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29 March 2012- Parrish Colman was in the park this afternoon and managed to see two Small White butterflies and several Commas (see below).
Parrish was also able to catch up with a few birds including a Grey Heron, the cock Pheasant (with broken tail feathers) in the Orchard and the pair of nesting Long-tailed Tits in the Moat area. Parish's excellent photograph below, shows an adult bird carrying feathers which are used to line their nest.
28 March 2012- Finishing early at work allowed me to have a walk back through the park after lunch and look for butterflies and any early Large Red Damselflies. A patrol of the pond areas failed to locate any odonata but I did manage to see some butterflies along the canal path and Kissing Gate Lane area. My first Orange-tip (a splendid male)of the year along with two each of Comma and Small White were noted.
26 March 2012- Matt Berry managed to catch up with a few butterflies today and saw- Brimstone (5m), Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Comma. In addition, eight large clumps of frogspawn were present in the Paddling Pool water aong with a single Common Frog. See Matt's images below, Common Frog below top and close up of frogspawn below bottom.
25 March 2012- Anders Gray and Laragh Smyth had a walk around the park early afternoon and saw five, possibly six Chiffchaffs singing around the park. A male Blackcap was heard singing and then seen along the canal. Three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a single Herring Gull were seen on Pond 3 along with several Black Headed Gulls. In addition, Anders and Laragh also saw good numbers of Blue and Great tits and several Robins, Blackbirds, Goldcrests and Jays. A Comma butterfly was also seen.
24 March 2012- Matt Berry was in the park this morning and saw seven Mandarins (4m,3f) on the Wilderness Pond see Matt's brilliant portraits below.
Matt also saw three male Brimstones, a Small White and a Peacock butterfly.
Sarah Kilshaw was also in the park today and saw a ringed Great Tit making a nest in the Moat area. She also saw her first butterfly of the year in the form of a Peacock. Sarah's close scrutiny of the Paddling Pool area revealed several Common Frogs and frog spawn, see Sarah's excellent photo's below.
23 March 2012- I managed a late afternoon walk today and caught up with the pair of Tufted Ducks (Y61) on the Moat Pond. Both were "busy" sleeping and generally ignoring all of the noise around them, see below.
Also on this pond were the pair of Coot and a Little Egret. On the Canal Pond the pair of Canada Geese were present along with a pair of Mandarins and two pairs of Coots. At least six Chiffchaffs were encountered including three that were chasing each other around the stream above Pond 1. Another two pairs of Mandarins were on Pond 1 and a singing male Blackcap was also heard here. Butterflies seen were Peacock (1), Comma (3) and Small White (1).
22 March 2012- Parrish Colman reports that a pair of Tufted Ducks (see drake image below)were present on Pond 4 and then on Pond 6. If this is the same pair from previous years then that would make it four years in a row! Unfortunately, the Coots were giving them grief so fingers crossed that the Tufted Ducks stick around and breed.
Parrish also noted that a pair of Long Tailed Tits were nest building along the Moat and managed to take a smashing photo of one of he birds, see below.
A very photogenic Little Egret posed today for both Parrish and Matt Berry and both photographers were able to use their skills to capture some stunning images- Parrish, below top, Matt below bottom.
The park's ducks are often forgotten about when sightings are reported. To address this both Parrish and Matt have captured a great image each. Parrish's nesting "Aylesbury" Duck - below top and Matt's astonishing Mallard portrait below bottom.
21 March 2012- With a day off work I managed to spend a couple of hours early afternoon wandering around the park looking for signs of Spring. Two male Brimstones and a Comma butterfly were seen around the Canal and Wilderness Pond areas but otherwise it was very quiet on the butterfly front. Six Canada Geese were on the Moat Pond along with a pair of Coot and a mobile Little Egret. Two pairs of Coot were on the Canal Pond and a singleton was on the Wilderness Pond. Three pairs of Mandarins were seen, one on the Wilderness Pond, one on the Canal and a third pair on Pond 1. At least two, if not three Chiffchaffs were heard singing in the park around Brimstone Alley and in the area of the Moat.
20 March 2012- Matt Berry was working in the park today and reported a Comma butterfly from within the Orchard. Three pairs of Mandarins were also seen, one pair on the Paddling Pool the other two pairs on Pond 3. Drake Mandarin below by Matt Berry
17 March 2012- Very few people were about in the park this afternoon due to the grim weather but there were still birds to be seen. As I approached the park's main entrance on Cliff Lane, the pair of Greylag Geese were heard and then seen as they flew up the hill and across into the park. On Pond 3, five Canada Geese were seen and a Little Egret was on the Canal Pond. Of note, TWO Water Rails were found on the Wilderness Pond comprising of an adult and a sub-adult plumaged bird. Two pairs of Mandarins were seen high up on branches above the Wilderness Pond and one of the females was seen within a tree hole. Hopefully, this may mean she's close to laying eggs? Elsewhere, another pair of Mandarins were seen flyying out of the park in a south-easterly direction (Purdis?) and another pair were on Pond 1. Eight Coot were found today, with three pairs identified so it looks really good for breeding this year, fingers crossed.
Sarah Kilshaw was in the park this afternoon and also recorded the two Greylag Geese flying around the park. Of note, Sarah saw three of the Canada Geese join them in flight and all five geese flew away together. Sarah also saw two Kingfishers on the Moat perched close together which is an interesting observation and may suggest that the two birds have paired? Given the time of year males would be fiercely defending territories and would not tolerate any competition.
15 March 2012- Matt Garnham reported that the Water Rail was still present in the Wilderness Pond area. Matt Berry was also out and about in Holywells and recorded a trio of butterfly species; Comma (10) see below top, Brimstone (4) see below bottom and a new species for the year, Small White (1).
Of interest, Matt was also in Landseer Park and recordedę Small Tortoiseshell butterflies (see below) on Goat Willow and a single Peacock.
Sad news came in the form of yet another Little Egret being found dead in the park. I'm not sure what is happening with this species, perhaps disease or maybe they are picking up poison in some form when feeding? Either way it's a very concerning situation and I would ask park visitors to be vigilant and report any sightings of sick Little Egrets to park staff.
14 March 2012- Parrish Colman was in the park today and managed some very close views of the cock Pheasant that is currently present, see below. A Little Egret was also present.
12 March 2012- Matt Berry saw two Greylag Geese with the five regular Canada Geese. Their visit, however, was short liveddue to being spooked by a loose dog and they were seen to fly out of the park.
11 March 2012- I got to the park relatively early today and enjoyed the morning sun and mild temperatures. Checking all the ponds and water courses revealed 8 pairs of Mandarins, seven Canada Geese (Moat and Canal Pond) and six Coots including two birds on nests. A few Greenfinches and Goldfinches were seen along with a pair of Mistle Thrush and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Good numbers of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were observed flying to and from the local dock buildings and it is apparent that these are returning breeding birds. Checking the dock areas a few days ago revealed several pairs already on nests or in the process of constructing nests. The dominant bird species this morning were the Jays. My attention was initially drawn to them after I came across nine together in trees near the Wilderness Pond. At first I thought they may be mobbing an owl or raptor but it soon became clear that this was to do with courtship and breeding display. After a short while the group broke up, with one Jay being pursued by four others. This suggested to me a female being followed by four un-paired males. By way of some background, Jays normally become sexually active in their third year. They have strong pair bonds and will come back together to breed after spending most of the year living solitary lives. Watching one pair in particular this morning provided me with some incredible courtship display. Known as "lateral display" the female was seen to approach the male side on i.e. laterally and calling with a "clicking" call. The male would respond by lying low over the branch and respond to the female with an almost cat like "mewing". Both birds had their crests flat (submissive), tails lowered and with their body feathers raised to produce an almost "hump" like effect. Both were seen to hold these positions for almost a minute on several occasions before flying away to another tree together calling. This display is normally seen when a breeding pair are re-acquainting themselves with each other, however, it call also been seen at the nest when food is being passed and prior to copulation. Watching a second pair allowed me to witness some different behaviour. Here, a female bird was seen to perch almost horizontally with wings spread and arched forward. The bird then quivered it's tail, the quivering becoming more and less intense each time the male bird moved closer. This display is seen as the female's invitation to copulation and in the case of this pair, copulation was subsequently witnessed.
Late Morning update- I saw my first butterfly of the year today and it came in the form of a Small Tortoiseshell. It was seen flying over sunlit brambles close to the Wilderness Pond.
PM Update- Parrish Colman refound the Water Rail in the Wilderness Pond and a Little Egret (see below).
Parrish also found a Comma butterfly along Brimstone Alley (see below) and a Brimstone butterfly.
09 March 2012- After what seems an age I managed to get to the park this afternoon for a good walk around. My work and the weather seems to have plotted against me for the last two weeks so I was very keen to see what I could find. Spring was definitely in the air as the first bird I saw was a Magpie carrying nest material and the next bird was a Green Woodpecker excavating a nest hole. Several pairs of Stock Doves were seen copulating and a pair of Blue tits were watched inspecting a nest box. Walking around the Canal area two Coots were noted to be on nests and a third bird was seen with nest material too! Could we have three pairs of Coots nesting this year?! Two pairs of Mandarins were seen on the Canal Pond and another pair were on the Wilderness Pond. Whilst watching the Mandarins I heard some Siskins above me and counted three as they buzzed about in the tree tops above the pond. Feeling pleased about the Siskins I noted some movement at the rear of the Wilderness Pond and soon I was watching a Water Rail (Y 60)! The bird was watched as it skulked around the pond edges and amongst overhanging vegetation. The views I had suggested that it was an immature bird as it's throat was white and it was quite light underneath. Adults tend to have dark blue/grey underparts and throat. Just as it was about to emerge into open water and offer me a chance of photographing it two things happened. Firstly, the Suffolk Police helicopter flew over and then almost at the same time two workmen appeared with a generator and then fired it into life. Needless to say I didn't see the rail again! On Pond 3, the now regular five Canada Geese were seen and a ringed Black-headed Gull was also noted. Another pair of Mandarins were counted here and a fifth pair were found on Pond 1. The woodlands were reasonably quiet although both Blue and Great Tits were observed around nest boxes and suitable tree holes. At least four Redwings were seen but they were flighty and elusive and gave the impression of being restless migrants. Along the Orchard Hedge a cock Pheasant was seen and a Chiffchaff was also found in amongst a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. It's difficult to know if this is a recently arrived migrant or a local bird. Given the fact that it was not calling or singing I would think it to be the latter as migrants normally arrive full of noise and are keen to establish and defend a territory by singing.
Above- Carrion Crow- Nothing is missed in the park by these birds!
02 March 2012- Parrish Colman was in the park today and did the rounds today capturing some great images of the park regulars. From the top Great Tit, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull and drake Mandarin. A great selection to start the Spring month off.