Trip reports

GUNTON WALKABOUT 26 JANUARY 2017

GUNTON WALKABOUT 26 JANUARY 2017
Sue Bayliss

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Eventually RSPB members managed to find parking space and eighteen people assembled at Gunton St Peters Church hoping to see some birds. The temperature was very close to freezing and everyone was well wrapped up and needed to be. The leader Edwina Beaumont explained that the woodland was too busy and we understood as we saw groups of ladies with large wheelbarrows and shovels repairing the tracks. Edwina said that the bird numbers were likely to be low as it was so cold and little had been seen over the last week, but we would visit some areas not usually visited on group walks and look at the land and its management as well as trying to find some birds. We set off along Hubbard's Loke an old track leading towards the sea. We saw the massed tree planting in the new Burial Park, heard about the importance of ivy for wildlife and saw the magnificent catkins on a Garrya tree in a garden and how important they are for small birds by sheltering small insects. Then we turned up a track running along the old disused railway line from Lowestoft to Yarmouth. The position of this makes it a shelter for many small birds especially migrants coming off the sea in spring and autumn. Sadly not many birds were visible but we did see robin, dunnock and great tit and blue tit. The trees provided shelter for us too. We were able to view the Dip Farm football pitches and saw several groups of carrion crow feeding on the grass. When the path reached the Dip Farm pitch and put course we moved onto the grass and continued northwards stopping to look more carefully at the gulls on the greens. The common gulls were paddling to persuade worms to come to the surface and there were also black headed and herring gulls feeding together with several more crows. We could see mistletoe growing very high up on a poplar tree showing as a conspicuous large ball of green. Magpies and wood pigeons were also in the trees. There were robins and blackbirds in the scrub where the railway crossed a bridge and we then turned towards the coast. It was a surprise to see a moorhen on the golf course. We crossed Corton Road and turned south onto Gunton Warren and walked along the path close to the edge of the cliff. This area is now being managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and we were able to see the areas where they and local people are clearing bracken and encouraging short bushy gorse and heather regrowth. The cliff top provides excellent views of the sea and the magnificent sandy beach and dune system of North Lowestoft. There are a number of concrete relics of war such as gun emplacements along this stretch. We could see fenced off areas on the beach below where they are encouraging regrowth of sand dune vegetation and the extensive system of groins protecting the beach. We saw a number of cormorants flying and more gulls including lesser black backed. Eventually our track crossed Hubbard's Loke where it drops down to the beach and we turned back across Corton Road towards St Peters Church to complete the circular walk. It had been a very cold walk and rather low on birds but for many they had visited new places and Edwina was able to remind us of birds seen in the area at other times of the year such as small warblers, even Dartford warble has been seen, turtle dove, wryneck, Red- throated diver, shag. The area is well worked by local birders.

Edwina Beaumont