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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Brecks clean-up (nearly!)

The first chance for a group outing for Peter, Sue, Linda and me: we decided on a visit to the Brecks, where there was a reasonable chance of decent weather.

First stop was Santon Downham, where a longish walk around the plantations and riverside gave us decent views of Woodlark, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Mandarin. (The only woodpeckers were Green and Great Spotted!)

A move to Lakenheath (where we ate a picnic lunch!) took us past Weeting Heath: it was absolutely packed, so we decided to return on the way home.

Lakenheath RSPB never fails to deliver: today it was Cuckoos (lots!) and Hobbies - over fifty of these dapper little falcons were feeding together over Joist Fen. Peter and I had a brief glimpse of what was almost certainly a female Golden Oriole...

Despite the threat of rain, we did return to Weeting Heath: to our surprise we were now the only visitors! After an ice cream, we moved to West Hide, 'enjoying' distant views of four Stone Curlews and three Eurasian Curlews. A great day out!

Monday, 17 May 2021

The Moon visits the Heavenly Twins

Around 10pm last night the sky cleared sufficiently to photograph the Moon nuzzling up to Pollux, one of the two bright stars in the constellation Gemini. In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were twins that accompanied Jason on his expedition to steal the Golden Fleece.

It has been suggested that either Pollux (a reddish giant star) or Castor (a bluish component of a complex binary system) has changed in luminosity since ancient times, since Pollux is noticeably brighter than its 'twin'. Of possible interest to non-astronomers is the fact that Pollux is the brightest star known to have a planetary system: it is orbited by a large planet called Thestias which is three times as massive as Jupiter!

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Mysterious Starlings!

Starlings seem to be making a bit of a comeback: I don't think I ever spend any time outside without seeing a flock or two: at the moment our garden is full of them: probably thirty or forty at any time. These are about 70% juveniles, lounging around waiting for their long-suffering parents to feed them.

The mystery is: where do they nest and where do they go in the evening? They don't roost in any of the local large trees and there's no evidence of nesting nearby...

Still: very welcome and quite beautiful in the evening sunlight.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Osprey: a near miss!

As Linda and I were driving back from a local site we have for Turtle Doves (present, but not visible!) we decided to visit Ranworth Maltsters. Nothing much to hold us there for very long -  just a few Common Terns - so we carried on home, via Blofield Garden Centre. As we approached the left-incline from the A47, a large raptor flew across, heading northwards: both of us instantly recognised it as an Osprey. I managed to pull over on the verge, but, frustratingly,  it disappeared behind some large trees. Now: had we stayed at Ranworth a little longer, or: had we turned off at Burlingham as we usually do....

Friday, 14 May 2021

Nano reef tank: an update

Our little marine tank is still (touch wood!) flourishing: all the polyp colonies seem to be growing and spreading and our old Cleaner Shrimp is approaching his third birthday!

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Hemblington Church wildlife

Ironic that a brief visit to the Church this morning (to complete a 'treasure hunt' inside the building) provided views of some species we rarely see on wildlife survey mornings!

Three species of raptor - Buzzard, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier - were joined by two unusual bees and a flush of a delicate yellow-green plant: thanks to Joyce, Charles and Fran for confirming its i/d as Crosswort.

Nice to see yet another Hare in a field nearby

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Fairly birdless morning at Hickling...

Brian, Norman and I met in the carpark at Hickling at just after 7.00am, in the hope that yesterday's stint might have hung around. A brisk walk to the eastern end of Brendan's Marsh revealed that it hadn't! Lots of Avocets and Redshanks, but the only slightly unusual wader was a distant Spotted Redshank. The walk around the rest of the reserve was a bit disappointing: two booming Bitterns failed to pose for the cameras, as did Cuckoo and numerous Garden Warblers. We did see a Chinese Water Deer and a Muntjac emerge from the same ditch!

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Open gardens: Bishop's Palace and Quaker Farm, St Faiths.

Regular readers will know that Linda and I enjoy looking around other people's gardens, whether small and contemporary or large and formal: both can provide ideas for your own future planting.

The Bishop's Palace Garden at the Cathedral is only opened a few times a year, so we jumped at the chance to join Sue & Peter at the open day on Sunday. After a leisurely walk around, admiring the amazing mixture of exotic and traditional, we drove on to St Faiths: firstly for an enjoyable pub lunch and then a long stroll around the gardens and associated woodland of Quaker Farm. Totally different, but just as fascinating, with interesting wildlife at both venues.