Sunday, 28 May 2017

Garden year ticks...

Nothing rare in the greater scheme of things, but Painted Ladies - particularly mint-fresh ones like that which graced the front garden this afternoon - are always welcome. Carrion Crows, likewise, are not common here on the Heath, so two in our garden today was impressive, especially since they were part of a swarm of corvids that included Rooks, Jackdaws. Magpies and Jays!

Yesterday's Buzzard returned, immediately recognisable by its symmetrical moult.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Mammatus clouds

These beauties passed over the Heath while I was mowing the lawn today: amazingly, despite hanging down from an enormous cumulo-nimbus, they only dropped a tiny bit of rain. I assume someone, somewhere got the benefit!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Strumpshaw Fen: hotter than St Tropez!

Always worth a look round the Fen, especially if you can arrive before 7.30: that's particularly true at the moment, given that birds seem just as uncomfortable with the sudden high temperatures as we are!

This morning an early start provided good views of Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier and Hobby, while Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Cetti's and Chiffchaffs were still in good voice! Lots of interesting insects, including this smart longhorn beetle and several species of dragon and damselfly. No Swallowtails while I was there: I think the low numbers of caterpillars last year may have resulted in a poor hatch of these splendid butterflies...

By the way: worth mentioning that birds appreciate you providing water more than they do food when it's hot: we have a pond, a splash pool and two bird-baths, all of which are receiving steady custom at the moment! Having said which, this greedy juvenile Starling took some extricating from the feeder: I'm pleased to report he flew off none the worse for wear!


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Yellow Wagtails at Blofield Heath!

I've walked dozens of miles this spring and visited every regular site looking for a Yellow Wagtail to photograph. Today my Big Bro' came up from Kent to join me for a run round the Yare Valley resorts: Yellow Wag was very much on the agenda!

First port of call was Cantley: like everywhere else in the Valley at the moment there was  far too much water for any waders and there were hardly any ducks or gulls either. The two most interesting birds were a Red Kite dozing on a distant windpump and one of the Peregrines sitting on its nest atop the silo elevator. A Hot Cross Bun was steaming on one of the paths!

A move northwards produced the lovely sound of two - possibly three - Turtle Doves purring away at a traditional site, but we never got a glimpse!

Last stop was Strumpshaw, where the only subjects we found  at which to point a camera were the clump of Twayblade Orchids. It looked as if Rob's visit was destined to be a little unproductive, but at the eleventh hour a pair of Yellow Wagtails dropped onto the road in front of us! Within a mile of the front door, these beautiful sprites flirted with what little traffic uses the road before flying off into the wheatfields.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Leucistic Pochard and other goodies at Cley

It's that time of year again: if anything new turns up, it's likely to be something extra special: that didn't happen today! However, Brian, Norman and I had a morning at Cley and enjoyed the sunshine, the craik and the cheese scones! The birds weren't bad, either!

The walk out to the sea along the East Bank produced a few family groups of Bearded Tits (around 20 in total) including some amusing youngsters: Reed and Sedge Warblers were fairly showy, as were the several Little Egrets and Marsh Harriers. Most interesting find was an amazing leucistic Pochard that shared its pool with four or five more orthodox birds!

Several times we bumped into local artist Rachel Lockwood: her on-the-spot sketches were beautiful! She pointed out a group of three Hares chasing each other along the shingle ridge - by the time we reached the sea, they were quite distant but actually on the beach!

Sandwich, Common and Little Terns were passing by, as were a few distant Gannets, Fulmars and Kittiwakes...
After coffee we moved on to Kelling Quags: lots of Butterflies, including Green-veined White, Orange Tip and Gatekeeper, but no Yellow Wagtails - just a few Whitethroats.


Image by Norman Tottle