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Monday 30 April 2018


Among our conservation group at Hemblington Church we have archaeologists, ornithologists, botanists, lepidopterists etc etc, but no-one who knows about lichens!

If anyone out there is an expert on these fascinating organisms, we'd be most grateful for I/d help!

Sunday 29 April 2018

Feels just like Spring!

As I was working in the office (having enjoyed Lewis Hamilton's lucky-for-once victory!) I glanced out to see a couple of Common Swifts hunting around our big Sycamore tree. One Swallow does not, of course, make a Summer.... but two Swifts?

Saturday 28 April 2018

Wash out!

Linda was in Ipswich on a beekeeping course: the book is finished, so I was anticipating a day's birding. The weather had other ideas! It's rained here in East Norfolk all day, so given my propensity for pneumonia, I decided to spend the day working out a few guitar pieces: my favourite was 'She's Waiting' by Eric C, which has terrific power chords...

A lovely, gentle pair of Stock Doves spent the day in the garden, while overhead a Police helicopter searched the neighbourhood for a missing man...

Friday 27 April 2018

At the printers: 'Spacerocks: a collectors guide'

Exciting times!
My latest book is ready to go to the printers and should be available on Amazon, eBay etc in a week or two.

I've been lucky enough to have the foreword written by internationally-renowned astrophotographer and lecturer Nik Szymonek: a real coup!

This is the longest of my six currently-available titles and I have to say, I'm really proud of it, not the least because I think it does exactly what the cover promises!

Thursday 26 April 2018

Many a 'slip! Bio-blitz at Hemblington

Four times a year a group comprising some 'Friends of Hemblington Church' undertake a bio-blitz in the churchyard: today was the year's first, carried out by Linda, Sue, Peter, Joyce, Tricia and myself.

Despite the cool, blustery wind we had quite a good 'haul': just three species of butterfly, but ten species of bee, sixteen birds, and some excellent and unusual wildflowers.

There can't be that many sites where you can find Cowslip, Oxlip, False Oxlip (a hybrid of the two!) and Primrose growing in one small area. There were also some Meadow Saxifrage and Pig Nut plants, among others!


Wednesday 25 April 2018

American Bittern: fourth fruitless attempt!

In view of the fabulous images taken over the past couple of days, I thought I'd grab a window of opportunity and head out to Carlton Marshes.

To cut to the chase: I stood at the end of 'the dyke' for seven hours, during which time no-one present saw the Bittern. Twice Eurasian Bitterns flew short distances, but they had nothing about them to suggest a more exotic origin!

I finally left just after five as it started to rain: possibly the weather might've improved and possibly the bird showed later, but none of the well-known Tweeters I left behind posted that they'd been lucky.... so why was it on RBA as definitely there?

A few interesting birds came and went: two Swifts, several House and Sand Martins, a Greenshank and a flock of Avocets were about the pick. In all honesty, the best part of the day was chatting to a great couple from Cambridge and a really nice bloke from Bexley Heath: it's the personalities you meet that can make birding all worthwhile!

Will I try again? Possibly: but I'll take a stool and a decent packed lunch if I do!

Flower Bees!

We now have good numbers of Hairy-footed Flower Bees (Anthophora plumipes) visiting the garden! Their preference seems to be the brightly-coloured pulmonarias in the margins and their incredibly loud buzzing contrasts with the quiet humming of Linda's honey bees.

I must say: the difference between the dark females and the tawny males (with their yellowish faces and leathery 'stab vests') is very striking!

Tuesday 24 April 2018

A sky-full of Cuckoos!

I'd arranged to meet Brian at the Fen this morning, so (despite the threat of rain and a horrid summer cold) I was installed in Fen Hide by 7.30. As well as Brian, the usual crowd were there: Brian and Ann S and Kevin. The only thing missing was some birds!

Brian and I decided to take a walk and almost immediately came across the first of at least four Cuckoos in a riverside tree: another was perched on a gate in the meadow. A few Cetti's and Blackcaps were more or less it as we walked to Tower Hide, which was similarly unproductive until a pair of Common Terns flew in: the male got lucky for the price of a fish lunch!

The rest of the walk round added two further Cuckoos (we could hear three and see a fourth at the same time) but little else. I decided to carry on to Buckenham (bumping into Mike J) to look for Garganeys: none of those, but 20 Avocets and a dozen Ruff were noteworthy.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Booted Eagle at Strumpshaw

I don't know who reported the Booted Eagle at the Fen this afternoon, nor even what phase it was: but I wonder if it might have been this beautifully-marked Buzzard that drifted over the Heath in that direction? It was not only strikingly-marked, but hovered frequently. (A curiously-marked female Marsh Harrier at SF is often reported as a Booted!)

Saturday 21 April 2018

Charity treasure hunt

This afternoon Linda and I joined our friends Sue and Peter for a six mile walk around Blofield Heath, Pedham and Hemblington. The object was to interpret clues and answer questions: we reckon we did pretty well!

This is a beautiful place to live, and on this sunny Spring day the hedgerows and verges were full of wild flowers, including one delicate, daffodil-like bloom none of us could identify.

Overhead the first Swallows curved through the skies, while four or five Buzzards enjoyed the gentle breeze. One very pale individual hovered for minutes at a time just like a Rough-leg !