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Friday 31 July 2015

Thames Valley flying visit!

Linda and I popped down to Maidenhead for a flying visit with Mum-in-Law: she fancied a day out, so we drove to Wraysbury and enjoyed a walk in the meadows. Our target was the Ankerwyke Yew, reputedly one of the oldest in England: very impressive!

Lots of wildlife: Kites, Buzzards, Green Woodies and most of the expected Odonata. After lunch at the Royal Farm Shop near Windsor, we carried on through Maidenhead to Boulter's Lock for a stroll by the River Thames. All the expected birds were on show: Ring-necked Parakeet, Mandarin and Grey Wagtail. Tea at the Lock Inn and then home!

Thursday 30 July 2015

Help required from the West Country!

At some point during the Summer (if it ever happens!) we'll pop down to South Devon to visit family and do a spot of wildlife tracking too!

If any of you lovely Devonians know any sure-fire sites for Common Hawker or (if it's not too late!) White-legged Damsel, I'd love to hear about them! Happy to reciprocate if you ever visit Broadland...

I have Bystock Pool, Aylesbeare and Venn Ottery on the radar already: fingers crossed for Southern Damsel!

Here's a photo or two from last year:

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Unexpectedly good session at Strumpshaw Fen!

Some days you can plod around the patch and see absolutely nothing: that's just how it goes. Today, however, a mid-morning run round produced a decent selection of birds and insects!

First bird to have a camera pointed in its direction was a Red Kite, being hassled by a very dark Marsh Harrier near the 'boardwalk'.

A move to Tower Hide produced photogenic Ruff and Common Tern, but little else. A stop on the way back to Reception revealed two teeny Swallowtail Caterpillars, while the woodland path held at least three White Admirals, several Brown Hawkers and a pair of Southern Hawkers.

Last stop was Reception Hide, where a Hobby hawked across the broad for several minutes. A solitary clump of Milk Parsley held yet more Swallowtail caterpillars...

Monday 27 July 2015


I've been bashing away at the keyboard all day, working on Book 3: this one's about comets and extinction events....
This (plus the foul weather!) kept me in the office, but there were still a couple of unexpected pleasant interludes.
First of these was a Purple Hairstreak that alighted on the beech hedge in front of my office just long enough to be certain of the i/d but not to obtain a photo. Then a scurrying under the feeders announced the return of our 'pet' Field Vole: one rodent I don't object to seeing in the garden!

Sunday 26 July 2015

Lull between the storms!

Following a morning of rain and high winds, the weather in East Norfolk suddenly improved in the early evening, so Linda and I decided on a walk around Strumpshaw.

Hoping that the evening Sun might have enticed out a Willow Emerald or two, we parked at the end of 'Dr's Lane' and walked round to check their usual bushes near the railway crossing: no sign, unfortunately.

We did, however, find a couple of photogenic Swallowtail caterpillars chomping away on Milk Parsley: what an excellent coincidence that the larva of one of Norfolk's rarest butterflies wears a Norwich strip!

As we were walking south along Lackford Run, the water level in the dyke began to rise: soon the path started to flood, so we turned back, deciding to visit the meadow and see if the Barn Owls were hunting. They were!  Too dark for photos, really, but you can just about make out the rat that one carried squealing back to the woods!

Saturday 25 July 2015

Trapped indoors: and not just by the weather!

Linda decided that the 'public rooms' of our bungalow had to have laminate floors, and who am I to disagree?

For several days we've been under seige, but it's all finished (for the time being, I expect!) and, I must admit, everrywhere does look clean and tidy....

Right! Let's have some birds to go and look at and some decent weather to make it enjoyable.

Thursday 23 July 2015


After a couple of singletons during the warm spell, there were four Painted Ladies on the Buddleia for most of the day. They became so 'nectar-drunk' that I could hold their flowers steady in the strong breeze without disturbing them in the least!

Lots of Gatekeepers, Peacocks, Large Whites and Brimstones, too!

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Waders and Butterflies in North Norfolk!

A morning on the North Coast with Norman and Brian was both enjoyable and productive.

First stop was Cley: since someone was cutting reeds in front of the centre hides, we spent an hour or so watching Pat's Pool, where many of the reserve's birds seem to have relocated. Best of the bunch were some very colourful Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits, as well as Green & Common Sandpiper, Little Gull and lots of juvenile Avocets.

Once the Sun had emerged from behind the clouds we moved south to Holt Country Park, where the other two were keen to connect with Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral: both species duly obliged!

After an enjoyable viewing of the photographic exhibition at Holt Church, we spent an hour among the Common Darters (but little else!) at Walsey Hills.