Thursday, 29 September 2016

As rare as it gets!

Not a bird: but Linda and my other little obsession! When we were married twenty two years ago, times were pretty tough: to pay for the wedding, I sold all my antiquarian books and Linda parted with her collection of Wade porcelain figures.

Not to be confused with the little 'Whimsies' that can still be found in Christmas crackers, these were highly collectable British porcelain made in the fifties, sixties and seventies: some are legendarily hard to find, having been made in minute quantities!

Well: it's taken a long time, but, by scouring junk shops, collectors' fairs and internet auctions, we've now rebuilt the collection of most of the rarest sets: just two or three more to go. This is lucky, because we've more or less run out of room to display them!






Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hoopoe at Brancaster

With two potentially photogenic birds in the north west of the county, I set aside the morning for a solo run up to Brancaster and Titchwell.

Arriving at the beach car park at Brancaster, I was given the 'glad tidings' that the recently-present Hoopoe had been flushed off by photographers. Knowing the species quite well, I doubted it would be long before it returned: this was the case. Thanks to Sue Bryan, I knew exactly where to walk and, within ten minutes, I was enjoying my closest-ever views of the species. Out to sea the small gallery (Hi to the Brecon Beacon Posse!) was entertained by a very pale Arctic Skua, several Sandwich Terns and Gannets and a flock of Scoter, but the star was the Hoopoe: apologies for posting a few images, but it's a corker!

Titchwell failed to produce anything more exciting than a veggie sausage bap: certainly not the Pec Sand which seems to have moved to Frampton, but I did connect with a flitty Yellow-browed and a Little Stint...







The New Moon in the Old Moon's arms!

What a beautiful sight in the pre-dawn sky, just above the eastern horizon: the waning crescent Moon with the remainder of its disc illuminated by reflected light from the Earth. The point of light below and to the left is a minor star of the constellation Leo.
 

 
 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Waxham: more Yellow-browed Warblers and a bonus Clouded Yellow!

Another solo dart out to the coast: this time for a walk along the newly-created coastal path at Waxham. This leads in both directions from the site of the old Shangri-La: I headed south, scanning the sycamores and bushes as I walked. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies (a few Migrant Hawkers, but mostly Common & Ruddy Darters) but very few birds. A Merlin dashed across the fields, while Sparrowhawks and Kestrels hunted the dunes.

After a couple of miles I came across a charming middle-aged couple who'd pinned down a Yellow-browed in a sycamore. Frustratingly, my views were too brief (yet again!) for photos, but I saw it well as it flew off. I circled round to the top of the dunes and relocated it twice, but still a decent photo eludes me!

Several Stonechats popped up on the bushes and - best of all - a somewhat battered but still beautiful Clouded Yellow posed for photos. How green is that lovely eye?

On the way back to the van (see photo!) I heard two more YBWs and saw yet another...


 






Monday, 26 September 2016

Six species of raptor at Buckenham and a Yellow-browed at Strumpshaw!

I had to take a huge builder's sack full of tree and bamboo clippings to Strumpshaw Tip this morning, so I thought I might as well have a walk round before the rain arrived: in the event a few decent birds presented themselves - albeit mostly distantly!

Almost the first sound I heard as I walked through the wooded area past reception was the 'chewy...chewy' call of a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was travelling with a small tit flock, so although I'm pretty sure I glimpsed it a couple of times, I didn't manage a photo. Carrying on towards the river, I bumped into Ben: he'd not only heard the bird but seen it too: he reckoned it was a well-marked individual.

Tower Hide Scrape was rather deep, so the only waders were several Snipe: lots of elegant Shovelers and dapper little Teal, however. A KIngfisher perched briefly on the 'fish trap' in front of the hide: I obtained some reasonable images at the sluice on the way back to the car.

A brief stop in Fen Hide added Whinchat and Bearded Tit to the day list, but, again, the water levels are very high at the moment. Four Chinese Water Deer frisked about along the cut rides.

Having dumped the rubbish, I carried on to Buckenham. Although everything was a little far away, I managed to pick out Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel hunting over the marshes and belt of woodland. No passerines to add to the tally, but some interesting hybrids among the Canadas and Barnacles. A couple of Snipe were in front of the hide (so about half a mile away!)














Sunday, 25 September 2016

Migrating Martins!

Every time I looked from my office window today, I saw a Martin ('though not the old friend I used to bird with - no idea where he's migrated to!) At times there were dozens passing over in mixed groups of both Sand and House Martins: I must've seen at least a couple of hundred...

While I was grabbing a snap or two, I caught a small passerine passing the crescent Moon: again, soooooo close! Final picture is some of the crowd of House Sparrows that Linda has lured into the garden with regular feeding: they breed in the hedges in some numbers these days - most welcome return after the dramatic decline of a few years ago.





Saturday, 24 September 2016

Glossy Ibis at Strumpshaw Fen

My birding chum Brian T is, of course, a Vol Ranger at the Fen. Today he was taking a walk round when the Glossy Ibis unexpectedly flew through: here's his mail to me and photo:-

The Glossy Ibis is back! Is it the same one which stayed over until a couple of weeks ago (sorry pic not very good -it was a long way off)?? Flew from Tower Hide direction towards Rockland just after 9am this morning - hopefully will return!!

It certainly looks to be the same juvenile. Sadly there is so much water in front of Tower Hide that the Ibis wasn't tempted to land for a poke about.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Dinner party! A trip down the Rhone...

As some of you may know, I used to co-own a hotel and am a trained chef. Not many things give me more pleasure than entertaining friends: in the past Linda and I threw some legendary soirees, for up to a dozen people. As we've grown older, we've finally realised that true friends can be numbered on the fingers of two hands, so these days we prefer to invite round people with whom we feel really comfortable and relaxed.

Tonight our good friends Sue and Peter are coming over for supper: since both enjoy a glass of wine (and are extremely knowledgeable!) I've decided to steer clear of the clarets tonight and offer a journey southwards down the Rhone Valley from Beaujolais / Chablis to Nimes and Languedoc.

The menu I've come up with is robust and Mediterranean in style: crab mousse served on the half-shell, herby 'meatballs' in a rich tomato, pepper and garlic sauce, with rosemary-roasted potatoes and some fabulous breads. Pudding is a chocolate ganache tarte with French fruits and cheeses.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Back on the patch: an unexpected Osprey at Strumpshaw!

A very brief session at Strumpshaw began in Fen Hide, where I met with Brian, Norman and Brian Shreeve. Plenty of good-natured banter, enlivened by an ever-present ('though distant) Kingfisher, several Herons, two Chinese Water Deer and a Cormorant or two.

After a while we decided to walk to the end of Sandy Wall to look for Bearded Tits: didn't connect with them, but I did pick out a distant Osprey flying south across the Yare.

Tower Hide was back to its usual depth, so no waders other than ten Snipe dozing on the grass in front of the hide.