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Thursday 31 December 2015

Review of the Year Part 2: the local patch.

Although there's been lots to tempt me (and my buddies Brian and Martin) away from the Yare Valley - and what a year it's been in Norfolk for long-staying rarities - I've spent plenty of time plodding around the local patch.

For much of the year Brian and I have been without our third 'Last of the Summer Wine' team-member: Norman had a quad by-pass operation and has been recuperating. Luckily everything went well and we should be up to complement again in the new year!

Strumpshaw & Buckenham can seem a little devoid of birdlife to first time visitors, but the wildlife is there: you just have to persevere! The following images are in chronological order and demonstrate the quality and variety of what can turn up if you're patient: there are a couple from other parts of the mid-Yare Valley.

I should say: many of these birds have been discovered by warden Ben Lewis: since his arrival the number of 'goodies' that are identified has increased dramatically...

Mediterranean Gull at Thorpe Green

Wood Duck 'nearby'

Pair of Mandarins that arrived on the Heath unexpectedly

Short-eared Owls graced the Fen and Halvergate Marshes

A personal favourite: Cetti's Warbler

Scaup at Cantley: a patch tick for many!

Little Owl at Strumpshaw

Turtles have bred for seven years in our garden!

Pectoral Sandpiper at Buckenham

Yellow Wagtail, Blofield Heath

Regular, but still uncommon to see well...

Red Kites may already breed in the Yare Valley...

It's been a good year for Swallowtails

White Admirals are annual at the Fen nowadays...

The long-staying Great White Egret

SF speciality: Willow Emerald Damselfly

Bearded Tits along the Sandy Path

Otters are easy to see at the Fen

One of three Great Grey Shrikes that visited the Fen

Another Strumpshaw 'banker'

Stonechats now breed at the Fen & Buckenham

Taiga Bean Geese: not easy to connect with!

Peregrines: breeders and visitors!

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Review of the year Part 1: it's not all about rarity-chasing (But that's fun too!)

Although it's been a great year in Norfolk for photographing the more elusive species such as Shrikes, Calidrids, rare warblers and chats, my favourite moments in 2015 have often involved more common plants, animals and astronomical events. This was the year of the eclipsed 'Super Moon', a succession of conjunctions and occultations, the first Lizard Orchid in Norfolk for fifty years and twin Harbour Seals born at Winterton...

It's also been the year I retired from space memorabilia dealing and public music performance, after fifteen years in the first case and fifty in the second! On the plus side, though, my third book was published and the meteorite sales and lectures continue to flourish.

I was looking through Twitter the other day in an attempt to find the contact details of  an old friend when I noticed my name on the tweet (?) of someone I have never met, as far as I'm aware. He described me as 'notorious'! Intrigued, I cross-linked and scrolled about a bit and discovered other adjectives I've attracted have included bizarre, dubious, infamous and questionable! Isn't it amazing that my little private blog invokes such strong reactions among a few individuals?

Anyhow: here are a few of my favourite photos of 2015: thanks to those of you who follow (and hopefully enjoy) this blog - Happy New Year, and don't forget to say hello!
Pair of Scaup at Beccles Quay
Short-eared Owl at Halvergate: part of an influx

Woodlark, Grimes Graves

Escaped Black Kite in Suffolk

Bean Geese at Minsmere

Three Turtle Doves visited our garden: two stayed to breed...

Dotterel at Choseley: beautiful birds...

One of five Hummers that visited our garden this year.

 Cley's White-rumped Sandpiper

Lesser Emperor at Ormesby

Lizard Orchid at Drayton

Dipper at Sidmouth

Great White Egret: Strumpshaw's long-stayer

Three Garganey at the Fen

White-winged Black Tern at Cantley.

Rough-legged Buzzard at Horsey Gap

Long-tailed Duck at Lackford

Hoopoe at Crostwick: an unseasonal but welcome vagrant

Cattle Egret near Sea Palling: still there today!
It was great to find my own Waxwing flock!

A rare site: the Aurora from my office window!

Col Charles Halt, with whom I lectured in June

Three books published this year: all available online!

Monday 28 December 2015

Owls and a Shag - but no Swallow...

....although as Linda & I drove down from Egmere on the B1105, a Swallow sp. flew parallel with the car for a few seconds: as is usually the case, there was nowhere to park and a steady stream of traffic.

A walk and drive around Holkham was unproductive apart from scores of Pink-feet and a few Whitefronts, so we moved on to Brancaster Staithe (just a couple of Little Egrets) and Choseley. A RLB was available at a mile range, so we didn't bother to take the necessary walk. And so to Titchwell...

Lots of Marsh Harriers coming in to roost, but no Hens: a Barn Owl was nice, though (the first of a few we encountered) On the way home we paused at Wells Quay, bumping into Rob Holmes - great excuse for a mardle! The long-staying Shag was visible distantly in the gloaming, so I grabbed a few grainy images. Believe it or not, despite a birding excursion to West Wales in June, this bird was a year tick!