VALENTINE'S DAY REPORT FROM FROIZE HQ
TODAY IS VALENTINES DAY AND LOVE IS CERTAINLY IN THE AIR HERE AT FROIZE HQ – THE DAWN CHORUS IS JUST PURE JOY… …SONGBIRDS ARE PAIRING, AND NEST BUILDING IS ALREADY HAPPENING.
Last Thursday our nature leader, Steve Piotrowski, led the latest Froize Uncovered wildlife walk (with lunch of course!)
Our own media guru, Kelly Bayfield, joined the group and released her ‘inner birder’ while also taking some really great pictures that sum up the day a treat.
Here is Steve’s delightful resume of the day:
RSPB North Warren Nature Reserve
Winter Birding – 9th February 2023
With a focus on wintering birds on the Suffolk coast, you’ll find few better places to watch wildfowl at close quarters than RSPB’s North Warren Nature Reserve. On arrival, we were greeted with close flocks of Russian White-fronted and Barnacle Geese together with a scattering of Greylags. We were able to note the stubby pink bills and brilliant, white-forehead blaze, contrasting with the short dark-brown heads and necks on the adult White-fronts. The juveniles lack the white blaze as well as the jet-black belly bars that were clearly visible on the adults. From the gate, we listened to the noisy gaggles and commented on the White-fronts high-pitched musical calls, rather reminiscent of squeaky gates. The Barnacles too were very vocal announcing their arrival with short barks as they moved to graze on different sections of meadow. Barnacles show shades of grey, black and white plumage and are members of the black geese family whereas the White-fronts are grey geese. As well as the geese, there were three-figure flocks of Lapwings and an exultation of singing Skylarks signalled that spring is not too far away. Male and female Marsh Harriers quartered the marsh and gave us all stunning views. What a start!
Time was pressing, so we made our way through gorse and willow scrub to the viewing platform. There were a number of Great Tits bellowing their so familiar “teacher, teacher” song as they too were taking up breeding territories. There were large flocks of wildfowl feeding happily in front of the viewing platform seeming oblivious to our present. We were able to watch flocks of Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall and Mallard and distinguish the males from the females and the juveniles from adults. We spent some time looking at the finer points of some of the more tricky species such as separating female Gadwall from female Mallards. The drakes of all species were in full breeding dress and looked amazing. There were many more Lapwings frequenting the boggy marsh area, but otherwise wading birds were few and far between. There was a lone winter plumage Black-tailed Godwit and eagle-eyed Steve spotted a well-camouflaged Snipe, stationery and almost invisible amongst the short grassland, for us all to see. A female Sparrowhawk was perched on a gate that gave good views through the 96x magnification wonder scope.
As mid-morning approached, it was time to make our way to the nearby fantasy village of Thorpeness. The Meare is the centrepiece of the complex and consists of a Peter Pan themed boating lake that is free of boats in the winter, so quite an attraction for wildfowl. The most abundant duck was Gadwall and to see over 100 simultaneously tipping upside down on the Meare to reach food, was quite a sight. However, we could not locate the small group of Goosanders that had been there a day or two earlier. From the Meare, we took the public footpath across the golf course to the disused railway line, passing “The House in the Clouds” and the windmill on our way. The former is a cleverly disguised 30,000 gallon water tank, but now self-catering accommodation. The scrubby woodland surrounding these landmarks and adjacent to the golf course fairways was alive with birdsong with numerous Robins, Wrens, Chaffinches, Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tits and Dunnocks. A calling Treecreeper and a Jay were new additions to our bird list – 44 species was our final tally. An exceptional morning’s birding. We scanned the reedbed and were again treated to superb view of a male Marsh Harrier and finally a Chiffchaff was heard calling from theedge of the railway track.
We all returned to The Froize, welcomed in by the delicious aromas emerging from the kitchen, and were then treated to one of David’s most scrumptious lunches. Thanks to David for his hospitality and to all participants – you were wonderful company.
The full list and numbers of birds seen can be found in the following link: https://app.bto.org/birdtrack/pubcon/shared?subId=SUB46547645
Our next Froize Birding event is on Thursday 2nd March 2023 from 8.30 a.m. Weather permitting, international tour guide David Walsh and I will lead the group to explore the Suffolk’s Sandlings – vast tracts of heather heathland that once dominated the coastal landscape. Woodlarks, Dartford Warblers, Stonechats and, if we are lucky, Crossbills should be on the cards.