Wednesday, 14 November 2018

King Eider, Twite and much more on the North Coast

With nothing obvious to chase after, Brian, Norman and I decided to walk out from Blakeney Quay to see if we could find any winter finches.

After spending a few minutes enjoying the waterfowl in the pen by Blakeney Quay, we walked out t0 the usual metal gate, where Brian quickly found a flock of twenty or so Twite: once they'd settled on the fence we managed a few shots in poor light.

A move to Cley Beach failed to produce anything other than Gannets and the expected geese so, after coffee and scones, we carried on east to Sheringham. There had been no sign of the King Eider, so we strolled along the prom to the 'Mackerel' cafĂ©, being joined by two utterly charming visitors, 'D' and Debbie. While we were all enjoying close views of a confiding Purple Sandpiper, I was pleased to refind the Eider, miles out by the danbuoys.

Last port of call was Winterton where, after a long walk, we eventually found a flock of twenty or so Snow Buntings. A great day out!


As I was getting ready for a day out with the 'Summer Wine Posse', I paused to enjoy the sunrise. The colours changed continuously and made a spectacular backdrop to our 'Meganeura'

Meanwhile our three crabs came out to play when I put on the actinic lights in their tank!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A Bittern saves the day at Strumpshaw....

I suppose it's that time of year, when migration has all but finished and temperatures are not low enough to bring timid residents like Water Rails out into the open: I've never known Strumpshaw so devoid of birdlife as it was this morning. Apart from a couple of Buzzards and the usual Marsh Harriers, hardly any birds put in an appearance from 7.00am until I left at 10.45. There wasn't a single duck or goose in front of Tower Hide! However, the day was saved by a small, dark Bittern, which, having been disturbed by the reed cutters, flew in front of Fen Hide.

A move to Buckenham added a flock of Barnacle Geese and a mini-murmuration of Starlings to a meagre day-list!

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Moon and Saturn

The planets, Sun and Moon all appear to travel across the sky through a narrow region known as the ecliptic. The reason, of course, is that the majority of the bodies in the solar system lie on the same plane: a simple analog would be a fried egg, with the Sun as the yolk with everything else orbiting through the 'white'! The Moon's orbit around the Earth also lies close to this plane (although it is slightly 'tipped' and hence wanders above and below the ecliptic.)

As a result, the various bodies can occasionally appear to come together in the sky - this is called a conjunction. Last night the Moon and Saturn were very close as the Moon set in the west: I attach a photo, with Saturn enlarged.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday

The Church and Community Centre combined to produce an afternoon of talks, reminiscences, singing, tea and stickies, followed by the lighting of a beacon and playing of the Last Post. A wonderful day of tribute and community spirit...

Piper at the gates of dawn...

Linda and I joined around 90 villagers to listen to Rory - the organist at Hemblington Church - piping in the dawn of Remembrance Sunday. It was a very moving and enjoyable experience and the sense of community was absolutely wonderful. Remarkably, it was a lovely clear morning and the ISS passed through Orion as we waited...

At 4.30 today I'm giving a short talk about my two grandfathers' recollections of WW1 at Heathlands, in the village.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

New marine tank

Linda and I aren't strangers to tropical reef-keeping: twenty years ago we were at the fore-front of the hobby with a huge reef system maintained by two Tunze racks and two protein skimmers. These days things are a lot more straight forward: our little 30 litre TMC 'cube' is literally plug and play - although you still have to mature the filtration system for a week or two before adding any livestock. (having said which, we do have a Hermit Crab and two Emerald Crabs to help 'load' the system!)