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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Winterton, Horsey Yarmouth and Breydon: very little to show for a long walk!

Sunny day and easterlies for 48 hours, so (despite all my birding buddies being away / working / recovering from heart surgery) I decided to have a wander through the dunes.

Despite walking the round trip to the blocks and then past the Hermanus and back, all I 'kicked up' were a few Mipits and Skylarks. On the sea were a few Red-throated Divers and Brents....

A move to Horsey produced a group of three Cranes - always good to see - a Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier, while Yarmouth Cemetery seemed utterly birdless: just a Muntjac to brighten up the visit! Breydon held flocks of Avocets and Little Egrets, but the light was appalling for photography.

The drive home provided close views of two (presumably wire-hopping) White Storks: nowhere to stop, so photo courtesy of Brian Tubby.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

How strange!

On my way to the hairdressers in Acle, as I drove past Buckenham Church towards Hassingham I slowed to enjoy two Buzzards in the fields and a Whinchat on the phone wires: nice!

This astonishing cloud structure caused me to reach for my camera while I was mowing the lawn: I know they're just attenuated cirrus clouds, but they looked so bizarre!

Monday 28 September 2015

Lunar eclipse and so-called 'Super Moon'!

Being at heart a keen amateur astronomer, I set the alarm for 1.30 and was outside in my fleecy 'onesie' (no: really!) by 1.45.

Despite predictions online, there were plenty of gaps in the cloud and I managed uninterrupted views of the lunar eclipse until totality. Since Linda shares my enthusiasm, I woke her at 3.15 to enjoy the spectacle and we were rewarded with a really bright meteor passing just to the west of the Moon.

This event took me right back to when I was 14, when my elder brother Rob and I stayed up late to watch our first lunar eclipse. We sent drawings of it to Patrick Moore, who was kind enough to write us an encouraging reply: this was a defining moment in my choice of degree and eventual career!

I have to say: despite all the hype on other blogs and in the media, the 'Super Moon' was actually only around 10% larger: since the Moon is about the size of a pea held at arm's length, that's not really noticeable... And all this about the Moon being 'much nearer to the Earth' is, I'm afraid, nonsense: the Moon being at perigee is actually around 8,000 miles nearer - just 1/30th closer! (NOT 'thirty times closer' as the BBC reporter said this morning!)

The bottom photo is Venus, which rose in the east during the eclipse, followed by Mars and Jupiter.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Winter? Already???

No photos (I was washing up!) so you'll just have to take my word for this: a flock of Redwings just flew through the garden! No berries yet to detain them, but they stopped briefly before heading east!

The earliest I've seen 'winter' thrushes before was in Cheshire in late August, so not without precedent... But this is Norfolk!

Keep your eyes open if you're in Acle / Fleggburgh etc!

Friday 25 September 2015

Minsmere: full house with Clouded Yellows!

Since all my birding mates were either working, in Germany or recovering from heart surgery, I headed south to Minsmere on my own...

First stop was Island Mere, where - despite the reedbeds being completely overgrown - a couple of family parties of Bearded Tits came close enough for a photo. Three Bitterns flew across the Mere, but were too distant for decent images. I was chatting with a local birder (from Leiston) and mentioned I thought it was a good day for an Osprey, at which point one appeared over his shoulder!
Again, a little distant, but still great to watch.

The rest of the reserve was fairly unspectacular for birds - just a few Stonechats and Little Egrets - but the walk along the beach produced two Clouded Yellows and a Painted Lady. There were lots of the usual butterflies too, including a smart Small Copper.

A couple of miles tramp around Dunwich Heath gave brief views of three Dartford Warblers and distant ones of a Hobby: a pair of Kestrels flirted in the late summer sunshine...

Thursday 24 September 2015

International Astronomy Show, 2015

Given the torrential rain until lunchtime and the fact there aren't any birds to chase after, I spent the day pricing and boxing meteorites ready for the International Astronomy Show at Stoneleigh Park: here's the URL:
It's a fantastic event (assuming you're into Astronomy!) with all kinds of gear for sale and loads of world-famous speakers (although not me this year!)

Linda and I will be there with a full inventory of meteorites, tektites and meteorite jewellery.

Meanwhile, I did see one cute little tweet today: a Coal Tit struggling in the high winds to hang on to the feeder outside my office!

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Strumpshaw Fen at its very best: Beardies, Bitterns and Kingfishers!

I'd arranged to meet Brian at the Fen nice and early, but he was held up and I found myself chatting with Trevor Hannant along the Sandy Wall. As we shot the breeze an Osprey flew over the woods being mobbed by corvids: too low (and I was too slow!) for a photo, sadly...

About nine-fifteen Brian turned up just in time to join Trevor, Nick Appleton and me enjoying close views of a group of 14 - 20 Bearded Tits. As we filled our SD cards, a Bittern skated across the top of the reeds and I noticed a small Acro: Reed Warbler? Seems late...

Brian and I being short on time, we decided on a move along to Tower Hide: a good decision, since a Kingfisher posed briefly on the 'Tern Twigs' and another Bittern (a different one!) flew from left to right. A great little session!

Monday 21 September 2015

"Après moi, le déluge"

Not at all used in the sense intended by Mme de Pompadour, but rather a reference to the fact that the rain started just as I returned home from my walk!

A five-mile march around Buckenham and Strumpshaw under glowering clouds was enjoyable if not over-productive. Feral geese were everywhere: Egyptians, Barnacles, Greylags and two Snow Geese.... but in among them was a single Pink-footed Goose.

Lots of Buzzards, including one sat in a tree at Buckenham and a pair receiving the attentions of corvids at Strumpshaw Woods.

Other birds included a distant Kingfisher (Please get rid of the algae in front of Reception Hide!) and several Bearded Tits, while this cricket and a few Migrant Hawkers livened up the morning.