Despite a virtual deluge throughout the day, as promised by Kathy the weather cleared for our guided tour across Carlton Marshes, although the sky was threatening the rain held off.
The evening started with Steve Piotrowski donating a well received £100 cheque to Suffolk Wildlife Trust from Waveney Bird Club.
Our tour guide Matt Gooch then gave a brief explanation of the work done and proposed expansion of the Marshes along with their funding achievements and aims.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust has the chance to buy and restore 384 acres of land for wildlife in the Broads National Park. The land links up three nature reserves that are home to some of the UK’s rarest wildlife.
The Trust have so far raised a total of £557,000 of their required £1 million, so have already raised 55% of their target. They are hoping for private donations as well as Lottery and Heritage funding to make Carlton Marshes a wildlife haven to equal the RSPB’s Minsmere. Every pound donated will be tripled by other funding, giving £3 to the Trust
Anyone who would like to make a donation to assist in the growth of this fantastic site can do so by following the link below to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust website. Remember your donation will be tripled
About 20 members turned up to take part in what turned out to be a very interesting and varied walk.
Our first encounter or non-encounter in this case was the Fen Raft Spider which apparently is quite common lazing in the sun in the dykes at Carlton Marshes. Described by Matt as Britain’s largest spider with two go faster stripes.
Unfortunately despite many pairs of eyes and binoculars we didn’t spot one, the picture shown is a download for those of you who have never seen a Fen Raft Spider.
Undeterred we marched on and were soon treated to the sight of a Chinese Water Deer Bounding through the reedbeds.
Almost immediately after this a Jay was spotted sitting on a fence and shortly after that the same Jay beating and eating what appeared to be a Caterpillar.
Ably assisted by Steve Piotrowski and Roger Walsh, Matt continued our walk through the Marshes stopping regularly to explain the current and proposed boundaries for the Marshes and pointing out birds and items of interest en-route. Reed warblers and reed buntings were singing to us from the reedbeds, while Swallows, Swifts and Sand Martins’ hoovered up the abundance of insects above us. The highlight for me was the male Cuckoo, at first singing high in a tree and later giving us a much better view ( through Steve’s scope) in a dead tree about 100yds from us.
(Despite a 400mm lens this was the best picture I could achieve of our elusive Cuckoo)
Some of the group heading towards a threatening sky, fortunately the rain never materialised.
As we walked along the main path, to our left the scrape afforded us sightings of a pair of Egyptian Geese an Avocet, Redshank and Shelduck along with the usual mixture of wildfowl. To our right in the reedbeds Sedge warblers were dodging in and out.
A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew past into a nearby tree and a Brown Hare was spotted in a field by one of our eagle eyed group. Roger Walsh spotted a Hobby briefly before it flew behind a tree and Steve pointed out a couple of Common Terns as they flew overhead.
Having walked a couple of miles we boarded the ferry for a short crossing to the Waveney Inn where we indulged in light refreshment for an hour. Cheesy chips and a pint went down very nicely
After about an hours break we left the comfort of the Pub and headed back to the Suffolk side of the river on the Ferry and despite the alcohol, everyone made it across without incident although Steve managed to stand immediately in front of the skipper, completely obscuring his view of where we were heading.
On landing we immediately heard a Water Rail calling in the reeds beside us but it was well hidden by the dense vegetation. As dusk started to darken the skies we took a slow amble back to our start point noting water voles in the dykes and a distant Barn Owl quartering a meadow as we meandered back to the Car Park.
About 100yds from the car park we stopped to listen to a Grasshopper Warbler singing from a Bramble bush. Although we couldn’t see the bird I am told he was in fine voice, (my ears aren’t what they used to be).
All in all everyone enjoyed a very pleasant and informative walk with a good number of birds seen or heard as can be seen by Steve’s attached list
And lastly the species list:-
Blue Tit 2
Carrion Crow 2
Common Tern 2
Egyptian Goose 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Greylag Goose 4
Lesser Black-backed Gull 12
Little Egret 1
Reed Warbler 12
Sand Martin 8
Water Rail 1
Yellow Wagtail 1
Barn Owl 3
Canada Goose 2
Cetti’s Warbler 4
Feral Pigeon 3
Grasshopper Warbler 1
Grey Heron 2
Herring Gull 8
House Martin 1
Marsh Harrier 2
Mute Swan 1
Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) 1
Reed Bunting 8
Sedge Warbler 2
Song Thrush 1
Stock Dove 1
Total number of species 57