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Wednesday 31 January 2018

Super blue Moon and all that hype!

Just to avoid disappointment:

1) The Moon is slightly nearer the Earth tonight, and will appear around 14% larger (Since it is the size of a pea at arm's length, that's negligible!)
2) The eclipse won't be visible from the UK
3) The Moon won't appear 'blue'!

Still: a full Moon just above the horizon is always a beautiful sight....

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Raptors at the Fen

Brian, Norman, Mike and I met at the Fen this morning: nice to hear everyone's news, although to be honest, there wasn't much about.

Main interest came from the large numbers of Marsh Harriers (over a dozen) and their interaction with a well-marked Buzzard (who's become a bit of a fixture recently) A few Pinkfeet drifted west, as did a couple of Bewick Swans.

Classic Rock Show at the Theatre Royal.

As the second element of my birthday treat, Linda had booked tickets for the Classic Rock Show at the Theatre Royal, Norwich.

I have to say it was a splendid evening with the most astonishing levels of musicianship ('Jump' by Van Halen was particularly impressive) If you get the chance to see them, do!

Monday 29 January 2018

Every cloud has a silver lining...

You could never accuse the neighbours on the eastern border of our garden of being particularly considerate: several years ago they cut down a tree in our shared hedge that was the traditional nesting site for 'our' Turtle Doves (which have never returned since.) Their side of the boundary was marked by a twenty foot high Leylandii hedge which was rarely trimmed and which prevented me seeing comets, planets and so on  at the prime time just before sunrise.

Three days ago (with absolutely no discussion or warning) a team arrived and started to remove the whole hedge: it remains to be seen what the impact of this will be on our garden birds and what future developments might occur.

One tiny glimmer of comfort: Linda and I spent all day Friday buying and installing blinds for the windows on our east side (we hadn't needed any before!) As I raised the ones on my office window this morning the first thing I saw was a group of four Common Cranes flying south east towards Strumpshaw!

Sunday 28 January 2018

Hemblington Church birdwatch

Thanks to the hard work of the Friends of Hemblington Church, this year's RSPB garden birdwatch was once again a great success. The advance publicity and the fine weather at the start of the day brought good numbers to the church, including lots of youngsters, who enjoyed being photographed and interviewed by the EDP journalists (one of whom I'd taught years ago!) Local birder Mike joined Peter and me for five hours of light-hearted birdwatching and chat with the steady stream of visitors. You can read the EDP's take on events HERE (And no: I never claimed we'd seen 100 species!)

Around midday the clouds rolled over and the temperature dropped considerably (making Sue's parsnip and pear soup even more popular!). The number of different birds of  a pleasing variety of species steadily grew, highlights being three Marsh Harriers, two Pink-footed Geese, several 'blue' Pheasants,  half a dozen Mistle Thrushes and a flock of Fieldfares. Other non-bird wildlife included six delightful Brown Hares. (Numbers of birds would have probably been higher had the local landowner not decided to hold a pheasant shoot!)

Back home to lay the table for a Burns Night supper of veggie haggis en croute with Linda, Peter and Sue!


Friday 26 January 2018

RSPB Garden Birdwatch

It's that time of year again!

Tomorrow I'll be 'birder in residence' at Hemblington Church from 10 am until 4.00pm. The object is to count the number of birds of all species that visit the churchyard. With luck Peter R will be there some of the time: four eyes are better than two! This time last year we managed a creditable fifty one species, including Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Pink-footed Goose.

There'll be soup, tea and coffee and cake, sales of which are all in a good cause: do come along if you have a spare half hour!

Thursday 25 January 2018

Coues's Redpoll, Glossy Ibis and Dartford Warblers: a Suffolk fill-up!

Since Linda had to visit the dentist in Norwich and Norman and Brian weren't available, I headed south east on my own! First stop was Eastbridge, where the sub-adult Glossy Ibis was immediately visible in flooded meadows by the road bridge. Nice to share this beautiful bird with Gary and John Richardson (no relation!)

Next stop was Hazelwood Common near Aldborough for seconds of the Coues's Arctic Redpoll. Nice and sunny today and this delightful snowball put on a good show for the fortunate gallery.

After a futile search for Goosanders at Thorpe Ness (where I bumped into old acquaintances Isobel and Peter!) I continued north to Dunwich. Leaving my smart new National Trust card on the dashboard, I walked the circuit, catching distant glimpses of about a dozen Dartford Warblers and hearing the song of at least one Woodlark.



Wednesday 24 January 2018

The shepherds got it right today!

A fabulously colourful sunrise was followed by a dreary, drizzly day here in East Norfolk: still - it was an incentive to do some work on the new book and get some orders wrapped and ready to post!

Monday 22 January 2018

Little Owls at Strumpshaw

Today (on the way back from the recycling centre) Linda noticed that the Little Owls were visible in their usual tree: always a relief to see they are still present!

I popped out with the camera later: it was a little gloomy by the time I arrived, but I managed a couple of photos of one.