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Monday 31 August 2020

A fabulous Indian supper!

Friend Peter is celebrating a birthday this week, so he and Sue invited us to join them at the 'Tamarind', an award-winning fine-dining Indian restaurant just a short distance from our front doors.

Following a glass or two of Champagne, we walked up to the restaurant and were soon seated with a delightful bottle of Malbec while we made our selection from the extensive menu. I chose Tandoori King Prawns, while Linda (who's allergic to chili!) ordered a terrific Sea Bass & aubergine dish.
I have to say, the owner and staff were wonderfully attentive and completely mindful of the C-19 advice: a terrific evening out, following months of lockdown...

Friday 28 August 2020

Sea-watching on the North Coast.

This morning I found I had a small window of opportunity, so, despite the breeze (such as it was!) being an unpromising westerly, I left home early and was tucked into the promenade shelter at Sheringham by 6.15. The next couple of hours added a few odds and ends to the year list, but unsurprisingly everything was passing west quite far out. There was quite an impressive movement of waders and wildfowl, as well as a couple of Shags and a few Gannets and Fulmars. Just two Arctic Skuas, although other watchers noted a Bonxie.

I decided to head west to Kelling (birdless!) and then Cley, where a glance across Snipe's Marsh revealed both Common and Green Sandpiper, as well as a Little Egret. The walk out along the East Bank added Marsh Harrier, another Green Sandpiper and Curlew, while the seawatch was much better: over fifty Whimbrel in several groups, Sandwich Terns, Guillemot, Fulmar and lots of waders, including Purple Sandpiper, Knot, Sanderling, both Godwits, Dunlin and Ruff.

Interesting to witness a number of Grey Herons coasting some distance offshore...  Last stop was the Visitor Centre: from the picnic area it was possible to 'enjoy' views of four or five juvenile Curlew Sandpipers.

Thursday 27 August 2020

Another legendary Astronaut 'slips the surly bonds of Earth...'

Skylab 4 Astronaut Gerald 'Jerry' Carr has passed away at the age of 88. A terrific person, who I was privileged to spend time with in the bar and at breakfast. He had a wealth of knowledge and many intriguing stories to tell. Not many Apollo astronauts left now, sadly...

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Possible new meteorite find in Norfolk!

About three times a week Linda and I receive phone calls or e-mails from people who think they've found a meteorite. So far, in 20+ years, no-one ever has. Today, however we might finally have a winner!

The site manager of a new estate-build in mid-Norfolk contacted me with photos and details of a large, dense 'lump' that had been found at a depth of five metres. We were invited along to examine the object and carry out a few tests. As you can see, the 'lump' has a thickish crust, is attracted to a magnet and has a dark internal matrix with metallic flecks. I took a piece home and polished it, before sending details to the Natural History Museum. Fingers crossed!


As well as being part of the 'Hedgehog Warden Team' at Hemblington Church, Linda and I are lucky enough to have at least one family of Hedgehogs that regularly visit the garden: we frequently see twos and threes wombling about while we're doing a bit of astronomy!

However we don't often see them during the daytime - it's not a good sign - so yesterday's juvenile 'hog eating birdfood was clearly in trouble. He seemed to have the symptoms of hypothermia: shaking, rolling, irregular gait and so on - so we phoned our local Hedgehog Rescue contact. She asked us to bring the little waif over immediately, which we did, threading our way through the dusk along country lanes covered with wind-blown debris. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Patriotic songs: culture and tradition matter too....

I am appalled at the BBC's latest concession to the vocal liberal minority: dropping the two usual (somewhat archaic and 'corny') British patriotic songs at the climax of a long-established and much-loved music festival. This is an outrageous surrender to the internationalists who want to establish a global monoculture. I can just imagine the reaction in Germany or France if their anthems were banned in similar circumstances.

I suppose we'll eventually arrive at completely inoffensive anthems, such as that suggested by the Python Crew for Australia:

This here's the Wattle, the emblem of our land 
You can stick it in a bottle, or hold it in yer hand

Update: In a typically pathetic response (pretending the decision had nothing to do with the immense public outcry) the BBC have restored the two items, but have still eliminated the usual female alto vocalist. I bet you the various outdoor broadcasts (hurricanes permitting!) will end in roof-lifting vocal participation!

Monday 24 August 2020

Odds and ends at Rockland Broad

Linda and I took a drive to Rockland St. Mary and walked out to the Yare past the Broad in search of the reported White Stork (A visitor from Kent!) Despite a good search of the dykes and meadows there was no sign: perhaps it was pining for the hop fields! A strangely-coloured finch caught our attention: like a Chaffinch, but with a pale head and shoulders. Eventually we realised it was a juvenile Goldfinch!

Enough other odds and ends to keep us interested: Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and Kestrels were everywhere, as were Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters. I hadn't seen a Swift for a week or so, so five over Rockland Broad (accompanied by all three hirundines) were noteworthy. A Great Crested Grebe looked to have bitten off more than he could chew (metaphorically) but he managed it eventually! Last interest came in the form of a large - very large - grasshopper. It was over around 50mm in length - locust sized... It seems to be just a very large Field Grasshopper.

Sunday 23 August 2020

'Interesting' falcon at Horsey

The day before Mick Davis found and photographed a probable (definite, to my eye!) Eleonora's Falcon near the Plantation at Horsey, I photographed a dark raptor at a considerable range inland of the dunes. Brian and I had seen and photographed several Kestrels, Sparrowhawks, Marsh Harriers and Buzzards, but I only managed this single shot. I posted it on the rare bird group on Facebook and the great majority of responses have been in favour of a Red-footed Falcon, a Hobby, a falconer's hybrid or - yes - an Eleonora's.

Personally I thought melanistic Kestrel, but have been assured that the wings and tail are wrong for that species. Lack of any obvious barring on the tail means it's not Mick's lovely bird. I make no claims for it, but just put it on here to remind me of it in years to come!