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Tuesday 30 June 2020

Yare Valley Peregrines

Since Linda and I were in the area, it seemed rude not to pop in and say hello to the successful pair of Peregrines that have established themselves in the valley. Having no desire to upset anyone (which, God knows, is easily done these days!) I haven't mentioned their location, nor included photos with recognizable features such as TV masts, cathedral spires or football stadia!

We enjoyed incredible views of this hunting falcon for nearly an hour until it started to rain: the toe-nail clipping was the best bit!

Monday 29 June 2020

Spotted Flycatchers in the Yare Valley

Spotted Flycatchers are pretty hard to find in the Yare Valley these days: even the traditional churchyard locations seem to have been deserted this year. I was thrilled, therefore, to have recently come across a pair feeding young just a short drive from my front door. Today Linda and I dodged the showers to take a (suitably distant) peep at them. Although the relevant photo is not very good, you can just make out the unfortunate Norfolk Hawker that one of them caught and battered to death on the road!

Image stacking: new software to play around with!

Unlike bird photography, astro-imaging with a DSLR camera usually results in dozens of photos of exactly the same object - the Moon doesn't tend to flap about and move! These separate images all contain varying amounts of fine detail data and varying degrees of sharpness: since they are otherwise identical, it's possible to use stacking software to produce a single synergistic end result. This is almost always much better than any of the originals.

Here are a few examples from last night. Bearing in mind that I was using a 300mm lens and 1.4 converter, they show an impressive amount of detail!

Saturday 27 June 2020

Mad Magazine: no wonder I turned out like I did!

When I was about eight, I started reading 'Mad' magazine: it was anarchic, satirical, funny and - above all - beautifully drawn. Until I was about fifteen, I bought every paperback compendium as it was released, as well as the 'comic' versions. In my opinion the level of the graphics went into decline around 1965 and the later books just weren't as interesting. The examples below ('The Wild One' and 'The Caine Mutiny' are both illustrated by my favourite artist Wallace Wood.

How many of you, I wonder, used to read 'Mad'? The paperbacks are quite valuable these days: most of mine have been reacquisitions from bookshops and carboots, since my youngest daughter 'borrowed' my collection ten years ago before unaccountably distancing herself!

Friday 26 June 2020


Linda's bees decided to explore the garden yesterday (in reality, they were following a new queen) Luckily they hung themselves up in our large Magnolia, giving time for a husband and wife pro-beekeeper team to come and remove them. Astonishing that they were both wearing shorts!

All clear!

Well that's good to know!

Thank you for completing the COVID-19 swab test.
The analysis of the swab test you sent was NEGATIVE. This means the COVID-19 virus was not detected on your swab sample.
Please note this test detects whether the COVID-19 virus was present at the time of the swab test, it does not show whether you had the COVID-19 virus before the swab test was completed.
A negative result is not 100% conclusive and you and your household should continue to observe social distancing guidance.
If you or anyone in your household has or develops symptoms you must follow the Stay at Home Guidance even if you have a negative test result. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit
Thank you for taking part in this important study.
Yours sincerely,
Ipsos MORI/Imperial College London
COVID-19 Testing Research Team

Garth meets a Hornet Clearwing

Garth Coupland is a leading herpetologist with a great interest in invertebrates too. There's not much he doesn't know about spiders, grasshoppers and terrestrial molluscs. (He's also an astonishing blues harmonica player!)

I found out recently that he'd never seen a Hornet Clearwing, so we arranged to meet at the Church yesterday: within thirty seconds of arriving he was able to rectify the situation!

Thursday 25 June 2020

Spotted Flycatcher on the patch

A most welcome addition to this year's lists: a pair of Spotted Flycatchers just a short distance from home. Garth Coupland and I had spent an hour or two enjoying the Hornet Clearwings at Hemblington Church: having an hour or so before needing to be elsewhere, we drove a short distance in convoy and were soon enjoying the sight (sadly rare these days) of a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. These were doing just what it said on the tin: catching flies in the shade under a small oak. We didn't try to get too close, but just enjoyed them for a few minutes...

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Upton Marsh: more Norfolk Hawkers than you can shake a stick at!

Brian and I met at the public car park at Upton Boat Dyke and took an early eight mile walk around the marshes. To be honest, we didn't expect to see much: even at 7.00 am the temperature was over 20 degrees! In the event we passed an enjoyable three hours and managed a few photos and possibly even lost a few pounds!

Norfolk Hawkers and Meadow Browns were everywhere: I counted over one hundred Norfolks in a hundred metres. We were surrounded by them all the way round: as the Americans are found of saying, you do the math! Lots of blue damselflies of the regular species: Variable was a first for the year, as was Emerald. Chinese Water Deer were grazing close to the paths: look at the tusks on these bad boys! Other notable birds included Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler and Common Tern.

The experience was slightly marred by a middle-aged man in a Toyota Landcruiser driving along behind us: we had to scuttle off the bridleway to let him pass (with no acknowledgement, of course.)  Luckily his window was open, so I could tell him what I thought of him! Later, we caught up with him, scanning a field of young calves from the window of his vehicle. We couldn't believe it when he asked us if we'd seen a black Labrador that had ' off somewhere.' (Yes: there are plenty of 'All dogs on a lead' signs.)