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Sunday 30 September 2018

More Astronomy!

Early this morning the Moon was in the constellation of Taurus, very close to the bright star Aldebaran: a spectacular sight!

Saturday 29 September 2018

The Moon's south polar region: a bit bashed about!

A few photos of the Moon taken around midnight. They show the region around the young ray-crater Tycho and reveal an incredibly pock-marked surface, evidence of countless major cometary and meteoric impacts. As you'd might conclude, the Earth must have been clobbered just as often (more, given it has a larger surface area) but erosion and subduction have destroyed much of the evidence, There are, however, still around two hundred confirmed impact structures on our planet, with an additional ten or more still being investigated.

Friday 28 September 2018

Bird survey at Hemblington and bright comet heads-up!

Today I carried out the monthly bird survey at Hemblington Church: gull numbers were somewhat inflated by muck spreading in a neighbouring field, but the raptor population obliged with four species in an hour!

One of the gulls looked a decent Caspian candidate: informed opinions gratefully received!

The best and brightest comet in a long while will pass close by the Earth on December 16th: it should brighten to mag +3 (the same as the stars in the Plough!) The comet will be close to the Pleiades / Heiades and should be really spectacular!

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Super crater fields on the Moon tonight

Here are some 'record shots' of the Moon using my 5" refractor: some terrific craters and great views of the Mare Crisium. Saturn was bright enough that I could see Titan, its largest Moon...

Stone Curlews in the Brecks...

Since Norman hadn't caught up with the Stone Curlew gathering on the edge of the Brecks this Autumn, we met early and were on site by 8.15. Despite the heavy traffic, the Stonies were most confiding: we counted 120+ of these astonishing birds!

A move to Lakenheath provided views of four of their star species: Kingfisher, Bittern, Bearded Tit and Hobby, but none were close enough for decent photography.

Last stop was Lackford, where the only hide with water in front of it was monopolised by an incredibly noisy bunch of middle-aged photographers: definitely a case of  'all the gear: no idea!' Not one of them even noticed the aerial combat between a Hobby and several corvids.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Bitterns galore and another look at the Pectoral Sandpipers

Norman and I met at Strumpshaw at around 7.00am, only to find that the valley was submerged in mist! As the Sun burnt through it revealed a juvenile Buzzard with a delightfully 'stripy' tail perched on the dead tree in front of Fen Hide. Other than a Little Grebe, nothing else noteworthy appeared, so we walked around to Tower Hide, disturbing a Peregrine in a dead tree by the river. Almost the first bird we saw was a Bittern. This was quickly followed by a second bird, then a third and then possibly a fourth (which appeared right over near the 'Doctor's Cottage'. As we were enjoying these excellent birds the Peregrine began yelping nearby - in fact, it sounded as if it were on the roof of the hide! No waders at all, but a somewhat drab Garganey was noteworthy.

Since Norman hadn't seen the Pectoral Sandpipers yet, we drove round to Buckenham, parking at the Station and walking down to the scrape. Sue Bryan and John were there, but told us the Pecs had wandered out of sight. For once I'd brought my telescope, so was able to locate both birds quite quickly: again, only very poor record shots were possible, but they looked great through the old Optolyth!

Monday 24 September 2018

Buckenham RSPB: Whinchats, Stonechats and Pectoral Sandpipers.

While Linda was giving her bees a good sorting out before the cold weather arrives, I took a quick run down to Buckenham for another look at the pair of Pec Sands that have been around since Saturday.

Lingwood birder Murray was on site and kindly showed me a Whinchat in his 'scope: since the Pecs were playing hard to get, I carried on to the anglers' car park for a closer look. In the event there were four Whinchats and three Stonechats along the fenceline: a mid-Yare record for me!

I walked back to a vantage point from which to scan the (distant) scrape and quickly located both the Pectoral Sandpipers feeding among the Ruff and Lapwing. I saw them in flight on a couple of occasions, but they never came particularly close (and, being a warm afternoon, the heat haze was ferocious compared to Saturday.)

Home to cook supper: langoustines and a bottle of Prosecco. Later, the full Moon was a splendid sight hanging above the eastern horizon.