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Monday 31 July 2017

Dark Green Fritillaries at Horsey and a Hummer in the garden!

After a run to the Post Office, Linda and I decided on a drive out to Horsey Gap to search for Dark Green Frits.
In the event we didn't need to look very hard: we encountered 20 - 30 at the first patch of wild flowers (opposite the pill box!)

Other butterflies included Gatekeeper, Small Copper and Small Heath, though - strangely - no sign of any Graylings yet.

Other interesting fauna included Grey and Common Seals, Norfolk Hawker and lots of young Stonechats. As I was mowing the lawn later a mint-fresh Humming Bird Hawkmoth investigated the Buddleia: what a great year it's been for them!

Sunday 30 July 2017

Raptor passage over the Heath!

Having just returned from our week away, a lot of garden maintenance was called for before the rain returns! Whilst mowing the lawn I heard the unmistakable 'yip yip yip yip' of a Red Kite: I ran indoors for a camera, in time to watch it being chased off by three Buzzards. One of these thoughtfully returned to pose for a couple of photos!

After lunch, Linda and I investigated a local  venue for beekeeping: looks possible if we can obtain the right permissions. As we walked around, I found an Essex Skipper, which is a new species for me so close to home!

Saturday 29 July 2017

Orwell Astronomical Society event in Ipswich

A very early start for Linda and me as we drove the fifty or so miles to Suffolk University on the Ipswich Quayside. A somewhat long day (from 5.00am until 6.00pm) was quite successful, both in terms of sales and outreach. We met lots of old friends and enjoyed observing the Sun, both projected and using a Coronado H-alpha solar scope. The East Anglian Rocket Society had some incredible missiles, including a 1/5 scale V2: most impressive!

Great to chat with rock-star astro-imager Nik Szymanek and other familiar faces before driving home through the pouring rain.

Friday 28 July 2017

Punching above his weight!

This Small Tortoiseshell was obviously feeling full of himself this afternoon: I wonder if interspecific breeding is possible with butterflies?

Last day: Lynford Arboretum

With a less than impressive weather forecast, we enjoyed a home-cooked 'full English' before heading west to the Brecks - one of Linda's favourite parts of East Anglia. We arrived at Lynford Arboretum early enough to be the first people on site, which proved to be fortuitous. No sign of any of the recently reported Hawfinches, but some judicious feeding on the bridge piers soon attracted a good range of woodland species: Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Blue and Great Tit all posed for the camera!

A walk around the paddocks added Spotted Flycatcher to the daylist, as well as a pair of Grey Wagtails, feeding young by the lake outfall sluice. The Buddleias held good numbers of butterflies, including a smart Painted Lady.

After lunch at 'Brown's' and with the weather growing increasingly threatening, we navigated back through the narrow lanes to Cretingham, having decided to cut short our break and return home. After packing, we took a final walk, eventually locating the fishing lake hidden among the trees on the golf course. Lots more Buzzards and Green Woodpeckers, as well as two species of very large hover flies.

And so home for fish and chips and thunder storms! A terrific break in a beautiful part of England...



Thursday 27 July 2017

Flatford Mill and Lavenham

On Wednesday we drove South to the Suffolk / Essex border, where the two counties are divided by the River Stour. First stop was Flatford Mill, which really hasn't changed since Constable painted Willy Lott's cottage a couple of centuries ago. We took a walk along the river bank, enjoying close views of a pair of Grey Wagtails while looking out for White-legged Damselflies, which are reputed to exist here: we didn't find any!

Next stop was Lavenham, an incredible little town with cottages and houses dating back to every architectural period from medieval to modern, with plenty of examples of each! We enjoyed lunch in a delightful tearoom, before checking out the antique shops: we found several odds and ends for our Wade collection, including a 'blow up' Thumper for which we've been searching for ages!

Heading back into Suffolk, we visited Ampton to renew acquaintances with the village's flock of Tree Sparrows: what charming little birds these are. Since we were passing the Suffolk Owl Trust at Stonham Barns, we dropped in for a look round. It was interesting to see some amazing raptors at close quarters, but they all looked really miserable, trapped in their tiny enclosures...