26 September 2010- Despite it raining I ventured over to the park in the hope of something interesting naturewise and I was not to be disappointed. The Canal and Canal Pond held numerous Mallard and Moorhen and a Grey Heron was fishing at the rear of the main pond. Along the Conifer Hedge good numbers of thrushes were seen and heard with 14 Song Thrush and 11 Blackbirds counted. These are likely to be birds migrating south from Northern England and Europe. With the winds continuing from the north over the next few days, we are likely to see more thrushes and perhaps the first Redwing or Fieldfare of the winter. The Conifer Hedge also held good tit numbers with Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal (3) tits all present. A single Goldcrest was also found within the tit flock. Three Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs were found during a tour of the Eastern Woods and the Goldfinch flock from yesterday was found again in tree tops near to the Bishops Hill gate. Unfortunately the numbers were much reduced and only 14 birds were counted. Checking the ponds revealed only Mallard and Moorhen although whilst waiting by the Moat Pond a Kingfisher flashed through before perching for a few seconds. As I was about to move off from the Moat Pond I saw a small bird appear from under some overhanging moss covered branches and then dive underwater! Not believing it to be a Moorhen chick I waited for it to re-appear. Then after a few seconds a Little Grebe (Yr 74, Park 94) popped up on to the surface! This is my first for the park but it is a bird that I have expected especially given the large numbers that can be found in Winter on the nearby River Orwell and Wet Dock. The bird appeared to be a winter plumaged adult and was watched as it dived and surfaced frequently, disappearing several times for long periods. As it had been raining hard I had left my camera at home but hopefully it will stick around for long enough so that someone can photograph it.
Parrish Colman was also in the park today and unfortunately did not see the Little Grebe to photograph. However, he did manage to photograph one the park's foxes. This individual (shown below) was not in a good state with both back legs looking very weak and the fox generally appearing very unhealthy. A number of new foxes have appeared recently, leading me to think that they are roaming adults moving through the area in search of a new territory or perhaps younger ones dispersing from their birth areas. Whatever you may think of foxes they are still a stunning and charismatic animal to watch.
24 September 2010- A visit to the park at first light was undertaken today in the hope of finding some migrant birds grounded by the rain and north- westerly winds. Despite a thorough check of the main areas the only warblers found were three Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. In the tree-tops near the Moat a small Goldfinch flock was found. However, whilst watching these birds it became apparent that more birds were present in the area. It was only when they all took to the air that I realised that it was a significant number and I set about counting them. Despite several birds landing and taking off I settled on a figure of 39, although it is feasible that this number could have been higher. Within the total, 12 first year birds were counted which was a pleasing number. It could be that this large flock are north- European migrants or perhaps more likely, local birds flocking together before moving to wintering grounds. Despite being absorbed by the Goldfinch flock I also noted several Mistle Thrushes flying over and on leaving the park had counted 12 in total. A couple of Swallows were also seen along with a probable House Martin, all flying south-west over the park.
18 September 2010- Early morning found me looking for the "flock" of Mandarins seen the previous evening. Checking along the Canal and then the Canal Pond revealed four Mandarins comprising of three drakes and a female. Despite checking the overhanging trees and snags I couldn't find any others. Chances are that they will be hidden up somewhere and appear later in the day. Still it was good to see Mandarins back in numbers after the breeding season. Watching the Conifer Hedge revealed three Song Thrush and a small tit flock which included a Goldcrest. Walking through the open woodland near the Bishops Hill gate provided me with good views of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker along with a pair of Pied Wagtails feeding on the wet grass. A single Blackcap was found in bushes behind the play area near to the football- wall and another Green Woodpecker was feeding on the grass. A number of small tit flocks were found within the Eastern Woods and a single Coal Tit and several Treecreepers were also noted. Only Mallards and Moorhens were seen on the ponds so time was spent checking the Stable Block, Walled Garden and fenced bat roost areas. From this area, two Blackcaps (both female types) and two Chiffchaffs were seen and heard. Best bird found was a Lesser Whitethroat (Yr 72) which was found gulping berries whilst perched in a bramble clump. There have been good numbers of this warbler species along the coast this week so this bird appears to be a straggler! Overhead, three Swifts were seen flying south-east and several Black-headed Gulls were counted. Given the early hour and low temperatures no butterflies or dragonflies were seen.
PM update- At 1630hrs this afternoon a female Marsh Harrier (Yr 73, Park 93) was seen flying south-west over the park. The bird was being mobbed by Carrion Crows but did not seem bothered by this attention. This is my first record of this large raptor for the park and very welcome it is too. Given the strong flight displayed and direction it's likely that this was a migrant bird moving south after breeding. A great park tick!
I was still on a high with the Marsh Harrier record when I heard the Carrion Crows calling again in an agitated state. Thinking that it may be the harrier again I tracked the crows and saw another large raptor passing over the Conservation Area woods at tree top level. The bird was tracked over the trees and then into open sky and a Common Buzzard revealed itself! The bird continued to fly low, then gain height and was lost from my view behind some high trees. Two great raptor records in five minutes!
17 September 2010- 11 Mandarins were seen in flight at dusk approaching from the east and then to drop into the canal area.
12 September 2010- I returned to the park today mid-morning and on entering the park by the Cliff Lane Gate I was met by several Speckled Wood butterflies. Also at this point, nine Canada Geese flew over the tree tops on their way to the nearby River Orwell. After checking along the Canal Path I had just stepped out onto the meadow when a Common Buzzard was heard to call briefly high overhead. Looking back over the woods a single bird was seen as it drifted high south-west. Which such a good start I had high hopes that there would be other decent birds to be had and so gave the meadow edges a good look. As with yesterday, only a single Willow Warbler was seen along with two Blackcaps but the sun was out and there were plenty of Speckled Wood and Large White butterflies on the wing as well as numerous Migrant Hawkers. Meeting up with Gi Grieco we checked around the Moat Pond and the Pond 3 area revealed a number of Willow Emeralds including a pair in tandem (see below) and which appeared to be laying eggs into dead thistle stems.
Over the pond were both Ruddy and Common Darters as well as a single Emperor Dragonfly. Whilst in this area a Kingfisher was heard calling but unfortunately it wasn't seen. Around Pond 1 and Brimstone Alley a small tit flock was seen and at least two Blackcaps were seen to associate with it. A very vocal Treecreeper was also in this area along with more butterflies which included a single Comma. As the sun had moved slightly and with less cloud around we both went to look for the Golden Hoverfly and started to check the Ivy clad walls near to the Stable Block. Unfortunately, no likely hoverfly was found during our observations. However, it was interesting to learn a bit more about hoverflies and I am grateful to the two gentleman present for their willingness to share their expertise and identification tips.
11 September 2010- I did a midday walk today around the park and given the colour of the sky I expected to get wet! However, the rain held off but so did the birds and things were found to be very quiet nature wise. The only migrants found were singles of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and two Blackcaps (both females). All were found around the allotment edge and in the newly fenced bat roost area. The ponds were quiet apart from the usual gathering of Mallards and Moorhens. On the Canal Pond, the Tufted Duck family (female and five young) were seen preening and several of the young birds were watched as they carried out long wing stretches- perhaps they are getting ready to leave, as all are in their first winter plumage and equal to their mother in size? Along the canal an elusive Kingfisher was heard as it flew unseen along the canal edge. Later, a female bird was found sitting amongst over-hanging tree branches and was presumed to be the bird heard earlier. Over the park two Common Swifts lingered and perhaps 20 Swallows passed over south-east. The woodland areas were quiet although one reasonably sized tit flock was followed for a while as the birds moved through the area between Ponds 1 and 2. In amongst the Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were a single Coal Tit, a lone Treecreeper and several Chaffinches.Several butterflies were found to be on the wing with both Speckled Wood and Large White seen. Several Willow Emerald damselflies were found on vegetation near Pond 3 and over the pond both Common and Ruddy Darters were noted. On the Canal Pond, two Emperor Dragonflies were seen in addition to a pair that were seen flying in tandem. On the meadows, at least three Migrant Hawkers were present and a possible Southern Hawker was watched high over the Orchard edge.
PM Update- Rob Garrod found a Golden Hoverfly (Callicera Spinolae) in the Walled Garden on Ivy this afternoon. This is a significant discovery as this insect is becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Due to this, it features on both the UK and Suffolk Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP). This insect is very wasp like and has golden hairs over it's body from which it's name is derived. It can be identified from a wasp in that it has only one pair of wings (as it is a true fly), whereas wasps have two. In addition, the Golden Hoverfly has long black antennae with white tips. It is a late flying insect, normally on the wing in the early Autumn and as such feeds on late nectar sources and in particular the flowers of Ivy which appear at this time.
10 September 2010- Late PM- A tawny Owl was calling from within the Conservation Area woodland.
01 September 2010- Another month starts and who knows what nature may feature within it. Hoping for migrant birds, I again spent a great deal of time today checking what seemed to be nearly every bush, tree and piece of grass but could "only" manage Blackcaps (7) and Chiffchaffs(5). Not forgetting the sky allowed me to watch as 30+ Swifts passed over in a westerly direction who were no doubt contemplating their return journey home. Butterflies were seen and good numbers of Speckled Woods were encountered. Also on the wing were Small Whites, Large Whites, Holly Blue and a single Meadow Brown. Odonata seen were singles of Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker, several Common Darter (see below), five Blue Tailed Damselflies and six Willow Emerald Damselflies in the Paddling Pool area.
Bumping into a Brown Hawker dragonfly near the Orchard allowed me to follow it and then stalk it for a photo opportunity. Despite getting a few chances I never really managed to get the image I wanted but a "record" shot was obtained (see below).
31 August 2010- A slightly later visit this morning and in the sunshine too! Walking along the Canal path I came across a tit flock and followed them as they foraged along both sides of the water. Checking each bird as it broke cover or fed in the open revealed 17 Long-tailed Tits including at least eight first- year birds. Three Great Tits and nine Blue Tits were also present along with a single Chiffchaff. On the Canal Pond, a single Kingfisher was seen very briefly and good numbers of Mallards and Moorehens were also found. Three Robins were seen in the trees around the gap that leads to the meadow and a family party of four or five Blackcaps were feeding in a Blackberry- bush close by. Checking the meadow edges only turned up another two Blackcaps and a single Chiffchaff but several butterflies were on the wing. Paying attention to these for awhile revealed; Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue, Large White, Green Veined White and a Comma. Whilst watching the butterflies I came across two Brown Hawker Dragonflies that were patrolling the meadow. It was fascinating to watch them as they flew close to bushes and trees, manoeuvring around leaves and through grasses before picking off prey items- all good stuff and looking a glorious golden- brown in the sun! Willow Emerald Damselflies were also found on bushes near the Old Bat Roost as well as on vegetation along the Paddling Pool. At least 10 individuals were seen along with six Common Blue Damselflies. Close to the Wilderness Pond, a Green Woodpecker was seen in flight several times and another mixed tit flock, this time slightly smaller was watched as it flew through trees to the Moat area. Checking the Eastern Woods, Car Park and Stable Block Gardens failed to locate anything new. However, a small flock of nine Goldfinches seen in flight over the Leaf Yard was noteworthy.
29 August 2010- Another early morning visit to the park to search for migrants. Again checking all of my "hot spots" and "special bushes" failed to reveal anything more than two Chiffchaff and seven Blackcaps (but including five together in one Elderberry bush). Whilst pondering where to look next I wandered across the meadow and heard a call high in the air, Looking carefully,I managed to pick up a small bird flying around in loose circles and then as it came into view I saw that it was a Sand Martin (Yr,71 & Park,92). Not just any Sand Martin but the first that I have seen in the park and as welcome as a rare warbler! House Martins are fairly regular over the park especially towards the end of the Summer but Sand Martins have always alluded me. Whilst watching the Sand Martin disappear in a westerly direction my attention was drawn to an avian disagreement that was taking place from within the Conifer Hedge. Moving closer I saw that a number of Jays and Magpies were mobbing something and just at that point I saw a Tawny Owl break cover and fly off toward the Myrtle Road taking with it several pieces of conifer branch and at least three Jays and two Magpies! The noise continued for a few minutes more and then stopped so I hope that the owl got away or that the Jays and Magpies simply lost interest.
28 August 2010- With news of good numbers of commoner migrants on the coast over the last few days I carried out an early morning visit to the park hoping to find a few migrants myself. However, despite searching long and hard and trying a few new places I could only manage three Chiffchaff and five Blackcaps. Although the migrants had let me down, the "locals" kept me busy and good views were obtained in the woods of Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Tree Creeper, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. On the water, a single Grey Heron was on the Canal Pond along with a dozen or so Mallard Ducks. On the Moat Pond, the five Tufted Ducks were found and on Pond 3 several Mandarin Ducks were present including three that were moulting into first winter male plumage.
PM- Matt Berry, Senior Wildlife Warden managed to spend some time in the park at lunchtime and did well with butterflies and both dragonflies and damselflies. Along the meadow edge and along the path leading to the Orchard Matt found approximately 12 Willow Emerald Damselflies several of which were involved in mating. One photo that Matt managed to take captured five individuals together as can be seen below!
In addition to the Willow Emerald Damselflies, Matt also found two male Migrant Hawker dragonflies (photo below), a Brown Hawker and a few Common Darters. The Migrant Hawker sightings bring the park's total dragonfly species list to ten for the year. Add to that the eight species of damselflies seen and we have a total of 18 species of Odonata (that I am aware of) which I think compares very well to any fully fledged nature reserve!
Butterflies were also on the wing and Matt was able to record numerous Speckled Woods (see below), Holly Blue, Meadow Browns, Gatekeeper and a single Red Admiral.
24 August 2010- Despite the strong winds and thick clouds I ventured over to the park for a quick walk. Checking the usual bushes along the meadow and orchard edges turned up several Blackcaps including what I presume is the same ringed bird from yesterday. Three Chiffchaff were together in the trees backing onto the bowls club and allotment and a probable Willow Warbler was also heard calling in this area. Two small gatherings of finches were seen and bode well for a repeat of some of last Winter's flocks. The first, near to the Stable Block comprised of㺌 Greenfinches and included six scruffy first year birds. The second, around the bat roost by the Wilderness Pond and Paddling Pool had nine Chaffinches, two first year Goldfinches and a single Greenfinch. Other birds of note were three Green Woodpeckers flying towards the Leaf Yard trees, several Common Swifts flying over the park and a trio of House Martins. Perhaps the most entertaining observation of all related to the two newly fledged Sparrowhawks who were trying out their wings and flying skills in the wind! Despite being buffeted and blown by the strong winds both birds seemed to really enjoy the experience calling frequently in an excited manner!
23 August 2010- An early evening walk in blustery conditions woke me up after what felt like a very long day at work. Walking out onto the meadows by the long gate put me straight into the middle of a Long Tailed Tit flock and I decided to follow them as they foraged for food. As usual with tit flocks it's worth checking and scrutinsing every bird you can as tit flocks will always carry other species. With most of the birds seen I ended up with 26 Long Tailed Tits, 11 Blue Tits, seven Great Tits and singles of Chiffchaff, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. Moving along the Orchard and Allotment hedges gave me another Chiffchaff and a very tatty Common Whitethroat along with a hunting female Sparrowhawk. Spending time around my current favourite bushes (near the old bat roost) resulted in two Chiffchaff and three Blackcaps including two males, one of which had a silver ring on it's leg. In the treetops above this area, four Greenfinches were seen and a pair of Goldfinches flew over. Checking the ponds revealed three female type Mandarins and the adult female Tufted Duck and her four remaining (and now almost fully grown) youngsters. Lots of Mallards of various ages together with good numbers of Moorhens were also noted. On the grass behind the play area, four Green Woodpeckers and a single Mistle Thrush were seen feeding and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were calling from surrounding trees. Over this same area, nine House Martins and three Common Swifts were seen to linger and all appeared to be feeding on insects which were presumably being blown out of the tree tops? No dragonflies or damselflies were seen but a few butterflies were seen- Speckled Wood, Large White, Holly Blue and Meadow Brown.
22 August 2010- Brief news today- four Sparrowhawks were seen in the air today over the southern edge of the park and are likely to be the resident pair with their two fledged chicks. All appeared calm until a Kestrel tried to join the family group. It was soon seen off by the adult birds with at least two feathers seen to be lost by the Kestrel! Good numbers of House Martins have been observed moving south throughout the day over the park and in the local area.
21 August 2010- PM- Two Tawny Owls were heard calling from within the park and the conservation area
20 August 2010- Three Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps were the only migrants found on a brief walk around the park edges. Odonata seen were four Willow Emerald Damselflies along the Canal path and both Brown Hawker (3) and Southern Hawker (2) were seen patrolling the meadows. Butterflies noted were: Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Large White, Green Veined White, Holly Blue and Red Admiral.
17 August 2010- A quick check of some of my favourite bushes paid off with a new warbler for my list! Checking the bushes alongside the path leading to the Orchard gate gave me views of a male Blackcap and a very mobile and elusive brown warbler. After several minutes the mystery warbler showed itself long enough to be identified as a Reed Warbler (Yr, 70 & Park, 91) and probably a first year bird too. Watching it further allowed me some more views to further confirm it's identification although it never showed well at all. Elsewhere in the park, two Chiffchaffs were found in bushes below the old Bat Roost and three Blackcaps were found in a clump of Elderberries near to the gravel car park. The first decent tit flock of the Autumn was found around the Leaf Yard and numbered in the region of 40 birds. It was made up of Long Tailed, Blue and Great Tits along with a few Chaffinches and a Goldcrest. Overhead, several Swallows were seen and heard passing over in what appeared to be small family groups. Two House Martins were seen over the Stable Block before drifting east and several Swifts were noted flying at height before they too drifted east.
15 August 2010- Parrish Colman was in the park today and managed some great photographs of a Sparrowhawk (see above) and Wren (see below). Parrish also managed to take a great picture of a Southern Hawker dragonfly and this can be seen on the Dragonflies 2010 page. This is an incredibly difficult insect to photograph and Parrish has done a great job with the image that he has captured.
14 August 2010- Following some heavy overnight rain and continuing north westerly winds I decided to get up early and look for any grounded migrants that may have taken refuge in the park. On entering the meadows, plenty of gulls were present feeding on the wet grass and pools with 33 Black-headed, nine Herring and four (including two first year birds) Lesser Black-backed Gulls being counted. Mixed in with the gulls were three Green Woodpeckers, nine Carrion Crows and 11 Mapies. Overhead good numbers of Swifts were passing through with a dozen or so Swallows. Checking a number of favoured bushes and scrub areas provided several migrants with the following seen: Whitethroat (two), Chiffchaff (five), Willow Warbler (one), Blackcap (11) and Garden Warbler (one). A count of 15 Robins was also significant and could suggest some local or perhaps national dispersal? Still no flycatchers but it's only a matter of time....?
12 August 2010- An afternoon walk today started in brilliant sunshine but ended in pouring rain! Whilst the sun was out several butterfly species were seen; Meadow Brown, Comma, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Large White, Green Veined White and a single Gatekeeper. Along the Canal Path three Willow Emerald Damselflies were found, a Four Spotted Chaser and Emperor Dragonfly were on the Canal Pond and Brown Hawker was busy quartering the meadow along the Wilderness Pond edge. Focussing on migrants again, I found a pair of male Blackcaps in the scrub edge of the path leading to the Orchard Gate. Also found in this area were a Common Whitethroat and a juvenile Chiffchaff. Moving up to the Allotment edge, another Chiffchaff was seen here and heard calling. In bushes around the base of the Old Bat Roost two more Chiffchaffs were found along with a brown (female/juvenile) Blackcap. Overhead, several Swifts were noted along ith a handfull of House Martins and Swallows.
NB: Joe Underwood, Park Ranger together with some park volunteers saw and heard an unfamiliar warbler during last Tuesday 03 August 2010 in amongst the trees and scrub close to the Orchard Gates. The bird was seen briefly but heard to sing and call on several occasions. Being unfamiliar with this particular bird song and call, Joe managed to find an exact match on a reference recording and is happy to confirm that the bird in question was a Wood Warbler! This is a great park record and well done to Joe for finding it and confirming it's identity. It's likely that this bird was a post-breeding male making it's wasy south towards it's wintering grounds in sub-Sahara forests. Of interest, on the same day Wood Warblers were reported on the Essex coast and in central London.
09 August 2010- An unexpected early finish from work allowed me to spend an hour or so counting dragonflies and damselflies as well checking the park for any migrant birds. Finding several Willow Emerald Damselflies along the Canal path between the footbridge and the long gate was a good start and together with more around Pond 3 a total count of 21 was achieved including four tenerals and a pair ovipositing. Bizzarely, this "rare" species was the most numerous in the park with only 11 Blue Tailed and 12 Common Damselflies seen. Two Brown Hawkers, one Emperor, one Migrant Hawker and three Ruddy Darters were also counted. Butterfies seen were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue, Comma, Large White, Green Veined White, Red Admiral, Common Blue and Small Tortoiseshell. Rather than checking the whole park for migrant birds I decided to concentrate on a couple of favourite "hot spots" and one of these paid rewards. Watching the large bramble clump and nearby bushes next to the old bat roost in an area I have previously called "flycatcher triangle" revealed: two Willow Warblers (Yr, 69) my first of the year, five Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs and a single Garden Warbler. Other birds hidden in amogst the dense foliage were Blue Tits, three Greenfinches and a Chaffinch. Having satisfied myself that I had seen all there was to be seen I moved off and started sky-watching on my wy out of the park. A huge hatch of flying ants or similar insect had meant that large numbers of Black-headed Gulls had gathered over the park and a count of 56 birds was achieved. Mixed in with them were three Carrion Crows and perhaps 30 Common Swifts.
▄7 August 2010- After a lovely, if not rather wet week, in the Lake District, I returned to the park in the late afternoon to be met by sun and rain. A few birds were seen, notably a family party of seven Blackcaps feeding on berries along the path to the Orchard gate and a single Chiffchaff was found with them. A Kestrel flew high over and a Sparrowhawk was hunting above the Eastern Woods. Both Green and Greater Spotted Woodpecker were heard but not seen. A briefly seen warbler looked like a Willow Warbler but a glimpse was all I saw! Several Mandarin were on the Moat Pond along with a mixture of Mallards and Moorhen chicks. On the flooded meadow, nine Black-headed Gulls were seen paddling, clearly intent on attracting worms and insects to the surface. Despite the rain several Common Blue Damselflies were on the wing and several butterflies were seen, namely: Large White, Meadow Brown, Comma, Holly Blue and Red Admiral (see below).
05 August 2010- Parrish Colman was in the park this afternoon and was able to capture a couple of nice odonata images of an adult Brown Hawker dragonfly and an adult Willow Emerald damselfly (see Dragonflies 2010). I'm really envious of the Brown Hawker photograph (see below) as this dragonfly is very difficult to find perched and all credit to Parrish for his perserverance.
03 August 2010- Joe Underwood, Park Ranger heard a Willow Warbler singing in the park today. This species has been all but absent from the park this year and Joe's record is quite significant. This record probably relates to an individual moving through on it's southerly migration.
01 August 2010- With the first day of August upon us it's time to start thinking about migrant birds. Many visiting species have now finished breeding and are starting to make their long journeys south to wintering grounds. I hope that during August we will see some typical early Autumn migrants moving through the park and it would be great to see some Spotted Flycatchers again like we did last year. I've got my fingers firmly crossed for some goodies such as Common Redstart, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher and also some of the wader species too. I've just got to find the time to look for them!
With this in mind I had a walk around the park with migrant birds the target. However, it was soon apparent that the birds were very quiet and generally elusive. Checking the food sources that migrant birds might turn to, I started to look closely at the berry bushes and here, near Pond 1 I found three Blackcaps and a scruffy looking Chiffchaff. Resident birds were also making the most of the berries and Robin, Song Thrush and Blackbird were also found. Continuing with this tactic, I continued to find a few birds and in a large bramble bush near the Orchard gates I found another four Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs. In amongst the warblers, was a single Goldcrest and a very aggressive Robin. Elsewhere in the park two Green Woodpeckers were feeding on the grass next to the play area and at least three Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were seen at various points in the park. A Treecreeper was calling from within the Wilderness Pond and three Greenfibches flew over at height (migrants?) A few butterflies were encountered with Large White, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue all on the wing. Around the path between Pond 3 and the Moat Pond a total of 15 Willow Emerald Damselflies were found including 6 tenerals (recently emerged). Whilst looking to photograpg one adult, another individual fluttered down onto my camera lens! Managing to move it to a fence post it lingered long enough to capture a few images, one of which is below!
31 July 2010- A quick stroll through the park this afternoon gave a brief opportunity to check out a few wildlife areas. Along Brimstone Alley, nearly 20 Large White Butterflies were encountered along with several Green-veined White butterflies. Other species seen were Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Holly Blues. A Kingfisher was seen in flight between Pond 1 and Pond 2 and a drake Mandarin was found lurking under overhanging bushes on Pond 1. On the Moat Pond, the Tufted Duck family were found with five chicks remaining. The Mandarins, all 13 of them remain on the Moat Pond although at least five were originally seeen on the meadow edges feeding on the grass. On the water numerous Common and Blue-tailed Damselflies were seen with many flying in tandem and ovipositing (laying eggs). Around the Paddling Pool, two adult Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen briefly amongst the dense vegetation along with a Ruddy Darter and Brown Hawker dragonfly. On the meadows butterflies seen were: Small Skipper, Holly Blue, Meadow Brown, Gate Keeper, Ringlet and Speckled Wood. On the Canal Pond a Grey Heron was seen fishing and a Little Egret was roosting up in the trees.
29 July- A quick afternoon patrol saw me checking the butterflies again along with the dragon and damselflies but unfortumately I couldn't find anything new. Butterfly numbers were good and with a great mix of species again with the following seen: Brimstone (3+), Red Admiral, Large White (lots), Holly Blue (lots), Ringlet, Meadow Brown (lots), Gatekeeper (lots), Small Skipper (see below) and Speckled Wood.
Also, of note today were several pristine Green Veined White Butterflies (see below) that were seen along the path edges and meadow margins. These butterflies are second brood individuals and are slightly larger than the first brood ones found in the Spring.
Disappointingly, no Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen today but good numbers of Blue-tailed, Common and Azure Damselflies were again noted. A single Emperor Dragonfly was present on the Canal Pond and on the Moat Pond. Brown Hawkers had increased to nine today and at least six Ruddy Darters were counted along the Canal path. Blackcaps were seen feeding on berries and this indicates that it is time for them to fatten themselves up in preparation for their southerly migration. A Sparrowhawk was seen over the Eastern Woods and at least two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were calling from trees high above the moat and play areas.
28 July 2010- Another sunny day but with an annoying breeze meant that taking photographs of butterflies and dragonflies today was not going to be easy, get my excuse in early ! Concentrating on the butterflies a good number of species were seen with the real surprises being at least three bright lemon- yellow Brimstones. These Brimstones will be the newly emerged offspring of those which were present in early spring. The other species seen were: Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral, Large White, Holly Blue, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper and Speckled Wood. Also, in amongst the butterflies were good numbers of migrant Silver- Y moths which appeared to be competing heavily with the butterflies for nectar plants. On the odonata front, good numbers of Blue-tailed, Common and Azure Damselflies were seen on most water features along with several Emperor Dragonflies. Of note, was the increased numbers of Brown Hawker dragonflies in the park with at least seven being counted. Spending time around Pond▀, the Moat Pond and the Paddling Pool proved worthwhile with at least seven Willow Emerald Damselflies being seen (see below- these photos were submitted to Adrian Parr, Suffolk Odonata Recorder and the identifications confirmed by him),
Above- adult Willow Emerald Damselfly and below, teneral (recently emerged) Willow Emerald Damselfly.
On the bird front, the female Tufted Duck appeared to have lost one of it's chicks as only five were seen today. Two new female Mandarins were seen on Pond 3 and the thirteen others were still present on the Moat Pond. A Green Woodpecker was seen in amongst the meadow grass along with several Magpies and two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers flew over. A Goldcrest was heard singing from a clump of Ivy near the Orchard and several Blackcaps were also still singing. Overhead, good numbers of Swifts were moving south-east and a mixed flock of House Martins and Swallows totalling 56 birds was watched as it drifted below the Swifts in a similar direction. Several Black-headed Gulls were noted loafing around the park and a Lesser Black-backed Gull was also seen.
Late Pm- At least two Tawny Owls were heard callingfrom within the Conservation Area.
25 July 2010- Gi Grieco, was in the park today and saw a single Hobby circling overhead. This is a great record and the first for the park this year that I am aware of. In addition, Gi also saw Mandarin, Tufted Duck, Mallards, Moorhens, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Blackcap, Stock Doves and Little Egret. Several Holly Blue butterflies were also seen along with both Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonflies.
24 July 2010- A mid- morning visit to the park today saw me looking for rare Willow Emerald Damselflies that had been reported this week in the park near the long gates by the Canal Pond. This species has recently been found in Suffolk and as of last year, appears to be colonising certain parts of the county including Holywells Park. Despite an extensive search, dutifully assisted by my labrador, no sign of this particular damselfly was found. Other odonata seen, however, consisted of both Common and Azure Blue Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselflies, Brown Hawker and several Emperor Dragonflies. Birds seen included a very vocal Treecreeper, Song Thrush and Sparrowhawk. Checking around the Moat Pond and Pond 3 gave me great views of the ducklings (Tufted, Mallard, Mandarin and Moorhen) as well as both Grey Heron and Little Egret. Of note here was a small flock of 11 Goldfinches that appeared restless in the pond tree tops before flying south-east in a very noisy fashion. Picking through some individual birds in the flock indicated that it was probably a family group as it appeared to be a mixed flock of adult and young birds.
Whilst watching a Chiffchaff in pondside trees by Pond 3, my attention was drawn to a large "green" damselfly feeding on some bushes. Looking closely through binoculars revealed it to me a male Willow Emerald Damselfly and a cracker it was too! Checking closely around the pond gave me at least two more males (and a single Brown Hawker). Hopefully, I will be able to photograph the Willow Emeralds another time as they were very mobile and the stiff breeze kept the vegetation moving! These damselflies are very rare in Suffolk and also in the UK as a whole. However, based on several sightings last year and this year they appear to have established a foothold in the south-east area of Suffolk and now appear to be extending their range slowly. Leaving the ponds, I headed over to the flower meadows and had a look for butterflies that were flying and feeding here. Butterflies seen were Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Large White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, Essex Skipper, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper and Common Blue (see below).
23 July 2010- Despite the gloomy grey skies and slight drizzle I set off for an early morning walk around the park. Apart from Moorhens and Mallards little was seen as I walked along the Canal Path and out past the Swamps. Walking across the meadows gave me great views of a family party of three Green Woodpeckers and a gathering of 11 Magpies. All seemed to be happily feeding on insects which they were finding by probing the damp grass. Approaching the Wilderness Pond a Grey Heron was flushed from the Paddling Pool and several moorhens scuttled away in front of me. On the Moat Pond, a new brood of Mallards was seen and comprised 11 ducklings. Looking around I soon found the Mandarin "flock" and in amongst them was the Tufted Duck brood along with the female (see below). With six ducklings still intact the female seems to be doing a great job and appears very defensive of them.
A drake Mallard was soon seen off after it got too close for her! At least two other Mallard broods were present and I counted over fifty birds on this piece of water alone! Of note, at least three Black-headed Gulls were seen on or over the pond and this would indicate that they are now returning from breeding sites and I would imagine that their numbers will slowly increase as we move towards the Autumn. Several Blackcaps were still singing along with a single Chiffchaff and the only other migrants seen were a handfull of Swifts that drifted over. Within the park, Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens and Blackbirds were seen in reasonable numbers and Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits appear to doing well given the number of young birds being seen. With the sun begining to break through and the temperature steadily rising I returned to the meadows to look for butterflies. Species seen, but only in small numbers were: Large White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper and Gatekeeper (see below). Odonata seen were Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker and Common Blue Damselflies.
21 July 2010- I managed a quick walk in the park tonight before the light went. On the Canal Pond, 23 Mallards were counted with some of the drakes seen to be emerging from eclipse plumage and into their Winter dress. Several Moorhens were present with young and a Southern Hawker dragonfly was also seen. Over the meadows both Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in flight and at two Mistle Thrush were picking through clumps of grass. A single Song Thrush was singing and a lone Blackcap was bellowing out it's song. On the Moat Pond the Tufted Duck female was seen along with six her fluffy brown chicks. Whilst watching the "tufties" the Mandarin chicks (more like teenagers!) drifted into view and 12 were counted. Looking around the pond, the adult female Mandarin was seen on the usual branch perch so the 13 Mandarins remain! Elsewhere, several Mallard chicks were noted along with a pair of Moorhen chicks. The Moat Pond was actually the duck nursery today! Over the park, numerous swifts were seen along with a single Swallow. Several Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls were drifting around and a pair of Oystercatchers passed over noisily on their way to the river.
19 July 2010- Great news today! Parrish Colman reports that the Tufted Ducks have bred and have six healthy chicks, This is a great record for the park and adds to last years successful breeding record for Tufted Duck.
18 July 2010- Parrish Colman managed to catch up with a Kingfisher in the park and captured the encounter brilliantly. The images obtained, see one below, are just reward for Parrish's dedication to capturing this species on camera and the hours spent waiting and hoping!
Parrish also managed to capture a great photograph of an obliging Green Woodpecker, as can be seen below.
PM Update- I managed a quick walk around the flower meadows and canal path and given the lack of birds decided to concentrate on butterflies and dragonflies. Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) encountered were, Ruddy Darters (10+), Brown Hawkers (3) and Emperor (3) Dragonflies on the Canal and Canal Pond along with Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies. Butterflies seen on the wing were, Gatekeeper (up to 5 along the Canal), Large Skipper (lots), Small Skipper (lots), Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Comma, Large White (good numbers and perhaps mainly migrants?), Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.
Bumping into Rob Garrod allowed me to catch up with some of his recent park sightings which included two new 2011 records in the form of Brown Argus butterfly and a pair of Banded Demoiselle damselflies.
15 July 2010- Generally very quiet in the park with nothing of note reported. Parrish Colman managed to carry out some photography despite the strong winds and given the shot of the Blue Tit below, did so admirably.
13 July 2010- Two interesting sightings whilst walking through the park early this morning. The first was a Common Tern flying over the park generally towards the Wet Dock, the second was a trio of Greenshanks that flew over the park towards the River Orwell. The Greenshanks were very vocal as they appeared to see the river and given the date maybe birds heading south on their post-breeding migration?
12 July 2010- A very quick walk around the main areas of the park was fitted in this evening before the light began to fade. On the Canal Pond, a single Kingfisher was seen flying behind the island but not seen again so presumably it found a perch or headed into cover, perhaps to roost? Also on this pond was a single Grey Heron and a dozen scruffy "eclipse" Mallards. On the meadow, two Green Woodpeckers were feeding and at least two Song Thrush were with them before they were all scattered by a low flying Lesser Black-backed Gull. On the Moat Pond, the Mandarins were found again. Counting them revealed the adult female and thirteen ducklings all nearly the same size as the adult. It's amazing that all have lasted this long and it is a credit to the parental ability of the adult bird. It certainly bodes well for the immediate future of the Ipswich Mandarin population. Moving on, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was drumming near Pond 2 and a Mistle Thrush was singing from a dead tree by Pond 1. Overhead, good numbers of Swifts were seen with perhaps 75+ feeding over the Eastern Woods alone. A smaller amount of House Martins loosely associated with the Swifts but the martins soon drifted North-East and out of sight. Around the stable block a small flock of finches were seen and after they settled I counted five Goldfinches, three Greenfinches and four Chaffinches. Whilst watching the finches an inquisitive Southern Hawker Dragonfly was encountered showing me as much interest as I was showing it!
Late PM- A Tawny Owl was heard calling from within the Conservation Area.
10 July 2010- With the birdlife being very quiet I spent an hour at lunchtime checking the butterflies and dragonflies again. The windy conditions made photography out on the meadows quite difficult but along the canal and around the Wilderness Pond conditions were a bit better, Butterflies seen on the wing were, Red Admiral (2), Large White (lots), Comma (3), Small Tortoiseshell (6), Large Skipper (lots), Small Skipper (lots), Essex Skipper (5), Gatekeeper (my first of the year) (3), Meadow Brown (15+), Ringlet (lots) and a single Speckled Wood.
On the water dozens of Common and Azure Damselflies were seen in tandem egg laying along with a few Blue-Tailed Damselflies. On the Canal Pond, a single Emperor Dragonfly remained along with three Brown Hawkers and at least two Four Spotted Chasers (see below). Along the footpath both Common (see above) and Ruddy Darters were found and I also happened across a single Southern Hawker that was most unhappy about letting me through it's territory!
09 July 2010- Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger found the park's first Gatekeeper butterfly of the year this afternoon as seen in the photo below.
08 July 2010- An early visit to the park proved quite rewarding birdwise with about 20 House Martins passing low over the park in a north westerly direction as I entered. On a general wander around the main areas I saw two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers flying over the meadows to the play area and moat. Here, an adult and juvenile Green Woodpecker (see below) were watched as they searched for insects along the fence line. For a while the adult appeared to be teaching the youngster how to lick ants up and then the young bird started on it's own-fascinating nature observation!
In the trees between Ponds 2 and 3 and the Stable Block at least three Treecreepers were seen and heard as they made their way alomg the treeline. Also in this area was a Mistle Thrush and a very obliging Song Thrush (see below) that was looking for food- presumably for its nestlings.
A walk through the Eastern Woods revealed good numbers still of Blue Tits Great Tits, Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks and Blackbirds. On the water only Mallards and Moorhens were seen along with a single Grey Heron on the Canal Pond. Walking through the flower meadows revealed a few emerging butterflies with Ringlet (see below), Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Large and Essex Skipper being seen.
PM- A return to the park in the afternoon saw me joining Parrish Colman on a short walk around the Canal and meadows. On the Canal Path, several Common, Blue-tailed and Azure Damselfies were seen along with at least two male Ruddy Darter dragonflies. Out on the Canal Pond a male Emperor Dragonfly remained and at least two Brown Hawkers were also present. Glistening like ginger gold as they flew and hovered in the sunlight the Brown Hawkers were amazing to watch but I wish they would come close enough to allow their photograph to be taken! Out on the meadows more butterflies were present with Comma, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Holly Blue added to the list of species seen this morning. On the Moat Pond the female Tufted Duck appeared but there was still no sign of any Mandarins. Parting company with Parrish I headed back into the meadows and added Small Copper and Painted Lady to the butterfly list. A small, high flying butterfly was probably a hairstreak species but it never came close to allow me a chance of identifying it. A quick count of butterflies seen today gave a total of㺍 species so not a bad result!
Moorhen chick, photo by Parrish Colman.
04 July 2010- With few new birds about I spent an hour checking through the meadows for butterflies and the ponds for dragonflies and damselflies. Starting first along the canal, I soon came across several Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies feeding along the canal edges. Whilst watching them my attention was drawn to a splash and then a whizz of bright blue- Kingfisher! The bird, a male was then seen perched in overhanging vegetation before it flew up the canal towards the Canal Pond. Continuing on, I came across three Red-eyed Damselflies, five Large Red Damselflies, a male Ruddy Darter and more Azures. On the main Canal Pond, scanning across the surface revealed at least three Emperor Dragonflies, two Hairy Dragonflies, single Black-tailed Skimmer and two chaser species which were too distant to identify with confidence but likely to be Broad-bodied. Whilst watching an Emperor Dragonfly I saw a Large White butterfly fly past and it reminded me that time was moving on and so I headed out to the meadows. After a short while I had seen: Essex Skipper (10+), Large Skipper (15+) , Meadow Brown (6+), Ringlet (2), Large White (3), Red Admiral (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2), a single Comma and a single Peacock. Given the blustery winds I couldn't get any decent photographs but hopefully I'll be able to get some this week.
03 July 2010- A couple of hours were spent in the park this morning in order to catch up with the wildlife. Getting in early always has it's benefits and I was rewarded with views of a Fox running across the meadow with what appeared to be a Moorhen in it's mouth. Also seen briefly was the cock Pheasant, again hidden up in the long grass near to the Orchard. Due to a weather system passing through about 150+ Common Swifts were seen low over the park and they lingered for nearly an hour before dispersing over the Ipswich skies. Also mixed in with them were a few House Martins and Swallows so not a bad sky watching session. Throughout the park, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were in song and also noted were several fledged young of both species. In the bushes around the Old Bat Roost I counted at least five juvenile Blackcaps alone and at least three Chiffchaffs. Good numbers of Song Thrush were also seen and three Green Woodpeckers deep in long grass were also a pleasing sight. Lots of young Great Tits and Blue Tits were seen and also several young Robins, including two birds nagging the parent bird for food. On the water, most of the Mallards are looking very tatty in their drab eclipse plumage. A Grey Heron was hunting at the back of the Canal Pond and three individuals were seen flying north west over the park. On the Moat Pond, a Little Egret was flushed from waterside bushes and five Brown Rats were seen feeding in and around the Pond 3 overflow pipe! Pond 3 itself looked like a Creche with the matriach Mandarin still with her thirteen youngsters. Also, on this pond was a Mallard and her nine ducklings. Walking through the long grass in the meadows gave me my first Meadow Brown of the year, not bad for 7.45 am (see Butterflies 2010) as well as a Blue Tailed Damselfly that looked rather poorly.
PM update- Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger managed to see the park's first Ringlet (see below) and Essex Skipper butterflies of the year. He also added Comma (3), Meadow Brown (1), Large White (1) to the day total and all from the Kissing Gate Lane area.
Above- Ringlet, photo by Matt Berry.
In addition to Matt's butterfly species I also saw Large Skipper, Red Admiral, Small Tortoisehell and Speckled Wood later on. Added together that means nine butterfly species were on the wing today.