Hemley – River Deben 30.01.2016
Leader: Justin Zantboer
Following a successful trip led by Justin earlier in the month that included finding a Lapland Bunting we wondered how this trip would compare, and we were not disappointed. There were 19 members assembled near Hemley Church for the walk down to the river including one new member, welcome Matt! A chattering group of House Sparrows caught our attention first then a male Kestrel flying across a field that had a Hare hunkered down.
As we followed the path went through the hedgerow an owl flew. We’d seen Short-eared Owl on previous trips and were hoping that would be a potential bird on this trip but as the owl flew up and round further along the hedgerow we realised it was a Long-eared Owl, another great and unexpected find by the group. We were able to watch it as it settled in to the hedge, giving great scope views but eventually had to leave it and move on.
We took the river path to the left, which allowed us further views of the Long-eared Owl noting both Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting in the same hedge. On the river waders included Redshank and three Avocets, a flock of Brent Geese flew down river. Scanning the skies we found at least three Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier. Tracking back and heading towards Kirton Creek we saw Little Egret, Snipe, Curlew, Dunlin, Grey Plover, a big flock of Lapwing, Teal and Wigeon. On the saltmarsh up to half a dozen Skylarks and a Rock Pipit were seen too.
From Kirton Creek we took the path towards Kirton and near Sluice Farm stopped to scan a maize strip along a section of woodland. Up to six Redwings were seen atop trees at the far end and a Treecreeper was closer by. A Buzzard flew out of the woodland and careful scanning of the maize strip only revealed some Chaffinches. Behind us across the fields a lot of corvids and Woodpigeons flew up, the cause of which turned out to be a female Peregrine and we had good views as it powered along.
We backtracked towards the Creek and a flock of finches were noted flying in to some Alders. Careful scanning produced Goldfinch, Siskin and a few Lesser Redpolls with males of the latter two looking resplendent. Past the Creek, overlooking the grazing marsh beyond where Curlew, Teal, a Marsh Harrier and a very close Buzzard were present. At the woodland we heard and briefly saw two Bullfinches. As the track past the wood at the far end a flock of small birds could be seen dropping in to a field from some Elm and Elder. Amongst the Chaffinches we found at least seven Bramblings and a couple of Reed Buntings although with their movement there could have been more. Here we had a Great Spotted Woodpecker fly over. On the last stretch back to the cars we included a Woodcock and two Red-legged Partridges.
On previous trips to Hemley we often popped up river to Waldringfield but as we’d had such a good time and taken longer than normal to get round it was decided to call it a day. We thanked Justin for an excellent trip and that it had compared to the Trimley one, with a great selection of finches and buntings, several raptors and a highlight of Long-eared Owl.