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Monday 29 February 2016

Jack Snipe at Strumpshaw Fen

Having visited the Post Office, I thought I might as well take a quick walk around Strumpshaw to see if the reported Penduline Tit might decide to come out to play. It didn't!

However, the ninety minutes in Fen Hide weren't by any means wasted: firstly it was good to bump into old mate Mike 'Red' O'Hara, who reminded me that we've known each other for thirty years this year! Then a wing-tagged Marsh Harrier (P3) flew by: this, I seem to recall, is a Buckenham bird.

Frustratingly hard to find (let alone photograph!) were four Jack Snipe, huddled down in the dead reeds twenty yards out from the hide. Thanks to some very patient visitors and their 'scope, I eventually located a bird that could be imaged. OK: not great - but see if you can find the bird in the wide-shot!

Other odds and ends included Water Rail, Chinese Water Deer and a pair of GC Grebes displaying on the river. Incidentally: half the reserve is unavailable at the moment, because of bank improvements on the riverside path. This seems a strange thing to do, since the lowest part of the bank between Buckenham and Brundall is now the frontage of the reserve between Sandy Path and Tower Hide. I would have thought this would guarantee salt incursions on a spring tide...

Sunday 28 February 2016

Norwich Cathedral Peregrines!

Since Linda and I had to pop into Norwich, we thought we'd check on the state of play with the Peregrines on the Cathedral spire (and have a coffee in the refectory!)

The pair were both present, separated by sixty feet of spire: whereas the male (I think!) just sat about, occasionally stretching, the female had a little fly around, allowing slightly better views for the small group of watchers in the close.

Friday 26 February 2016

Horsey Hen Harrier and the end of an era...

Needing to pop across to Potter Heigham, I thought I'd have a whizz round to Horsey to see if the Cranes were about: they weren't!

A stop at Waxham revealed that the new owners of 'Shangri-La' have demolished this iconic landmark: it was here, donkey's years ago, that I saw my first Pallas', Radde's, Dusky and Yellow-browed Warblers and where Ring Ouzels and Tree Sparrows were once guaranteed. Here also I saw my first Norfolk Camberwell Beauty, roosting in a tree in the cottage garden.

Driving back towards Horsey, I stopped to enjoy the sight of a dustcart in a bit of a predicament: spot of Schadenfreude, here, but I'm not a massive fan of the way some drivers crawl along in the middle of the narrow roads around the Heath, forcing other motorists into the side.

As I was recording this sorry scene, two Harriers cruised over the fields: a very dark Marsh Harrier and a somewhat distant ringtail Hen Harrier. Vast skeins of Pink-feet were dropping in all the time....

A quick look at Filby Broad failed to reveal the reported Red-necked Grebe, but eight Herons in a field was interesting, as were Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebes displaying on the broad.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Great Grey Shrike at Santon Downham....

...but no-one to share him with!

Both my usual birding companions were, for various reasons, not able to come out to play today. I worked until 10 am and then thought 'Oh blow it (or something similar!) I'll go solo!' My reasons for preferring company when out birding are manifold, but include:

* What if anything happened to me out in the wilds somewhere? (I am 65, after all!)
* I enjoy birds more when I have someone to share them with
* Brian tells me what settings I need on the camera!
* Martin keeps me  up to date politically!

However, I had a most enjoyable couple of hours down in the Brecks, starting at Grimes Graves (from where all birds seemed to have disappeared!) before moving to Santon Downham. As I was walking down to the road bridge to look for Grey Wagtails, I met a friendly lady birder who told me the Great Grey Shrike was showing really well in its usual spot by the railway underpass. Pausing only to offer thanks, I reversed direction and soon found the Shrike sitting distantly on top of a bush. Instead of chasing it, I waited and was rewarded when it flew right up to me!

Having an hour to spare before needing to get home to start dinner, I decided to finish off at Lynford. No Haws, but a nice female Great Spotted Woodpecker and a confiding flock of Siskins...


Wednesday 24 February 2016

Early morning update

The Moon, as many of you will know, orbits the Earth in an anticlockwise direction, taking just over 28 days for each orbit. Travelling at just over a kilometre per second, every hour it moves across the background stars by roughly its own diameter (half a degree of arc) Jupiter is currently 415 million miles from Earth, so its apparent motion across the stars is a lot slower.

What this means, of course, is that the Moon's separation from Jupiter gradually reduced overnight, and I crawled out of bed at 5.00am this morning to catch more images of the two bodies in the dawn sky. I also managed a shot of Jupiter showing three of its large moons and a hint of a cloud belt!


Tuesday 23 February 2016