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Saturday 31 August 2019

Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Great Egret and plenty of raptors: a snatched session at Strumpshaw Fen

With Linda busy with her bees and no meteorite business to occupy me I made the short drive to the Fen and took a walk around the reserve. No sign of yesterday's Osprey (although one of the vols was merrily pointing out a Buzzard to holiday makers!) but, having seen Brian's car in the parking area I knew he'd be around somewhere. I caught up with him in a pretty birdless Fen Hide: we decided to walk round to Tower Hide, stopping on the way to enjoy a beautiful little Hummer on the riverside Buddleia.

As expected, the recently-present Great White Egret was in its usual spot on the 'promontory', standing next to a Little Egret, showing off his olive-green lores and yellow bill. No Garganeys that we could see, but lots of Marsh Harriers and several groups of Buzzards, including one really striking pale bird. Last 'goodie' was a very battle-scarred Brown Hawker, posing unusually well along the woodland edge.


Friday 30 August 2019

Harsh winter on the way?

So-called 'old wives' tales' are often the synthesis of hundreds of years of handed-down observation. Staring at satellite images on a monitor may well suggest coming trends in the weather, but - let's be honest - how often have long-term plans been shattered by incorrect forecasts?

When I first started teaching in Norfolk (1972) I took over the Rural and Agricultural Studies Dept. of a large High School. Many of the pupils were the sons and daughters of farmers. Many went on to become successful in their own fields of agriculture and horticulture: I'm still in touch with a few of them! One lad called Dean was a mine of old country lore: one of his frequent sayings was that a heavy berry crop in the Autumn indicated that a harsh winter was ahead.

Well the berry and fruit crop in East Norfolk is astonishing this year: Guelder Rose, Dogwood, Blackberries, Elderberries and all the rest are laden down with fruit. It will be interesting to see if 'Dean's Maxim' proves correct!

Thursday 29 August 2019

Getting a buzz in the garden!

Linda's bees are still incredibly active at the moment and her clever planting strategy means that there's still plenty of pollen for them. The hives have not just generated a good yield of delightful, clear honey, but also golden bars of pure beeswax. This can be used for polishing furniture, but Linda also makes linen cloths impregnated with it: these are a terrific, environmentally-friendly alternative to clingfilm!

The Migrant Hawker spent most of the day hunting around the garden before settling down on the Buddleia to roost...

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Curlew, Wood and Green Sandpipers: a North Coast dash

Norman only had a half day free, so he, Brian and I met early and were at Titchwell by 7.40. No sign of any Whinchats, but Great White Egret, three self-found Curlew Sandpipers and lots of Spoonbills were good to see. A move down the coast to Wells North Pool added a dozen more Spoonbills, but little else, so we carried on to Cley for coffee.

The centre hides were the place to be, and we soon added lots of both Green and Wood Sandpipers as well as a very distant Little Stint.

A brace of sandpipers: Wood and Green!

A couple of videos of two of the highlights of today's run along the North Coast: video clips of Wood and Green Sandpipers from Dauke's Hide, Cley.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Egret gathering at Strumpshaw Fen

Having photographed the occultation and completed my monthly survey at Hemblington Church, I carried on to Strumpshaw to meet Norman and Brian. Very little on offer from Fen Hide, apart from a dapper little Sparrowhawk and a few Migrant Hawkers, so (once Brian had arrived) we moved on to Tower Hide. As expected, with water levels being nice and low for once, there were lots of Herons - 20+ in fact. Joining in the feast were a Great Egret and a Little Egret, both most welcome! A Kingfisher flew through a couple of times before I went home for breakfast: Linda and I then made a flying visit into Norwich to pick up a guitar from Cooke's and some bee equipment.