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Friday 30 April 2021

Hemblington Church bird survey

Linda, Sue, Peter and I carried out the monthly bird count at the church this morning: we've hardly missed a month for four years. I'm not sure how vital the data is, but Sue sends it off to various groups and she assures me they're always grateful!

Nothing 'special' today, but a good variety and good numbers too!

Wheatear on the Heath

For the third year running there is a Wheatear on the Heath - this time on High Noon Lane. I imagine the large arable prairies near Hemblington Church are a regular stop-over, but a combination of monthly wildlife surveys at the church and lockdown walks in the area have caused me to come across them!

Thursday 29 April 2021

The International Space Station: upcoming UK transits

For real night owls or those with insomnia! Most of these passes are in the early hours, but are generally very bright.

Wednesday 28 April 2021

North Coast: Ouzel and Spoonbills at Cley, Woodlark and Dartfords and much more!

It's been a while, so Brian and I were pleased to be able to arrange a meeting at Kelling Heath. Despite a clear sky, the strong easterly wind made conditions just a little too breezy for good views of Dartfords and Woodlarks: nevertheless we saw both, as well as some showy Linnets.

A move to Cley added a male Ring Ouzel to the day list: it was somewhat distant, but still a nice bird. A brief visit to the beach gave us Gannet and Sandwich Tern, but no sign of the anticipated Wheatears: I did pick out a couple of Spoonbills flying east towards the reserve centre. Accordingly, we drove around to the East Bank, where a short (cold!) walk gave us close views of them feeding on the Serpentine.

Brian left for home, but on a whim I carried on to Kelling Water Meadows. The walk down to the pool produced Blackcap, Whitethroat, lots more Linnets and several pairs of Brown Hares, while the pool itself held Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin and Black-tailed Godwit. Nice to chat and reminisce with old acquaintance David...

Walking back to the car I picked up Buzzard and Red Kite, as well as fleeting views of a female Redstart.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Fat Birder!

I just don't understand the 'Fat Birder' counter: it goes up and down like a yo-yo. I know other UK sites have had problems with this, but I also know that I am one of the few blogs that post every day: a lot of the higher-rated foreign sites entirely consist of adverts or are rarely updated. I might remove the counter and stick to the more reliable and accurate hit counter...

Monday 26 April 2021

Another 'Super Moon'

Just finished watching 'First Man' on the telly, so I thought I'd grab a couple of Moonshots myself!

Sunday 25 April 2021

Jabbed: Part Deux!

This morning, bright and early, I had my second Covid jab: terrific to get this out of the way - it seems like the next step towards 'normality'. We drove home via Latham's at Potter Heigham (bird food!) picking up a male Ring Ouzel (near the Thurne turn off) several Marsh Harriers, a ring-tailed Hen Harrier (very apricotty) and a Crane. No photos, so you'll just have to take our
word for it! 👀


Saturday 24 April 2021


Linda and I had to visit Old Buckenham this morning to pick up some frames for the business: I put my camera on the back seat (as I normally do!) 'just in case'.

As we approached the Beccles turn off, we noticed a large Buzzard-sized raptor approaching from the west: immediately we recognised it as a Goshawk - a real whopper! I slowed so we could watch it pass overhead, being harassed by corvids: no chance to stop, of course...

Following a tour of the South Norfolk garden centres, we returned home via the A140. As we approached the A140 /A47 junction we saw an Osprey circling over the fields to the East: this time I was able to stop!

That's all folks! (Probably...)

Since only a handful of people joined last night's Zoom meeting, I may cancel my subscription and stop doing any more presentations. The Powerpoints take a long time to put together and, since C-19 has more or less caused me to retire from public lecturing, it's probably not worth the effort! I might - if there's a demand - post a few more on YouTube...

Thanks to the thirty or so people who attended the meetings: hope you found them entertaining / thought provoking / interesting.

Friday 23 April 2021

Getting to grips with the new 'scope

A lovely clear night and a well-positioned Moon meant I could spend some time getting more familiar with my new(ish) astronomical telescope and CCD camera. The results speak for themselves: I'm really chuffed to be able to image craters like Clavius and Copernicus (as well as the curious comet-like Messier)

All we need now is a planet or two in the right place!

Thursday 22 April 2021

A Kite, a Peregrine and Grebes on the local patch (and something mysterious over the garden!)

On our way to B&Q this morning, Linda and I were pleased to see one of the pair of resident Red Kites along Belt Road. There seems little doubt that these lovely additions to the list of local breeders are nesting in the nearby woods.

On the way home we stopped to look for LRPs at the large drainage lagoon where the Plumstead Road meets the NDR. No plovers, but three beautifully-plumaged Little Grebes were swimming among the Lesser Black-backs.

As we were unloading, I looked up to see an enormous, luminous white triangular object streaking silently eastwards. Too big, too fast and too silent to be a conventional aircraft: the image below is a reconstruction.

Lastly: while we were working in the garden, I was delighted to see (but not photograph!) a Peregrine stoop across from the fields.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

First quarter Moon

If I were asked to express an opinion, I'd say that '1st quarter' is my favourite phase, purely because of the rich crater fields that run north-south along the terminator.

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Something secret to look out for in space!

For the next couple of weeks the top secret US spaceplane, the X-37B, will be visible early in the morning. Quite a bright object (around magnitude 2 - 3: roughly the same as the seven stars of the Plough) this is an unmanned, extended mission 'mini-shuttle'. Although its missions are notionally concerned with testing new propulsion technology, it's generally assumed it also has covert roles in defence and espionage. Its transit is always low in the south west / south east, bringing it near Jupiter and Saturn. A teasing photographic opportunity: watch this space!