Sunday, 22 April 2018

Booted Eagle at Strumpshaw

I don't know who reported the Booted Eagle at the Fen this afternoon, but I wonder if it might have been this beautifully-marked Buzzard that drifted over the Heath in that direction?

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Charity treasure hunt

This afternoon Linda and I joined our friends Sue and Peter for a six mile walk around Blofield Heath, Pedham and Hemblington. The object was to interpret clues and answer questions: we reckon we did pretty well!

This is a beautiful place to live, and on this sunny Spring day the hedgerows and verges were full of wild flowers, including one delicate, daffodil-like bloom none of us could identify.

Overhead the first Swallows curved through the skies, while four or five Buzzards enjoyed the gentle breeze. One very pale individual hovered for minutes at a time just like a Rough-leg !

The Bees' knees!

This afternoon, once it was warm enough, Linda carried out some routine maintenance on the new hive. The bees were very docile and had already collected quite a lot of honey: much more of this fine weather and Linda might need to buy a separator!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Great White Egret at Carlton Marshes - but still no American Bittern

Sue, Peter, Linda and I took an early evening drive out to Carlton Marshes, arriving at 5.45. This, as it turned out, was half an hour after the American Bittern made its final brief flight of the day!

Still: a great evening, with distant Barn Owl, Snipe and - best of all - an unexpected Great White Egret to keep us interested.

A terrific sunset was followed by the beautiful sight of a crescent Moon close to the bright star Aldebaran with Venus nearby.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Still no American Bittern, but four more year ticks!

Brian and Norman picked me up even earlier than usual for a bash at the American Bittern at Carlton Marshes. Despite six hours on site, we still failed to catch a glimpse (although RBA suggests it turned up after we left!) Maybe I'll have a last go one evening...

Lots of Buzzards and Marsh Harriers to enjoy, as well as more Yellow Wagtails and a dapper little Barnacle Goose.

The fine weather continues to open the doors to migrants: today we added Sedge Warbler, Cuckoo (distantly!) and Willow Warbler to the year list while waiting for the Bittern and - on the way home - Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Hen Harrier and Blackcap at Waxham.

Drinks on the patio with Peter to welcome the bees and the first barbecue of the year too!

Linda's bees have arrived!

A couple of years ago Linda became concerned about the decline in the UK's Honey Bee population: unlike some folk (me included!) she decided to do her bit and enrolled in a beekeeping course!

The garden has been completely remodelled, with extra water, bee-friendly plants for all seasons and a smart new hive. Today, Linda's brood arrived! 20,000 new friends in our garden!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Deceived by a Jay!

Just after dawn (when there was still a heavy mist over the garden) Linda and I heard the unmistakable call of a Buzzard circling overhead: this is a regular event these days! This was immediately replied to from the old oak tree in our neighbour's garden: a dialogue commenced!

As the mist unravelled, I was astonished to discover that the answering 'mews' were coming from a Jay! I wonder if this has been recorded previously?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

This morning I gave a talk to a large group of retired business people: they specifically requested my ‘Did we really go to the Moon?’ presentation.

From the start the audience (average age 70+) was, to say the least a little hostile! After ten minutes, one attendee got up and left, shouting that I was a disgrace for ‘..questioning the bravery of the Apollo boys’
(Not, of course, that he’s ever met any of them!) As a matter of fact, I had quite specifically said that the American Astronaut corps was / is made up of brave, skilful pilots, many of them combat veterans. I never criticise them or their role in the alleged landings.

After an hour of total silence we had questions: OMG! It was a triumph of prejudice and irrationality over carefully-constructed and evidentially supported argument. No-one could come up with a single credible piece of evidence that the Moon landings had taken place... One chap kept shouting down my statement that laser beams were 'bounced' from the Moon well before 1969: he claimed he was an expert. I've just sent the chairman a link to accounts of Russian and US experiments that succeeded in using the lunar regolith to reflect both laser and radio beams in 1962.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Carlton Marshes: no American Bittern, but three year ticks!

Despite an early start and hanging around until 3.00pm, the Yank was a no-show (while I was there at least!)
A decent crowd assembled in the sunshine, which I see from the photo included old birding friends Martin Reed and Mike O'Hara.

Best of the rest were five Yellow Wagtails, two Whimbrel, three Cranes, numerous Swallows and a male Marsh Harrier that was so pale it looked like something 'more interesting' at times! Lots of butterflies: all Small Torts and Peacocks...