Thursday, 8 December 2016

Oh yes: we can do tacky!

I always wait until our various neighbours put up their luminous blue decorations - that way it's not me that is destroying visibility of the night sky!

Since my 'little cold' has mutated into full-blown rhinitis, I stayed indoors today (rather than going after the tempting Scratby Hume's YBB) and, growing bored, decided today was the day! Won't Linda be 'delighted' when she gets home from after-work Christmas shopping tonight!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Two bright lights in the twilight sky!

The Moon and Venus - photographed here with my 500mm TP zoom and 1.4 converter - are both beautiful objects in the sky just after sunset. Venus is halfway around its orbit and is presenting about 60% of its disc to us: with its high albedo, it is really bright at the moment.

The Moon is a first quarter, so the rich crater field of the southern polar region is on the terminator and in beautiful relief. Seems almost near enough to touch....


Great Northern Diver at Martham Broad - and lots more besides!

Brian only had a morning available, so he, Norman and I kept it local and headed east to Martham Broad. We picked up the reported Great Northern Diver almost straight away, but had a bit of a wait for the light to improve and the bird to come close enough for photography. As we waited we added a distant Hen Harrier and a closer Marsh Harrier to the daylist.

Next stop was Winterton, where we were treated to the astonishing spectacle of around 2,000 Cormorants fishing just offshore. Lots of seals and their pups were lazing in the surf, as well as a few moribund and dead pups: I decided not to add photos of these poor little creatures....

We waited patiently in the dunes for the regular flock of Snow Buntings to put in an appearance, but when they did, it was very fleeting. The flock consisted of about thirty individuals, which was about half the number of large, unleashed dogs dashing around the beach.

A short detour to Ludham airfield produced a first encounter this year with the wild swans: just a dozen Whoopers and two Bewicks, but terrific to see - as was the large flock of Egyptian Geese feeding with them.

A move to Filby provided distant views of female Goosander and Goldeneye, but not the long-staying Slav Grebe, so we called it a day and headed back to the Heath.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Strumpshaw Fen: everyone enjoys an apple!

At the end of the Sandy Path at Strumpshaw is an apple tree: this has always attracted birds such as winter thrushes, Blackbirds and - a couple of years ago - Waxwings.

Today was no exception: following an early start, the only place I could actually see any birds through the dense mist at the Fen was at the apple tree. Biggest surprise (among the Fieldfares, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and Brown Rats) was a very confiding Water Rail that took a few experimental pecks at an unripened apple before stooging off under the vegetation.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Peregrine pair at Buckenham (and plenty of geese!)

Literally a twenty minute scan of the Buckenham Marshes revealed the now omni-present Bean Geese (until they were disturbed by a railway working party) as well as a decent flock of White-fronted Geese and a large number of Pink-feet.

As I walked southwards to the Yare, I noticed a male Peregrine in the usual dead tree: this flew across to a muddy island on the largest pool to join a big female for lunch! Amazingly, she let him share the Teal she was covering. Just as I was leaving another female flew in and scared them both off!

The only problem with Buckenham is that most birds tend to be too far away for photography: still - you get the idea!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

My lens is back, in time for a Fieldfare drop-in!

At last, a month after it went in for a simple repair, my 300 prime has been returned. I've really missed its crisp focusing and 'handle-ability' and I regret not having it to shoot the Shorelarks and Waxwings. Just to show how good it is, here are a few shots of a solitary Fieldfare that visited our cotoneaster today: the Oak branch it's on was over 50 metres away.

Now if only I can shake off this vile cold, all we need is something mouthwatering to photograph: a Norfolk Snowy Owl, perhaps? Or a White-tailed Eagle?

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Corvid roost at Buckenham

A quick early-morning hop down to Buckenham to see if the Beans were any closer (they weren't!) provided views of a large mixed flock of Corvids leaving their roost in the copse to the west of the track. Not at its peak yet, I shouldn't imagine, but still interesting to witness. Living where I do on Blofield Heath, some of these birds pass over our house in the late afternoon: occasionally a few of the Jackdaws and Rooks stop off for a feed in the garden!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Bean Geese, Waxwings and Great White Egret: Yare Valley clean up!

Having completed all my office work early, I had a couple of hours spare, so visited Buckenham for another look at the Taiga Bean Geese. There were more today - 21 - but they were much further away. Anyone on a train to Yarmouth will have got good views though! The attractive Ross-type goose was feeding with feral Barnacles, but apart from some distant Whitefronts, that was it. A couple of Essex birders I met were keen to see the Costessey Waxwings, so I suggested they follow me there: in the event, they used their Sat-Nav and got there under their own steam. No Waxwings at 11.00 am, so I crossed the Dereham Rd to Bowthorpe: none there either, but a walk on the marsh provided cracking views of the Great White Egret.

A brief return to Jerningham Rd. provided tree-top glimpses of four Waxwings in the gloom: as soon as they arrived they were driven off by a very pugnacious Mistle Thrush!