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Friday 30 September 2016

Glossy Ibis: back at Strumpshaw Fen

I'm pleased to admit that I was wrong about 'Iris the Ibis' having departed a fortnight ago: apart from a brief day-trip to the Bure Valley, it seems to have settled in for a long stay again!

Today I spent an hour or two hoping for a few decent shots of Bearded Tits, but although a few flocks / family groups were moving through the reed beds I didn't manage anything half decent. Good to chat with Brian & Ann S and Dave R, as well as several other regulars while we waited, though!

After a while Brian and Ann and I moved on to Tower Hide: we quickly located the Ibis in the shadows on the far side of the pool. It did eventually fly nearer, although my best shots were from the corner sluice near Lackford Run.

Thursday 29 September 2016

As rare as it gets!

Not a bird: but Linda and my other little obsession! When we were married twenty two years ago, times were pretty tough: to pay for the wedding, I sold all my antiquarian books and Linda parted with her collection of Wade porcelain figures.

Not to be confused with the little 'Whimsies' that can still be found in Christmas crackers, these were highly collectable British porcelain made in the fifties, sixties and seventies: some are legendarily hard to find, having been made in minute quantities!

Well: it's taken a long time, but, by scouring junk shops, collectors' fairs and internet auctions, we've now rebuilt the collection of most of the rarest sets: just two or three more to go. This is lucky, because we've more or less run out of room to display them!

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Hoopoe at Brancaster

With two potentially photogenic birds in the north west of the county, I set aside the morning for a solo run up to Brancaster and Titchwell.

Arriving at the beach car park at Brancaster, I was given the 'glad tidings' that the recently-present Hoopoe had been flushed off by photographers. Knowing the species quite well, I doubted it would be long before it returned: this was the case. Thanks to Sue Bryan, I knew exactly where to walk and, within ten minutes, I was enjoying my closest-ever views of the species. Out to sea the small gallery (Hi to the Brecon Beacon Posse!) was entertained by a very pale Arctic Skua, several Sandwich Terns and Gannets and a flock of Scoter, but the star was the Hoopoe: apologies for posting a few images, but it's a corker!

Titchwell failed to produce anything more exciting than a veggie sausage bap: certainly not the Pec Sand which seems to have moved to Frampton, but I did connect with a flitty Yellow-browed and a Little Stint...

The New Moon in the Old Moon's arms!

What a beautiful sight in the pre-dawn sky, just above the eastern horizon: the waning crescent Moon with the remainder of its disc illuminated by reflected light from the Earth. The point of light below and to the left is a minor star of the constellation Leo.


Tuesday 27 September 2016

Waxham: more Yellow-browed Warblers and a bonus Clouded Yellow!

Another solo dart out to the coast: this time for a walk along the newly-created coastal path at Waxham. This leads in both directions from the site of the old Shangri-La: I headed south, scanning the sycamores and bushes as I walked. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies (a few Migrant Hawkers, but mostly Common & Ruddy Darters) but very few birds. A Merlin dashed across the fields, while Sparrowhawks and Kestrels hunted the dunes.

After a couple of miles I came across a charming middle-aged couple who'd pinned down a Yellow-browed in a sycamore. Frustratingly, my views were too brief (yet again!) for photos, but I saw it well as it flew off. I circled round to the top of the dunes and relocated it twice, but still a decent photo eludes me!

Several Stonechats popped up on the bushes and - best of all - a somewhat battered but still beautiful Clouded Yellow posed for photos. How green is that lovely eye?

On the way back to the van (see photo!) I heard two more YBWs and saw yet another...


Monday 26 September 2016

Six species of raptor at Buckenham and a Yellow-browed at Strumpshaw!

I had to take a huge builder's sack full of tree and bamboo clippings to Strumpshaw Tip this morning, so I thought I might as well have a walk round before the rain arrived: in the event a few decent birds presented themselves - albeit mostly distantly!

Almost the first sound I heard as I walked through the wooded area past reception was the 'chewy...chewy' call of a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was travelling with a small tit flock, so although I'm pretty sure I glimpsed it a couple of times, I didn't manage a photo. Carrying on towards the river, I bumped into Ben: he'd not only heard the bird but seen it too: he reckoned it was a well-marked individual.

Tower Hide Scrape was rather deep, so the only waders were several Snipe: lots of elegant Shovelers and dapper little Teal, however. A KIngfisher perched briefly on the 'fish trap' in front of the hide: I obtained some reasonable images at the sluice on the way back to the car.

A brief stop in Fen Hide added Whinchat and Bearded Tit to the day list, but, again, the water levels are very high at the moment. Four Chinese Water Deer frisked about along the cut rides.

Having dumped the rubbish, I carried on to Buckenham. Although everything was a little far away, I managed to pick out Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel hunting over the marshes and belt of woodland. No passerines to add to the tally, but some interesting hybrids among the Canadas and Barnacles. A couple of Snipe were in front of the hide (so about half a mile away!)

Sunday 25 September 2016

Migrating Martins!

Every time I looked from my office window today, I saw a Martin ('though not the old friend I used to bird with - no idea where he's migrated to!) At times there were dozens passing over in mixed groups of both Sand and House Martins: I must've seen at least a couple of hundred...

While I was grabbing a snap or two, I caught a small passerine passing the crescent Moon: again, soooooo close! Final picture is some of the crowd of House Sparrows that Linda has lured into the garden with regular feeding: they breed in the hedges in some numbers these days - most welcome return after the dramatic decline of a few years ago.