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Sunday 30 June 2013


There are 53 of these around Norwich (just like the Elephants 5 years ago!)
Linda & I have seen 48 of them: we are saving the final five for the holidays! Terrific fun and some imaginative artwork: they are all on my Facebook:!/SpaceDavid


Friday 28 June 2013

Falcon days!

Today I encountered Peregrines in three different locations: one flew across the A11 just north of Wymondham, a second sped over the A47 Yare bridge at Whitlingham Lane, while a third stooped at (and missed!) a pigeon by the new McDonalds near Brundall.

I guess these could be from the Cathedral family: great that this once scarce falcon is becoming such a familiar site around Norwich. As a matter of fact, an adult bird could be seen perched on the spire on both Wednesday and Sunday afternoons as Linda & I were engaged in our 'Go Gorilla Safari'!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Trigger happy!

While myself and a couple of friends (one of whom is an RSPB Warden!) were walking the public paths at Kelling Heath today in search of Butterflies & photogenic birds, we noticed a Turtle Dove in a tree across a large clearing, which from the path we attempted to photograph at extreme range. We noticed some shifty-looking characters over the far side of the clearing, walking up and down, occasionally looking our way with binoculars, occasionally walking off the path around the edge of the clearing and generally behaving furtively. We took photos of the two (who were dressed atypically for birders or photographers) and made a mental note to keep an eye out for them, ...
After a while, we met a local patcher, who warned us that these men were BTO ringers, who may have reported us to the police as egg thieves!!!!!  Sure enough, when we returned to the level crossing, two Police Officers were waiting for us! They requested proof of i/d and checked this by radio, which was a little disconcerting for three 60-year-olds with unblemished records in the military and education.
The officers quickly realised we had done nothing wrong, apologised for troubling us and left.
I see from a 'well-known avian forum' that this event has already reached the attention of some posters, whose take on events is somewhat removed from reality. (I should add that, contrary to postings elsewhere,  there was not a single sign to suggest we were looking across a sensitive breeding site.)
Wouldn't the simplest thing have been to have walked round to check on our activity rather than immediately phone the police? (As I did at Strumpshaw when I saw a couple of teenagers trying to catch Swallowtails with a landing net!)

Bizarrely, the man stirring up the hornet's nest is a Norfolk photographer whose website includes numerous photographs he has taken of Woodlarks at or near their nest on Kelling Heath!

Postscript: the public-spirited soul who phoned the police continues to post his version of events on a public forum to which none of us are subscribers and hence cannot reply. There has been a lot of this 'trial by forum' on there recently...   To those of you who know us / me and who have attempted to redress this, many thanks....

Anyhow: a few pictures from Salthouse and Kelling Quags:-

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Odds & ends!

A seven mile hike around Strumpshaw / Buckenham produced the Red Kite (again!) and numerous Buzzards, as well as the famous white-bellied female Marshie from Strump: it was actually being mobbed by the Kite at Buckenham: seems a long way from home!

Numerous Dragons, Damsels and beetles (including a nifty Longhorn) as well as more Common Lizards, Swallowtails and Orchids!

Deer me!

Almost dark when these Muntjacs appeared in the garden - ISO 6400! Although they didn't seem to nibble our new bedding plants, they did eat a heck of a lot of seed!

Monday 24 June 2013

Another Kite on the patch!

What felt like a pretty birdless morning (enlivened only by the usual excellent craik with Brian and Norman) got better when I went off on my own to complete my 5 mile circuit.

As I walked up the hill from Buckenham Station, I noticed a raptor perched on the fence around the horse paddock: I fired off a few shots as the bird took off and was pleased to see it was another Red Kite rather than a Buzzard. This was a different individual to last week's melanistic bird, indicating that there may be some breeding going on nearby!

Other birds included Kingfisher, Treecreeper and two Buzzards, but absolutely no butterflies or dragonflies....

Sunday 23 June 2013

Mick Saunt

I just read Kevin Du Rose's rant on Birdforum about Norfolk birder Mick Saunt, who had the temerity to register his disapproval about the behaviour of a group of photographers at the RSC twitch in Wells, suggesting they need not have approached the bird quite so closely, given the size of lens they were using.

Well: Mick is entitled to his opinion, as are they (although the circumstances of the bird's exit suggest Mick had a point) But when the poster criticises Mick for lack of fieldcraft / experience / knowledge / dedication to patchwork, he reveals himself to be totally ignorant.....
Through birding, I have known Mick for 25+ years: we are not friends, but have met up on twitches, Scillonian Pelagics and during birdless, freezing patch walks. Mr Du Rose, you are way out of line - Mick Saunt is one of Norfolk's finest and most competent birders.....

Saturday 22 June 2013

Back for seconds with Linda!

Back with Linda for another look at the Rose-coloured Starling: lots more people today (50+) and voluntary distance-keeping was in operation. (Probably a good thing - this avoided the almost inevitable conflict that would've resulted from competition for a 'good spot'!) I did notice the broken mirror just left on the pavement by a 'well-known local birder' and also, it was interesting how few people put any money in the Air Ambulance bucket. Considering how much the garden owners must be spending on fat balls, that seemed a little mean!

Bumped into Kristian S, who I taught at Acle VCP - he assured me that his love of birds began in my class: at the time we had one of the largest YOC groups in a UK school.

Other 'goodies' included a pair of Med Gulls, a Spoonbill, five Little Egrets and three Red Kites.

Friday 21 June 2013

Starling twitching!

Well there we go! All it took was a couple of beautiful vagrants to get me back into my bad old ways! How could I resist? Following the Roller, I had to have a stab at the adult male Rose-coloured Starling at Wells Quay. I parked, walked twenty yards and took these photos of what must be the most easily-accessible goodie of the year so far!

Interesting (as an 'outsider') to read the posts on BF about the alleged bad behaviour of some photographers at the Quay. My personal take is that if you were there with a 500mm lens and converter ring, you didn't really need to lean it on the little wall around the garden! Having said which, the Starling was quite happy to feed in front of the small gallery of around half a dozen while I was there - the only thing it objected to was other Starlings - didn't seem to mind pigeons or sparrows! I do think some photographers can be thoughtless, but some birders can be a bit precious at times.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Local patching!

Was I tempted to head north again, just for seconds of the Roller? Or to fill up on an RCS? Damn right! But I had made arrangements to go to the Brecks with Brian, so met up with him at Strumpshaw. In view of the poor weather forecast, Brian was reluctant to risk it, so we had a stroll around the always-interesting Fen. Lots of nice stuff, including Bee Orchid, Four-spotted Chaser and a Swallowtail where it should be: out on the meadow on Ragged Robin! Best of all, though, was a Clouded Yellow out on the meadow! First for three years....