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Tuesday 30 April 2019

Keeping it local: Strumpshaw Fen

Despite the lure of a Red-footed Falcon in Suffolk and a Great Spotted Cuckoo on the north coast, I met Brian at the Fen as usual. In truth we saw a lot more birds than we could photograph, but it was a pleasant walk with lots to enjoy.

Fen Hide produced distant views of a Kingfisher but little else, while the walk to Tower Hide along the riverside added Garden Warbler, two Bitterns and a Cuckoo. From Tower Hide there was little to enjoy: once again the water has been maintained at such a high level that there's nowhere for Herons or waders to stop and feed, nor any grassy fringing for wildfowl to roost: how different from past years when we were able to enjoy groups of five Great Egrets, three species of Sandpiper and a long-staying Glossy Ibis... I did pick out a distant Wood Sandpiper on the mowed area opposite the hide, while Ben Lewis showed us images of two Spotted Redshank that had found the only shallow water on the west side of Lackford Run. A few House Martins moved through: amazingly these were a year tick!

Back at home, the Jackdaws that have moved into our owl box are eating us out of house and home: they have a particular fondness for suet blocks!

Sunday 28 April 2019

Black-winged Stilt - the movie!

Just a couple of short clips of the beautiful BWS at Potter Heigham…

Friday 26 April 2019

Black-winged Stilt at Potter Heigham

Since Linda was having a day out with her grandchildren, I was free to leave home early and walk the mile or so from Potter Heigham to the well-known 'Tin Hut' on the northern side of the scrape. The very first bird I saw on the water was the Black-winged Stilt: just twenty yards away, but annoyingly up-sun. Nevertheless, by winding up the backlight feature on my Pentax, I managed a few reasonable images. Lots of Med Gulls flying about, as well as a few Godwits and the usual ducks. A great short session!

I'm pleased to be able to report that I met a considerate dog owner! I expect the vast majority are, but this very pleasant gentleman had his miniature Schnauzer under control on a short lead, while his beautifully-obedient Labrador never left his side. A refreshing change!

The Moon and Saturn

This morning, just before dawn, the Moon and Saturn were quite close in the southern sky. The Moon's terminator cut down through what is generally regarded as its richest crater field: I've labelled some of the more distinct ones...

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Minsmere fill-up: Groppers, Savis, Firecrests and much more!

Norman picked up Brian and me at around 7.30 for a run down to the Suffolk Coast. We were sort of hoping for a Ring Ouzel, but that was in fact the only species we failed to find!

From Island Mere we had somewhat distant views of at least four Bitterns, while - to our amazement - there were two Savi's Warblers reeling away! Since both sexes 'sing', this could be an exciting event! The walk around to the Sluice Bushes added Bearded Tit and Grasshopper Warbler to the tally, while overhead Mediterranean Gulls gave their strange Eider-like calls.

Looking for the reported Firecrest in the Sluice Bushes seemed a little 'needle / haystacky ' but Norman beat the odds by finding it in just a few minutes! We all enjoyed super views of this ultra-confiding bird.

The walk back along the beach gave us Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Sandwich Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit, while (courtesy of a ranger's scope) we added Stone Curlew to the yearlist.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Yare Valley tick: Wood Sandpiper.

Funnily enough I'd never seen a Wood Sandpiper in the Yare Valley before, so today's bird, although far too distant, was very welcome. It was stooging about with a couple of Redshanks and a Snipe on the recently-mown area opposite Tower Hide.

A walk around with Brian and Adrian added a few birds of note, including the first Cuckoo and Common Tern of the year. I also caught glimpses of a Grasshopper Warbler, lots of Cetti's and a Chiffchaff with a very unusual trill at the end of its usual disyllabic call. Two Bitterns were booming all morning, one of which flew across in front of Fen Hide: the photo is Brian's.

The Moon and Jupiter

A beautiful conjunction in the southern sky at 4.15 this morning: also, a really 'peachy' dawn.


Monday 22 April 2019

Hobby over the Heath!

Last week I thought I'd seen a Hobby at Winterton while looking for the Hoopoe: in the event it turned out to be a small male Peregrine. Today, however, while cleaning out the pond filters, I glanced up to see a definite Hobby wheeling high overhead. Just time for a single photo as it hurried southwards, but good enough for jazz!

Sunday 21 April 2019

Norfolk Showground Antiques Fair: a couple of incredible bargains!

Linda and I left home early and were browsing in the sunshine before 8.45. Almost the very first stall produced the finds of the day: a one metre museum replica Ichthyosaur skeleton and a huge slab of Barytes crystals (around 50cm, with a mass of 2kg) The skeleton cost just £15: online it sells for £150 - £200, while the crystal slab was just a few pounds more! These are already installed in the garden (too large for indoors) and look really terrific.

Antique fairs are held twice a year at the Showground: typically it's cold or pouring with rain, so today was a pleasant change! Lots to look at: Linda bought some jewellery and a few more 'bits' for the garden. We were tempted by a wrought iron plant stand and some antique glasses to add to our small collection, but resisted in the end!