Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Red Squirrels!

I just realised that I forgot to post any photos of the two delightful young Red Squirrels that Linda and I saw on the last day of our Northumberland holiday. The hide - in the woods at Wallington, near Morpeth - is terrific and allows wonderful views of these charming little creatures, as well as many excellent woodland birds.

Spoonbill Summer!

At the moment there are Spoonbills everywhere in Norfolk: in many locations they are breeding - who would have dreamt it twenty years ago? Little Egrets are even more common: many people barely raise their binoculars, but I love them!

Yesterday at Cley there were seven Spoonies  in front of the centre hides, as well as a delightful little Green Sandpiper: hardly a day at the coast is unrewarded by birds that used to be great rarities...
Be gentle with me! Might the gull be a Caspian?

Toilet moths!

As is customary for two old geezers like Brian and myself, a visit to the toilet at Titchwell took precedence over the Yellowlegs yesterday. Now whether they'd left the light on all night, or maybe just the door, but there were (as far as I could tell) around thirty different species of moth, totalling a couple of hundred individuals adorning the walls and ceiling. Needless to say, I was alone when I whipped out my camera and took a few hasty shots in poor light. I reckon someone will find something unusual in there one day: Titchwellicus khazeri, perhaps?

Lesser Yellowlegs - the movie!

This being such an obliging bird, it seemed silly not to take a bit of video!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Lesser Yellowlegs: what a little beauty!

Some rare or unusual birds are just... well, ordinary: but not today's Lesser Yellowlegs at Titchwell: it was gorgeous! Brian and I left early and were in Island Hide by 8.00am: the 'legs was just a few metres in front of us! It remained there (apart from a brief fly-around) until we left at 10.30, allowing some decent photos, even for we miserable Pentax users! The only frustration was the fact it was often in silhouette, so the yellowness of the legs wasn't always apparent.

A trio of Spotted Redshank remained near the path, as well as lots of Godwits (both species as well as a few Nene Washes breeders!) A few Little Gulls were somewhat upstaged by the numerous family groups of Mediterranean Gulls: really interesting to see the recently-fledged youngsters.

After coffee we moved on to Cley: I'll post up the images from there later!

Blogger, Twitter or Facebook: I've made my choice!

The number of interesting or amusing blogs out there in 'cyberspace' has steadily decreased over the past year or two. I used to particularly enjoy the strangely-named 'Scary Duck', with its eclectic mixture of humour, political comment and satire. Another good read (but with natural history content) was 'The Leicester Llama': again, both informative and entertaining.

Blogs come and go for a variety of reasons: probably the most common is the frustration of sitting down every day and trying to write something that an invisible audience might find worth their time, only to find (from the site stats) that nobody visited!

That isn't a problem for me: this blog is intended as my own diary: somewhere to store the best photos I take on a day out with birding friends. Other people use Flickr for the same purpose. Over the seven years that I've been inflicting my images and occasionally random thoughts on visitors to this blog, the number of people who look at it has risen from around five a day to current highs of over a thousand. There are plenty of blogs out there with much higher visitor numbers, but there are also some that no-one looks at regularly.

I guess the most common reason to cease blogging is when personal circumstances change, meaning the blogger has less time to spend online.

Until yesterday I also posted on Facebook and Twitter. Using the 'friends' system, FB is still, IMHO, a great way to keep in contact with people you know and whose company you enjoy: there are also some fabulous wildlife and photography groups. Generally speaking, I find FB a pleasurable experience that requires very little effort to be part of.

Last October I decided to give Twitter a try, not the least because that's the location to which most of the bloggers whose output I formerly enjoyed seem to have migrated! Straight away I could see both the good and bad aspects of Twitter:

1) The restrictions on the number of characters you can use (now 280 per 'tweet') means you either carry your thoughts over into several posts or, as seems more often the case, you post abbreviated ideas and opinions which may be (are!) misconstrued.
2) You can only post four photos per tweet
3) The use of hashtags means anyone can engage with your tweets and chuck in their twopenny-worth. Often these will be the aggressive, hostile and abusive outpourings of iconoclastic 'eco-warriors'. Who needs that from complete strangers? The same phenomenon drove many people away from the once-great Birdforum: check how infrequently there are postings on the Norfolk pages!
4) Despite frequently tweeting about interesting wildlife I came across, I never received any reciprocal data from my Twitter 'feeds': it was pretty much one-way traffic, with a couple of exceptions: thanks Steve and Rob!

So I've bailed out of Twitter, never to return: from now on, it's this blog and Facebook: I'll leave Twitter to the kid-listers and eco-warriors!

Monday, 16 July 2018

Garden tick!

Since taking up bee-keeping, Linda and - to a lesser extent - I have filled the flower beds with nectar-producing species: it's proven a popular move, not just with the Honey Bees (and other visiting species) but also with butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Nothing particularly unusual until today (although we had our first Gatekeepers of the year this morning and just a single Hummingbird Hawkmoth last week) but this afternoon we were visited by a Banded Demoiselle - our first in the garden!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Insectivorous plants enjoying the warm weather!

You may remember that I've long had a passion for unusual plants: our garden is filled with rare and ancient plant-life, including half a dozen trees that date back to the Mesozoic era. As Willy Ley remarked in one of his books "If you had a baby Tyrannosaur in a terrarium in the garden, the world would beat a path to your door: but a Gingko or Metasequoia that formed the forest in which it lived wouldn't raise an eyebrow."

I've added several new prehistoric plants recently, but pride of place at the moment goes to my five year-old collection of insectivorous plants, which are thriving because of the warm weather (and the insect life around our garden pond!) I used to think that keeping Pitcher Plants, Sundews, Venus Fly-traps and so on outside all year round was an impossibility, but ours survived the wet winter, freezing early spring and recent hot weather with total equanimity: the only casualty was a Butterwort that the pesky bantam who visits our garden for lunch decided to select as his side-salad last week!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Emeralds, Emperors, Norfolk Hawkers: the greatest little café in Norwich!

The Waterside Café at the Broadland Business Park (just off the A47) is once more playing host to a fabulous collection of dragonflies and other wildlife. On our way back from Watton (camera repaired!) we stopped off for lunch, enjoying a terrific goat's cheese Panini on the patio. During the few minutes we could spare, we saw several pairs of Emperors, some newly-emerged Emeralds, Red-eyeds and Blue-tails and a Norfolk Hawker. We also saw a Green Woodpecker!

The café is only open weekdays (until 2.00-ish) but you can walk around the small lake any time you like!

Oh! Near Pulham on the A140, we came across a Brachiosaur feeding by the roadside: must be global warming...