Wednesday, 14 November 2018


As I was getting ready for a day out with the 'Summer Wine Posse', I paused to enjoy the sunrise. The colours changed continuously and made a spectacular backdrop to our 'Meganeura'

Meanwhile our three crabs came out to play when I put on the actinic lights in their tank!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A Bittern saves the day at Strumpshaw....

I suppose it's that time of year, when migration has all but finished and temperatures are not low enough to bring timid residents like Water Rails out into the open: I've never known Strumpshaw so devoid of birdlife as it was this morning. Apart from a couple of Buzzards and the usual Marsh Harriers, hardly any birds put in an appearance from 7.00am until I left at 10.45. There wasn't a single duck or goose in front of Tower Hide! However, the day was saved by a small, dark Bittern, which, having been disturbed by the reed cutters, flew in front of Fen Hide.

A move to Buckenham added a flock of Barnacle Geese and a mini-murmuration of Starlings to a meagre day-list!

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Moon and Saturn

The planets, Sun and Moon all appear to travel across the sky through a narrow region known as the ecliptic. The reason, of course, is that the majority of the bodies in the solar system lie on the same plane: a simple analog would be a fried egg, with the Sun as the yolk with everything else orbiting through the 'white'! The Moon's orbit around the Earth also lies close to this plane (although it is slightly 'tipped' and hence wanders above and below the ecliptic.)

As a result, the various bodies can occasionally appear to come together in the sky - this is called a conjunction. Last night the Moon and Saturn were very close as the Moon set in the west: I attach a photo, with Saturn enlarged.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday

The Church and Community Centre combined to produce an afternoon of talks, reminiscences, singing, tea and stickies, followed by the lighting of a beacon and playing of the Last Post. A wonderful day of tribute and community spirit...

Piper at the gates of dawn...

Linda and I joined around 90 villagers to listen to Rory - the organist at Hemblington Church - piping in the dawn of Remembrance Sunday. It was a very moving and enjoyable experience and the sense of community was absolutely wonderful. Remarkably, it was a lovely clear morning and the ISS passed through Orion as we waited...

At 4.30 today I'm giving a short talk about my two grandfathers' recollections of WW1 at Heathlands, in the village.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

New marine tank

Linda and I aren't strangers to tropical reef-keeping: twenty years ago we were at the fore-front of the hobby with a huge reef system maintained by two Tunze racks and two protein skimmers. These days things are a lot more straight forward: our little 30 litre TMC 'cube' is literally plug and play - although you still have to mature the filtration system for a week or two before adding any livestock. (having said which, we do have a Hermit Crab and two Emerald Crabs to help 'load' the system!)


Friday, 9 November 2018

Crossbills at Horsford: back for seconds!

Since Linda and I had to go to Taverham to pick up some RO water for our new marine tank, we thought we'd drop in at St Faith's Common for another bash at the Crossbill flock. In the event Linda soon found a male perched high in a tree: the photos below show that it was a Common Crossbill. Leaving the small gallery, we wandered off to search a belt of conifers to the south. After a minute or two a flock of ten or twelve birds flew in from the west: significantly there were a couple of 'chups' among the 'chips'! Frustratingly the trees were full of finches and tits, so identifying even the Commons for a photo proved impossible. The flock flew from tree to tree over our heads for about twenty minutes, the distinct calls of at least two Parrots allowing them to be picked out.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A very expensive Crossbill at Horsford!

Since it was a lovely morning and we had nothing in the diary, Linda and I took a run along the NDR to Horsford, quickly locating the St Faith's Common car park. No other birders were in evidence, so we wandered around this pleasant piece of heathland, checking out every stand of conifers for the reported Crossbill flock. In the event we saw a group of five and a single female 'chipping' overhead, as well as a Buzzard doing Goshawk impressions, chasing pigeons through the woodland.

Linda needed to pop across to Taverham Garden Centre to see if a plant she'd ordered had arrived: it hadn't, so - somewhat recklessly - we wandered into the marine fish section. Pure nostalgia for our two metre tank, of course, but we came away with a self-contained marine system! Watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Waxwings and a second look at some long-stayers.

Brian, Linda and I started a day's birding on the East Coast with a fruitless two mile walk along Winterton beach: the only living things we encountered were seals! A move to Horsey was slightly better, with very distant views of a Rough-legged Buzzard being photo-bombed by a Marsh Harrier.

We carried on to Sheringham so Brian could catch up with the King Eider: not only was the tide right out, but the fishermen were out in force retrieving their pots! After tea and scones at Cley, we walked the East Bank and shingle ridge, but failed to locate the reported flock of Snow Buntings. Best bird was a smart Curlew feeding in a pool right by the path.

Linda hadn't yet seen the 'Salthouse Stonechat', so we spent an hour watching it and hoping it might come a little closer: it didn't! Still: a very attractive little bird.

Next stop was Kelling, where our first six Waxwings of the Winter were flycatching opposite the tearooms. What splendid birds these are, particularly when seen, as these were, in bright afternoon sunlight.

Finally we stopped at Sheringham again for another bash at the King Eider. We saw it distantly (courtesy of a visiting birder's 'scope) and then walked a mile or so along the beach for a closer view: unfortunately we couldn't relocate it! Still: an excellent day's birding in great company