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Tuesday 31 August 2021

Hemblington Church wildlife survey

The recent poor weather and other commitments meant we only just managed to squeeze in a monthly survey in the churchyard. Not a great variety of birds, but plenty of insects, including Speckled and Dark Bush Crickets, lots of Field Grasshoppers and literally dozens of Migrant Hawkers.

Monday 30 August 2021


A couple of short trail-cam videos of some of the five or more hedgehogs that visit our garden most nights. While endearingly resembling small pigs, they can be quite aggressive to each other, making blood-curdling screams at times!

Sunday 29 August 2021

A morning at Minsmere

Some while back, when the last lockdown was about to be relaxed, we arranged to meet two of our oldest and dearest friends, Jane and Jason, on the Suffolk Coast. They live in Sussex, so we only get together a couple of times a year: always great fun, though.

We met at Minsmere and enjoyed a decent ramble around the reserve, picking up Stonechats, Linnets and Bee Wolves on the way to the East Hide. From here we added a good flock of Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, and four Spotted Redshank, while from the so-called 'Wildlife Lookout' we glimpsed a Bittern, creeping furtively through the reeds!

After an enjoyable lunch at the reserve cafe, we headed south to Dunwich Cliffs for a sit and further catch-up. A really smashing day in wonderful company!

Beautiful Moon

Terrific crater fields on this morning's last quarter Moon...

Saturday 28 August 2021

The International Space Station: upcoming passes

In the faint hope that there might be a few clear nights over the next couple of weeks - and if you're a really early bird - here are the predicted passes of the ISS. (Remember: the lower the magnitude, the brighter!) 

Friday 27 August 2021

Forever Amber!

I don't suppose one person in fifty remembers the somewhat 'racy' novel of that name back in the fifties! Today Linda and I met rock and mineral dealer Belle at Stalham: we had some meteorites for him, which we exchanged for some large pieces of Indonesian and Burmese amber.
The Indonesian material (which in fact originates on Borneo) is fairly ordinary-looking in daylight, but in UV it glows with the most incredible turquoise and indigo shades. 

Thursday 26 August 2021

Red Arrows and mint: the joys of rural living!

At the moment the farmer whose land begins beyond our garden fence is harvesting mint: I assume this is for the well-known Norfolk company Colman's. The smell is absolutely wonderful: 24 hours a day the aromatic scent fills the village - it must be driving local cats (and lambs!) barmy... 

As Peter, Sue, Linda and I were putting the finishing touches to the Music Quiz plans this afternoon (still a few tickets available!) the Red Arrows flew over the mint field. I wonder if they caught a whiff?

Crickets galore, but just one Buddy!

While Garth and I were searching for Wasp Spiders at Caistor St Edmunds, we came across literally dozens of crickets of three different species: Roesel's, Speckled Bush and Dark Bush as well as a few Long-winged Coneheads. In the same way that other birders become interested in moths, I find that crickets add something to a day out, even if it's just another focus. Some other interesting inverts, including quite a few Small Heath butterflies: also lots of Goldfinches, but few other notable birds.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Can Spiders ever be beautiful?

Well just possibly, if they're Wasp Spiders! My invertebrate mentor Garth Coupland knew that I'd long wanted to see a Wasp Spider (one of our largest orb web species) and picked me up this morning for a Safari just south of Norwich. Even he was amazed by the number we found: over 30 before we stopped counting! Several had outstanding stabilimenta: fluorescing filaments of unknown function: they may attract insects, or conversely warn off birds!

We also found dozens of Bush Crickets of three species: I'll post them later!