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Sunday 30 April 2017

Beccles and back: raptors everywhere!

Linda and I had two good reasons for getting up early and driving to Beccles: the first was the biannual Antiques Fair which is always a good way to spend a couple of hours. The whole centre of the town is given over to antiques and collectables stalls and we managed to find a few items to add to our collections, as well as some delightful linen napkins for our next dinner party! After coffee and cake we drove back towards Norwich, heading north into the Yare Valley to check some data for a project of mine that's nearing completion.

We managed to see quite a good selection of raptors (despite the somewhat cool wind) including Red Kite, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier. It's interesting to note that our Marshies are increasingly adopting the continental behaviour of hunting over - and possibly nesting in - arable fields.

Saturday 29 April 2017

Two Hedgehogs!

Linda's trailcam recorded two Hedgehogs a couple of nights ago (she's only just downloaded the SD card!)
There seems to be a pair, which appear to have set up home under our garden shed!



Oh the frustration! At 9.45, as Linda and I were driving into Norwich on the A47, an immature White-tailed Eagle flew low over the road northwards (towards Whitlingham Country Park) Since it was only about 100 feet above us we had fabulous views but, with no camera in the car (I always have a camera as a rule!) and nowhere to stop, we had to be content with our terrific views of this amazing bird. It was HUGE! I've seen half a dozen in Norfolk before, but never this close..

After a quick shop, we came home early to phone RBA: amazingly there was a White Stork in a field south of the A47 just before the A146 turn-off - presumably a Thrigby bird.

In the absence of a photo, here's a somewhat crummy picture I drew of a Hickling WTE in November 1990!

Post script
A White-tailed Eagle was seen over Norwich shortly afterwards...

Friday 28 April 2017


Tonight, just before sunset, a largish bat flew around the garden two or three times. It appeared half as big again as the usual Pipistrelles and seemed to have a somewhat slower wing beat. Very poor images (3200 ISO!) but does anyone have any idea what species it might be?

I'm informed by Geoff Allen, who kindly took the time to e-mail me, that the bat has the bulk and shape of a Noctule Bat. Thanks Geoff!

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Hemblington Church: archaeology and botany-blitz!

Good friend Sue gave a talk today about the history and archaeology of our little church. As expected, the morning was an absolute delight: well-attended, beautifully delivered and followed by tea and cheese scones!  I learned a great deal that I hadn't suspected about the church and its surroundings, much of which was discovered during various renovations and building projects over the past few years.

The event was organised by the Bure Valley Conservation Group, under the stewardship of David Savory and Tina Woodrow, and two local botanists were on hand to undertake a mini-survey of the churchyard. As usual, I carried out a bird count, finding;

Blue Tit,
Great Tit,
Long-tailed Tit,
Lesser Black-backed Gull,
Wood Pigeon,
Collared Dove

The three in red are new for the churchyard (as far as I know!) Flying across the neighbouring fields and in the trees by the 'carpark',  I saw Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Treecreeper: not a bad haul for an isolated patch of hedges and poplars. Some of the more interesting plants are shown below, and include Oxlip, Cowslip, Meadow Saxifrage, Pig Nuts and Yellow Rattle.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

First Damselfly of the year and some hot Marsh Harrier action!

Tuesday is Brian's Ranger Day at the Fen, so I generally try to meet him for a walk round: despite the icy wind and threatening clouds, today was no exception.

The only obvious new migrants were hordes of Swallows, House and Sand Martins and the usual warblers. To be honest, very little came in range for a photo, although several beautifully-coloured male Marsh Harriers flew close by Fen Hide. Other birds included distant Cuckoo and Kingfisher, while the woods held a splendid carpet of Bluebells.

The first Odonata of the year were, predictably, several Large Red Damselflies: no sign of any Hairies yet!

Back home a smart Jackdaw has begun visiting the feeders regularly and Linda's Trailcam revealed that a large Hedgehog is back on nocturnal patrol: most welcome!

Monday 24 April 2017

Savi's Warbler at Hickling and a few other decent year ticks..

The weather forecast was, to say the least, unpromising, but I thought I'd dash out to Buckenham at 7.15 to see if I could catch up with Yellow Wag or Garganey: I didn't! However, the first half dozen Swifts of the year were most welcome, and there were a few photogenic Linnets and Water Deer along the path. As I was leaving, I bumped into a pleasant guy from Essex - Richard, I think - who'd just seen the Savi's at Hickling. Since it still wasn't raining (even after we'd enjoyed a longish chat about the various good birds we'd seen in Essex and Kent!) I thought I'd try my luck.

Parking at Potter church, I walked round to the hide overlooking Rush Hills Scrape, where a couple of birders were listening to the distinctive reeling from, perhaps, fifty yards into the reedbed. Eventually, after a few frustratingly fleeting glimpses, we all managed somewhat obscured views. Other interesting birds on site included two Spoonbills, two Whimbrel and a Hooded / Carrion Crow Hybrid. Several Bearded Tits and Groppers flitted about, and the other two picked out a distant Wheatear.