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Saturday 26 June 2021

Finally: some butterflies!

At last the warmer weather has brought a few butterflies to the garden, including a somewhat washed-out Painted Lady. Most common have been Red Admirals: there's been dozens of them Also my first Meadow Brown and Large Skipper- things are looking up!

The Lesser Black-backed Gull has been hanging around the garden for a few days: he's a handsome bird, but can gulp down a block of suet in one go! Finally: I photographed the Stock Dove with my astronomical telescope, with the DSLR 'plugged' onto the end: you can see the house reflected in his eye!

Friday 25 June 2021

Collared Pratincole - just!

I hadn't intended going out today: too much to do at home. Inevitably, though, when Linda returned home from Norwich the temptation proved too much: I took all the back roads to Hickling NWT reserve. Despite this strategic route-planning, the half-hour journey took forty minutes: inevitably the Pratincole had been flying around, but was now settled down on a distant shingle spit. And there iut stayed for the two hours I was there! I did manage a small cluster of overdue year ticks: Little Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Green & Wood Sandpipers, as well as Hobby, Spoonbill and both the Black-winged Stilts. Sometimes photography just isn't an option, but I did enjoy seeing all these smart birds.
Nice to bump into ex-pupil John E (even though it made me feel quite old!)

Thursday 24 June 2021

Roller in Suffolk!

As I was looking at the Bee-eaters in Gt Yarmouth (having just seen two Black-winged Stilts) I remarked to one of the other birders "All we need now is a Roller!" Well within a day, the deed suited the word!

This morning (despite a negative report on the pager) Linda and I sped south through the roadworks and upside down lorries, arriving at Lackford soon after 9.00am. It took a frustrating few minutes to find a safe - and legal - parking spot, but eventually we were enjoying views of yet another Mediterranean visitor - only my second UK Roller! The gallery included all the better-known faces and the behaviour was impeccable.

We watched this delightful vagrant for twenty minutes or so, but decided to do the noble thing, moving off so new arrivals could use our parking place. 

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Turtle Doves in the Yare Valley

Linda and I were thrilled to find that Turtle Doves have returned to a traditional site in the valley. It seems like years since we had up to three pairs visiting our smallish garden, so to see - and hear - these delightful little threatened birds close to home was a real treat.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Black-winged Stilts and Bee-eaters: a red letter day!

Since Linda had scheduled a hive maintenance day, I thought I'd dash out to see if I could connect with both of today's East Norfolk star turns!

First stop was Hickling, where a short walk along the path to Stubb Mill revealed the pair of Black-winged Stilts. It was pleasant to bump into Richard 'the Hat', an acquaintance from the days of Nancy's and the Cley Coastguard Cafe. A Ruff in chestnut breeding finery was, strange to say, a year tick!

After an hour or so, I decided to head back to Yarmouth for seconds of the Bee-eaters, which had apparently been showing again. When I arrived, however, they'd disappeared northwards. A really nice guy from Colchester (we never swapped names!) kept me entertained with stories - and photos - of 50lb+ carp he'd caught. Bee-eater was a new bird for him, so I was really pleased when all nine eventually reappeared, at one time circling and calling overhead. Other interesting species included Hobby, Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier.

Monday 21 June 2021

Bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth

Linda and I have been busy all day, so didn't look at the pager until mid-afternoon: when we did, we discovered that a flock of Bee-eaters had been feeding from wires at the back of the Gapton Hall estate for several days. We dropped everything and went, pausing only to see if Sue & Peter wanted to come with us: they were busy, unfortunately.

After a short walk and some re-orientation, we found a small gallery enjoying somewhat distant views of four of the gorgeous birds. I recognized virtually everyone we met: good to see Penny C looking good and making the most of a day off.

After a while, only a single bird remained, so we wandered back to the car, only to find Peter & Sue arriving! We walked back with them, but unfortunately the flock had just flown off south. (Frustratingly for P & S they later returned!)

Well that was fun!

a) The football
b) Fathers' Day
c) The French Grand Prix

...we still managed to attract a decent crowd for another three-hour marathon of rock and blues at the Hermitage, Acle.
With the relaxation of C-19 restrictions, things will shortly return to normal at the venue, with Sunday afternoon open jam sessions, so that's it for our 'scratch quartet'.... except guitar legend Tim suggested has suggested we formalise the line-up, add a bassist and carry on doing gigs. Watch this space!

Sunday 20 June 2021

Brassed-off birds!

The garden is full of birds at the moment: House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Starlings three kinds of pigeon, Blackbirds, Magpies, Robins, Blue & Great Tits, Gold- and Greenfinches etc etc: all looking fed up and wondering where the Summer went. They're all bringing their youngsters for a feed, and it looks like it's been a good breeding season so far.