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Sunday 31 January 2021

The International Space Station: last chance for a while!

Just a few passes by the ISS in early February...

A day past full...

Lovely Moon last night - when the north-eastern limb is in partial shadow there are some fascinating crater fields between the Mare Crisium and Mare Serenitatis: the large crater Posidonius is particularly striking.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Lockdown Bird count at Hemblington Church

As regular readers will know, for several years various 'Friends of Hemblington Church' have maintained a monthly bird count in the Church grounds. This weekend should have been the annual RSPB Garden Birdwatch, which we undertake in the churchyard: obviously, under current restrictions, that wasn't possible!

Instead, Linda and I walked the two miles to the Church and spent an hour walking around the perimeter before returning home. The results were surprisingly good, with lots of birds of all the usual species: highlights were  Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Redpoll (a churchyard tick!)

Friday 29 January 2021

Booked in!

There aren't that many advantages to be being old, but today produced one! I'm booked in for my 'jab' next week...

All eight planets during the pandemic!

During the period when we've all been constrained by C-19, I've spent longer than usual looking for - and photographing - the eight planets of our Solar System. Some images are better than others, but nevertheless, I think it's a personal achievement on a par with seeing 300 bird species in a year!

I've added photos I took of the Venus transit in 2004 and the Mercury transit a couple of years ago...

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Wednesday walk: odds and ends for the list!

Today, since the weather was poor enough to deter most of the family groups and dog walkers that generally make birding my local lanes and pathways a waste of time, I strolled around the 'five mile circuit' along Woodbastwick Road, down through 'Dingly Dell' and back via Pedham. Still too early in the year for many of the species I found here during the first lockdown in 2020, but nevertheless Lapwing, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch and Greylag were all new! 

Definitely more traffic than normal: I reckon a lot of the cars were using the back lanes as 'rat runs' to avoid being stopped by the Police and asked to explain their journeys...

Tuesday 26 January 2021

A true American hero!

Nearly twenty years ago I was contacted by a married couple (both doctors) who lived on the island of Usedom, near the famous WW2 research facility of Peenemunde. Following the end of the Cold War, they were able to visit the test site and look for pieces of the V2 and V1 missiles that were developed there. Over the next couple of years, I bought lots of material, most of which I traded for American space memorabilia: I even sold some of my V2 displays to Apollo Astronaut Tom Stafford for his aerospace museum!

Last night there was a documentary on Freeview about the Apollo Program: an astronaut who was part of the presenting team seemed shocked  to discover that Wernher von Braun, the designer of the Saturn V launch rocket had been a Nazi Major during the war, but - along with many of his colleagues - had been recruited to work on the US space program. He never faced any tribunals, nor was he brought to account for the atrocities committed upon forced labourers at Peenemunde or the production factories at Mittelwerk-Dora-Nordhausen.

Here are a couple of photos of Wernher von Braun that the Doctors sent me: interesting how easily the Nazi SS officer's background was kept a secret from the US public. Remember: this was the man who designed the rockets that launched the first successful US satellite (Explorer 1), the first American into space (Alan Shepard) and the Apollo spacecraft...

Monday 25 January 2021

Burns Night Supper!

Just for Linda and me tonight: last year we joined in the revelries at Heathlands, with a piper and everything... Still: I always have veggie haggis in the freezer, so we celebrated as always: might have a wee deoch an doras later!

Getting the full set!

A birding friend posted some delightful photos of the various owls she's seen in the UK. This caused me to reflect upon the fact that I only need four really rare species for the full UK set: Pigmy, Scops, Tengmalm's and Hawk. I should think the chances of me seeing any of these is virtually non-existent!

Then I started to think about the other 'sets': I've seen all six Grebes, all three Pratincoles, all four Skuas, all ten Crows and so on... I wonder if anyone among the top 'listers' has seen every bird on the BOU / UK400 lists? (Excluding extinct birds, of course!)