Flylady Photography by Wendy Cooper

Notes From Suffolk

Trip Reports > Notes From Suffolk
03/10/2019 - 11:41

An After Lunch Stroll

The sun was shining and a strong breeze blowing as we wandered along the riverbank. Standing out in the river was a Lesser Black Backed Gull, who glared balefully as we passed. 

Despite the breeze, the air was full of tiny beetles and it wasn’t long before both of us were covered in them.  Here and there we could also see Migrant Hawkers floating around and Common Darters perched or in flight.

 Dazzled by the sunshine on the water, we peered across the River Blyth, far across the mere-like curve, perched up on mooring posts we could see the silhouette of a migrating Osprey as well as a few Cormorants.Overhead, charms of Goldfinches flew, settling in clumps of faded thistles and a Kestrel hovered hopefully, before resting and preening awhile on the powerlines. 

 A couple of Little Egrets fidgeted through the air as they decided to find the optimum fishing grounds.We stood watching the reeds as we would hear ‘ping’ as families of Bearded Reedlings moved along low in the reeds, occasionally glimpsing golden flashes as they flitted across the reeds to more favoured perches. 

On the meres we watched Mute Swans preening and a few Greylag Geese and Black Headed Gulls resting in the sunshine and Little Egrets fishing.

  Turning back, from time to time low across the water there were little flocks of Black Tailed Godwits flying fast to unseen water deep within the reedbeds. In a sheltered spot along the path, a Willow Emerald Damselfly watched us leave.

A Rainy Monday..We woke to gentle steady rain which reluctantly eased into a murky dreich in the afternoon.  After lunch we repaired to ‘The Tea & Cake Place (RSPB Minsmere) for a walk and lurk in a hide. 

As always we paused by the pond, the Sand Martin wall strangely quiet from a few weeks back when late youngsters were still being raised however there was much chatter from the nearby bramble bushes which were full of juicy fruit that little flocks of Great and Blue Tits were taking advantage of.Nearby in the bracken a Chiff Chaff was foraging as well.And out on the wailing chicken grounds along the North Wall, damp Rabbits were busy grazing.After tea and cake, we meandered on through the woods and made ourselves comfortable in the Bittern Hide. A few folk departing mentioned that a Hobby had been about.  All was quiet.  The remains of the breeze rustled the reeds, the occasional squeal from a Water Rail and pinging chatter of Reedlings being heard from deep within them.

Suddenly a falcon shaped arrow looped fast over the reeds, swooping to catch one of the many dragonflies that were floating through the gloom.The Hobby retired to the branches of a tree to the side of us where it sat disconsolately in the drizzle, from time to time though swooping again across the reeds for food.Far out across the reeds a male Marsh Harrier began to quarter, surveying this way and that before sinking down again.Hearing them well before we could see them, we watched skeins of Greylag geese flying along the coast, heading south towards North Warren maybe.

 In all we estimated conservatively a few hundred had flown over… Heading in the opposite direction, small flocks of Black Headed Gulls headed off to find a safe roost for the evening.

 The Hobby by now had changed perch and was surveying the reeds below,from time to time launching and returning with food almost in the blink of an eye.Leaving the rustling reeds we wander back through the woods, pausing briefly in the Wildlife Lookout, where we watch a mini Starling Murmeration over the East side of the scrape.

An Early Start

Blinky eyed as the sun began to peep over the shingle wall I wandered along to the Marsh, listening to the Wrens in the hedgerow singing in the day as I passed.  No sound of warblers, most have begun the long journey South, although from time to time a ‘question’ is heard from within the reeds. There is a fresh breeze, a blue sky and sunshine, but the air smells of autumn and sea…  A  pair of Little Egrets float up silently across the morning sky eventually choosing a far mere to fish. 

Peering across the closest mere – all golds, maroons and reds and blue from a clear sky, I spot the brilliant orange legs of a busy Redshanks as it hurriedly steps through the water.  Further back against the autumnal shades of the plants I spot an elegant Curlew – the first one I have seen along this part of the coast – I am more used to seeing them in North Norfolk – turns out that they favour some of the mudflats and estuaries in Suffolk as well.After a while the Curlew takes flight, completes a wide circuit and then settles at the far end of the mere.Here and there, Black Headed Gulls congregate in little groups, a Black Tailed Godwit sifts through the water, whilst Little Egrets glower and Teal dabble. 


Wandering along the edge of the reeds, I watch a Redshanks as it tiptoes through the water.

Behind him there is a shape and colour that is 'out of place but not out of place', I can see a cryptic stripey head and bright eyes peeking at me from the vegetation behind him – a secretive Common Snipe!Empty legs, so I begin a return meander for breakfast, being watched by a Red Deer Stag and his Ladies as I walk.Further along, the Reed Buntings have woken up and a few of the bolder ladies had popped up on the tall stems to bask in the warming sunshine.

On The Heath

Well we had to. Having seen the Heath in its’ purple summer glory full of flitting Stonechats, an early autumn walk was in order.


The heather has mostly faded now, however here and there were little splashes of purple and white as a later heather variety continues to bloom.  Common Darters and other dragons warmed up and floated in the sunshine, as well as Small Copper and Red Admiral Butterflies.  Looking down the hill, a movement in the bracken caught our eye.  We watched a Deer’s bottom moving about as the animal grazed head down, then a real treat, he put his head up – a young Stag, still in velvet.

We wandered back down the hill and watched him grazing twenty or so metres away.  He kept an eye on us and a few other onlookers, standing proud in the heather and gorse,Or pruning a select couple of young trees before ambling off out of sight.Further up the Heath, there was the chatter and Brrrp song from Dartford Warblers, waiting around in a few spots we glimpsed them doing the ‘jack-in-the-box’ thing they do, with one eventually stopping atop the heather just long enough…

A Refreshing Circuit

Out along the beach, the waves were putting on a frothy noisy display as they swelled in and out along the rattling shingle.  No Terns gliding now - they have long gone, however various Gulls were coasting along on the breeze.In calmer waters on the scrape we watched Avocets sifting about and a sizeable flock of Barnacle Geese preening and basking in the afternoon sunshine.

 A Lapwing was snoozing in front of us and around the edges of the scrapes there were Common Sandpipers and Pied Wagtails pecking along. Wandering on along the beach, up by the sluice we were greeted in the overhead by a formation of very smart Cormorants, whilst a momentary turquoise glimpse of a Kingfisher was seen down in the reeds and a small flock of Pied Wagtails ran around near the gorse.. 

Looking ahead, we could see a group of folks watching the muddy bits at the edge of the mere.  Wandering along, we were informed that they were watching a Pectoral Sandpiper – a rare migratory visitor most likely from North America. 

We watched this smart little bird pecking around until it disappeared into the background and continued on our way.


Hobby Magic

Gently rustling reeds, ‘ping ping’ and the occasional squeal…. Intermittent songs from a nearby Cetti’s Warbler, punctuated by an indignant Wren in a sing-off.  Far off along the waterway a Bittern quietly rises from the reeds and floats silently across the tops to sink down again out of sight.

Sitting in the dead tree just outside the hide is a handsome Hobby.  These small powerful falcons are summer visitors that breed here but overwinter in Africa - at this time of year they are feeding up on the remaining dragonflies, (although they will also catch small birds as well) in preparation to fly south to warmer climes.The Hobby sat watching, occasionally turning to see us in the hide and to ensure that we were no threat. In the blink of an eye it would launch into the air, then down to skim the reeds and catch a dragonfly, choosing to return to the perch to dine rather than eat on the wing as they often do.Suddenly, across and below the hide a second Hobby swooped in, alighting in the trees on the opposite side. Quiet for a moment, he had seen the first Hobby and began to yell.  When that didn’t gain the first bird’s attention, a few detours were taken on hunting flights - close flybys of the favoured perch, which the first bird ignored… 


Meandering Moments


Far off over the reeds a Marsh Harrier is quartering and in the middle of a dazzling sunlit Island Mere Cormorants and other waterfowl are resting and preening.  On the rail in front of us, three Cormorants are sat, with the middle occupant throwing shapes whilst wing drying.  Far off a speck of a Great Crested Grebe is diving and randomly reappearing.


There is a leaping rust flurry at the edge of the woodland, then statue still a small face and bright eyes watch us warily before beginning to graze – a Muntjac.

Listening carefully and alert we and the Muntjac both play at statues as glances are exchanged…  The rabbits in the background continue to nibble on the grass unperturbed.



We heard them before we saw them, coming in broken line after line above the hill and across the sky.

After a while their lines had form and order - all the while flight commands and encouragement were honking through the air.  The Barnacle Geese had made their arrival known!



A young Moorhen is pecking along the edge of the scrape and a little way away, a Coot is having a bathing session. 

From out of the grasses a shy character reveals itself – a Common Snipe. It wades into the water, feeding and at times bathing, staying close to the bathing Coot and a resting Teal.


After a while the Snipe returns to the cover of the grasses, blending in once more.


The summer butterflies have mostly faded away, however Red Admirals appear momentarily to be taking centre stage, fluttering around sheltered sunny spots or going on patrol.... Sometimes they settle a moment and reveal little details unnoticed before (look at the eyelids)

In sheltered spots in the dunes, second-wave emergers are delicately patrolling before the cold sets in. Little Common Blue gems on the wing.


The Hobby is back up in the dead tree, hunting occasionally but mostly surveying the reedscape below.  In the distance a young Marsh Harrier rises, quarters briefly and settles in the top of a favourite willow tree.  A while later, appearing from nowhere a female marsh harrier quarters unhurriedly across the reed tops before dropping onto an unsuspecting meal. 

The Hobby watches on......


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Brian Hicks
07/10/2019 - 20:55
Great read. My favourite shot is the female Reed Bunting.
Lynda North
07/10/2019 - 23:12
Fascinating blog. You certainly see plenty of wildlife on your walks. You also take lots of fantastic photos. Thank you for sharing. 👍👍
Wendy Cooper
08/10/2019 - 09:48
Hello Lynda and Brian

Glad you enjoyed the read and Thank you :) We watched plenty!


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