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Saturday 31 March 2018

Four Spoonbills at Buckenham Marsh: what a difference a day makes!

Having seen Steve Smith's 'tweet' about four Spoonies at Buckenham, I was out of the door and driving through the rain by 7.30. With incredible timing the Sun popped out as I arrived and I was able to walk down to the hide in a brief spell of fine weather. On the way I picked up a decent group of Avocets (20+) sharing the large scrape with a Great and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. I could see the Spoonbills over towards the old windpump: they were quite close to the path with a few Little Egrets, Wigeon and Teal (You can see one photo-bombing the Wigeon-in-flight shot!)

Just before I reached the hide, a dog walker drove past, parked and released four Labradors and a Jack Russell, which ran off along the top of the river bank, flushing everything. The Spoonbills relocated further into the marsh, so I waited for the walker and his dogs to carry on along the skyline towards the windpump, before following along the dedicated trackway. I managed some decent views of the Spoonbills (one of which seemed to have been ostracised by the others!) before retuning to the car, seeing a well-marked Buzzard on the way.

Friday 30 March 2018

Slim pickings at Strumpshaw Fen

Hoping to catch up with yesterday's pair of Garganey, I made a dawn start at the Fen. The early Sun soon turned to a misty overcast, followed by rain, so despite a walk out to Tower Hide (through the Somme-like mud!) the only new birds were a few Chiffchaffs. Lots of Cettis were calling and two Bitterns boomed at opposite ends of the reserve.

Nice to bump into ex-pupil and keen birder Tina (although chatting with her about families made me feel even older than my arthritic hip is doing!)

Thursday 29 March 2018

Little Ringed Plovers - back on the patch!

Following this morning's alarums and excursions, Linda and I had to go shopping in a crowded supermarket to make sure we had the bits and pieces we needed for Linda's  birthday dinner party next week. We decided to stop off on the way home and see if last year's LRPs had returned to breed: they have!

At first we had to be content with a pair of Oystercatchers, but after five minutes or so the delightful little waders flew in across nearby trees, touched down and began to preen...

Child-centred! Potential Darwin Award winners!

Yes, I'll admit: I've had a stressful morning - Hospital and medical appointments among other dramas. Driving home, I turned into our small cul-de-sac, slowing down to a walking pace, because some moron always parks a Land Rover right by the corner.

A little further on, two kids of about 10 years of age were lying in the middle of the road! I virtually stopped, thinking they might have fallen over or something: but no - they looked up, then carried on fiddling with the toboggan (in the sunshine???)  or similar that they were playing with. I hooted a warning: that's what car horns are for! The two boys stood up and ambled off to their front garden, where their mother was mowing the lawn.

I carried on and parked on our drive: within seconds the woman came strutting over like a galleon under sail, ranting and raving about how I'd scared her poor little boys. I tried to be polite - I was polite - pointing out that lying in the middle of a road is not a great idea, and that all I'd done was warn them of my approach. She carried on screaming, so I left her to it.
What sort of example is she setting the two boys? That nothing they do is wrong, or carries consequences?

This is where we are in the modern UK...  As an ex-teacher with forty year's service, I, more than many people, acknowledge that young people have rights: but they also have responsibilities and should surely also be imbued with a little consideration for other members of the community and a sense of personal danger.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Beautiful Woodlarks in the Brecks.

Despite the constant fine rain Brian and I met at 7.30 and headed south to Santon Downham. We sat in the car until the weather cheered up a bit, photographing Nuthatches, Redwings and other bits and pieces before walking the river bank between the two bridges. We heard - but didn't see - a Lesser Spot, and had to be content with murky views of a Grey Wagtail: no sign of any Crossbills...

A move to our regular Goshawk location provided just coffee and sandwiches from a nearby garage, so we headed back south to Lynford. The Arboretum was grey and gloomy under the drizzle, but we added distant Hawfinches and Bramblings to the day list, as well as all the usual Tits and a Treecreeper.

Last stop was a nearby clearing which is always good for Woodlarks: today was no exception and we saw and heard at least a dozen. With the rain intensifying it was time to head home: a great day out in difficult circumstances.

Monday 26 March 2018

Found it! Petavius and Palitzsch

Some months back I posted a photo I'd taken of the lunar craters Petavius, Palitzsch and the crater-chain that lies next to them. I commented at the time that I'd once done a painting of this curious pair when I was about fourteen or fifteen, using observations from my small telescope. I thought the painting was long-lost, but it turned up in the loft while I was searching for a book. Although it's not of any particular merit, it was painted over fifty years ago, so I've framed it and hung it on the office wall (with a few more of my artistic efforts!)

I've added a few close ups, as well as a photo of me chatting about painting with Astronaut Alan Bean (who is a terrific artist!)



Sunday 25 March 2018

Buzzards over the Heath...

Predictably - given the fine weather - the skies above our garden were filled with displaying Buzzards today: up to three pairs at any one time. Now and again a Kestrel or Sparrowhawk would intervene! Eyes open for an Osprey any day now!