Monday, 31 December 2007

A tale of two warrens.

Snape warren- 12:00-1:30
Snape warren has got to be the quitest rspb reserve in suffolk, as it's not on their website and i've never seen anyone down there! However i like quite places and it's an exciting mix of estuary, reedbed, saltings, copse and heathland. My walk started on the very boggy public footpath along the seawall, the sun was shining, the wind was calm and an avocet scything it's way through the estuary mud was a suprise! Robins were singing, redshank were kleeping and gulls were wheeling through the air as i struggled throught the thick gloopy mud, trying to keep my balance as two egrets took off from a dyke (i checked they weren't cattle!)
Reaching the copse at the end of the path i took a right turn towards the heath, all the while seranaded by the sweet high notes of a goldcrest. Finally i reached the heath and the chance to try for my 210th bird of the year, dartford warbler. After losing the will to bird after seeing one too many fly away (untickable views) at the well known dunwich heath, i turned to this small patch of heathland as my last chance for the year. Walking the path i flushed many wrens and mipits and double checked every stonechat, very carefully, i reached some cover in the form of some high gorse bushes. This is where wearing my ultra unfashionable green hoodie comes in useful as i crouched behind some gorse for cover. Quickly i saw a tiny shape buzz out on to the tiop of a gorse bush, with my heart in my mouth i locked onto it with my bins to see the characteristiv outline of a wren! Damn, i cursed to myself, until i saw two long grey shapes flitting out, from the corner of my eye. Swinging round i locked onto them just as they went down into the heather. Damn!!!!!! they were almost certainly dartford warblers and just as i thought i was going to have another 'dartford utv dip day' one popos out on to the top of a gorse bush to save my yearlisting bacon! and just like london busses a few more pop out as well, with the cheek to show well. How dare they! I got good views and you can really appreciate how they are tiny, slender things with massive great tails sticking out the back!

North Warren 2:00-4:00
Now i was off in search of a lifer, the 'Tundra Bean Goose'. North warren by comparison to snape warren is a bland, freatureless and very cold stretch of flooded grazing marsh running by the suffolk coast. The path is relatively mud free and compared to the emotive, pioneering feel of the previous destination this one left me feeling a bit flat, by comparison. Especially as there were no birds on it! Eventually after an hours walking i found a gaggle of feral barnacles (and one escaped red breasted) and whitefronted geese. Unfortunately the path is an old railway embankment so i was struggling to scope the flock with all these trees in the way. After a frustrating search for viewing holes i found one where i managed to scope the whole flock from...and you guessed it, no sign of any tundra beans! Being a stubborn git and with time running out i kept scoping the flock, fortunately this tactic paid off as a large, dark goose head with a small orange patch at the end of an all dark bill, popped out. Tundra Bean! I watched as five of these siberian grass grazers moved out from behind a tuft of grass. The subtley distinctive goose, darker and bigger then the accompanying whitefronts was my 211th year listing bird and my 224th lifer. As io made my way back to the rreserve entranced i saw a sprawk with a purpose dash over my head. I was intrigued as this was my only b.o.p of the day so i followed it's progress and was amazed to see that somehow i missed a growing starling roost, over my head. I had time before i was getting picked up so i stood, waited and watched. The roost grew, and grew and grew until i estimated around 100,000 birds were there, much more exciting then one reputed to hold 20,000 i saw was. Eventually they all roosted in one swoop after spending five minutes impersonating emu's necks and other such improbable things in the growing gloom.

Happy new year folks, and i wish that 2008 brings you a suitable amount of lifers!

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