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Birds Day out Holiday Interesting Travel Twitch Year List

Lesser Grey Shrike Leiston Suffolk

Last full day of our holiday in Thropeness, the party is splitting into different factions. Helen and I went for a walk hoping to take in a rare bird that has been spotted less than two miles away from the hut. The others went for a walk to Aldeburgh to look at the giant clam sculpture.

Trevor on tour Lesser Grey Shrike picture
Trevor on tour Lesser Grey Shrike picture

I spotted the bird sighting on the  UK400ClubRareBirdAlert site which is run by Lee Evans. Apparently according to the blog “A first-winter LESSER GREY SHRIKE is present for its fourth day in Suffolk after being discovered on Sunday by two novice birdwatchers who eventually notified RSPB staff at Minsmere RSPB after they had enjoyed a few beers in the Eels Foot Inn at Eastbridge. John Grant quickly made his way to the location and confirmed the bird’s identification. It has been showing well in the paddocks immediately SSE of Halfway Cottages, just east of Leiston town (situated on Sizewell Road about a mile down from the main Leiston to Yoxford road) at approximately TM 463 621. Park sensibly opposite the Cottages and respect the privacy of the residents. It constitutes the 9th record for Suffolk following singles at Hollesley Common on 22nd-23rd May 1970 (trapped & ringed), Walberswick Heath on 7th June 1973, Lakenheath on 4th June 1977, Lound Waterworks from 10th-12th September 1989, Walberswick Common on 25th May 1996, Thelnetham Fen in Suffolk Breckland on 29th June 2006 (singing male), Shingle Street from 8th-11th July 2006 (adult female) and at Trimley Marshes on 14th September 2009 (first-winter).”

We are staying about two miles from the cottages so we set out for a walk that would take in the site in the hope that after 5 days it was still there. We came across a couple walking a dog and puppy, the puppy seemed to wary of us and took some cajoling by the owners before it would walk past us and then it did as fast as it could. We covered some ground that we had covered the other day when we walked to Sizewell beach. After having to consult the map a few times we took a pretty direct route to halfway cottages, then identified the paddock by the group of people with scopes. The shrike was sat on top of a bush and was very visible, John Grant let Helen and I have a look through his scope which gave us the opportunity to see the bird in detail. If I had seen it myself I could only have identified it as a Shrike, as it is the first one I have ever seen, so to see a rare Lesser Grey Shrike was a real treat.

Minsmere beach
Minsmere beach

We hung around for 5-10 minutes observing then walked toward the sea just south of Sizewell where there is a cafe attached to a camp site. We had a coffee then headed back along the coastal path to the hut, in time for a cheese sandwich for lunch. Helen and I then caused another split by heading off to Minsmere RSPB for the after noon while another faction went for a walk on the beach and three others went for a £30 30 minute sea blast in a rib boat from Southwold harbour.

Helen and I  parked up at the reserve then headed in land and took a footpath on the right that headed over Dunwich Heath in hope of seeing Dartford Warblers. We were not disappointed we saw two Stonechat and about 5 or 6 Dartford Warblers which the heath is famous for. At coat guard cottages we had a drink and shared a piece of lemon drizzle cake whilst enjoying warm sun. I was down to a single layer just a t-shirt was warm enough. We headed down to the beach and on towards East Hide (our favorite), on the way Helen spotted a single seal out on the water and we had a look at an RSPB sculpture made of plastic found on the beach, which was being used to inform people of the issue that plastic is and how it pollutes the sea, as it gets broken down into smaller and smaller bits, it affects the wildlife, as it gets into the food chain.

There was not much to see from the East Hide just the usual suspects ducks and a few godwit. On the way back we stopped to look for Bearded Tit from the new sea defenses, but failed to spot more that a pigeon and a blue tit. After a look around the shop we headed back to the hut to tidy up before heading to The Dolphin pub for a meal.

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Butterflies Day out Holiday Travel Walk

Thorpeness to Sizewell and back

View of Southwold in Suffolk lighthouse
View of Southwold in Suffolk lighthouse

A local walk was planned for the day, to save having to drive anywhere. We headed out down to the beach then turned left and headed towards Sizewell. Interestingly the coast is being eroded away, and they have built up the defences with wire cages full of rocks but they are on top of big sacks made of a felt material full of sand and rocks. After a bit of a slog on the beach keeping clear of the waves that washed in we joined a coastal path which for Suffolk was fairly elevated.

At Sizewell beach we found the cafe closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the public loos in a bit of a mess. We headed up the road To a pub called the Vulcan arms just opposite the entrance to the nuclear power station entrance. The pub sign included Dr Spock, the aircraft, and the Greek god of ironmongery and black smithing. We were a bit early so sat in he pub garden for 10 minutes until it opened. It was a bit early but we all had sandwiches as from the map it was clear that the was no obvious option for the lunch on the way back. I took the opportunity to do a time lapse sequence.

View of Southwold church in Suffolk
View of Southwold church in Suffolk

The route back would head in land via the RSPB land called Aldringham walks. Helen spooked a green wood pecker, and we came across a very large tit flock possibly 75 birds. We also spotted plenty of butterflies, including Monarch and Speckled wood. The route back took bought us out a the golf course, past the house in the clouds and eventually to The Dolphin pub, where we enjoyed a well earned pint.

J made his lovely Cajun stew for dinner and I made a sort of apple and blackberry strudel which was served with either ice cream or custard. Then we sat down to watch the great British bake off before going to bed.