Sunday, 27 May 2018

A once-in-a-lifetime photograph of the ISS and RIP Alan Bean

As I was photographing a transit of the International Space Station last night, an Iridium communications satellite 'flared' right by its track! A rare thing to see, never mind photograph! Also: the Moon and Jupiter were quite close in the sky above my office!

Sad to hear that Capt. Alan Bean has died: he was a truly lovely person and a great artist.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Yellow-legged Gull visits the Cash & Carry!

Linda and I have 'cards' to two C&Cs: one is on the Airport Industrial Estate. Now we have the NDR, it's just a ten minute drive from our village, so we popped in to pick up some bulk supplies! Naturally I didn't have a camera with me: we were only intending to be out of the house for an hour.

Needless to say, I quickly regretted not keeping to my usual routine: firstly we saw what I am 80% sure was a Quail that flew across the NDR as we slowed to look at a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on one of the several flood pools. Then, as we loaded up the car in the C&C car park, a beautiful adult Yellow-legged Gull dropped in with several Lesser Black-backs to look for scraps. Linda took a few distant pics with her phone, but in future I'll always throw a camera on the back seat!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Wildlife survey at Upton Fen

A group of six of us - Andrew, Joyce, Peter, Sue, Linda and yours truly are taking part in a year-long survey of the plants and animals of Upton Fen: today was the first of five sessions, involving a seven mile walk around the reserve recording Odonata, Lepidoptera, plants and animals.
My input is, naturally, the dragons, butterflies and birds, and everyone brought some special area of expertise to the group. Today we recorded 51 bird species, as well as seven dragons and damsels and seven butterflies. Most interesting were the Wall Browns: literally dozens of these gorgeous creatures were encountered as we walked around.



'Radio IQ shocker!'

I don't know if anyone out there actually listened to the ten minutes of farcical reporting on talkSPORT tonight, but if you did - whether you believe there's anything in my opinion that not all of the Moon landings took place or not - you couldn't help despair at the total ignorance and lack of manners of one of the two presenters. How different to the polite and respectful conduct of the various US and BBC reporters with whom I've spoken over the years. Next Tuesday I'm being interviewed again - this time for an hour or more - by an American network: I absolutely know I'll be treated courteously and that the reporter will have done some research so he can ask sensible questions and make informed comment!

 I couldn't help but wish I'd had the gentleman from talkSPORT in one of my lectures - he obviously missed out when he was at school!

Thursday, 24 May 2018


I'm not sure what my books and the material enshrined within them has to do with sport (although 'Uninvited Visitors' does have a chapter about it!) but for whatever reason I'm giving an interview tonight at 12.30-ish tonight! Since I'll have been playing at the local jam session until 11.00 I might need some strong, black coffee!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

North Norfolk Coast: excellent birds including a bonus Raven

Brian and Norman picked me up at seven for a drive through the misty lanes up to Cley. A couple of stops to listen for Nightingales were unproductive and we were quickly seated in Bishop's Hide scanning the scrape. Apart from a few Sand Martins and a couple of Greenshank, there was little to keep us there, so we moved round to the centre hides. From here we enjoyed somewhat distant views of some splendidly-coloured Ruff, but again, soon moved on (after coffee and scones, naturally!)

Near Stiffkey we were startled to see a Raven flop down on top of a roadside conifer: that's two Norfolk birds I've seen this year... The sky was still grey and overcast and Titchwell seemed the best bet. Near the carpark the previous night's moth-catch was being released: it included a super Privet Hawk Moth.

A longish session in the Parrinder Hide added a couple of excellent Little Gulls,  two Little Ringed Plovers, four Ringed Plovers of two different races, a Garganey and a few Med Gulls. The walk back to the car gave us reasonable views of a pair of Red-crested Pochard that emerged briefly from the reeds by the path.

Last couple of unproductive stops were at Thornham and Choseley before we headed eastwards and home.




Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Swallowtails, Savi's and some surprises in a country churchyard!

Linda and I helped out at one of the regular 'bioblitzes' at Hemblington Church this morning: on the way we detoured briefly to Strumpshaw where we bumped into Lee Evans and, shortly after he moved on, a distant Swallowtail. A brief spell in Fen Hide was rewarded by a short spell of reeling from the Savi's Warbler and some croaking in front of the hide by a Snipe.

The bird count at the church totalled eighteen species, including Whitethroat and Chiffchaff for the first time. Among the insects were two pleasant surprises: a Hairy Dragonfly and a Norfolk Hawker.

After lunch, Linda and I returned to Strumpshaw, where this time we were rewarded by really good views of an immaculate Swallowtail in the small meadow just before Dr George's cottage, as well as a recently-emerged Scarce Chaser and lots of Variable Damselflies.