Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Ring-necked Parakeets in Norwich

This morning Linda and I made a short detour to look for the group of Ring-necked Parakeets that have taken up residence just off the Dereham Road in Norwich. We're used to seeing these, of course: a few Christmases ago we came across a roost of 2000+ in Slough and we almost always saw a few when we visited Mum-in-Law in Maidenhead. However, apart from a single that flew across the garden a couple of years ago, these are the first we've seen in Norwich.

Whooper Swans at Ludham Airfield

A couple of short videos: sad to think they'll be gone soon...

Monday, 27 January 2020


At some point tomorrow, someone will be the 500,000th visitor to 'Birds of the Heath'
Amazing! I wonder who it will be? A free copy of 'Birds of the Yare Valley' to whoever it is!

Wild Swans and Goldeneye - but no Red-necked Grebe...

Linda and I were supposed to be making a trip down to the Brecks with Sue & Peter, but when we crawled out of bed we discovered that the central heating boiler had gone u/s! This necessitated one of us being at home all day until the service team arrived. Since Linda 'volunteered' to be the one, I decided to go for a bash at the Red-necked Grebe at Filby. Despite a good two hours scanning the two Broads from both of the wooden platforms, neither the grebe nor the recently-present Long-tailed Duck put in an appearance. (Nice to enjoy a chat with fellow cockney ex-patriot Ted!) Lots of beautiful Goldeneye were some compensation.

I drove home via Ludham Airfield, where two groups of Whooper Swans took a bit of finding - they were a mile or so distant from their regular feeding area.


Sunday, 26 January 2020

Slavonian Grebe at Wroxham Broad

There was just time before the birdwatch to visit Wroxham Broad, where a Slavonian Grebe had been seen late the previous afternoon. When I arrived there were just two birders present: Dave Holman and his charming wife. The grebe was directly out in front of the car park, but somewhat distant: nevertheless, I managed a few shots. I wish there'd been time to look for the Red-necked Grebe at Filby: that would have been five out of five!


Garden Birdwatch at Hemblington Church

The annual two hour birdwatch at our local church attracted a decent number of people, including youngsters and several birders from as far away as Aylsham! Despite a cool wind and the threat of showers, it was a thoroughly enjoyable session (from 11.00am until 1.00pm) The total number of species seen was nineteen, with an overall count (mostly pigeons!) of close to three hundred.
Highlights included at least twelve Buzzards (including groups of six and three) twenty four Fieldfares and plenty of Great, Long-tailed and Blue Tits. Thanks yet again to the indefatigable Lynda, Katherine and Gwendoline for the excellent homemade soups and cakes.


Burns Night in Blofield Heath

What a fantastic evening! Thanks to Lynda Beck and her team, this now-annual event was a triumph! Starting with a welcome from Piper Rory, we enjoyed Burns poetry, singing, Scottish dancing and a terrific meal. The traditional supper of haggis, neaps and tatties was followed by a personal favourite: cranachan. If you've never tried it, have a go: it's a delightful confection of cream, whisky, oatmeal and raspberries.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Ferruginous Duck at Ranworth: back for thirds!

With no supper to prepare and Linda busy on her new laptop, I thought I'd go and see if the female Fudge Duck was still at Ranworth: it was! Still very distant, but easy to pick out on size alone, even with the naked eye: it's noticeably smaller than a female tufted.

No Redpolls or Siskins in the woodland, but a delightful Kestrel was good to see.

Burns Night supper

Tonight Linda and I will be joining Peter and Sue in a walk up to Heathlands for our annual celebration of Burns Night. Organised by the Friends of Hemblington Church, this is an event we all look forward to: a perfect antidote for the post-Christmas blues! There'll be pipe music, poetry and - for those of a more flamboyant nature -  dancing!

Having a Scottish Grandfather (see below!) and a mother who would have been Scottish apart from her mother going into labour during a visit to Manchester, I've always been proud of my Gaelic / Celtic heritage (I have two Welsh Grandmothers too!) I was brought up on Harry Lauder, Kenneth McKellen and all things Scottish and have enjoyed many trips up to the Highlands and Islands. Like my father and grandfather before me, I love a glass of uisge beatha and have always enjoyed haggis. Luckily, MacSweens make a very acceptable veggie version: I always keep a few in the fridge!

So tonight we'll enjoy a deoch an dorus and raise a few quid towards the upkeep of our beautiful little church...

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.