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Saturday 31 December 2022

A new year comet?

If it's clear before dawn tomorrow (and it's supposed to be!) I'll be up nice and early, looking for Comet E3. This romantically-named ball of ice and rock is currently hurtling sunward, and might well be bright enough to see with the naked eye in a week or two: watch this space! At the moment it's binoculars only...

E3 is in the constellation of Corona (how apropos!) which is high in the sky from 4.00am-ish. Corona is next to the constellation of Bootes: the 'tail' of the Great Bear leads down to Arcturus, its brightest star.

The ones that got away!

It's been a below average year in many ways: despite catching up with nearly 150 species, I somehow managed to miss Yellow-browed and Pallas' Warbler, Wryneck, Redstart (!) and Great Grey Shrike among others. 

I took photographs of all but a handful of these but also grabbed shots of half a dozen others that were so poor that they weren't worth posting and therefore didn't appear in the total! See if you can tell what these are:

Friday 30 December 2022

Some fabulous astronomy!

For the past couple of nights the skies here in east Norfolk have been crystal clear, allowing those who like that sort of thing (and who own a pair of binoculars!) to pick out all eight planets. The largest of these - Jupiter - was close to the Moon last night: a beautiful sight! Uranus was comparatively easy to find, being in between Mars and Jupiter and quite near the 'hockey stick' constellation Aries. The Andromeda Galaxy, M31 and Orion Nebula, M42 were both visible with the naked eye.

Jupiter, cloud belts and satellites

The Pleiades

Orion Nebula

Thursday 29 December 2022

Birds of the year 2022

It has, as they say, been a funny old year: fairly uneventful spring and autumn passages (for me, at least) but I still achieved my highest annual total (249) since I began this blog 11 years ago. (Having said which: Linda and I both 'hit' the magical 300 year total back when we produced rare bird videos in the 90s)

I made no special long-distance birding trips, but a wedding in Devon, a holiday in Sussex with Mum-in-Law and a nostalgia visit to Bempton with a recently-bereaved friend obviously added a few species. 

Without particularly trying, I also saw - and photographed - 138 different species within 5km of the front door.

OK: here are the best, in monthly order:

Short-eared Owl, St Benets

Red-breasted Goose, Cley

Glossy Ibis, Rockland

Siberian Chiffchaff, my garden!

Raven, Holkham

American Wigeon, Potter Heigham

Lesser Grey Shrike, Hellesdon

Ring Ouzel, Hickling

Caspian Tern, Hickling

Dartford Warbler, Kelling heath

Spotted Sandpiper, Titchwell

Bee-eaters, Trimingham

Honey Buzzard, Swanton Novers

Icterine Warbler, Winterton

Grey Phalarope, Salthouse

Cirl Bunting, Devon

Great Bustards, Salisbury Plain

Long-billed Dowitcher, Cley

Slavonian Grebe, Whitlingham Lane

Waxwings, Sheringham

White-tailed Eagle, Holkham

Hume's Warbler, Brancaster

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Dawn Treader....

After last night's thoroughly enjoyable soiree, I was asleep until 6.15: almost unheard of these days! As I walked through to my office, it occurred to me that the International Space Station would soon be passing overhead, so I quickly set up a camera and grabbed a couple of shots as it skidded across the damp pre-dawn sky, passing close to the bright stars Regulus and Arcturus.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Friends for supper!

Just taking a short breather before great friends Peter, Sue & Margaret arrive for a post-Christmas / pre-birthday evening of fine wines and food.

Monday 26 December 2022

Beautiful Moon!

The waxing crescent Moon was stunning as night fell: my favourite crater Petavius showed really well. Over to the south east, Jupiter and its four largest satellites were super-bright: Ganymede was just peeping over Jupiter's shoulder!