Saturday, 31 October 2015

Today, I ha' mostly been....

 ...at Kempton Park Rock and Gem Show!

I think a lot of folk were at home watching the rugby, because we didn't sell much! However, it was nice to renew acquaintances with the resident Ring-necked Parakeet flock (about 12 birds tonight) albeit the barriers erected for the rugby prevented me getting close enough for decent photography...
 






Friday, 30 October 2015

Disappointing occultation

As some of you may know, I play guitar at a local club on  Thursday nights: this week I kept diving out in between songs to check the state of the sky, hoping against hope for a break in the clouds so I could view the unusual sight of the Moon occulting the bright star Aldebaran.

In the event, I managed a 'before' shot from the club carpark and an 'after' shot from home, but both were through a fast-moving thin haze that ruined the effect somewhat!
 


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Lesser Yellowlegs at Breydon Water: Yare Valley tick!

Martin and I popped across to Breydon for a couple of hours to try and see the Lesser 'legs that had been reported: amazingly (with help from several birders who'd arrived earlier) we eventually managed to catch glimpses as it made short flights at a range of perhaps 300 metres...

Obviously the photos aren't up to much, but you can at least see the fine dark bill and distinctive yellow legs!

 



Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Seek and ye shall find! American Golden Plover at Breydon

When I was at Breydon south wall with Brian yesterday I was shooting the breeze with Rob, a Suffolk birder who knew a lot of the same old timers as I did! (When I was a five-times a week Breydon regular back in the eighties.)

Several times he felt he might have had the American Golden Plover on the falling tide with Godwits: he suggested I took lots of photos and looked through them when I got home: this I've just got around to doing. To my amazement, I found several images that seem to be of the AGP: I'd be disappointed if I'd never seen one before, but since I've seen two others, I'm quite chuffed with the incredibly distant shots I managed!


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I see the Moon, the Moon sees me...

Beautiful full Moon tonight: these are true colours!

For those of you who like this stuff: the Moon occults a really bright star (Aldebaran) on Thursday night: the star reappears just before 11.00pm. This is a pretty infrequent occurrence: well worth staying up for!
 




Great Grey Shrike at Horsey, and Great White Egret and a Common Seal at Breydon!

It's not possible to get a picture of every bird one sees, and today's two 'Greats' were a case in point!
Brian and I both had reasonable binocular views of a Great Grey Shrike south of Horsey Gap, but each time we raised our cameras, the rotten thing dropped down and disappeared. (A few Stonechats were more obliging...)

While we were waiting on Breydon South Wall for the very high tide to drop so we could search for the American Golden Plover, Brian received a mobile call advising him of a family emergency. We left straight away (although I did manage some terrific Common Seal photos!) As we drove along the Acle Straight towards the old Stracey Arms, a Great White Egret flew across and alongside the car: needless to say, this was part of the straight with nowhere to stop!

Great to bump into Tim Allwood and Mick Saunt....






Monday, 26 October 2015

Owls, Shrikes and Egrets: great day on the North Coast

Taking advantage of a good weather forecast, Linda and I and our chums (and neighbours!) Sue & Peter headed north to Holkham, picking up a Rough-legged Buzzard near Houghton on the way.

A walk to the Jordan Hide and back wasn't without interest: several Buzzards, six Red Kites and a heard-only Yellow-browed Warbler being the highlights. The others were interested in the large Metasequoia I pointed out at Meols House...

After lunch at Brancaster, we arrived at Titchwell with around an hour's usable light, but managed to find (and photograph) a good variety of birds. Linda and Sue's favourites were the two Short-eared Owls that we first saw perched on a fence near Reception and later hunting over the rough grassland north of the path. My eighth Great Grey Shrike of the month posed distantly by the Brackish Pool, which also held Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank.

As the sky darkened, we carried on round to Fen Hide, where we watched a pair of Stoats collaborating to hunt a rabbit: it escaped by running in between Linda and me! One by one, Little Egrets dropped into the pool and nearby trees, finally numbering 25 birds: great sight! A decent roost of Starlings built up before being scattered by a marauding Sparrow Hawk.

Supper at 'The Red Lion' Coltishall was a perfect end to the day!





















Sunday, 25 October 2015

Even closer!

If you haven't yet made the effort to crawl out of bed before it's fully light, you really should!
Venus, Jupiter and Mars are even closer in the eastern sky: a spectacular and rare sight...  Orion is still fighting his bull just above the southern horizon!

(Incidentally: isn't it interesting that when I post snatched photos of something not particularly unusual taken in bad light or poor contrast, they attract more than a few sarcastic comments and pms, either here or on other people's twitter a/cs, yet when I get decent images of birds like the RLB below [all without creeping forward like some habitually do] no-one ever comments!)
 





Saturday, 24 October 2015

Sea Scorpion!

You may remember I mentioned a while back that there was just one fossil I'd always wanted to complete my palaeontological bucket list: a Eurypterid.

These huge arthropods (the largest that have ever lived) swam in the shallow seas of the the mid Ordovician to late Permian Periods (470 to 248 million years ago). They were wiped out by the greatest mass extinction in the history of the Earth (as discussed in my latest book) Probably just as well: they were formidable predators!

Thanks to my fossil-collecting and generous older brother, Rob, I now have an example in my collection! Just the rostrum (armoured head) but totally distinctive!

Many thanks, Big Bro'!