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29 August 2011- Parrish Colman braved the bank holiday weather and took a couple of excellent images. Below (top) shows a Long Tailed Tit and below (bottom) shows a female/1w Whitethroat.
28 August 2011- My mid-morning visit was made today in some very variable weather. Starting in the Myrtle Road area I checked a few locations for migrants and found the Conifer Hedge to be full of birds again. Several Song Thrush, Blackbirds and a single Mistle Thrush were found along with at least three Chiffchaff and five Blackcaps. A tit flock was followed as it passed along the hedge and Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long Tailed Tits were all present. Also seen along the hedge were two male Migrant Hawker dragonflies. Around the Wilderness Pond more Blackcaps were present feeding on Elderberries and in amongst them was a single Lesser Whitethroat (Y 69). This, my first for the park this year, was a welcome sight and a clear indication that migrating birds are passing through the area. The ponds were quiet although six Mandarin Ducks were present on Pond Three. Several more Blackcaps were heard and seen around the Dell area and a young Green Woodpecker was seen on the Walled Garden lawns. Three Chiffchaffs were counted feeding on Elderberries around the base of the Bat Roost and, whilst watching this area a small dove was seen to fly over. Tracking it as it headed east, I was able to note it's fast and agile flight, pointed wings and on the underside, blue/grey underwing, black base to the tail with a narrow white border. As it changed direction slightly I saw rufous and black checkering on it's back which enabled me to confirm it as a Turtle Dove (Y 70). This was a real treat as this species is not only scarce in Suffolk but sadly rapidly declining throughout it's range due to habitat loss and indiscriminate hunting both during migration and whilst on it's wintering grounds in West Africa. Butterflies seen during the morning were Large White, Small White, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and a very tatty and pale Gatekeeper.
NB: I went to the park later on with some friends and family. Whilst the children were entertained in the play area I managed to grab a photo of a Lesser Black-backed Gull (below) that was making the most of left over sandwiches and crisps!
27 August 2011- It was just after dawn when I entered the park today, still grey and miserable and with a slight drizzle prevailing. I was hoping to find a few migrant birds and by the time I had walked to the Canal Pond I had seen and heard two Chiffchaffs and a single Blackcap. On the pond was a single Mandarin Duck (a young female) and the Coot family. It's interesting to note that both adult Coots when feeding their remaining four chicks are being supported by one of their offspring from the second brood. Also seen in this area was a mixed tit flock that went through very quickly and included another Chiffchaff. Along the Conifer Hedge several thrushes were noted and checking them closely revealed at least three young Blackbirds and at least five Song Thrushes. Also found was a single Garden Warbler with it's face stained by the juice from the berries on which it was feeding. A young Green Woodpecker was seen feeding on the Bishops Hill meadow and a Jay was seen harrassing a Song Thrush up by the gate. A check around the play area revealed two more Chiffchaffs and a small party of six Goldfinches. Whilst watching these a trio of Greenfinches joined them. On Pond 3, seven Mandarins were counted including a first year male with his colourful plumage just starting to come through. Ponds 1 and 2 were quiet apart from three Blackcaps that were seen amongst the brambles along with another Song Thrush. A territorial battle between two Robins was watched as it took place in the Leaf Yard and at least three Coal Tits were seen in this area. The Stable Block and Walled Gardens were very quiet although a party of four Pied Wagtails were seen as they flew over high and in a westerly direction. Spending time watching the bushes around the Bat Roost tree produced 3+ Blackcaps, 2+ Chiffchaffs and another Garden Warbler. In the tops of the Lime trees, the same or another party of Greenfinches and Goldfinches was watched. On leaving the park a single Jackdaw passed over and a flock of approximately 40 Starlings flew north-east. I walked back along the canal path I came across four near-adult Pheasants including a male bird.
NB: It takes hours of patience and dedication to get a great photograph of a Kingfisher. First find an area used by the bird, identify a suitable perch and then study it's movements and learn it's behaviours. You then wait and wait for an opportunity. Parrish Colman's photograph (below) is the reward you get for the work you put in and your skill as a photographer.
25 August 2011- Good news came today in the form of not only the first park record this year but also a breeding record for Small Red-eyed Damselfly. Sarah Kilshaw reported a pair seen in tandem on vegetation around the pond dipping platform on the Canal Pond and has provided the photo below. This small damselfly was, until the late 90's, a real rarity but it has since rapidly expanded it's range through the south-east of England. It is very similar to it's slightly larger cousin, the Red-eyed Damselfly but the photo show's a key diagnostic feature on seperating males- segment 8 is black but with blue extending up the sides. On Red-eyed Damselfly segment 8 is all black. Another diagnostic feature of male Small Red-eyed Damselfly, just about visible, is the small black X on segment 10 i.e just above where the female is being held.
Also seen in this area was a single Willow Emerald Damselfly (see photo below by Matt Garnham) which, I believe, is the first one seen in this part of the park this year.
Other dragonfly news came from Parrish Colman who saw a female Southern Hawker ovipositing in the Canal Pond.
Matt Garham has also provided a photograph (see above) of a Hobby that flew over the Bowling Green area as it made it's towards the river.
23 August 2011- Wow! What a contrast to yesterday! Despite the drizzle and grey gloom that made up the afternoon's weather I had a walk around the park in the hope of finding a grounded migrant warbler or perhaps even my Autumn target bird, Pied Flycatcher. However, despite checking as many flycatcher friendly spots and warbler haunts as I could I only found a few Blackcaps and no flycatchers. Whilst checking the Bat Roost area, I counted 21 Greenfinches that were flying around the tops of the Lime trees. A very good post breeding count and looking at them closely revealed that a dozen or so were youngsters from this years breeding period. Hearing a few Swallows call as they passed over the park I started to watch the sky and was amazed at the amount of birds passing over. Dozens of Swallows were flying slowly in a north-easterly/easterly direction. Mixed in with them were a few House Martins and Common Swifts. Sitting down on a bench to watch properly, over the next 45 minutes I counted an estimated Swallows, 100 House Martins and 150 Common Swifts. Best birds though were two Hobbys that flew low over the park in an easterly direction, perhaps following their prey species of Swallows and House Martins? Other wildlife noted were two Migrant Hawkers and a Brown Hawker together with a Comma butterfly. A Muntjac deer was flushed from long grass near the Orchard hedge line and a Brown Rat was watched as it guzzled Blackberries!
22 August 2011- An early finish at work allowed me to fit in a couple of hours in the park today. With bright sunshine and warm temperatures my focus was mainly on dragonflies and butterflies and it didn't take long to see both. Along the Canal Path several Large White and Speckled Wood (see below) butterflies were encountered along with a female Migrant Hawker and a female Southern Hawker.
On the Canal Pond, two Brown Hawkers held territory and a second or the same female Southern Hawker was seen. The new Coot chicks were still going strong but only four now remain. Two juvenile Tufted Ducks were also present along with at least three young Mandarin Ducks. Around the meadows lots more Large White butterflies were seen along with a few Small Whites along with some very tatty Gatekeepers. Two male Migrant Hawkers were on territories and three female Ruddy Darters were counted (see below).
Two juvenile Green Woodpeckers were seen in the long meadow grass and a Mistle Thrush was watched as it flew high up into tree tops. Around the Bat Roost area at least five Blackcaps were feeding on berries and a single Chiffchaff was also found. A male Sparrowhawk flew low over Pond 1 and a Kingfisher was seen to fly over the Moat. I decided to try my luck for a late Purple Hairstreak butterfly and spent some time staking out a clump of Oaks that had provided me with some great views several weeks ago. Although I was unsuccessful with the hairstreaks I did count at least seven Red Admiral butterflies in the Oak canopy, presumably feeding on aphid honey dew. The brambles beneath also held three Holly Blue butterflies as well as Large Whites and several Speckled Woods. I returned to the Moat area and decided to have a good look around for damselflies.
A few Common Blue and Azure Damselflies were noted but a single Willow Emerald (see above) was also found. Thankfully, it seemed quite happy with me admiring it and I managed to take a few photos and video (!) of it.
A few Common Blue and Azure Damselflies were noted but a single Willow Emerald (see above) was also found. Thankfully, it seemed quite happy with me admiring it and I managed to take a few photos and video (!) of it.
21 August 2011- After visiting the Ipswich Maritime Festival briefly this afternoon I had a walk back through the park. A single Speckled Wood butterfly was seen around the Myrtle Road entrance. Several Large White butterflies were seen but, best of all were the two Brimstone butterflies that flew hard and fast along the Canal Path before disappearing up Kissing Gate Lane. These Brimstones are the product of spring laid eggs and will be busy building up their strength and energy levels in order to cope with the early Autumn weather and with a view to hibernation over Winter.
20 August 2011- As I was joining the park's Friends group for their bat walk tonight I managed a brief walk around the park before the bat event started at 8pm. Very few birds were noted with only two Blackcaps and a single Chiffchaff recorded for warblers. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were seen and heard along with several Stock Doves, Woodpigeons and Carrion Crows. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen on the bowling green and then again on Pond Three.
The bat walk was well attended and included several family groups with young children- always great to see on such an event. A good introductory talk got people into a "batty" mood and the bat's use of a sonar system called "echo-location" was explained. Bat vocal chords have evolved to allow them to produce very high pitched calls (unltra-sound). Teir hearing and brains have also developed to detect the returning call echoes and analyse them. This means that the echoes assist the bats to create a sound picture of their immediate environment which is so accurate that the bats can determine insects in flight and also movement on on leaves, all in total darkness. Bat detectors can be used to listen for these calls and depending on the pitch of the calls then help to determine seperate bat species. With this in mind the the first bats recorded were Common pipistrelle with perhaps 3 noted emerging from the roost in the fenced off bat tree (Oak) that backs onto the bowling greens. A fast flying black shape was noted high over the medows and this was at first thought to be a Noctule Bat but, closer examination through binoculars showed it to be a Common Swift. Moving further out onto the meadows allowed the bat detector machines to be used and soon a Noctule Bat was seen briefly and identified on the detector as echo-locating at the right pitch. A further move into the Canal Pond area and woods revealed more pipistrelle sp bats but this time, and based on the bat detector readings they were identified as Soprano pipistrelle bats. Good numbers were noted with perhaps, 15-20 individuals recorded over the pond area. In addition to bats, a Tawny Owl was heard calling and 15 Mandarin Ducks were seen flying to roost around the Pond 1 area.
19 August 2011- An early evening stroll through the park meadows provided me with views of a few Large White butterflies and a single Speckled Wood. Two male Migrant Hawker dragonflies were holding territirories and a Brown Hawker was also seen briefly. On the Canal Pond a single Kingfisher was seen flying through and the Coot family were also seen.
13 August 2011- A few warblers were noted in the park this morning perhaps grounded migrants given the recent heavy rain or just local birds congregating before heading south. Parrish Colman saw what was probably a Reed Warbler in the reeds on Pond 1. I saw a Garden Warbler with at least four Blackcaps near the Wilderness Pond and two 1st year Chiffchaffs were noted along the canal path. Overhead several Swallows and House Martins were seen passing through in a south-westerly direction. Several Mandarins were present including at least six first year birds between the Canal Pond and the Wilderness Pond. On the Canal Pond, the latest brood of Coots were present and remained at five, see photograph below by Parrsh Colman.
A female Souther Hawker dragonfly was watched patrolling the canal and a few Blue-tailed Damselflies were also seen.
11 August 2011- I managed to get over to the park after work and enjoyed some sun and warm temperatures. Walking along the Canal Path revealed good numbers of butterflies with lot's of Large Whites and Holly Blues on the wing. Other species recorded were Small White, Speckled Wood and a single Red Admiral (see below).
Several dragonflies were found with both male and female Southern Hawkers seen along with at least two male MIgrant Hawkers. On the Canal Pond a female Brown Hawker (see below) was seen ovipositing (egg laying) into a piece of floating wood and a second Brown Hawker was flying over the pond. Of interest hawker species, such as the Brown Hawker lay what are known as endophytic eggs into plant material as opposed to exophytic eggs which are laid directly into the water.
Whilst watching the Brown Hawker I noticed that the pair of Coots had become parents again! This, their third brood this year comprised of five very noisy and hungry chicks. An incredible event especially given the fact that Coot as a species had not occurred in the park for four years. Bumping into Parrish Colman we both continued to observe the Brown Hawker before moving out on the grass areas. Out of the meadow another male Migrant Hawker was seen patrolling and birds noted were Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker along with several Stock Doves. No Willow Emerald damselflies were found which was disappointing and only a couple of Common Blue damselflies were counted. And, then it rained, and rained and rained! Thankfully, we made it to the Stable Block and we were able to find shelter there. Oddly, whilst watching the rain a rather scruffly Fox ran past throwing us a brief glance as it went. Thankfully, the rain eased off and we both departed for home.
08 August 2011- An early evening walk in blustery conditions was rewarded with brief views of a first winter Spotted Flycatcher which was found in the fenced off area around the Old Bat Roost. Given the strong winds it was seen briefly on and off before being relocated along the long hedge backing onto the old bowling green. Also in this area were at least seven Blackcaps, including three ringed birds. Another five Blackcaps were found feeding together on blackberries along the Orchard footpath. A male Migrant Hawker dragonfly was seen flying around the Wilderness Pond and appeared to be sheltering from the wind.
07 August 2011- A mid-morning walk around the central park area and ponds was undertaken today. Birdwise it was quiet although the female Tufted Duck was seen on the Moat Pond along with her four ducklings. It's been quite an achievement by the female to have kept all four safe and they are all now of an age where they could easily fly off. Other birds noted were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other over the play area, three Treecreepers in trees around the Wilderness Pond and three Blackcaps in bushes along the Orchard path. A male Southern Hawker and an Emperor dragonfly were seen flying over the Moat Pond and then over Pond 3. A check for other odonata in the grassy areas around the Paddling Pool and Moat area revealed several Common Blue, Blue-tailed and a five Willow Emerald damselflies including a freshly emerged individual which appeared to have a deformed abdomen (see below).
Update- Parrish Colman was rewarded with great views of Kingfishera which frequented one of the ponds in the park. He managed a cracking photograph of a young male (see below), which was a nice reward for his incredible patience.
25 July 2011- A free hour after lunch gave me a chance to have a walk in the walk and with the sun out and reasonable temperatures I went looking for butterflies, dragons and damsels. In the meadow near to the Orchard edge a Brown Hawker was seen patrolling. Also present here were numerous butterflies with Meadow Brown, Large White, Small White, Gatekeeper (see below), Red Admiral, Comma, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Ringlet all being seen.
A thorough check of the ponds and surrounding vegetation gave me another two Brown Hawkers with one over the Paddling Pool and the other patrolling the Moat Pond. Common Blue, Azure Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies were all seen around all of the ponds albeit in less numbers than previous days. A Ruddy Darter was seen briefly over the Paddling Pool and whilst trying to relocate this individual I disturbed a large green damselfly from the long grass. Once it had settled under the small Oak tree by the Paddling Pool I was able to confirm it as a Willow Emerald Damselfly, my first of the year (see below). Checking this small area revealed another two individuals at least and very welcome they were too. I'm really pleased that this incredibly scarce damselfly is still in the park, especially given the extensive clearance programme that has been undertaken around the pond edges. Hopefully, over the next few weeks we will see the numbers increase to those of last year.
23 July 2011- I made a late morning visit to the park today (and combine it with a pre-wedding photo shoot for myself and my partner)! Whilst we were being photographed in the Walled Garden area my attention was drawn to a large dragonfly that flew past. Thankfully, it came back closer and I saw my first Brown Hawker of the year for the park. It didn't linger for long and it flew strongly over the Stable Block buildings but it was a very welcome sight. Lot's of butterflies were on the wing with good numbers of Speckled Wood noted along with Red Admiral, Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Copper and Gatekeeper. Birdwise, it was quiet although several Swallows were moving through and a male Sparrowhawk was soaring high over the allotments. A family party of nine Goldfinches were in tree tops along the Moat edge and both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were seen in flight.
22 July 2011- An early finish from work gave me an opportunity to walk back through the park at lunchtime. As the sun was out and the temperatures were reasonable I had hopes that a few butterflies and dragonflies would be on the wing. On the meadows I noted my first Holywells Small Copper butterfly of the year, albeit a rather tatty one! Butterflies also recorded were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue, Large White, Small White, Comma, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood. Looking out for Damselflies gave me Common Blue, Azure Blue and Blue-tailed but still no Willow Emeralds. If anyone has recorded them then please let me know so I can update the year records. Dragonflies noted were a single Emperor on the Moat Pond and a male Ruddy Darter along the canal path. Again, I still haven't recorded Brown Hawker so if you have then please get in touch.
Update: Parrish Colman returned from a short summer break and immediately added to the park's Odonata count with a female Southern Hawker ovipositing on the Canal Pond (see below) and a Banded Demoiselle Damselfly which was seen flying from the Canal Pond towards the Canal itself. The demoiselle sighting is important as records for this species in the park are few and far between. In addition, it is also a positive indication of water quality as demoiselle species will only tolerate good quality, pollution free water.
20 July 2011- Two Greenshanks (68) were heard and seen flying south west over the park during the evening. It's likely these are birds on return migration (it's nearly Autumn already!). Several species of migrant waders are now being reported at coastal reserves including Spotted Redshank, Green and Wood Sandpipers. It's certainly worth keeping both an ear and eye open for these birds as they pass through to their wintering grounds.
16 July 2011- My walk this morning took place in typical Summer weather, in other words it was wet, windy and cold! Bizarrely, despite the conditions the first wildlife encounter involved a very lost looking Large White butterfly. It was seen flying along the canal path clearly looking for cover. As I walked along the path I came across a large mixed tit flock, perhaps 30 in number and made up of family groups of Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits. On the Canal Pond I found a single Coot and a Grey Heron. Walking along the edge of the Wilderness Pond gave me a nice view of three Treecreepers which flew out in front of me before flying up towards the Moat area. On the Moat, the female Tufted Duck was seen sitting on a part submerged branch along with her four ducklings. Lots of Mallards were seen as well with the adult birds mostly in eclipse pulmage. A Green Woodpecker was both heard and seen along the Moat Pond tree line and a very scruffy Mistle Thrush was out on the meadow. Overhead, two Cormorants were seen flying south-east and five Oystercatchers were seen flying along the western edge of the park and then back towards the Wet Dock area. The Eastern Woods were wet and grim. Common woodland species were seen and both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were heard singing and calling. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen flying with what appeared to be a small chick in it's beak, no doubt stolen from a nearby nest and several Song Thrush were noted feeding in leaf litter along the path edges.
10 July 2011- I had a quick walk through the park today and checked out the ponds in order to look for any new dragonflies and damselflies. Only Common Blue Damselflies, Azure Damselflies and Blue-tailed Damselflies were seen. I was hoping to find a Brown Hawker or a Willow Emerald Damselfly given the time of year but nothing out of the ordinary was noted. That said, all three species of damselflies seen were involved in egg laying and lots of pairs were noted flying in tandem. On my return home from the park I saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth nectaring on buddiea and managed a quick photograph (see below). Unfortunately, it didn't linger too long and was seen heading off into gardens in Draymans Way.
Parrish Colman recorded the first Gatekeeper butterfly of the park year this afternoon (see below).
In addition, Parrish also came across a Silver Y Moth (see below) which is a common migrant from the nearby continent.
09 July 2011- Parrish Colman was in the park and came across a Holly Blue butterfly (as below). Given the time of year and the crispness of the colours this is a second brood individual.
06 July 2011- Sarah Kilshaw sent through some great photographs (see below) of the Tufted Ducklings. I think you'll agree that they capture the cuteness of the "tufties" and especially the diving prowess of one individual!
04 July 2011- A text from Matt Berry, Senior Park Rnger alerted me to the fact that he had found another White-letter Hairstreak Colony within Holywells and had recorded at least two butterflies on Elms. This time it was a small stand of Elms between the path leading to Bishops Hill and the Nacton Road boundary wall.
Late PM. I was lucky to have a couple of hours free time late afternoon and given the warm temperatures and sunshine went to the park in search of butterflies and dragonflies. Checking the margins and vegetation around the ponds gave me good views of Common Blue, Azure Blue and lots of Blue-Tailed Damselflies. Several pairs were seen flying in tandem with numerous Blue-tails noted egg laying. A late Large Red Damselfly was also seen and a possible Emerald (!) species was also seen very briefly in flight close to the footpath that runs between Pond 3 and the Moat. Dragonflies came in the form of two Ruddy Darters (male and female) and a high flying, but unidentified chaser species. Butterflies recorded around the edges of the park and on the meadows were Speckled Wood, Comma, Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Small Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell. I managed to see 2-3 White-letter Hairstreaks over the top of the Japanese Elms on the Bowling Green/ Allotment corner but none at the new location that Matt Berry had identified earlier in the day. However, whilst here I spent some time watching the tops of some mature Oak trees in the hope that I might see Purple Hairstreak. After perhaps 20 minutes of watching and just as my neck was starting to hurt I saw two small butterflies spiral out of the Oak tops and chase each other around the edge of the canopy. Watching them closely I was able to confirm that they had a silver grey underside to their wings and even noted a purplish sheen to the upper wing of a single individual that I was able to track as it settled in the sun on a lower branch. Purple Hairstreaks! Watching for the next hour gave me some reasonable views of at least four flying together and it's likely the number was actually double this. At times an individual would drop down to a sun drenched leaf and sun it's self. Checking another patch of mature Oaks on the western side of the woods above Brimstone Alley revealed another 2+ Purple Hairstreaks. How many more Oaks held colonies? With this to ponder on and despite an aching neck I left very happy.
NB: Purple Hairstreak makes 20 butterfly species for the park this year!
03 July 2011: Landseer Park- Drawn back to Landseer Park for the Marbled Whites I managed to relocate a number of this species flying along the grassy edges to the left of the bottom of the Dereham Road steps (see below).
It's highly likely that they have been locally introduced and as such not a "true" Suffolk butterfly. However, they are a joy to observe and they appear to doing well, feeding and flying strongly. I've not seen any females yet, and the 6+ seen this morning were all males. Butterflies abounded this morning with Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Comma, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Essex Skipper (50+), Small Skipper, Small Heath, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Common Blue and Small Copper (see below) all seen. A couple of small, high flying butterflies were also noted over the grassland but remained unidentified.
Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Kestrel were all seen this morning and good views of a family party of Common Whitethroats was a real bonus. Maintainence work within the nearby Cliff Quay storage sheds seemed to be upsetting the nesting gulls. At one point the sky was full of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the noise was deafening!
02 July 2011- A return to Holywells Park this morning following the recent excitement at Landseer. On the Canal Pond, an adult Coot was observed feeding a single chick (see below). I'm not sure if only this one remains, however, despite a good look around the second chick was not seen.
Whilst here a Grey Heron was seen fishing at the rear of the pond and an Emperor Dragonfly was watched patrolling the margins. A walk along the Paddling Pool path led me to disturb a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly and several Large White and Meadow Brown butterflies. On the Moat Pond the female Tufted Duck was seen with her four chicks (as below). Despite my best efforts to get a well lit photo I could only manage one in the shadows!
Singles of Emperor Dragonflies were on Pond 3 and on Pond 2 and both Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies were also noted. Both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard singing and two juvenile Mistle Thrushes and three Song Thrushes were seen on the meadow near to the Walled Gardens. A cock Pheasant was calling from within the allotment area, hopefully, with hen and chicks in tow and a female Sparrowhawk passed over. Checking the Japanese Elms for White-letter Hairstreak butterflies revealed at least two and a possible single WLH was seen over the Privet hedge in the allotment corner. Out on the grassy meadows and along the edges numerous butterflies were recorded- Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Large White, Small Skipper, Large Skipper and a single Common Blue.