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Sunday 31 May 2020


As some of you may remember: up until a few years ago Linda and I were international dealers in space and aviation memorabilia. We no longer sell our framed displays commercially, but occasionally make a few specials for friends or old customers. Here are four I finished today: three of them contain small items that actually flew in space!

Lockdown: the final total!

Unless we're subject to a 'second peak', tomorrow sees a return to something like normality. I wasn't tempted to become involved in a scrum to see the Squacco Heron at Bayfield Lake today, but as time goes by I'm sure things will become a little less hectic. With this in mind, it seems appropriate to close my 'lockdown list' tonight: every bird on it was seen or heard in compliance with government guidelines and, given that my strict local patch is in the middle of fairly barren farmland, I reckon 106 species was a pretty reasonable total. My favourite discoveries were two local Little Owl sites and a Kingfisher just ten minutes from the front door. I never did 'get' a Meadow Pipit!

Comet Swan: finally!

Last night the sky was amazingly clear, so, having watched the Spacex launch on TV, Linda and I drove to the top of the Heath where there is a 360 degree clear horizon. After a brief panic (camera failure, necessitating a return home to pick up a replacement!) the ISS appeared on time, albeit quite low in the west. The Dragon spacecraft was scheduled to follow around five minutes later, but sadly the sky was still too bright (at 10.30!) to catch a glimpse.

Returning home I realised that the constellation Auriga was fairly well placed for a comet hunt! Swan has, like most recent comets, been a bit of a disappointment and last night was no exception. Knowing the location of the main stars of Auriga, I just managed to pick out the elusive greenish fuzz, but the photographs required loads of fine tuning to even suggest the comet!

The Moon was absolutely stunning last night, so here are a couple of photos!

Saturday 30 May 2020

A final lockdown tick!

Since we are all to be granted considerably more freedom on Monday, my 'lockdown list' will close on Sunday night. I've really enjoyed the excitement of adding 'everyday birds' to the burgeoning total and I have to admit to being quite pleased with a final score of 116. And the last species to be added? Believe it or not: Great Crested Grebe! I finally connected with a few at Ranworth Maltsters Broad this morning, together with Swallows, House Martins and Common Terns. I'll post the final list later on: never did 'get' a Meadow Pipit!

In other news: still lots of Buzzards about, much to the apparent irritation of the local crow population...

Fascinating features on the Moon last night!

The Lunar X and V are lighting effects when light and shadow produce the appearance of a letter 'X' on the rim of the crater Blanchinus and a 'Y' by the crater Ukert. The effect is only visible for a few hours before the Moon reaches first or last quarter. So if you didn't see it last night, you've got a fortnight to wait! (Click to enlarge!)

Friday 29 May 2020

Bird survey at Hemblington Church

Today a suitably socially-distanced team (well: Peter, Sue, Linda and I) carried out the usual periodic survey of birds, wild plants, insects and mammals in the local churchyard. As you might know, it's a beautiful location, with a small copse and a belt of tall Poplar trees, so there's usually something to look at! Here's the list of the birds we saw 'in or over' the Church, as well as a few photos for atmosphere! If anyone's interested in the other data we've collected over the years, just let me know!

Every boy needs a Hobby!

At ten o'clock this morning, I glanced up from my monitor to see a Hobby circling high over the garden, fairly rapidly drifting westwards. I grabbed a camera and rushed into the garden in time to take a few very badly exposed shots: but still, great to see on my genuine home patch!

Thursday 28 May 2020

Some decent invertebrates at Hickling

As I mentioned earlier: in addition to the terrific variety of birds on offer at Hickling today, there were some decent odonata and lepidoptera to be seen. Best of the bunch, IMHO, was the first of the year Norfolk Hawker, but there were literally thousands of very obliging Four-spotted Chasers (and slightly less obliging!) Hairy Dragonflies. Lots of Azure damselflies in prime condition and half a dozen Swallowtails that mostly flitted fairly distantly around pockets of Yellow Flags in the reedbeds. New for the year was a long-overdue Speckled Wood and a fairly early Meadow Brown.

Hickling NNT Reserve: Red-footed Falcon and everything else too!

Well: apart from the Squacco Heron!

I'd arranged to meet birding chum Brian at 7.00 am for a socially-distanced walk around this delightful reserve. As before, he was on a very tight time budget, which was a shame, because he missed almost everything!

All the expected good birds were present, albeit often somewhat distantly, but nevertheless it was great to catch up with Hobby, Mediterranean Gull (3) Bearded Tit, Bittern (2) and Spoonbill. As is often the case, the Cranes were the stars of the show, with groups of 10, 5, 3, as well as two pairs in some form of display flight.

Interesting to pick out the Hooded Crow hybrid: whatever its parentage, it's a very attractive and welcome addition to any day list at Hickling - it's been around 2 or 3 years at least. The Red-footed Falcon was very distantly visible from the new Cadbury scrape: luckily 'Twitter follower' David Ratcliffe was there with a socially-distanced 'scope'. Even though it was still just a hazy speck, having spoken to someone who'd watched it fly across earlier, I was happy to go with the i/d!

Lots of odonatids and some nice butterflies too, including half a dozen Swallowtails: I'll post pictures of all those later.