Saturday, 27 August 2016

Glossy Ibis at Strumpshaw: back with the new lenses!

As you will have seen in the previous post, dear reader, Linda not only sanctioned a new lens, she also paid for it! I am not worthy! Since we had a brief window of opportunity this morning (and since Linda hadn't caught up with the Glossy Ibis yet) we spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Fen so that I could give the lenses a field test.

In fact it was Linda who located the Ibis, head tucked under its wing, roosting on the island at the eleven o'clock from Tower Hide. Great to see this delightful bird again, it was being photo-bombed by Ruff, Snipe, Garganey and herons. Infuriatingly, it never came really close (which is what a 300 prime and 2x converter are best at) and was often a silhouette: still, I was very pleased with the results, and hope you agree they are better than those obtained with the 500 t/p.

Walking back we stopped to admire the shoal of Rudd that have packed themselves into the Sluice dyke, as well as numerous Common Lizards.

Friday, 26 August 2016

A visit to WEX!

Whether my long-suffering wife Linda feels I've shown patience and restraint during the past week's carpet-laying, door hanging, garden clearing etc, or whether she thought I deserved a treat, today she bought me a welcome addition to my photographic armoury!

A run out to Hellesdon was rewarded with a lens I've wanted for some time: a 300 f4 prime. This one is the Pentax DA, to which I added a Pentax 1.4 converter. Initial impressions are, to say the least, very favourable: the autofocus is silent, quick and smooth and (given today's bright sunlight) I found I could get good crisp images at 800 ISO and f5.6. Can't wait to field test the combo: these photos were taken with my KS2 through a grimy window at a range of around 30 feet.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

As promised!

Here are some of today's Buzzards, as well as a delightful little Wren that spent part of the day snoozing on one of our garden ornaments (a Polar Bear!)

Any ideas?

All day we've had Buzzards drifting over the garden: some have been quite low! (Pictures later.)

One bird, however, intrigued me: it was somewhat distant, and the light was pretty grim, but I got the impression of bulk and ponderous flight. In the few images I managed - and through the binoculars - I noticed that the bird never raised its wings into a 'V' to soar: it kept them flat, with an Osprey-like Ju87 (Stuka) wing shape.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Red-backed Shrike at West Runton

Brian had only a tiny window of opportunity today, but we seized it anyway and were in the car park at West Runton by 11.15. We followed the online instructions of a well-known bird-blogger that took us 180 degrees away from the target bird's usual haunt, but fortunately we bumped into Yare Valley regular David who led us back past our car to the car park entrance, where a delightful juvenile Red-backed Shrike performed for us at around forty yards distance. At times it was being mobbed by a Whitethroat and a couple of House Sparrows. Other birds in the same area included Wheatear and Whinchat.

A move westwards to Weybourne failed to turn up the long-staying Wryneck, which had apparently been flushed by an elderly couple of birders who insisted on standing on the skyline as close as possible in bright shirts and hats! We did grab photos of Lesser Whitethroat and juvenile Whitethroat, as well as a few Stonechats.

Last stop was Cley, where the Centre Hides produced four Green Sandpipers and a good number of other waders.

Suddenly we have butterflies!

With the temperature on the Heath reaching 30 degrees, it was perhaps unsurprising that our garden was full of butterflies. Despite a fairly gusty westerly, ten different species of these splendid creatures spent the day flitting from buddleia to centranthus.

Most abundant were the Lesser Tortoiseshells, with over fifty counted, followed closely by Red Admiral. Peacock, and Small White. Most pleasing were the four Painted Ladies and pair of Brimstones, while just one of each of Gatekeeper, Large White, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown passed through.

Nothing rare, then, but plenty to brighten up the garden!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Oooops! False alarm: but not my fault, for once!

Dear AuroraWatch UK subscriber,
We apologise for the earlier false alert (issued 13:25 UTC today) which was caused by a lawnmower creating a local disturbance at our Lancaster site. For more information please see
The AuroraWatch UK team

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Strumpshaw Fen: more Glossy Ibis photos.

Here are some more (possibly better) photos of the Ibis in front of Tower Hide, as well as some Teal in flight. There were quite a few of these on the scrape: not that common a sight here in summer, and a bit of a distraction when looking for the six Garganey. I notice on the various 'round up' blogs that there were over thirty of these delightful little ducks available in the county yesterday: this must surely be the tip of a record-breaking total. Here are a couple more photos!

I've also added more photos of some of the dozen or more Ruff that were present: to paraphrase the Kevin Costner film "Get the water level right and they will come!"