Summary of birds and wildlife recorded in the park during November and December 2011
If you wish to report any bird or wildlife sightings then I would love to hear from you please email me on: email@example.com
30 December 2011- I had a quick walk around the park today but nothing really new was found. Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls were present on the Moat and Pond 3 with 71 counted. Also on Pond 3 was a pair of Mandarins (see below).
In the Eastern Woods numerous thrush species were present with Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Blackbird all seen. Of note, both Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were in full song despite it being a very grey day.
29 December 2011- Parrish Colman was out and about today and managed to get to grips with the elusive Goldfinch (see below) flock that regulary visits the park. Parrish estimated the flock on this occasion to be around 50 birds and they were favouring the Beech trees around the Wilderness Pond.
A Kingfisher was also seen briefly but otherwise another quiet day for in the park.
28 December 2011- A very quiet park birdwise this morning. On the Canal Pond a pair of Mandarins were seen at the rear of the pond along with five Coot, Moorhen and Mallards. On the Moat Pond a Kingfisher was seen briefly and on Pond 3, 18 Black-headed Gulls were counted. A walk through the Eastern Woods revealed a couple of small tit flocks and both Goldcrest and Treecreeper were found amongst the tits. Redwings and Fieldfares remained within the woods but not in the numbers seen in the previous few days. However, good numbers of Blackbirds were still to be found and most were engaged in gorging on berries (see below) from a variety of trees and shrubs.
Typically, the park managed to produce some magic, and this came in the form of a Red Admiral butterfly! It was seen flying strongly over Pond 3 and it appeared to have alighted from some sun- lit Ivy. I checked the temperature and this revealed a reading of 13.5 degrees. No doubt the recent mild temperatures and some warm sunshine today woke this individual up.
23 December 2011- An early morning stroll revealed an incredible number of Redwings within the park. There must have been a large overnight movement as nearly every tree held a Redwing and some sizeable flocks were seen moving restlessly through the canopy or flying on elsewhere. The air was simply alive with their high pitch "tseeep" calls. One large flock was counted at 155 birds and I estimated that in total between 450-500 birds were present in the park. Of particular interest was one bird that was seen high on top of a tree and in full song! As soon as I heard it singing I was transported back to a great Spring holiday that I had in Iceland several years ago. Also noted in good numbers were Blackbirds, Robins and Song Thrushes. Small numbers of Fieldfares were also encountered and were given away by their harsh "chack, chack" calls.
PM Update: There were still good numbers of Redwings present but not in the amounts seen earlier in the day. I decided to search the ponds and water courses for signs of Water Rail, Common Snipe but despite a good look nothing was forthcoming. On Pond 3, 29 Black-headed Gulls were counted but still no Common Gulls. Checking the ducks failed to produce anything other than Mallards and Mallard hybrids but five Mandarins (3m, 2F) were present. Watching the Mandarins proved fascinating as the three drakes were in full display and were aggresively squabbling with each other over the two females present. A full suite of display behaviour was observed including the drakes swimming with their heads down in the water through to chest puffing, erecting sail feathers, circling each other and then "barking" at each other with their bubbling and whistling calls. In the photo below, the erect "sail" feathers can be seen on this drake Mandarin along with the "puffed out" chest. The bill is open in order to give the bizzare bubbling calls- magic!
Leaving the park along the Canal Path led me to have a VERY close encounter with a Muntjac Deer that jumped out in front of me from the Kissing Gate meadow. Anyone observing the encounter would no doubt have found it comical as I ended up jumping back in fright only to slip and land on my backside! Needless to say that my hands went to protect my camera rather than my pride!!!
18 December 2011- With another week flying by I returned to the park in the hope that the recent colder weather may have drawn in some new birds. First bird seen on entering the park via the Canal Path was a splendid male Kestrel. It was perched up on a branch overlooking the canal so perhaps it was on the look out for rodents moving along the bank. On the Canal Pond and perhaps for the first time ever there were more Coot than Mallard! Five Coot (1 of 5 below) were counted along with a pair of Mandarin and four Mallards. This soon changed, however, when another six Mallards flew in!
Walking along the path towards the Myrtle Road gate I came across a Chaffinch flock and by carefully picking my way through them I found a female Brambling. Interestingly, the Chaffinches were feeding in company of a number of Blackbirds and Redwings so perhaps a mutually acceptable food source had been found? Also seen along here were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Mistle Thrush. A small Blue Tit flock was seen in the Conifer Hedge and 15 Goldfinches were seen in flight over the Wilderness Pond trees. I checked the Paddling Pool for any sign of Common Snipe but nothing was found. Watching the sky revealed distant views of a Peregrine Falcon passing over the docks towards the Orwell Bridge - perhaps this is one of the birds now being seen regularly perched on the bridge? Several Fieldfares were seen in flight over the park along with a single Skylark and Sparrowhawk. On the Moat Pond, the single Coot remained and another pair of Mandarins were noted. On Pond 3, 42 Black-headed Gulls were counted but still no Common Gulls. Maintaining the pattern, another pair of Mandarins were seen here too. I then spent sometime around Pond 1 hoping for a Water Rail or Common Snipe but no luck again. However, interest came in the form of a mixed tit flock which passed through and careful scrutiny revealed two Treecreepers, two Goldcrest (including a ringed bird) and a female Blackcap. In the Eastern Woods plenty of Redwings, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were seen along with a few tree top Starlings.
NB: With between 30 and 50 Waxwings currently in the grounds of Ipswich Hospital, I 'm hopeful that we may see some of these beautiful birds in the park soon or at least in the local area. So keep a look out and listen for their gentle "trilling" calls. If you do some then please let me know.
11 December 2011- After a busy week at work I finally managed to spend some time again in the park. Despite the grey and gloomy weather there were plenty of birds about, although, I did have to work hard to find some of them. Along the Canal Path, a large (40+) Long- tailed Tit flock was found as the birds foraged for food near the Kissing Gate Meadow. Thankfully, the flock wasn't too mobile and I was able to check each bird for "guest" species. My luck was in with both Chiffchaff (collybita) and a male Blackcap present along with several Goldcrests including a ringed bird. On the Canal Pond, the five Coots were present along with a single Kingfisher perched at the rear of the pond. Three Mandarins (2m, 1f) were on the Wilderness Pond and three Jays were squabbling in the trees above. Viewing from the Orchard Gate, I saw two cock Pheasants and at least three hens- it looks like a small population of pheasants has established itself at last. The Paddling Pool was quiet and with signs up warning of work ahead to construct a weir at the lower end it looks like this could be a dead area over the winter. Hopefully, the reeds will be left alone to re-establish next year especially given the presence of Reed Warblers this Spring and Willow Emerald Damselflies close by. On the Moat Pond the Black-headed Gulls were seen to be enjoying a stand on the thin layer of ice and together with others on Pond 3, 68 birds were counted in total. I was hoping for a Common Gull in amongst them but no luck on this occasion. A Kingfisher was seen flying around the Moat Pond before disappearing towards Ponds› and 2. Up in the woods several Redwings were seen including some nice close views along the stream above Pond 1. A large mixed tit flock was present between Pond 1 and the Leaf Yard and was estimated to be close to 60 birds. In addition to Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits five Coal Tits, five Treecreepers and three Goldcrests were seen. As I walked back across the meadows several small Goldfinch flocks were noted but best of all was a flock of seven Lesser Redpolls (Y80) that flew northwest.
01 December 2011- After an afternoon visit to the vets to sort out a poorly labrador I had a quick walk back through the park. On entering the Cliff Lane gate a large tit flock passed overhead and was counted at 43 birds as it flew through to the gravel car park. Although made up of Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits at least three Goldcrests were seen along with a single Coal Tit. Interestingly, two Long-tailed Tits were seen with a ring on their legs along with the single Coal Tit. On Pond 3, 41 Black-headed Gulls were counted with at least nine more flying over the Moat and play area. The single Coot was still on the Moat Pond and a Kingfisher was heard calling close by. Over the meadows several flocks of finches were seen flying about restlessly no doubt due to the presence of a Sparrowhawk high above! One flock of Greenfinches was counted at 23 birds and a flock of Goldfinches was counted at㺽 birds. The Magpie roost was also busy with 37 birds seen in a pre-roost gathering in trees surrounding the Old Orchard with several more loosely scattered around the meadow edges. Looking in to the Old Orchard from the gate revealed three Cock Pheasants, presumably these are birds born in the park this year? On the Canal Pond five Coots were seen along with a pair of Mandarins. Along the Canal Path another large and very mobile tit flock was seen briefly and at least two Treecreepers were present within it. Looking up into the tree tops, several thrush species were identified with good numbers of Blackbirds and Redwings present.
26 November 2011- Today I spent an enjoyable and fascinating morning with Brian Thompson, his partner Nicola and Dennis Kell who were carrying out bird ringing in the park.
Two areas were selected in which to erect nets these being the Old Orchard and the Old Bat Roost enclosure. Ringing totals wereř Treecreepers (see below), 3 Goldcrests (see above), 3 Blackbirds, 1 Robins, 21 Long-tailed Tits, 17 Blue Tits (inc' retrap from Oct 2011 and a control), 4 Great Tits and 2 Coal Tits.
It was interesting to note that a Long-tailed Tit flock that was caught whilst foraging within the Old Bat Roost enclosure also "carried" a Treecreeper, the two Coal Tits (see below) and two Blue Tits. Similarly, a Long-tailed Tit flock caught within the Old Orchard was also found to be accompanied by several Great Tits and Blue Tits. This just goes to prove that a tit flock is always worth watching, not just for the tit species but also for the other species that are attracted to the flock.
Other birds seen in the park during the morning were 63 Black-headed Gulls, a single cock Pheasant within the Orchard, three Mistle Thrushes, several Skylarks passing high overhead and a Sparrowhawk. On the Moat Pond a single Coot was present and a Kingfisher flew from here towards the Canal. A heavy movement of Woodpigeons was also noted.
NB. An interesting ringing update received from Brian Thompson concerns a Dunnock that was caught in the park on the morning of the "BirdFest" in May this year. The bird was found to already have a ring on it's leg and checks on the ring's unique number have identified that it was originally ringed as a juvenile on 02 June 2009 close by in the Rose Hill area of Ipswich.
22 November 2011- Whilst walking to work this morning I saw a Kingfisher fly through the car park of the Minor Injuries Clinic on Landseer Road and then fly north down the centre of the road before turning right along side the Ipswich Tyre and Exhaust Centre, presumably heading towards the canal and park! A rather surreal experience and another example of nature never failing to amaze!
21 November 2011- It looks like Sarah Kilshaw may have solved the mystery of the pale Carrion Crow that I saw yesterday as she has provided me with a photograph that she took of a very pale bird seen on Bixley Heath in August this year (see below).
This photo shows what I believe is a Carrion Crow with it's plumage severely affected by leucism. This is where the plumage appears abnormal because of a genetic mutation that prevents pigments, particularly melanin, from being properly dispersed throughout a birdís feathers. This means that a bird will not have the plumage colours and tones that it should have. With this particular crow this means that rather than being a glossy black all over it is in fact much paler and greyish-brown all over. Hopefully the bird will stick around for a while and allow further study and appreciation. If anyone else comes across it then please let me know. Many thanks, Sarah and a great example of local wildlife observation and the importance of recording unusual events.
20 November 2011- A very quiet walk around the park meadows mid morning was suddenly enlivened by the appearance of an adult Peregrine Falcon (Y79). It was seen to approach from the west and fly low over the park and away to the south-east. It was interesting to note the reaction of the park's Carrion Crows to the Peregrine's appearance. The "sentry" bird picked up the Peregrine's approach and gave a sharp call, the other Carrion Crows then immediately flew to the top of the nearest and highest point and began to "crow" loudly and aggressively, almost mob like. They then remained in a very agitated state constantly jostling for position within the top branches. Then when the Peregrine returned for a second time, flying east to west the Carrion Crows then flew up from their respective trees but kept in tight groups making even more noise. This continued for at least 15 minutes after the Peregrine had gone but even when I left an hour later the crows were still very vocal. Other birds seen were several Redwings in the tree tops, a Kingfisher at the rear of the Canal Pond and 47 Black-headed Gulls on Pond 3. No Chiffchaffs were found but several Goldcrests were heard calling in several locations throughout the park.
NB. Whilst walking to the park I saw a Carrion Crow mobbing another Carrion Crow, however, the crow being mobbed was almost entirely whitish/ grey! I know leucism is common in corvids but this bird was close to being a complete albino. If anyone else comes acroos it then please let me know.
18 November 2011- A return to the park mid afternoon allowed me to have a look for the abietinus type Chiffchaff seen in the last couple of days. However, despite a good search I could only find "Common" (collybita) Chiffchaff (see below). That said, I did find three of these birds including one that had a ring on it's leg. All three were feeding together, calling and were very mobile.
Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Coal Tits were found amongst the tit flocks and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was also noticed to be moving with one particular flock. On the ponds a total of 53 Black-headed Gulls were found along with seven Mandarins (3m, 4f). On the Moat Pond a Kingfisher was seen for a split second but long enough to get a record shot of it (see below). It then turned and flew directly into the stand of Bamboo behind and disappeared- is this it's roost site?
Around the Old Bat Roost tree tops approximately 120 finches were seen perched before taking to the sky as a Sparrowhawk passed over. The flock was made up of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Chaffinches. On leaving the park a loosely strung out flock of Jackdaws was seen heading north and was counted at 47 birds.
16 November 2011- A reasonably early finish at work this afternoon meant that I could get the last couple of hours of light in the park. Starting along the canal a pair (1m,1f) of Mandarins were seen by the Canal Pond and another three (2m,1f) were on the Wilderness Pond. Walking up and past the Moat Pond and Pond 3 gave me a count of 42 Black-headed Gulls. Whilst watching the gulls a Grey Wagtail was heard flying over although an accurate direction couln't be ascertained it appeared to be heading west/ north-west. Up around Pond 1 and 2 several Goldcrests and Treecreepers were heard amongst a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. Good numbers of Chaffinches were also seen but unfortunately there was no sign of the recent Bullfinch. On the pond another five (3m, 2f) Mandarins were counted and a gathering of four Jays added further colour. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen flying towards the Leaf Yard and a Grey Heron was noted flying over the park in a south-westerly direction towards the river. In the conifer trees in front of the Stable Block and foot path cross-roads several Goldcrests were seen with four were counted in flight. Walking around the fenced area enclosing the Old Bat Roost I came across a Chiffchaff and whilst watching this bird a second warbler came into view. Both came very close and so I was able to enjoy good views. Compared to the Chiffchaff this bird appeared very slightly bigger and much more greyish green on it's upper parts, giving it a "colder" feel. It was whiter on it's under parts and generally showed less yellow tones overall. It showed a prominent eye-ring and it's supercilium appeared slightly pale yellow and was much less prominent behind the eye. It's ear coverts, sides of breast and flanks appeared pale buff. It had the same dark legs as the Chiffchaff and both gave a similar call when feeding near each other. Based on what I had seen and heard I came to the conclusion that this second bird was also a Chiffchaff but very likely to be Scandinavian Chiffchaff (sub species abietinus) and perhaps a first for the park! Leaving the park happy I came across two female Pheasants that were seen to fly up and onto an Ivy covered tree, presumably going to roost?
10 November 2011- I managed to get away from work a bit earlier today and spent the last couple of hours of daylight in the park. Hoping that a Woodcock might reveal itself I started off in the Eastern Woods but despite a good search of all suitable areas nothing was found. In the tree tops several Redwings and Fieldfares were present and a small flock of five Mistle Thrush were also found. Deciding to follow a Long-tailed Tit flock, I stayed with it until it eventually arrived at the top of Brimstone Alley. The Long-tailed Tits then merged with another tit flock and all the birds then seemed to spread out through the vegetation along the edge of Pond 1. Birds were simply everywhere and also included numerous Goldcrests and at least three Treecreepers. By a large Holly tree and next to the steps leading down to the stream at the head of the Pond I heard a Firecrest (Y78) calling! Despite spending the next hour in the area I only saw it once but heard it calling again three or four times. Whilst here, I heard also heard a Bullfinch calling. I eventually saw this elusive individual in amongst a small flock of Chaffinches. Here, I managed a glimpse of it as it flew and identified it as a female. Presumably, this is the same bird as seen on㺅 November? Walking back across the meadow and with the light fading I saw my first notable winter finch gathering. Watching them as they flew about restlessly over the Old Bat Roost tree I counted 16 Greenfiches, 34 Goldfinches and 50+ Chaffinches. Further down the meadow and by the Orchard hedge I also saw good numbers of Magpies gathering. As they were constantly flying and moving through cover they were difficult to count but I estimated their number to be 45. This looks like the start of another good winter Magpie roost in the park!
08 November 2011- Brian Thompson returned to the park today to carry out some more bird ringing. Nets were put up around the Old Bat Roost area and along the Bowling Green hedge. New birds trapped and ringed were: Great Tit (1), Blue Tit (5), Goldcrest (3), Blackbird (1) and Wren (2). In addition to the above totals Brian also caught two Blue Tits which when examined were found to be wearing rings from the same batch sequence. Also, a Blue Tit originally rung in the park by Brian on 27 October 2011 was re-captured. Hopefully, the rings from the two Blue Tits can be traced and this may shed some light as to the particular movements of this pair- watch this space!
06 November 2011- A very grey day again but still a few birds to keep me happy. On the Old Bat Roost tree 15 Mistle Thrush were seen perched, before flying west and numerous Redwings were present throughout the park. On Pond 3, 27 Black-headed Gulls were counted with another five on the Moat Pond. On the Canal Pond, two pairs of Mandarins were present along with five Coot. Along Kissing Gate Lane, a large Long-tailed Tit flock was encountered and up to seven Goldcrests were counted as part of the flock. Of interest, two Goldcrests were seen to have rings on and it makes you wonder if they had passed through a coastal ring site or perhaps ringed at a nest site? In Kissing Gate Meadow a Pheasant was heard calling and a Chiffchaff was watched as it flew with another small mixed tit flock into the Orchard.
05 November 2011- I managed to coincide my walk this morning with the period of heavy rain that passed over and it was grim to say the least. That said I spent a bit of time in the Eastern Woods and was rewarded with some nice views of Redwings and Blackbirds that were seeking cover there. A small tit flock passed through and revealed a Coal Tit with a metal ring- not sure if this was a local ring or from further away? Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen and heard and a trio of noisey Jays added some further colour. A surprise bird was found at the head of Pond 2 and came in the form of a female Bullfinch (Y77). It was heard calling and seen briefly as it flew through cover towards the Leaf Yard area with Chaffinches before dropping out of sight. On Pond 3, 15 Black-headed Gulls were found with several more passing overhead. Two pairs of Mandarins were on the Wilderness Pond and a small flock of 12 Goldfinches was in the trees above. A Sparrowhawk was seen hunting over the Orchard and presumably was interested in a large mixed flock of tits that were passing through the trees. An increase in the number of Goldcrests was noted generally throughout the park this morning and this is likey to relate to migrant birds from northern Europe swelling the park's own population.
02 November 2011- Parrish Colman did a patrol of the park this morning reporting the following: Nine Mandarin-six Drakes (see below) and three Ducks- split between the Wilderness Pond and the Canal Pond. A flock of Goldfinches, numbering between 35 and 40 birds was also present but very mobile around the park. Also noted were a few Mistle Thrushes with about five or six drinking together near the bridge between the Wilderness Pond and the Canal Pond. Parrish also noted some "vismig" duing his visit with a huge influx of Woodpigeons flying over and estimated to be in the region of 1000 birds. Of interest, he also noted a similar amount passing over on 01 November 2011.