Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Last of the Summer Wine!

How lovely to have a visit from my two birding buddies Brian and Norman! There's nothing more tedious than visiting a recuperating invalid, but my two dear friends really cheered me up with plenty of news of local birding and bird politics.

It's when you are ill that you discover the difference between genuine friendship and acquaintanceship: some 'friends' I've had for years (and who knew early on about my sudden illness) haven't made any attempt to contact Linda or me!

So thanks guys: your friendship means more than you probably realise!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Four more!

I've been working in the office today: this overlooks the lawned back garden. As well as yesterday's eighteen species, there were four extras today:

Marsh Harrier
Pied Wagtail

So: 22 species of bird in or over a small rural garden - not too shabby!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Capt. Gene Cernan

Sad to hear that Gene Cernan passed away today.

I met Capt. Cernan on five occasions, enjoying 'beer call' several times. Commander of Apollo 17 and officially the last human to walk on the Moon, I found Cernan an astute, humorous companion who did not suffer fools gladly.

Just five 'Moonwalkers' left: I'm so glad I had the chance to talk with most of them before they finally 'slipped the surly bonds'

Garden full of birds....

I'm still not strong enough to leave the house, but living where I do, there's no shortage of birdlife to look at. If I were doing the 'Garden Birdwatch' today, I would already have racked up 18 species:

House Sparrow
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Common Gull
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull (over)
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Red-legged Partridge

Nothing particularly rare, but I have plenty of friends who would struggle to see that many in a month! By dusk there could easily be some geese and raptors to add to the list...

Sunday, 15 January 2017


Very pleasant surprise this morning: a gaggle of perhaps a dozen White-fronted Geese flew low over the garden. What incredibly handsome creatures they are, with their dark breast bars and white 'shields.

I'm almost certain this was a garden tick for me: no photos, sadly - I was just too slow to pick up the camera.

For the rest: the garden has been full of Pheasants, Partridges, Pigeons, Doves and Blackbirds enjoying the seed and suet that Linda has been putting out for them. Joining them on the lawn all day has been a couple of Pied Wagtails, scuttling about like little clockwork toys.

Saturday, 14 January 2017


Today was my 66th birthday: bitter-sweet, of course, since I've been resting on the sofa all day, rather than being out in the field. Linda and I enjoyed a  teensy bit of Chinese food and a glass of lemonade to celebrate!

Linda had booked a brilliant two-day birding stay at a posh hotel on the North Coast: looking at the photos of poor old Cley and Salthouse, it's perhaps just as well we were forced to postpone. With luck we'll have another bash next weekend or the one after.

Meanwhile I'll do everyone a favour by fore-going the temptation to give daily medical updates: suffice it to say: many, many thanks to the literally hundreds of people who have phoned / FB'd / pm-ed and e-mailed  to express concern and good wishes: it means more than you can imagine...

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Due to a combination of four factors:
1) The acute demand for ward-beds
2) My - apparent - almost unparalleled response to the anti-biotic cluster-bombs I've been receiving
3) The presence at home of a very caring wife
4) The demonstrated ability to go to the toilet!
I was thrilled and amazed to be released home late this afternoon! Despite a nightmare journey to escape the carpark, we were back home in time for tea and toast!

I'm still as weak as the proverbial kitten, and have some way to go to remove the pneumonia, but it's great to be home with Linda. I must thank the very many people who expressed good wishes on here and by e-mail: it has been literally hundreds! Many, many thanks to all: I feel suitably humble...

Incredible gratitude to the scores of nurses who cheerily probed, dosed and watered me during my stay: they were wonderful!

Especially commiserations to best chum, neighbour and local first responder Sue, who had to endure sights no-one of a delicate disposition should have to endure while she helped comfort (and assess) the quivering blob lying half-naked on the bathroom floor until the ambulance arrived!

Sorry about the lack of posting! I'm in hospital with pneumonia...  I've had tons of meds and am feeling lots better: with luck I should be home after the weekend. (Not as good as it seems: it's my birthday on Saturday!) Meanwhile thanks for the many enquiries Linda has had: try and find some birds for me to photograph!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year's Eve!

Linda has only just downloaded some of her pictures from our New Year's Eve trip into Norwich. If you're local and you  didn't see the Christmas / New Year decorations, you missed a real spectacle: the 'Light Tunnel' particularly was amazing. Both the Castle and City Hall had impressive son et lumières and the streets were full of well-behaved strollers...

We had dinner at Café Rouge: very nice too: three courses for £30 each: garlic prawns, saumon en papillotte and crème caramel.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Snow Buntings at Winterton and wild Swans at Ludham

I had the briefest of opportunities for a run out this morning and, since I haven't managed many miles over the past couple of days, I thought a walk along Winterton Dunes would blow away the cobwebs.

It was a bitter-sweet half-hour in the event: sweet because I connected with the Snow Bunting flock about a mile west of the car park and added a Red-throated Diver and Gannet to the year list. The experience was somewhat soured by the number of dogs off their leashes that were continually harassing the seal pups. There were quite a few moribund and dead pups on the beach and I even saw a dog biting chunks out of one. Naturally I remonstrated with its owner and was told to mind my own business. I also saw a boy of around ten throwing stones at a pup in the surf, while his mother and her friend laughed at the poor creature's distress. A somewhat animated discussion followed and - since I told her I had a photo of her and her of kid throwing stones - she scuttled back to her car. What is wrong with these people? There are enough signs!

I drove home via Waxham, pausing to look through big flocks of Golden Plovers and Pink-feet. Last stop was Ludham airfield, where the numbers of both Bewick's and Whoopers have built up over Christmas.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A sky-full of planets!

Tonight - and for a few nights to come - Mars, Neptune and Venus are visible near the crescent Moon. You'll need binoculars or a telescope to see Neptune, but it's a great chance to observe this faint body with Mars as a marker. There's also a faint comet to the west of Venus and Jupiter is still a bright object in the dawn sky!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Cattle Egrets for New Year's Day!

It's been raining off and on all day here in East Norfolk, but a brief pause in the showers was all the excuse we needed to drive out to Halvergate for a look at the Cattle Egrets.

Linda and I were the original finders of these exotic little herons a week before Christmas: at the time three were hunched up against the cold and wind, so only one showed its characteristic bare-part colouration. Erring on the cautious side, I blogged them as a Cattle and three Littles. Quite ironic that I had several e-mails suggesting I '...might have been mistaken!' Eventually Steve Smith connected and then everyone was all over them like a rash!

It's really good that they've stuck around for people to see- we bumped into Lee Evans when we visited at 11.00 am! That guy must really love his birds (and year list!) to visit Norfolk in this weather!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My birding year: just two 'lifers', but many fabulous birds!

It's been a terrific year for me in so many ways: although I only added two species to the life list (Isabelline Shrike and Purple Gallinule) I managed to photograph many of my favourite species, latterly with a newly acquired 300 prime lens.

The pictures below are in chronological order, but barely reflect the fantastic plants, animals and places that have appeared in my view-finder. In July, for example, Brian Tubby and I spent three days in Northumberland, enjoying delightful weather and catching up with every target species: we even met John and Gary Richardson on the boat out to the Farnes!

At least once a week Brian and I were joined by fellow 'Summer-winer' Norman Tottle: we enjoyed many terrific days out together with much expert advice from my two camera-experts in residence! I'm looking forward to many more outings in the future...

And, of course, Linda and I got out birding together on numerous occasions - sometimes alone, sometimes with our great friends Peter and Sue. This is, in many ways, a rehearsal for next year when Linda retires from her job as bursar of a large school.

In conclusion: many thanks to the 500 or so people who currently read my blog each day: Happy New Year to you all and to birders everywhere!