30 April 2011- I did a late morning visit to the park today in order to look for butterflies and odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Checking the canal path and canal pond (pond 6) failed to reveal any odonata but did give me several butterfly species in the form of Speckled Wood, Brimstone (M&F) Orange-tip (M), Small White, Green-veined White, Comma and Peacock. On the canal pond, the pair of Coots were seen feeding their chicks but only three were seen (see below). Presumably, the other two have sadly perished as the adults were only concentrating on these three chicks.
There was no sign of the Garden Warbler but both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard singing throughout the park. Two Little Egrets were seen, one in the moat trees (see below), the other feeding around the margins of Pond 2.
A pair of Mistle Thrushes were seen chasing a Magpie away cross the meadow from what was probably their nest site and a pair of Mandarin Ducks were on the Moat Pond. On Pond 3, a Mallard duck was escorting 12 newly hatched ducklings around the pond and a single Black-headed Gull looked on. Overhead, perhaps 15+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls were loafing around. Checking the Paddling Pool area revealed a Brimstone that was feeding on a Dandelion and my first Large Red Damselfly (see below)!
I then spent the next hour checking this area and along the western edge to the moat. In total, I found 15+ Large Reds including a pair in tandem and several recently emerged adults along with my first Azure Damselfly (3) as shown below.
28 April 2011- Matt Garnham was in the park today and saw the following. A Little Egret was feeding in the ditch between Ponds 1 and 2, a pair of Tufted Ducks were on Pond 3, a Grey Wagtail and a second pair of Tufted Ducks on pond 6. Good news as well as Matt saw the Coots still with five youngsters. The second pair of Tufted Ducks is interesting as we have only had the one pair present for the last three years. Lets hope they stick around and become another breeding pair. Matt's sighting of Grey Wagtail was also important as this species has been very elusive in the park this year.
I had a quick walk around the park early evening and also noted the two pairs of Tufted Ducks. In addition, I also heard and saw (albeit briefly) a Garden Warbler (Yr 60) in the allotment hedgeline. This area always seems to attract Garden Warblers but none ever appear to stick around for long enough to form a territory and breed. Perhaps this year will be different?
25 April 2011- Good news was received from Parrish Colman today and related to the Coots on the Canal Pond. The pair have been successful and at least five youngsters were seen with their parents today (see below). Lets hope the rats can be kept away and that they have a good start to their lives. It was a great thing to record Coot in the park again after several years but it's now even better to add them to the list of park breeding birds.
23 April 2011- I visited the park early this morning just after dawn in order to listen to the chorus of bird song. It was certainly worth it and the noise was incredible. Bird species heard singing were; Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit together with calling Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Summer migrant also made a brief appearance and came in the form of a male Common Whitethroat (Yr 58). This warbler was heard and then seen briefly as it flew from bushes around the edge of the Wilderness Pond and then towards the allotment area. Another year bird came in the form of a single Common Redshank (Yr 59)that flew low over the meadow towards the River Orwell and Wet Dock. Given how low it was when initially seen, it is possible that it could have been feeding on the grassy area on the Bishops Hill side of the park? Other birds noted on my walk were two Grey Herons, one flying over in a northerly direction, the second on Pond 1 and three pairs of Mandarin Ducks around Pond Three and the play area.
22 April 2011- Two fly-over Greylag Geese were seen today by Parrish Colman.
21 April 2011- Finishing early for the Easter weekend allowed me to spend a couple of hours wandering around the park. Given the ongoing, above average temperatures and glorious sunshine I had hopes of early Odonata (Dragon/Damselflies). Despite some serious searching of the ponds, overhanging vegetation and emergence points I failed to see any signs. Perhaps, I am a few days or a week too early. Still, I'm sure it won't be long before the early Odonata appear in the form of Large Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly and Four Spotted Chaser. Whilst searching for damsels and dragons I saw two pairs of Moorhens with chicks (3 and 2 respectively) along the canal path. On the Canal Pond the Coot is still on the nest and pairs of Mandarin Duck, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese were all noted. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen taking food to nest holes and a young Jay was being fed by a parent. Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin were also noted with food items in their bills and a Great Tit was seen to emerge from a nest box with a faecal sac. Seven singing males of both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were heard but no other warblers or Summer visitors were noted.
Turning to butterflies, good numbers of both Brimstone and Green-veined Whites (see above) were noted. A supporting cast was present with; Holly Blue, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood, Orange-tip and Comma also seen but in small numbers.
17 April 2011- I managed a quick park visit late afternoon and was amazed as to the amount of butterflies that were around. Just walking along the canal path gave me views of; Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Brimstone, Peacock (see above), Small Tortoiseshell (see below), Large White, Comma and Green-veined White.
16 April 2011- The Waxwing hunt continued today with Parrish Colman locating the flock of 20 along the Canal Path again. Despite very difficult viewing conditions Parrish was able to get a great photograph of an individual bird as below.
15 April 2011- A quick visit to the park this morning revealed that Waxwings were still present. Seen initially around the Myrtle Road gate, they were then seen again around Pond 6/ Canal Pond and then finally in the trees above the Canal close to the footbridge. A maximum count of 21 was achieved, although, this could have been higher as the flock was very mobile and difficult to follow. Also seen on the Canal Pond were the pair of Coot and the pair of Canada Geese. The pair of Tufted Ducks were on the Moat Pond and three pairs of Mandarin Ducks were on Pond 3. Both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing but no other summer migrants were noted. Of interest, good numbers of summer migrants (hirundines, warblers, redstarts, Nightingales, Yellow Wagtails and a few wader species) are being seen along the coast at the moment so hopefully a few may pass over or through the park in the coming days and weeks.
Late afternoon- My first Green-veined White butterfly of the year was seen today along the edge of the Conservation Area along with Holly Blues (3), Comma (1) and Orange-tips (2m)
14 April 2011- Many thanks to Ipswich Parks Volunteer Matt Garnham for providing photographs of 20+ Waxwings that he saw in the park this afternoon (1540hrs) in trees behind Pond 6.
Waxwings seen previously in the park have also favoured this Pond location so it seems to be worth watching and listening out for this stunning species in this area.
12 April 2011- Parrish Colman has provided a wonderful image of a Chiffchaff seen in the park today. It's always nice to see this bird up close and appreciate the subtle plumage tones and barepart colours.
11 April 2011- I returned to the park early morning after a week of intense birdwatching and butterfly watching in Spain. Unfortunately, there was no back drop of calling Hoopoe and Azure-winged Magpie but it was still good to hear Blackcap and Chifchaff singing from long the Canal path! On the Canal itself I found two Moorhens on nests and a Coot on a nest on the Canal Pond. The pair of Canada Geese were also present here along with a single drake Mandarin. Out on the meadow I saw a flock of seven ducks flying low towards me from the north-east. As they got closer I saw that they were in fact Shelducks (Yr 57). They were then watched as they flew towards the River Orwell and then out of view. I'm not sure where they had come from as they were so low but it may be that they had flown in a circle around the park to get their bearings? A Pheasant was heard calling from the allotments and a Sparrowhawk was seen high in the sky above the Orchard. The rest of the park was quiet, however, I did count the singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs settling on 7 and 6 territories respectively.
PM Update- With strong sunshine and a light wind I returned to the park mid-afternoon with butterflies on my mind. Walking through the park gave me my first sightings of Large White (3), Speckled Wood (below) (3) and Holly Blue (3) of the year. Also seen were Small White (6), Orange Tip (2), Comma (1), Small Tortoiseshell (2) and Brimstone (4m 3f).
A female Brimstone was watched laying eggs on a Buckthorn leaf and as she did so a male was seen trying to knock her off (see below). The male Brimstone, presumably desperate to fertilize her, was seen to land on the same twig and then use his wings to try and push her off. Failing with this technique he then simply tried flying into her and barging her out of her egg laying position. He was unsuccessful and eventually flew off after another female who flew close by!
09 April 2011- Parrish Colman was in the park today and found a male Brimstone and a pair of Small White Butterflies. Both were captured in photographs by Parrish as below.
07 April 2011- Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger saw a male Orange-tip today plus the first park records this year for Speckled Wood (1) and Holly Blue (2). In addition, Matt also saw 5 Small Tortoiseshell. Matt was lucky enough to count 6 different egg laying Brimstones including 4 laying on the same half dozen Buckthorns as can be seen in Matt's incredible images below. Matt also saw 4 male Brimstones patrolling the park in a very active manner, no doubt trying to find unfertilized females.
02 April 2011- Gi Grieco, was in the park this afternoon and recorded Brimstone butterflies around pond 1 and along Brimstone Alley. Birds seen included a singing Blackcap by Pond , the pair of Tufted Duck and the pair of Canada Geese on the Canal Pond and a pair of Mandarin on the Moat Pond.
Matt Berry, Senior Park ranger counted 8 male Brimstone from around the Park including 4 all together in the orchard which were all frantically searching for females. He also saw▀ Comma and a possible Orange-tip. Matt also saw a Muntjac Deer and three Pheasants in the Orchard area.
01 April 2011- A walk through the park late afternoon after work was rewarded with another early sighting of a butterfly species; this time a male Orange-tip. Also seen on the wing were several male Brimstones, at least four Commas and a Small Tortoiseshell. Birds seen on the Canal Pond with Parrish Colman were the pairs of Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese and Coot. A Grey Heron was also seen enjoying the sun before flying off. The heron's departure was captured by Parrish as below.
With the air temperature increasing the water is also starting to warm up. Add to that some strong sunlight and you have perfect conditions for.... Terrapins! The one photographed below by Parrish, a Red-earred Terrapin was on a branch in the Canal Pond.
27 March 2011- A lunchtime visit was undertaken today, unfortuntely the sun from the morning had gone and it was now very overcast. In the Conservation area the cock Pheasant was seen again although there were no hen pheasants apparent. On the Canal Pond the pair of Coot were seen with one bird present on the nest clump. It's not clear if eggs are present but if they are not then it won't be long before they are laid. The pair of Tufted Ducks were also present on the Canal Pond along with a pair of Mandarins. Several Siskins and Goldfinches were present in the Wilderness Pond trees and a pair of Mandarins were on the water. On the Moat Pond, the pair of Canada Geese were seen along with the "still" single Coot. Near Pond 3, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen flying by and 11 Black-headed Gulls were on the pond. In the Eastern Woods, two Treecreepers were seen well and allowed a comparison to made against the Short-toed Treecreeper that I saw at Landguard Bird Observatory yesterday! A shame it wsn't the other way around! Three Chiffchaffs were in full song and at least two Blackcaps were also singing. A Mistle Thrush was seen near Pond 1 and a pair of Song Thrush were found in the Leaf Yard. Elsewhere, in the park were at least three more singing Chiffchaffs and a pair of Blackcaps in the Allotment hedge.
PM update- A telephone call at 3pm from Gi Grieco alerted me to the fact that he had just seen a Rough Legged Buzzard (!) flying south over the park from the Nacton Road side. Despite checking the sky thoroughly this bird eluded me and presumably drifted south towards the river and then away. I continued to watch the sky and saw two Sparrowhawks displaying along with several gulls. Then at 3.35pm I picked up a large raptor flying low north-east over the park. This bird was being mobbed by gulls and the noise being made was noticeable in itself. As the bird changed direction to fly north-west I was able to identify it as an adult female(?)pale phase Rough Legged Buzzard (Park 99, Yr 56). It was noticebly larger, bulkier and deeper chested than the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls around it with longer and broader wings and a long tail when held straight. It was very white underneath with a very contrasting dark belly patch, dark carpal patches, an obvious thick dark band to it's tail, dark thin trailing band to the underwing, dark wing tips and interestingly, two missing primaries to it's right wing and a whitish head. Upperparts, appeared all dark apart from a white inner tail, but not reaching the rump. In flight, when not avoiding angry gulls, the RLB flew with strong, deep loose wing beats, gliding occasionally which allowed the inner wings to be seen to be held slightly raised and pushed forward but with the primaries held flat (giving it a very distinct wing shape). The bird was watched as it climbed higher and eventually lost to view roughly above the Portman Road stadium.
PM update + Talking with Gi later, the bird he had seen did not have the two missing primaries in the right wing and so must have been a different bird- two Rough Legged Buzzards within 30 minutes of each other! An incredible event!
23 March 2011- Parrish Colman managed to spend some time in the park today and added to the Park's butterfly year list with a Peacock and a very early Small White (see the Butterflies 2011 page). Parrish also managed a lovely portrait shot of one of the park's Coots (see below).
21 March 2011- A quick walk through the park on my way home allowed me to catch up with the pair of Tufted Ducks (Yr 55) on the Canal Pond. Both were seen asleep at the rear of the pond. Also present were two pairs of Mandarins and the pair of Coot. On the meadow, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present including the bird with one leg. The pair of Canada Geese and single Coot were all on the Moat. Along the Canal Path, two Chiffchaff and a single Blackcap were singing. Despite the gloomy grey afternoon I also caught up with my first butterflies of the year with two Comma, one Brimstone (male) and a single Small Tortoiseshell. Another butterfly eluded identification but looked awfully like a Speckled Wood....?
20 March 2011- Parrish Colman did the rounds today in the park and noted that the pair of Tufted Ducks had returned.As usual Parrish captured the event with some cracking photographs as can be seen below (female above, male below).
19 March 2011- A very early morning start paid dividends with both singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap being heard along the Canal path. On the Canal itself the first Moorhen nest was seen along with a Moorhen, possibly on eggs. In the trees around the edge of the Canal Pond and Wilderness Pond an estimated 100 Siskins were seen and heard. Looking closely at as many birds as possible failed to turn up any redpoll species but a few Goldfinch were found. On the Canal Pond, the Coot had paired up and are now busy building a nest in the centre on the pond. Fingers crossed that the local kids don't take an interest in them. On the Wilderness Pond, two pairs of Mandarins were found and at least three Treecreepers were seen. One bird was in full song and was perhaps singing to it's companions. On the Moat Pond, the pair of Canada Geese were found along with the third Coot. It looks like the paired Coot have seen this one off and it's been forced to set up territory on the Moat. Lets hope that a second pairing is formed. Several Black-headed Gulls were on Pond 3 along with another pair of Mandarins. Walking through the Eastern Woods revealed another singing Treecreeper and a second singing Chiffchaff although not as forceful in song as the first bird. Two Goldcrests were seen along Brimstone alley and a Muntjac Deer crossed the path in front of me. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present around Pond 1 and another pair of Mandarins were seen in flight away from the area. A second pair of duck were seen in the corner on the pond and as I approached the pond they took flight- Teal! I watched the Teal (Yr 54) as they flew towards the Moat and then as they appeared to drop down. Continuing on, both Song and Mistle Thrush were seen around the Leaf Yard and singles of both Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Treecreeper were also noted. A female Sparrowhawk was seen in flight over the Walled Garden and the pair of Teal were gain seen in flight heading back towards Pond 1.
Midday update- Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger flushed a Woodcock from the Kissing Gate Meadow, which was an incredible record given the amount of people and dogs that had been through the park already today. Matt also managed to see several Brimstone and Comma butterflies. See the Butterflies 2011 page for some fantastic images taken today by Matt.
14 March 2011- Three butterflies species were seen today in the park by Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger namely, male Brimstone, Comma and a Small Tortoiseshell. Clearly the recent milder temperatures and today's glorious sun tempted this trio out for Matt to enjoy.
13 March 2011-▀ Coots still on the Canal Pond and a pair of Sparrowhawks displaying over the Eastern Woodland belt and Conservation area woods near Cliff Lane.
12 March 2011- A lovely sunny morning! With the recent milder temperatures I set off to the park with the hope of seeing a newly emerged Brimstone butterfly and early migrant birds. On the Canal Pond I found the Coot and whilst watching I noticed a second Coot emerge from overhanging branches! Both birds loosely associated but there was no courtship or aggression (which suggests it's probably not two males). They were, however, calling to each other so perhaps display has been and gone or it's still early days. Either way it's a great record and, hopefully, breeding will occur. Around the Wilderness Pond a dozen or so Siskin were feeding low in the trees and drinking in small pools around the edge of the Pond.
On the Moat Pond, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (above)was found with the Black-headed Gulls. I watched it for several minutes drinking and washing until a Spaniel decided to leap into the pond and ruin the scene. Also on this pond were the pair of Canada Geese (below) and a pair of Mandarins.
A Little Egret (below) was feeding in the stream between Ponds 1 and 2 before flying up into the trees and a Grey Heron was at the back of Pond 1.
Another seven Siskins were found close to where the heron was hunting and a female Sparrowhawk was seen patrolling in this area. I had a good walk through the Eastern Woods looking for Brimstones and although there where several sunny and warm spots none were found. Two high flying Bumble Bee species were seen and a small wasp species was noted. Walking out of the woods and onto the meadows gave me a brief sighting of three Jackdaws passing over and a gathering of six Jays. In the trees alongside the allotment fence a large gathering of Carrion Crows was seen. Counting them gave me a total of 36 birds and was my best ever count. Given the amount of noise coming from them there seemed to be some sort of corvid information exchange going on and with some gossip thrown in! I left having not seen any butterflies but it was a great visit and it was good to see the sun.
PM Update: A text from Matt Berry, Senior Park Ranger alerted me to the fact that he had just seen a male Brimstone butterfly near Pond 1 at midday. My hopes for a butterfly today had been proved right and well done to Matt for kick starting the park's butterfly year.
I returned later for a quick visit but with lower temperatures and the sun slowly being lost to cloud there was no real chance of a butterfly. I bumped into Parrish Colman by the Canal Pond and together we were able to see the two Coot on the Canal Pond. After a while one of the Coot went behind the island and was lost to view. And then, all of sudden the Mallards were sent scattering and a scolding Coot came into view chasing another Coot! A quick check as to the location of the Coot seen earlier proved that there were now three birds present! It appeared that there is a loose pairing of two birds but the third bird was very much the uninvited visitor. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week or so and whether two territories become established?
07 March 2011- A walk through the park on my way to work this morning gave me a flyover Jackdaw (Yr 53)and my first in the park this year. It was calling constantly until seen off by a couple of Carrion Crows! The Coot was still present but no sign of the Canada Geese. Walking along the Wet Dock a few minutes later I came across a pair of Canada Geese on the water. Maybe this is where our park birds are when not in the park?
PM Update- Parrish Colman had several Bramblings in amongst the Siskin flock. A number of Bramblings have been reported in local gardens lately so it may be that there is a small flock in the area which is good news.
06 March 2011- I did an early walk this morning getting into the park at first light. On the Canal Pond, the Coot was present and also a pair of Canada Geese (Yr 52). This is probably the pair that Parrish Colman had seen in the last week or so. Hopefully, it's the pair from previous years that has bred with mixed success. Above my head, in a large Ash tree, were a pair of Mandarins and a Great Spotted Woodpecker! Another pair of Mandarins were on the Wilderness Pond and a third pair were seen in flight leaving the Moat Pond. A dozen or so Black-headed gulls were on the flooded meadow and a trio of Herring Gulls flew low over and away from the park. With the tit flocks few and far between it was noticeable that a lot of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits had paired up.Several pairs of long-tailed Tits were seen with nest building material and several Blue and Great Tits were already in nest boxes. Whilst walking around the Moat area I heard at least three different Treecreepers singing. It's not a species known for it's song but it's a lovely tune to listen too and the birds this morning were singing loud and proud. A small party of Greenfinches were in trees near to the play area and a single male Goldfinch was seen singing and in display flight above the Leaf Yard. Green Woodpeckers were heard in several areas of the park and both Song and Mistle Thrushes were also singing. As I left the park, a small flock of Redwings flew over along with another Song Thrush.
PM Update: Parrish Colman made the most of the afternoon sunshine to record some great images. Blue Tit top, Goldcrest below.
Below- Male Siskin seen and photographed today by Parrish Colman.
Below, a great flight shot of an adult Common Gull, by Parrish Colman. I've still to connect with this species this year, hopefully not too long now!
04 March 2011- Parrish Colman was in the park today and saw three pairs of Mandarins and a mixed flock of finches including 40+ Siskins.