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Sunday 31 July 2016

a 'jarring success at Buxton Heath!

Following a really enjoyable barbecue supper, Linda and I and our good friends Sue and Peter drove cross country to Buxton Heath. I know the area really well, having once renovated an old cottage at Hevingham: Buxton Heath is one of my favourite places to ramble about on!

As we walked out from the carpark, a ground mist was hovering in the boggy areas, imparting a positively 'Hound of the Baskervilles' atmosphere to the landscape.

Presumably because of the mist and descending night, there was nowhere near the number of bird species as our last visit: just a few pigeons and corvids. Then, at around 9.30pm, we began to hear churring and the occasional 'kewick': suddenly two Nightjars glided past, just twenty feet from us! A marvellous moment. A bird began churring quite nearby, so I walked  back along the path to look for it. As I approached it took flight, allowing the only 'shot' of the evening.

Before the night closed in, we saw one more Nightjar fly by and enjoyed watching the International Space Station pass overhead. Just above the south-western horizon Saturn and Mars were a spectacular sight...

Saturday 30 July 2016

A welcome return!

Our garden is both a constant source of pleasure to Linda and me, and a continual drain on our time budget! At least one decent session a week is spent mowing, pruning, dead-heading etc etc...

It's unusual, however, for this effort not to be rewarded and today was no exception: for the first time in several years we found a couple of pristine Common Frogs on the rockery by our small Koi pond. At one time (before the Koi grew so large!) we often used to have a pond-ful of spawn in the spring: perhaps this is a good sign.

Elsewhere, the sustained fine weather has filled the garden with butterflies: up to eight Peacocks, five Red Admirals, numerous Large and Small Whites and half a dozen Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns. We've had several dragons, too, including a Black-tailed Skimmer , which is new here for the year.

Overhead, several Buzzards mewed and wheeled in the blue sky and Goldfinches visited every feeder: does it get any better?

Plover update!

Elizabeth found another, closer image of the bird: you can plainly see that it has white axillaries, hence is a European Golden Plover.

Still: terrific bird to see in July at Buckenham! Now if only the hide were....


A photographer friend of mine, Elizabeth Dack, took a picture of the wader flock at Buckenham a couple of days ago, putting the image on Facebook yesterday. The birds (as I may have discussed in an earlier post!) are always very distant at this site, but to me the single Golden Plover to the left of centre has the look of a Pacific GP. I attach a grainy enlargement and another of the bird in flight with Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits.


Thursday 28 July 2016

Chalk Hill Blues and a Titchwell wader-fest!

Brian and I headed north west in search of the UK's rarest breeding raptor: seems we may have been a day too late: the whole family group was apparently radio-tagged yesterday and may have pushed off! We did enjoy watching a pair of nerveless maintenance engineers working on a wind turbine: I hope they were being paid plenty!

We continued up to the north coast, finally deciding on a visit to Titchwell. As is so often the case, there were absolutely hundreds of waders of ten or more species: Knot, Grey Plover, Avocet , Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Redshank, Spotted Redshank (albeit a mile from the nearest path!), Dunlin and - best of all - two Curlew Sandpipers. Nineteen Spoonbills lurked at the far side of the Freshwater Pool, while plenty of Little Egrets flew around the reserve.

After an excellent lunch, we drove inland to Warham Camp, picking up Buzzard and Red Kite on the way (poor photos below!) This is a fabulous place to spend a sunny hour, not the least because of the drifts of petal-like Chalk Hill Blue butterflies: we counted over fifty! Lots of Ringlets, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and just a single Wall Brown.

On the way home we popped into Holt Country Park: Silver-washed and White Admirals were everywhere as we walked through the 'ornamental garden' and the rides beyond: no decent photos, though, despite a couple nearly alighting on our trousers! Then the rain started: home for tea!

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Caspian Tern at Hickling

An exercise in frustration! Through the bins (and other people's telescopes!) this mega-tern was really enjoyable in the afternoon sunshine at Rush Hills Scrape, Hickling. However, heat haze and distance made photography virtually impossible.. Nice to meet - and chat - with local birder Dave, as well as Barry Jarvis and several other Norfolk 'legends'.

Great to see, though: as were the half-dozen Spoonbills, Curlew and Green Sandpipers and four Little Gulls.

Earlier, a quick visit to the Fen produced more Garganey pictures, while, at home, a delightful Tiger Moth flew over the garden, where a second Chiffchaff and various butterflies took advantage of gaps in the cloud.


Tuesday 26 July 2016

Strumpshaw Fen: eleven Garganey plus Kingfishers, Bearded Tits and dragonflies!

A walk around the Fen with Brian, Norman and a few of the other regulars was surprisingly productive for late July! I was too late on parade for the Green Sandpiper and Water Rail that the others enjoyed, but did see the first of three Kingfishers.

The walk round to Tower Hide produced terrific views of a group of juvenile Bearded Tits, as well as several Southern, Brown and Migrant Hawkers and numbers of Scarce Chasers, Black-tailed Skimmers and Banded Demoiselles.

We bumped into Adrian (a SF regular) who said there was nothing to be seen from Tower Hide: we were pleasantly surprised, therefore, to discover six Garganey, eight Herons, a Little Egret, a mother & faun Chinese Water Deer, two more Kingfishers and a pair of Common Terns.

Completing the circuit to the carpark added a few more of each species of odonata we'd already encountered, as well as five more Garganey, that flew from the 'old' broad to the west of Lackford Run to join their six mates at Tower Hide!