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Friday 31 August 2018

Cockshoot Broad: terrific venue, but no Osprey!

Prompted by Steve G's terrific image, Linda and I spent a couple of hours in the hide at Cockshoot Broad, staying until 4.30pm. No sign of the Osprey, but Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard all put in an appearance, while a Kingfisher whirred past every now and again. Plenty of ducks and both common Grebes, as well as most of the expected Odonata... Just no Osprey!

Back at home, a couple of Painted Ladies and a Southern Hawker visited the Buddleia.

Spoonbills at Titchwell: don't believe eveything you read!

If record-keepers and bird news disseminators gather their information by scanning blogs and tweets, they need to spread their nets more widely and with greater discrimination! Increasingly frequently inaccuracies and misinformation appear on the various news sources and blogs.

A classic example yesterday: at Titchwell there were at least 25 Spoonbills in two groups spread along the back of the freshwater pool: you can pick out 22 of them in the 'stitched' panorama below. Everybody at Titchwell saw them (albeit distantly!) so we have to assume that the 'live news' tweets, blogs and maps - all of which reported just twelve Spoonies - use third-hand data at times. This no doubt accounts for the occasional wild goose chases, when birds are reported as still present (when they're not!) or missed opportunities (when birds are reported as departed when they're still present!)

Personally speaking, whenever possible, I prefer to get out in the field at a suitable venue and either find birds myself or ask others 'What's about?' I tend to use the online reports as a guide of what I might see, rather than as a focus for my days out

Thursday 30 August 2018

Great North Coast trip - but where were the Stonies?

With nothing particular to aim for, Linda, Brian and I headed westwards to what is usually the best pre-dispersal gathering site for Stone Curlews. In two trips on this date last year we found 80 and 140 birds: but not today! Not a single Stonie was to be seen!

We carried on to Titchwell, where there were a few bits and pieces, but mostly a long way away! Twenty-five Spoonbills poddled around the freshwater scrape, while I actually found a very distant Curlew Sandpiper on the Sea Pool. After lunch, we headed east to Cley, where the birds were at least a lot nearer! On the way (near Wiveton Hall) there was a 'kettle' of Buzzards: at least one looked good for a Honey, but Brian couldn't pull over...

Best birds at Cley were a couple of Greenshank, several young Little Ringed Plovers and a very photogenic Snipe: a path-side ditch held a family group of Reed Warblers.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

How's your music knowledge?

If you have a decent knowledge of all things musical (film themes, album covers, lyrics, artists) and four or five friends you might want to pencil in the December 1st Music Quiz at Blofield Heath. I'm the MC and will be playing one of the rounds live on guitar! There's food, a bar and some terrific prizes! Everything from John Williams to Johnnie Rotten!


Tuesday 28 August 2018

Still lots to see at Strumpshaw Fen!

With plenty of muddy fringes and little islands, there's a good selection of wading birds at the Fen at the moment. At least two Great White Egrets still, as well as over a dozen Grey Herons. Several Green Sandpipers flew around 'peeping' and a flock of a dozen Ruff fed in the shallows. Snipe could be seen from all three hides today: some kind of record?

Other interest came from two species of deer, fly-through Sandwich Tern and Peregrine and lots of Marsh Harriers, including several Mick Hucknall impersonators!

Monday 27 August 2018

Food prices set to rise! As are sales of Landrover Discoveries!

Are some farmers taking the p*ss?
* Not content with destroying insects, birds and wild flowers by spraying neonicotinoids and systemic herbicides all over  the landscape
* Not content with rooting out copses and hedgerows to increase their acreage
* Not content with draining dykes, dew ponds and pools for the same reason
* Not content with driving their tractors at high speed along narrow country lanes and at 10mph on trunk roads in the rush hour
* Not content with killing badgers, crows, foxes or anything else that dares walk or fly across their fields
* Not content with turning out bulls and bullocks on public rights of way
...they are now justifying huge hikes for arable, dairy and livestock prices, on the grounds that this year has been 'too cold, too hot, too dry, too wet'
The farmers in Broadland have been irrigating their crops (including potatoes and hay) throughout the Summer: because of the dry August, cereals were all harvested on time and yields have been good. Fruit farmers (including grapes!) have reported excellent yields...
If they spent less money on unnecessary toxic agrochemicals, shotgun cartridges and destruction of the countryside and its wildlife, they'd probably be able to afford THREE Discoveries this year instead of just the one!
I recognise the principle when I see it!


And just remember the thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables that are destroyed each week because they don't conform to supermarket and wholesalers' specifications!

An old friend of mine (he's actually had a number of top ten singles and albums!) replied to the above on another forum with a very good point:

As the value of the pound has dropped 25% against other currencies, you might think that imported food would become dearer, thus leaving a market advantage to home producers. Economics 101. Yes, p*ss has been taken.


Sparrowhawk standoff!

Regular visitors to this blog may recognise the oak tree in the photos below: it's in the fields at the end of my neighbours' garden Over the years I've seen an amazing variety of birds perched in its crown, from woodpeckers to Turtle Doves, Spotted Flycatchers, gulls and several species of raptor!

This Wood Pigeon was absolutely confident he could see off a Sparrowhawk that appeared next to him: he toughed it out until the raptor backed down and flew away!