Friday, 30 June 2017

Great session at the Fen!

When I saw this dark raptor at the Fen this morning, everything seemed right for it to be a (somewhat tatty!) Black Kite: greyish head, yellowish, dark-tipped bill, yellow legs, slightly forked barred tail (unfortunately not obvious in the photos) pale wing patches. On reflection, it's more likely to be a very dark Marsh Harrier I guess...

A brief run around this morning (I had to be back to receive some parcels) turned out to be surprisingly productive, with excellent close views of some good butterflies, dragonflies and - courtesy of the thoughtful reserve staff - moths! Posting photos of a couple of the White Admirals I saw today is a little like rubbing salt in friends Sue and Peter's wounds, but that isn't the intention. honestly! Several people pointed out this pair of Common Emeralds as Willows: nothing I could say seemed to change their opinions!

Terrific to find a couple of tubby little Swallowtail caterpillars and a Kingfisher too!


 






 






Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Birds of the Yare Valley...

Just a reminder! My guide to the best birding spots in the Yare Valley is available on Amazon  or directly from me by phone or e-mail. Either way, the book costs £12, postage included.  I'll happily sign a copy should you wish!

The book should be available at the better-known bird reserves soon and I'll keep some in the car, too (so if you meet me out in the field you can pick one up straight away)

We've purposely kept the price low: the idea is to help people to discover more of the Yare Valley and, hopefully, add their support to the movement to protect this fabulous region from property development and industrial agriculture.

Companion volumes for the Thurne & Ant and  Bure and Wensum will follow if there's a demand!

Unwelcome visitor #2

In their place (ie: not in my garden!) I really enjoy watching Grey Herons: they are almost prehistoric in appearance and have subtle plumage details that make them great photographic subjects. Where they are not so welcome is lurking by the side of our small pond waiting to nab one of our ten year-old Koi! Generally speaking, since our garden is fairly small and the pond is right under my office window, Herons tend to stay away. This morning, however, I surprised this individual by turning on the office lights, causing him to flap up onto the roof! (The 'blobs' are raindrops on the window: it's pouring down!)




Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Odds and ends at Strumpshaw Fen

Since this morning was forecast to be the last dry spell for a while, I met Brian and Norman at the Fen for a relaxed walk round. To be honest, it was too cool for dragonflies or butterflies and there was no sign of a return wader passage (which has already begun on the North Coast!) but it was still good fun to shoot the breeze. In the Fen Hide we bumped into Brian S and Kevin, who'd had a Kingfisher and a Barn Owl - neither of which came back for a reprise while we were there! Tower Hide was more promising than usual since the water level was down a good half-metre. Nothing too exciting today, though apart from a Common Tern fishing aerobatically in front of the hide.

We finished the circuit, adding a Cetti's Warbler,  our own Kingfisher and a Sparrowhawk before returning home for lunch. On the way I stopped in Bullacebush Lane once again, and once again the Yellow Wagtails were in their regular spot: I managed a couple of distant pictures before they were scattered by the traffic!










Monday, 26 June 2017

Scarce Emeralds at Thompson Common

Today I took my annual run down to Thompson Common in the Brecks to look for Norfolk's rarest resident damselfly, the Scarce Emerald. These are notoriously difficult to separate from Common Damsel, so I've taken the liberty of pointing out three critical features!
 
1) Small square green spots behind the thorax of the female
2) Some green on S2 of the male (all blue on Common!)
3) Somewhat thicker, shorter pterostigmata (with buff tips)

If you've never visited, Thompson Common is amazing, with all the regular Darters and Chasers, as well as Norfolk, Brown and Migrant Hawkers. Lots of other nice beasties too, including Grass Snake and Buzzard. Good to bump into Yare Valley patcher Murray, as well as a delightful family from Bath up here on holiday.
 





Common Emerald for comparison!







Sunday, 25 June 2017

Open gardens at Acle

As some of you may know, I taught at Acle Primary School for 18 years: 12 of these were my happiest times as a teacher, not the least because that's where I met Linda! I also met friends Paul and Penny at the school, teaching all three of their lovely daughters and playing in a band of which Paul was the bassist.

They have a beautiful barn conversion just south of the village, where today they and their two neighbours hosted a charity open garden event. Now I know this is allegedly a wildlife blog, but there is a tenuous link, in that all three beautiful gardens were designed with wild plants and creatures in mind. Swallows nest under the pantiles, while bees, butterflies and other insects were abundant.

As you'd expect, Linda and I bumped into lots of people we knew from 'the old days', as well as neighbours Peter and Sue, who arrived too late for me to buy them tea and cake!