Monday, 25 June 2018

Cream teas, birds and butterflies: a Hemblington miscellany...

As you may recall, Linda and I are always keen to join friends Sue & Joyce (and their husbands!) in any fund-raising or nature-based events at our delightful little round-towered church. Although none of us have any particular Christian convictions, we see no dichotomy between religious beliefs and the desire to help maintain this beautiful ancient building and its rich surrounding habitats.

Yesterday,  tour of three local churches finished with a cream tea at Hemblington, so Linda and I joined the regular crew to help set up, lay tables, marshal the parking and serve tea. It was a delightfully calm, warm afternoon (following the triple English victories in Formula 1, soccer and cricket) and everyone had a great time: Sue's organisation was, as usual, impeccable!

While waiting to welcome the visitors, I was entertained by a family of Chiffchaffs, as well as Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and plenty of meadow butterfly species: Norfolk Hawkers were everywhere!


Sunday, 24 June 2018

Turtle Doves a short stroll away

As most of you will recall, we had two pairs of Turtle Doves breeding in our small garden every year for nearly a decade until our 'neighbour' cut down their nesting trees while we were on holiday a couple of years ago.

Although we no longer have these delightful birds as garden visitors, there is a pair just a short walk away: today I came across the male quite by chance, dozing on a power line in the midday sun!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Fulmars at Cromer...

It was the case until recently that you had to travel to Hunstanton to watch Norfolk Fulmars at close range: now there's an established colony on the cliffs at Cromer, just below the Beach car park. While searching for the Pied Crow yesterday it was terrific to see these elegant tubenoses tazzing by on stiff wings just feet above our heads.

As well as the Pied Crow, there were some pied Goats - Bagots, apparently - that are resident on the cliff: overhead, a trio of Typhoon fighters were 'mock dogfighting' for most of the morning

Other interesting birds we came across included a singing Black Redstart to the east of the Pier and a Shag perched on a buoy: the waves were rocking it about so much it soon gave up!

4-Vesta re-imaged!

I rephoto-ed Vesta last night (Friday!) Here are the two images pasted together: Vesta is the bright 'blob', which you can see has moved quite a bit against the background stars, even in just 24 hours. (This is how comets and asteroids are discovered, of course!)

Friday, 22 June 2018

Pied Crow at Cromer

If you get the opportunity to see this handsome bird, seize it! It took Linda and me four hours to connect this morning, before the coast-touring Pied Crow took pity on us and dropped down two feet away while we were queuing for fish and chips. What a bird! It's not just big and chunky, it's also full of character.

We'd arrived at Cromer at 8.00am (I, of course, had 'enjoyed' just a couple of hours sleep following my nocturnal Astronomy session). RBA lite confirmed that the PC had been present on the Beach Car Park at 7.40, but, despite a two hour exploration of the promenades and car parks, it was nowhere to be seen.

Linda had a bit of shopping to do, so we drove west to Sheringham, returning at 10.15, only to be told by a lone searcher that the PC had been reported two minutes earlier on the Beach Car Park! Another long walk ensued, until Linda suggested lunch at Galton Blackiston's No1 Fish & Chip Restaurant. We were numbers three and four in a five minute queue for this popular venue: just as the staff were opening the door, the Pied Crow dropped down right in front of us! After a brief photo session, the bird flew off westwards and we went in to enjoy a fantastic lunch! While we were eating, the bird flew right past the window a number of times... (Many thanks to the two local birders who we'd met earlier, who took the trouble to find us in the restaurant to tell us the Crow was around: what great kindness...)

Lots of other nice things: I'll post those later.



I managed to photograph the asteroid Vesta this morning (1.30am)  It's just to the west of Saturn (which is low in the south east!)


Thursday, 21 June 2018

4-Vesta: a rare chance to see an Asteroid!

At the moment the asteroid 4-Vesta is visible in the south east as a faint naked eye object. Vesta was the fourth asteroid to be discovered (hence its astronomical name!) and is one of the few that is ever bright enough to see without a telescope.

For the next week or two it can be easily located just above and to the right of the planet Saturn: but you'll need to stay up late (or get up early!) to see it. At the moment it's cloudy here in east Norfolk, but I'll try to get a photo over the next few days: meanwhile, here's a sky chart to help you find this intriguing object!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Jam, Jerusalem and Fen Orchids!

Some members of Acle Women's Institute had asked me to give them a guided tour of a Broadland nature reserve, so, following a ten o'clock rendezvous, we spent a pleasant couple of hours enjoying the wildlife in humid, sunny weather.

Lots of dragon and damselflies, including Norfolk Hawker, Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer. Apart from Meadow Brown and Ringlet, there weren't many butterflies on the wing, but the flora more than made up for it. We found hundreds of Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids, but the real stars were several clumps of tiny but exquisite Fen Orchids - a real rarity!

After a non-alcoholic pub lunch we said our goodbyes, all of us keen to repeat the walk again soon!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Another Clearwing hunt at Strumpshaw!

Since Linda is still away, I decided on another visit to the Fen to see if I could add White-banded to the list (Both Rob H and Ben L have found the species there this year) In the event I had an enjoyable ramble around, taking more decent photos of the super-abundant Currant and Red-tipped Clearwings, as well as two slightly different looking individuals.

Almost the first moth to come to the CC lure flew around it twice before zooming off: I wondered if it might be a Yellow-legged CW, but I don't believe it's the right habitat. The second visitor was undoubtedly a Currant CW, but it had a white tail! After that, the lure attracted lots more Currants, but nothing else new, so I moved to the sandy path.

As I was setting up the 'mones, a Red Kite flew over: I bellowed out to a primary school group in the meadow, who looked up in time to enjoy this lovely raptor. Red-tippeds came almost straight away: in total I counted around a dozen. Other interesting insects came to investigate too, including a striking Longhorn Beetle of some sort. Back at Reception, Ben L and David Norgate were releasing last night's moth catch: I couldn't resist photographing two Elephant Hawk Moths!

Great morning, despite the weather forecast being entirely wrong!