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Wednesday 31 May 2017

Swallowtails and Hobbies: a productive morning in the Bure Valley...

Just for a change (and because we only had half the day available) Brian and I visited a couple of the Bure Valley's charming and unspoiled reserves. The first (famous for its Odonata) gave us all the expected blue damselflies, as well as hordes of Four-spotted Chasers, Norfolk Hawkers, Hairies and the first Black-tailed Skimmers of the year. Lots of raptors: Hobbies, Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Kestrels, while at least one Bittern was booming from the reedbeds.
Best of all, though, was a mint-fresh Swallowtail, looking somehow more impressive when not perched on specially planted Sweet Williams!

We called in at Ranworth for a cup of coffee and were thrilled to see a second immaculate Swallowtail, this time on Yellow Flag Iris. Also worth watching were the Common Terns, which were very adept at catching quite sizable Roach!

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Another trailcam mystery!

In the middle of a long sequence of video clips showing cats, hedgehogs etc, Linda's trailcam recorded this peculiar image!

There is nothing in the garden that resembles this curious vertical light bar and it doesn't appear before or after the three sequences on which it features!

Monday 29 May 2017

Norfolk Hawkers and more stunning Hobbies

We're having new flooring laid tomorrow, so most of the day was spent unscrewing beds and dismantling flatpacked bedroom furniture: not my favourite pastimes!

I skipped lunch and headed to Strumpshaw on the offchance of a clearwing moth - in the event, not even a sniff! However, at least four Hobbies were dashing around the western end of the reserve (which was heaving with bank holidaymakers) and suddenly there were Norfolk Hawkers patrolling the dykes in pairs. Lots of Hairy Hawkers too and plenty of damselflies: Azure, Common Blue and Blue-tailed, mostly.

The notorious male Marsh Harrier was doing his best to persuade those who can't count above four that he was a Montagu's: I overheard several people claiming it as such and one as a Hen Harrier!

A very tame Jay has taken up residence by the new dipping pool: strange to recollect that when 'my' team won the national 24 hour birdrace we failed to find a Jay: they are much more widespread now, IMHO!

Nice to bump into several of my old Acle VCP students: hard to believe that the first class of eleven year-olds I taught there are now in their forties!


Sunday 28 May 2017

Garden year ticks...

Nothing rare in the greater scheme of things, but Painted Ladies - particularly mint-fresh ones like that which graced the front garden this afternoon - are always welcome. Carrion Crows, likewise, are not common here on the Heath, so two in our garden today was impressive, especially since they were part of a swarm of corvids that included Rooks, Jackdaws. Magpies and Jays!

Yesterday's Buzzard returned, immediately recognisable by its symmetrical moult.



Saturday 27 May 2017

Mammatus clouds

These beauties passed over the Heath while I was mowing the lawn today: amazingly, despite hanging down from an enormous cumulo-nimbus, they only dropped a tiny bit of rain. I assume someone, somewhere got the benefit!

Friday 26 May 2017

Strumpshaw Fen: hotter than St Tropez!

Always worth a look round the Fen, especially if you can arrive before 7.30: that's particularly true at the moment, given that birds seem just as uncomfortable with the sudden high temperatures as we are!

This morning an early start provided good views of Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier and Hobby, while Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Cetti's and Chiffchaffs were still in good voice! Lots of interesting insects, including this smart longhorn beetle and several species of dragon and damselfly. No Swallowtails while I was there: I think the low numbers of caterpillars last year may have resulted in a poor hatch of these splendid butterflies...

By the way: worth mentioning that birds appreciate you providing water more than they do food when it's hot: we have a pond, a splash pool and two bird-baths, all of which are receiving steady custom at the moment! Having said which, this greedy juvenile Starling took some extricating from the feeder: I'm pleased to report he flew off none the worse for wear!