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Tuesday 31 May 2016

A crepuscular Osprey!

Chris, a regular reader of the blog, was kind enough to tip me off that the Osprey is still hanging around the mid-Yare valley, and messaged me that he'd seen it at dusk last night. Despite the vile weather, I thought I might as well take a look, and settled down in Fen Hide by 8.00pm. I have to say, I was a little 'surprised' to read on the sightings sheet that the Osprey had been watched fishing both this afternoon and for the past three days! I seem to have mistimed my visits: but it'd have been nice to have been let in on the secret!

Anyhow: by 8.50 there was no sign, just lots of pre-roosting Marsh Harriers wheeling around in the murk. With the camera on 'night scene' and 3200 ISO, I took a couple of photos to check how grainy they'd be, then left for home. As I reached the junction of Sandy Path and Fen Hide path, I glanced right in time to see the Osprey flying west along the river, disappearing behind the scrub before I had a chance of a record shot. I ran towards the river ( well: waddled, really!) and picked the bird up distantly towards Tower Scrape: one shot was all I managed, because the camera kept hunting in and out of focus :(

Still: perhaps it'll summer in the valley, allowing everyone to get a decent view.


Stone the Crows!

There's been some controversy recently about feeding birds during the breeding season: our decision has been to continue, on the basis that a large number of species (particularly doves and corvids) seem to need this reliable source of nutrition, both for themselves and their nestlings. We feed dry food, but also suet, mealworms and fruit, and the various species seem quite selective about what they take and when.

At any rate, the garden is full of birds at the moment: up to five Stock Doves, Yellowhammers, Jays, Jackdaws, Rooks and Magpies are virtually camped here!


Monday 30 May 2016

Strumpshaw Fen: wet and windy and no Osprey!

Knowing there's a Steam Rally at Strumpshaw today, I thought I'd get up early and stake out Tower Hide before the traffic builds up. I was in the hide by 5.30 am and spent a pleasant couple of (chilly!) hours enjoying close views of the usual suspects. (Chiffchaff, Little Egret, Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall etc.) Interesting to see that a pair of Gadwall has managed to protect a brood of eight ducklings, while most other species seem to have lost all / most of theirs to predators.

Back home by 8.00, it was good to see that the garden birds seem to have shrugged off last week's disturbance: the Goldcrest was back by the pond and young Robins were all over the place!

Sunday 29 May 2016

Lizard Orchid!

Since Linda and I had to be in the area where last year's unexpected Lizard Orchid was found, we thought we'd take a look to see if the solitary spike had returned: it has!

Still some way to go before it acquires the characteristic lizard-shaped flowers that give this bizarre plant its name, but thrilling to relocate in such a potentially vulnerable habitat...

Back home, the regular Yellowhammers continue to grace our garden with their presence!

Saturday 28 May 2016

Excellent Odonata and the first 'fizz'on the new patio!

Our excellent builder Ian (and his hard-working mate Richard) finished the patio today, allowing Linda and me to:
1) dive out to Strumpshaw in case the Osprey came in to fish late afternoon
2) enjoy our first barbecue on the new patio.

I should say, the Osprey that has visited the Fen over the past couple of days twice flew over our house this week: only best mate Martin saw it, but hopefully it will hang around in the Yare Valley for a few weeks...

No Osprey at the Fen, but it was good to bump into Andrew 'Harrassed Dad' from BF as well as Dot and Steve. Lots of excellent damsels and dragons, including Hairy Hawker and Scarce Chaser.

Thursday 26 May 2016

This is why I love having a garden!

All around East Norfolk, meadows, arable land, marshes and even famous village cricket pitches are being turned into nasty modern estates with no gardens nor even room to hang out a bit of washing. Progress? I hardly think so. Homes for local youngsters to start a family? Not at these prices. These properties will probably end up as additions to the portfolios of asset-stripping property developers from the South East.

Sadly, the people who buy them are unlikely to experience the pleasure I had this afternoon when I looked from the office window to see a Goldcrest bathing in the little cascade on the side of our small pond. Having enjoyed a good splash and a drink, he then flew into the acer tree two feet from my window to shake himself dry.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Great day out in Suffolk: Black Redstarts, Bitterns and lots more!

Despite an unpromising weather forecast, Brian, Norman and I headed into Suffolk in an attempt to avoid the threatened rain. We did! And not only that, we managed decent views of some interesting birds!

Starting at Minsmere, we trudged round to Island Mere (tripping over the squillions of kilometres of BBC cables on the way) where an obliging Bittern flew in front of the hide and onto its nest. Reed Warblers were unusually co-operative, as were Bearded Tits and Cettis.

The West Scrape held its usual complement of gulls, but I quickly managed to pick out a nesting pair of Mediterraneans, both on the deck and flying round in formation. A large flock of Little Terns flew in from the beach before landing on an island.

After coffee we drove south to Sizewell, where a short walk gave us both male and female Black Redstarts and views of the expanding Kittiwake colony on the outlet towers.

A great day out for the 'Last of the Summer Wine' posse!