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Monday 31 August 2015

Bohemian Owl!

I doubt if many readers of this blog are unaware of my interests in the arcane, bizarre and paranormal: I've given enough hints (and book plugs!) over the years! Having no elderly parents or new cars to tell you about (and with the rain still teeming down in East Norfolk) I thought I'd blog about something unexpected in the Eastern counties...

When Linda and I were in Cambridge a couple of days ago, we visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, specifically to visit the famous Bohemian Grove Owl. This extraordinary wine-jar was made in 1893 by London potter Wallace Martin for The Bohemian Club of San Francisco, which has an owl as its emblem. Martin's first effort had a firing crack and was not sent to the USA, but another arrived safely, only to be destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.

Bohemian Grove is a 2,700-acre campground located on Bohemian Avenue, Monte Rio, California. Although ostensibly a gentlemen's art club, it has become infamous as a retreat for the rich, famous and powerful. Rumours of occult ceremonies (including human sacrifice!) abound on the 'net and there is little doubt that the 'club' deserves some, at least, of its reputation. You would not believe the names of current members and associates!

The second photo is of the 'Owl Shrine' at Bohemian Grove....

Saturday 29 August 2015

Purple Hairstreaks at the Showground and a couple of real Jobsworths!

A morning at the garden show at the NSG was not entirely devoid of interest: Lin and I enjoyed close views of at least three Purple Hairstreaks: two around a large Oak, one around a Sweet Chestnut.

Other interest came from a couple of fly-over Buzzards and a number of both Brown and Migrant Hawkers.

Only thing that spoiled a pleasant interlude were two incredibly 'jobsworth' car parking attendants (both females held together with piercings and tattoos.)

Since no-one was taking card payments (welcome to the 21st Century, traders!) and there was no ATM on-site, we had to get a pass out and go to Sainsbury's for cash. When we returned, the two attendants tried to make us park about half a mile from the entrance. I was very polite (unusually for me!) and explained we'd only be two seconds: we just wanted to pay a vendor. I pointed out that the space I'd just vacated was still empty, but was told that '...spaces near the entrance are kept free for disabled drivers'. Again, very politely, I pointed out that there had been in excess of 30 vacant spaces right by the entrance and lots more in the row I'd just left: the front row for those with blue cards was still half empty. One of the attendants then said that she'd filled all those. I pointed out that this wasn't the case. In the end, frustrated and angry, I drove around in the direction they indicated, but carried on to the rows near the gate. I counted (and photographed!) 42 spaces in the first three rows.

The more aggressive of the attendants waddled across and started ranting and raving: no amount of calm logic would shut her up: she was still banging on about taking my car number and reporting me (To whom??? For what??? Re-occupying the space I'd left three minutes earlier?) when Linda came back. A group of other drivers (one of whom was a blue-badger!) gave us a supporting round of applause as we drove off: they were saying much ruder things about the attendants than I did!
What is it with people that they turn into d*cks when you give them a hi-vis jacket and armband?

Friday 28 August 2015

White Admiral: new for the village!

Unless someone knows differently, I think today's White Admiral (in pristine 'nick') might be a first record for Blofield Heath.  It was along Woodbastwick Road, just before the 'tree tunnel'.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Winterton Dunes: ten miler for very little!

Brian and I made an early start at Winterton North Dunes, but despite walking most of the way from the village to the Nelson's Head track, all we found was a few Redstarts, Whinchats, Pied Flycatchers and a flighty Wood Warbler: no sign of any Red-backed Shrikes or Wrynecks. We also glimpsed a probable Hippo, but it refused to be photographed!

Lots of commoner raptors, including five Buzzards and a Red Kite together (distantly!)

Admitting defeat, we returned to good old Strumpshaw Fen, where the day's tally was augmented by Great White & Little Egrets, Kingfisher, juvenile and adult Common Tern and a Garganey (probably!)

Tuesday 25 August 2015

My books: special price!

Special offer to the open-minded! By September, all three of my books will be available from Amazon at £15+ each: you can order directly from me at £25 for any two, £30 for all three(+ £3 p&p)

Monday 24 August 2015

At the Fen again: Great White Egret

With the weather for the next few days scheduled to be appalling, I rose early and took a walk around the two Fens: Upton first, then Strumpshaw.

Upton was disappointing: too cool and wet for many of the larger odonata (although I did see Brown, Southern and Migrant Hawkers in singles!) A couple of nice Emerald Damsels, a colourful beetle, a Fox and a possible Osprey made up the rest of the list.

Strumpshaw was a little better, with 'thirds' of the GWE preening on the spit, as well as two Little Egrets, a Hobby, a Great Spotted Woodie, as well as one of the regular Little Owls in silhouette!


Sunday 23 August 2015

Every boy needs a Hobby!

For the past two days it's been fine enough to enjoy a BBQ in the garden (veggie, naturally!)

Both days have seen a swirling mass of Black-headed Gulls pass over the house, presumably feasting on flying ants: fortunately none dropped in for lunch!

With the BHGs on both occasions were at least two Hobbies: I had no idea they ate ants, but, I guess, in the absence of a dragonfly or two...

These pictures were taken with my Sigma 300 zoom, hence the over-cropping and sharpening: I'm missing my 500 already!

Saturday 22 August 2015

Great White Egret at Strumpshaw: and lots more besides!

Linda having been unlucky with the long-staying GWE on several occasions, we were up and out early and at the Fen by 7.15. First bird was a Kingfisher at Reception (the first of three we saw) It was distant, so we walked around to Tower Hide: no sign of the GWE, but there was a couple of nice guys for company, so we decided to sit it out...

Lots of Ruff and four or five Little Egrets: suddenly (just as on a previous occasion) the Great White appeared over to the left. We enjoyed watching this beautiful bird for an hour or so (for the last thirty minutes with Strump regulars Mike and Red (O'Hara!): at one point a large dog Otter passed within ten feet of it!

Lin and I decided it was time to leave, so we walked back via Lackford Run, obtaining good views of four Willow Emeralds on the way.

Last stop was the Little Owl tree, where one of the fluffy youngsters was enjoying the Sun!

Friday 21 August 2015

Doing a Stint at Cley!

A Little Stint, in fact! Linda and I decided on a morning on the North Coast, starting at the centre hides at Cley before moving to Bishop's Hide.

Lots of Ruff / Reeves, Black & Bar-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers, as well as a few Dunlin, Snipe and Avocets. Star bird was a Little Stint that came nearly close enough for photography: as I was clicking away, the view-finder suddenly went opaque! Looking in the back of my lens I saw that the final element had come loose inside.... Ouch!

After coffee and scones, we headed home, anticipating a quick visit to London Camera Exchange. On the way, we stopped at Holt Country Park, where there were still dozens of Silver-washed Fritillaries and White Admirals, sadly all showing battle scars!

Into Norwich to drop off the Sigma 500 and home to find two Painted Ladies in the garden.