Headed Gulls were seen and a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull was present with them.
15 March 2009- The pair of Canada Geese were seen today on the Canal Pond which could be a good sign as the island in the middle of the pond has previously been used as a nest site. The Siskin flock remains in the trees surrounding the Wilderness Pond and a singing Chiffchaff was also present. The female Mandarin was today on Pond 3 along with a number of Mallards. None of the other Mandarins from yesterday were seen although they could simply be hidden up somewhere away from the crowds. A Grey Heron was seen in the trees above Pond 1 before being ousted by a pair of Carrion Crow who were clearly unhappy with it's presence. Two Sparrowhawks were seen high over the park and were likely to be the park's resident pair but they could also have been migrant birds. The warm weather and sunshine had encouraged some butterflies to appear and a number of Red Admirals and Brimstones were a very welcome sight in the park. A large number of toads and frogs were seen around the damp areas and in the ponds. Around the Canal Pond it was difficult to walk in a straight line due to numerous pairs crossing the path as below!
14 March 2009- A singing Chiffchaff (53) allowed me to officially declare it Spring in the park. This bird was heard along the canal path and a Blackcap singing near the Canal Pond re-enforced my declaration that the new season had arrived. A Grey Wagtail was again noted around the Canal Pond and overspill stream and a second bird was seen and heard calling as it flew over the park and away towards the docks. The Siskin flock remained high in the trees above the Wilderness Pond and were counted as 23 birds. On the Moat Pond the pair of Canada Geese were again present and with them was the female Mandarin (as below).
Whilst pondering the issue of whether she will find a partner this year my attention was drawn to three ducks flying in from high. After getting my binoculars focussed on them I was amazed to see 3 Mandarin Ducks, comprising of a splendid male and two female types! They flew over and then around the play area before dropping into the Moat. After locating the male and one of the females I was able to watch them preening and washing. Unable to locate the third bird I did, however, manage to get some poor photographs of this pair as below. Hopefully, the new Mandarins will linger and stay to breed and perhaps even attract others!
Mandarin Ducks in the Moat, female above, male below
Elsewhere, I heard and saw good numbers of Treecreepers, Goldcrests and Tits. Only one Song Thrush was heard singing this visit but two birds were also seen feeding amongst the leaf litter. A male Green Woodpecker as feeding on the Orchard Meadow but didn't stay long enough for a photo opportunity, at least one other Green Woodpecker was seen along with at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Other wildlife observed were numerous Toads including several spawning in the Wilderness pond.
12 March 2009- Another early morning visit paid dividends not just for the exhilarating and increasing bird song but also for some good sightings. My first Grey Wagtail (52) in the park this year was heard calling along the canal path and then seen near the Canal Pond feeding along the overspill stream. It then flew up to the roof of an industrial unit calling again as it landed. Walking alongside the Conifer Hedge led to close views of a Muntjac Deer which emerged out of the hedge in front of me. Being very small Muntjac Deer are very vulnerable to attacks by dogs and are, therefore, a rare but very welcome sight in the park. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were seen and heard. Interestingly, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen to be part of a Long-Tailed Tit flock which also included several Treecreepers, Goldcrests and a female Blackcap. Elsewhere in the park a flock of 42 Redwings were heard and then seen flying over the park. Given the time of year it's likely that these birds will soon be heading north back to Scandinavia, Iceland and further afield to breed. The female Mandarin was seen again, however, this time it was heard calling in flight before dropping into the tops of the trees surrounding the moat. Being a wood duck it was perfectly at home perched up high in the trees whilst looking down on its Mallard cousins! The first evidence of successful breeding came in the form of a Wren with food in it's mouth. Let's hope it's a good breeding year for all the birds. As I left the park a very vocal Song Thrush sang it's song and looked very splendid in the growing light.
10 March 2009- The Little Egret was seen again mid afternoon in the park this time on the bat roost tree by the Wilderness Pond (pers com Mandy).
07 March 2009- A dawn visit to the park proved very worthwhile with a variety of birds seen and heard. Three Song Thrush were heard singing and given their locations and movements it suggests three territories were being both announced and defended. Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were very vocal and active despite it being barely light. Other birds heard singing were Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. The ponds were all checked but there was no sign of the Canada Geese. The female Manadarin was found with two Mallards on Pond 1 and still looks rather lost without a mate. On the Canal Pond the pair of Kingfishers were seen again displaying (flying in sequence) and then disappearing off over the industrial units calling as they flew towards the wet dock. Several Carrion Crows were seen flying with twigs and nesting material so they clearly have breeding on their minds. A number of nests existed last year in trees behind the Leaf Yard. Whilst walking along the path between the Canal Pond and the Wilderness Pond a Little Egret (51) was flushed out of the overspill stream. It flew up and into the tops of the trees surrounding the Wilderness Pond and remained there for a short while before flying up towards the Moat Pond. I have seen Little Egret before in the park, once in 2007 and once in 2008. Hopefully, this pattern will not continue and be my only sighting this year!
01 March 2009- Around the Orchard Meadow and in the allotments up to 3 Green Woodpeckers were seen. The birds appeared to be very interested in the ground so it may be that the mild temperatures had caused some insects to appear. It was great to see these characteristic birds clearly enjoying themselves. Around Pond 1 two Great Spotted Woodpeckers continued to drum and a Grey Heron was noted roosting (or trying to) near to the G S Woodpecker's chosen tree! Around the play area 14 Siskins were seen flying over the Moat trees and a small flock of 7 Goldfinches were also noted tagging along with them. Three Song Thrushes were observed along the edge of the Play Area and Moat including a male who was very keen to live up to his name and sing his beautiful song. On the Moat Pond the pair of Canada Geese (see below) remained, along with the female Mandarin. On and over the Canal Pond 38 Black-headed Gulls were counted clearly attracted by a number of people feeding bread to the Mallards and Moorhens!
Above- Pair of Canada Geese, Moat Pond.
28 February 2009- A late morning stroll around the park turned out to be quite eventful, bird wise. Along the canal path a mixed flock of birds revealed 30+ Siskin and 20+ Long Tailed Tits. On the Canal Pond two Kingfishers were seen displaying to each other before flying off together. It will be interesting to see if breeding does occur this year for this species. The Wilderness Pond was only occupied by a single Moorhen and no sign again of the male Teal. The fencing around the Moat end of the Wilderness Pond and the Paddling Pool is now down and this will obviously make both pieces of water vulnerable to disturbance. It will definitely mean early morning visits to try and locate Grey Wagtails before the park gets busy! On the Moat Pond a pair of Canada Geese (49) were seen and I wonder if this is the pair that were in the park both last year and in 2007.
Pair of Canada Geese- Moat Pond
In previous years a pair of Canada Geese have successfully hatched young, although, I am not sure if any have survived long enough to be able to fly away from the park. Last year, 3 goslings were born, however, at least one was killed by a dog, another was found dead on the Canal Pond and the other was seen with it's parents for about a month before disappearing. Hopefully, this year will be a better one for them. Also, on the Moat Pond amongst the Mallards was the female Mandarin. Unfortunately, no male Mandarin has arrived as yet but hopefully one my turn up in the next week or so. Elsewhere, the Great Spotted Woodpeckers remained active, with some very aggressive drumming taking place. A Treecreeper was heard singing near Pond 1 and several Goldcrest were seen feeding in the conifers near to the Stable Block. A small "flock" of Coal Tits numbering at least 5 birds were also seen near to the bridge between ponds 2 and 3. Sky watching revealed good numbers of gulls passing overhead. The birds were mainly Black- headed and Herring Gulls, however, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (50) were also seen.
21 February 2009- Following a great walk in west Suffolk around the Kings Forest I managed to spend the last hour of the day in the park. There were lots of people in the park due to it being such a warm and sunny day so I was not expecting too much from my visit. However, the female Sparrowhawk was showing well together with an accompanying mob of Starlings, tits and Magpies. Despite their attention she carried on her last patrol regardless. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were still very much in evidence and three were counted. Two Green Woodpeckers were also seen and heard. A check of the ponds and water features failed to locate the male Teal but the female Mandarin was seen again on Pond 3. The Mandarin, albeit very wary of me, did let me take a few photographs before swimming off in the opposite direction with several Mallards.
Above and below- Female Mandarin Duck, Pond 3.
15 February 2009- An early morning visit failed to locate any Mandarin Ducks, although the male Teal and numerous Mallards were present. It is more than likely that the Mandarins are still about and may show later in the day (see below). A large Siskin flock was seen in the Beech trees around the Canal Pond and this was eventually counted as 46 birds, certainly my highest count for the park and well worth submitting for County records. Also within the flock were 3 Lesser Redpoll and 11 Greenfinch. Elsewhere, whilst trying to find the Mandarins a very obliging Water Rail was seen in the small reed bed at the back of Pond 1 (look for the part submerged black water drum)! This is probably the same bird as heard calling from nearby Pond 2 in January 2009, however, on this occasion it was very quiet! On an even more positive note it is now very noticeable that the park is waking up to Spring as the bird chorus is slowly increasing in volume and variety!
NB: Mandarin Ducks will spend a lot of time roosting on branches of trees both overhanging or near to water. The Mandarin is from the wood duck family and will actually utilise holes in tree trunks in which to build a nest and lay eggs. Once hatched the young will then be encouraged to leave the nest and literally drop from the tree branches and head for the safety of water!
14 February 2009- Valentines Day and Spring certainly seemed to be in the air! Singing Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock all helped to give a different feel to the morning and together with the early sun gave the day a great start.On the Wilderness Pond a female Mandarin Duck (48) was in company with the male Teal. Despite my best efforts I failed to get a good photo image but will try again if the bird is still present over the next few days. Elsewhere in the park good numbers of Long Tailed Tits were seen along with a small flock of Goldcrest numbering at least 12 birds. A vocal Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker kept me looking up and this allowed me to see the Park's female Sparrowhawk over the tree tops. She was clearly hunting and I saw her try a number of times to take birds, resulting in the spectacular demise of a Stock Dove. Powering through the top of a conifer she flushed the Dove off it's perch and then drove it low down into the canopy where it was taken. The Dove was at the larger end of her prey items but as she is such a large female then it didn't prove too difficult to control the Dove and dispatch it!
NB: Either the same or a second female Mandarin was seen late afternoon on Pond 3 (per Gi Grieco).
07 February 2009- A late afternoon visit revealed a good mixed flock of finches in the trees above the canal and above the Wilderness Pond. In excess of 60 birds were noted although due to them "pre-roost flighty" it was difficult to allocate specific numbers to species. However, the flock comprised of at least 2 Brambling (47), initially picked up by way of their "nasally" call, as well as Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin. Two Kingfishers were recorded, one on an over hanging branch on the Moat Pond and the other preening on a reed in Pond 2. This second bird was very confiding and with the right photographic equipment would have made a great photo! Large numbers of Corvids were noted flying North West along with a large flock of Woodpigeon. The male Teal was seen again this time feeding alongside the Paddling Pool stretch of water and in the company of two Moorhen. As it was out of the water I was able to see the Teal's legs and no rings were noted. I have yet to see this bird fly which is unusual for this species as they ae normally very shy and nearly always the first to take to the air. I am now wondering if it has damaged wings or perhaps it is an escape and this bird has been released into the park with pinioned wings?
03 February 2009- An early morning visit to the park revealed that most of yesterday's snow had almost gone. Bird wise the park was quiet although the smaller flocks of Siskin appeared to have come together as 32 were seen feeding in the trees around the Wilderness Pond. Two female and one male Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen high up in the tops of trees near Pond 1 and a Green Woodpecker was seen and then heard flying across the Orchard Meadow. Several Redwing were noted around the park including a vocal flock of 12 birds which were seen to land in trees around the Canal Pond. After only a few minutes they flew high north west and their behaviour suggested that they had recently arrived, perhaps coming in on the recent low pressure front from eastern Europe?
02 February 2009-A lunchtime finish at work, due to the poor weather, let me fit in a quick walk around the park. A flock of finches was seen along the canal path which was found to contain 12 Greenfinch, 8 Siskin and 5 Chaffinch. A few Black Headed Gulls were noted on the Canal Pond along with Mallard and Moorhen. The male Teal was again present on the Wilderness Pond sitting under the reeds and also shared the pond with a Kingfisher. Several more Siskin were seen flying towards the Moat and in the Moat bushes three Goldcrest were found with the Blue Tit flock. Good numbers of Woodpigeon were noted and with them were a few Stock Dove. On leaving the park a female/ Juv Kestrel (46) was picked out perched on top of the Stable block roof looking very uncomfortable in the falling snow.
01 February 2009-A brief walk around the edge of the park gave good views of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush. A strange call and a flash of white led me to look high up in the treetops to find an escaped Cockatiel ! Looking very lost and rather confused this attractive bird flew noisily around before heading high towards Landseer Park. Strangely enough the same bird (?) was seen again in trees behind my garden calling constantly for over an hour before flying high east. Unfortunately a bitter east wind and a forecast of snow doesn't help it's survival chances.
31 January 2009- Having just walked through the gate at the bottom of Cliff Lane I became surrounded by a Long Tailed Tit flock. The flock itself was large, circa 50 birds and very mobile. I spent a while following the birds as they made their way along the canal path and into the park via the Wilderness Pond (Pond 5). As with tit flocks a number of "hangers on" were noted and best of all was a male Firecrest (44) Seen briefly but very well this cracking bird represents my first record in the park and my first in Suffolk this year. The Firecrest was heard again calling several times as the flock made it's way around the park with my last contact being near the Moat. Also in the flock was a Treecreeper, a female Blackcap (45) and a number of Coal, Blue and Great Tit. Other birds noted were Redwings, several Song Thrush, an almost singing Mistle Thrush and good numbers of Blackbirds. On walking back towards the Stable Block a pair of Sparrowhawks were seen to engage in some early display flying and heard to call a number of times- is Spring in the air?20 January 2009- A visit to the park at near dusk revealed two Kingfishers around Pond 5 and the Canal. High in the trees along the canal was a Mistle Thrush (41) and in the trees around the moat were a number of Fieldfare (42). A family party of Jackdaws (43) livened up the failing light mood and a pre- roost flock of finches around the stable block revealed in excess of 30 Greenfinch, 15 Chaffinch and about 10 Goldfinch.
18 January 2009- Two flocks of Long Tailed Tits were found today, both flocks held in excess of 20 birds each. A Kingfisher was found on Pond 5 and whilst watching this bird the male Teal appeared. This allowed me to take a couple of very poor digi-binned photos. Also noted around Pond 5 were 12 Siskins and 2 Lesser Redpoll.
17 January 2009- An adult Common Gull was found in with the Black Headed Gulls on the canal, Pond 6. This is only my second record since 2007, although the first record was only a couple of weeks before. Whether it's the same bird I'm not sure. A single male Teal (39) was also a surprise on Pond 5 and is probably the same bird as seen on Boxing Day. The Teal was hidden in the reeds and clearly perturbed at my presence. Hopefully, it will stick around long enough to allow me to photograph it for this site! The first records of the year for Redwing (40) appeared today with 2 birds in the tree tops around the canal, Pond 6. Other good birds seen were Siskins and a flock of Long Tailed Tits again with Goldcrest and Coal Tit in tow.
04 January 2009- All the usual suspects put in appearances with good numbers of Long Tailed Tits noted, including one flock with 23 birds. Tagging along with them were singles of Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Treecreeper. A pig like "squeal" coming from the reeds in Pond 2 told me that there was a Water Rail (38) somewhere within. Despite waiting for 30 minutes (and getting very cold) the bird failed to show although it did call again once.
01 January 2009- An early morning "double circuit" was undertaken in order to welcome the new year and kick start my park and Suffolk year list. The following species were seen: