Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Raptor action at Strumpshaw!

The usual Tuesday stroll around the Fen with Brian was not, perhaps, over-productive: nevertheless, half an hour in Fen Hide gave views of Kingfisher, Bittern, Water Pipit, Snipe and Grey Wagtail, while of great entertainment value were the Sparrowhawk and Kestrel duo that performed aerobatics together. Lots of Chinese Water Deer around: four at once in front of FH...

Completing more or less a full circuit (just missing out Lackford Run) was totally birdless, with just a few Red Admirals, Common Darters and Hornets enjoying the sunshine.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus!

This was the title of a famous guide to married life back in the 1990s: today you could've checked out the two alleged ancestral homes of humanity! In the eastern pre-dawn sky hanging above the horizon was a thin crescent Moon while below it were Mars and Venus, shining like a ruby and diamond respectively.

They'll be even closer tomorrow, if it's clear where you live.

Apocalyptic sky!

Lots of interesting stuff in the sky over the last couple of days! Linda and I were doing some gardening yesterday afternoon when a curious dark cloud-front moved across from the west: as it covered the Sun the sky took on a peachy-grey colour. The Sun dimmed dramatically, reminding us of our memories of the 1999 total eclipse (which we observed at Prawle Point in Devon)

On Sunday morning the Moon passed close by the bright star Regulus, while yesterday the thin crescent displayed the beautiful 'new Moon in the old Moon's arms' phenomenon.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Osprey and Cattle Egret - a snatched North Coast outing

With some unpleasant weather forecast (and having been stuck inside all weekend!) Linda suggested a run up to Holkham to take a look at the long-staying Osprey. The drive north gave us several Buzzards and Red Kites and a brisk walk through the park (full of delightful Fallow Deer) soon added the Osprey to our day list. It seemed to favour a somewhat distant tree, from which it occasionally flew off north, returning after a minute or two with a fish. A few Red Kites were sharing the Osprey's airspace and a Hawfinch 'tsipped' overhead: most astonishing to see were several very large (20lb+) Carp that leapt from the water like Polaris missiles!

We walked back to the car in the pleasant company of local birder Chris before driving to Burnham Deepdale for a delightful bowl of mushroom soup. We considered visiting Titchwell, but in the end headed back east, pausing at Stiffkey for a quick look at 'our' Cattle Egret.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

International Astronomy Show

Linda and I have just returned from our premier sales event of the year, the International Astronomy Show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. We've exhibited at the IAS every year since it began and it was great to meet up with lots of old friends.

It's a fantastic venue, with over a hundred astronomy-based dealers exhibiting over two days - telescopes, cameras, books, accessories and - of course - meteorites! Although the attendees spend much of their time in lectures, they also come to spend some money: so, despite the longish drive along the hideously crowded A14, it's an event we really enjoy.

This year we stayed onsite at the Lodge. The room was comfortable - it even had its own patio - and the restaurant served excellent vegetarian food. The Stoneleigh Park Complex includes some other terrific eateries as well as acres of parkland, arboretum and streams. The interesting wildlife we saw during the weekend included Buzzard, Red Kite, Raven and lots of Hornets (I didn't take a T/P lens with me, so you'll have to take my word for it!)