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Friday 31 July 2020

Last look at Comet Neowise

Last night I managed to relocate Neowise just below the 'Plough': it's speeding away into the outer reaches of the Solar System and has dimmed to magnitude 5.8 - invisible to the naked eye in all but the very darkest skies. It was good to say a final farewell, though: this has been a memorable apparition (as cometary visits are termed!)

The Moon was low in the south: a perfect position for photography. These images were produced using stacking software. I've also posted an image of the w-shaped constellation Cassiopeia to show how to find the famous M31 Andromeda Galaxy.

Comet Neowise

Thursday 30 July 2020

Migrant Hawker comes to visit!

A mint-fresh Migrant Hawker has spent all day hunting around the garden - it's still here at 8.00pm!
Occasionally it's taken a rest on the Buddleia bush by the back door.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Swallowtail caterpillars and Spotted Flycatchers

During our double circuit of Strumpshaw today, Brian Norman and I were lucky enough to find a really splendid Swallowtail caterpillar perched right out in the open: always an impressive thing to see. Further round in the woodland the Spotted Flycatcher family were showing well, but unfortunately always in silhouette! A rather tatty Silver-washed Fritillary and a pair of Buzzards were interesting additions to the list..

Otters at Strumpshaw Fen

Terrific to watch a couple of young Otters at close range in front of the reception screen at the Fen today..

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Great White Egret at Buckenham

This beautiful Great Egret was right by the path as I walked back from the anglers' car park. It fed quite happily until a Peregrine zoomed over: this made it stand up. Then a car drove by (a little quickly for such a narrow track) causing it to fly off towards Cantley. Terrific bird!

Garganey at Buckenham Marsh

This morning an early start allowed me to connect with the Garganey family at Buckenham RSPB. The little group was at the far end of the last dyke on the right before the hide - just where I thought I'd seen them last week! In the images below, I hope you'll agree that it wasn't too outrageous to mistake the strongly marked Mallards for them: when you see the birds all together, the grey bill, distinctive speculum and diminutive size are quite obvious. I received quite a bit of comment about last week's gaffe: most was helpful and gratefully received (Thanks RBA Chris!) some was ill-informed and unhelpful. But what the heck: we all make mistakes, no?

UFO? No - Venus!

The planet Venus is a brilliant object in the eastern sky at dawn: it's around magnitude -4, so is incredibly bright. Just wait for all the UFO reports over the next few weeks!

Monday 27 July 2020

Marine nano-tank update

It's over a year and a half since we set up the little reef tank in my office and - fingers crossed - it continues to delight and entertain us. We've lost a few corals and two little fish, but sadly this is inevitable with marine reef keeping. Only experience will reveal what species are suitable for a particular set-up. We've given up on hard corals (although a little cluster of Duncans continues to thrive) Not only are they very susceptible to changes in water parameters, but our ancient Cleaner Shrimp is inclined to peck at them! Soft corals and zoans, on the other hand, grow and reproduce, filling every available rock surface!

Sunday 26 July 2020

Wildlife survey at Hemblington Church

This morning - a bright, somewhat breezy day - I joined Sue & Peter for the regular survey of the churchyard. The bird list was predictably sparse, with just a few gulls, pigeons, Blue Tits and so on. The insects, however, were a different kettle of fish!

We've never found Brown Argus in the churchyard before: today, in one hour, we counted over fifty! Even more abundant were Gatekeepers - they were everywhere! Higher numbers of other butterflies were encountered: these included both expected Whites, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral and Peacock.

It was the same story for odonata: Brown, Southern and Migrant Hawkers patrolled the hedges, while a few Common Darters were sunbathing in the long grass. Lots of Honey Bees, as well as what I think is a Flower Bee of some sort and a large Hoverfly