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Thursday 31 August 2023

Once in a super Blue Moon...

This phrase refers to the fact that two full Moons in one month is quite a rare occurence: the next time this will happen is in August next year. The 'super' tag acknowledges that the Moon (having a slightly eccentric orbit) happens to appear a little larger in the sky at the moment. The Moon only looks blue under certain atmospheric conditions - after a forest fire or eruption - so those photographs elsewhere online have been photoshopped to give them a blue tinge: mine below are the actual colour!

Just above the Moon was Saturn, the second largest planet. Even with my 300mm prime lens, its rings were plainly visible. To add to the planetary theme: Venus rose half an hour before sunrise and was incredibly bright in the dawn sky.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Still spotty!

Like two giant amoebas (amoebae?) the two large sunspot groups pictured earlier in the week are plodding steadily across the Sun! (Actually, of course, it's the rotation of the Sun that causes the apparent motion of the sunspots!)

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Some decent waders at Cley

Nothing rare, but plenty of different species to enjoy! The usual 7.00am start saw us on the East Bank by 8.00am: straight away we found a group of calidrids that included Ruff, Dunlin and five juvenile Curlew Sandpipers. A wood Sandpiper was feeding at the very back of the Serpentine, while a few Black-tailed Godwits and a Snipe were lurking ib the margins. Further along the East Bank we came across a Curlew and several Redshank, all close to the path.

After a brief seawatch we back-tracked to Bishop's, which was almost totally devoid of birds! Coffee and scones, then a move to Stiffkey and a brisk walk out to the 'whirligig'. More or less the only birds of note were a few Little Egrets and a solitary Spoonbill: hardly any passerines at all.

Last stop was North Point Pools: seven or eiught Spoonbills dozed at the far end of the water, while a few Ruff and Godwit stalked about looking for food. A Red Kite was only the third raptor of the day...

Jacques Tatty!

Our resident 'white' Buzzard is looking a bit tatty at the moment!

Monday 28 August 2023

Burgh Hall revisited!

Synergy were back at Burgh Hall near Yarmouth last night, playing to a packed Bank Holiday crowd until nearly midnight. 'Dep' bassman Flash did really well, filling in almost seamlessly for the incomparable Mike.

Thanks to friends (and number one fans) Jan & Glyn for the photos

Saturday 26 August 2023

Wildlife blogs: a gradual demise?

When I first began my 'Birds of the Heath' online diary, my reasons were quite straight forward: it was a convenient place to store (and share) my photos and observations and, I hoped, would be a conduit for information and help to me. Whenever I travel anywhere around the UK, I always check local blogs to see what's going on.

One of the first features I added was a page of links to other blogs that I found enjoyable and/or educational. Ten years later I've been forced to delete ten or more broken links - blogs that are no longer maintained or that have been dormant for many months. (I've kept a few such links to blogs that notwithstanding remain worth a look!)

I find this very sad. I have the feeling that there might be three main reasons for the decline in blogging:

1)  Laziness! It does require a certain self-discipline to find time on a regular basis to sort out photos and write a bit of text: not everyone can be bothered, especially if their efforts are not rewarded by a decent daily visit count, or positive comments.

2)  Twitter / 'X'   Despite often being a somewhat toxic environment, Twitter has the advantage of immediacy: new bird finds are often posted within minutes, complete with b-o-c images and directions. However, text is limited as are the number (and quality) of photos and videos.

3)  Lack of visitors   As the number of blogs with reciprocal links drops, so does the number of visitors they generated. I have frequently invited other blogs to exchange links and had no reply: this is not the case on Facebook, where my photos are often reposted elsewhere.

I note that even some of the most popular blogs and websites (such as Penny Clarke's, Birdforum and Surfbirds) are showing a similar reduction in daily 'hits': the Norfolk pages on Birdforum, for example, haven't had a new post for months.

I kind of hope that the present dissatisfaction with 'X' might spark a resurgence in blogging: I really believe they are a valuable, historical resource.

Friday 25 August 2023

How big are these sunspots?

Well: compare the largest with the silhouette of Venus as it crossed the Sun in 2004 - you can see that they are not far off the same size (around 8,000 miles)

This is around the same size as the Earth! (These photos were taken between the clouds this afternoon)

Thursday 24 August 2023

Amazing sunspots!

There are several large sunspot groups today: I bet we'll get some auroral activity in a day or two!

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Sandpipers at Cley

A couple of short videos of a Green Sandpiper at Cley, with a photobomb by a Common Sandpiper!

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Sandpiper day at Cley!

As usual (with nothing new to chase!) Brian, Norman and I headed north for a morning's birding. First stop was Salthouse, where the walk out to Gramborough Hill was more or less fruitless - just a few juvenile Stonechats.

We moved to Cley, starting at Bishop's with distant views of two Little Stints before carrying on to the Central Hides. Here we were rewarded with close views of Green and Common Sandpipers as well as several family groups of Little Ringed Plovers.

After coffee and scones we walked the East Bank, adding five distant Spoonbills on Pope's and two Wood Sandpipers on the Serpentine: a distant Red Kite was the only one of the day.

Walking back to the car we stopped at Snipe's Masrsh, where four more Green Sandpipers fed busily among the Mare's Tail.