Blog

2018 Dragonfly Highlights

Usually tricky to photograph so always a pleasure when I manage to capture some images of dragons and damsels.  This is a group of insects I love to see.  I’m not however that great on i.d so was well pleased when Mrs H bought me a top notch field guide.  Now I can get out to try and track down some new species.  Here are my favourites from last year.

Female Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum). This caused big i.d problems, luckily resolved by experts on a facebook group. It was great to be able to use the macro lens on these insects
Four Spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata). A common species that does like to pose nicely
Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) at Hickling Broad, not a species that stays still for long
A nice find on holiday. Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) in Cumbria
An even nicer find Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) in Cumbria
dsc_0340a
Back in Norfolk and a Black Tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum). Usually this species sits on the ground so nice to get this shot
bbc dsc_0249a
The glistening wings show this is newly emerged. Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) in Sheringham Park
DSC_0301a
Brunch time! A Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis) snacking on a fly
DSC_0096b
“Smile! He’s back in action” Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) appears to be happy to pose when I got my camera back
Advertisements

2018 Bird Highlights

At the start of the year, due to lack of finances, I decided to give up my rare bird alert pager.  This device would give me up to the minute information on the location of rare birds around the country and scarce birds in my county.  Having had the pager for the best part of twenty years it felt strange going out without it in my pocket.

The bad thing about going to see rare birds (twitching) is the crowds.  Back in the day it was the same faces, you got to know everyone.  Now it’s like a rugby scrum, madness.  So in a way I’m glad to just do my own thing, I’ve seen over 400 species in the UK, not really bothered if I notch up any more, plus I appreciate the commoner birds more.

March kicked off with the ‘Beast from the East’ a snow storm that blocked local roads keeping me from going to work (how sad lol). It also brought Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) to the garden
The weather was so severe that two Woodcocks (Scolopax rusticola) were forced to look for worms in my lawn
And even crazier this Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) pitched up on the front lawn. A very definite first for the garden!
As the weather improved the local Barn Owl (Tyto alba) searched the meadows
Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) the highlight of a day at Sculthorpe Moor NR
Chiffchaff (Phyllloscopus collybita) in the garden weeping willow. Will it head south or stay the winter? Well I’ve not seen them since the autumn
Lone Dunlin (Calidris alpina) in the shore pool at Salthouse reflected my mood that day
I just had to finish with another showing of the hovering male Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) at Holkham Marshes

2018 Butterfly Highlights

How was 2018 for you?  This year just past had so many great memories for me.  It turned out to be a cracker for butterflies.  Spring got off to a brilliant start.  Armed with the new macro lens I got a huge amount of satisfaction photographing my favourite insects.  The long hot summer added to the fun despite the disaster with the camera.  I photographed five new species and got stunning images of so many more.  Here are just a few of my favourites, enjoy!

Back in April I got this shot of an Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) which turned out to be a favourite for you bloggers
After a long search I caught up with this Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae)
May and the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) my shot of the year!
A trip to Bentley Wood in May and my first ever sighting of the Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne)
On the way home new species No2 the Wood White (Leptidea sinapis)
Can’t forget the Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) and the stinging nettles!
Black Hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) had a fantastic year at Glapthorne
White Letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) photographed for the first time
A trip to the Lake District and we found one of Britains rarest and most endangered butterflies the High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe) at Latterbarrow
Also in Cumbria a tiny Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes)
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) in September as the season draws to a close

Next time I will be highlighting some of my favourite bird shots.

Postcard from Cromer

 

Firstly may I wish all my followers and everyone who visits this blog a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

DSC_0228a
New years fireworks over Cromer pier

We spent a few days over the new year just around the coast in the seaside town of Cromer.  I still had to go into work but it was nice to be able to go out and celebrate without needing the car (where we live is several miles from anywhere!).  The fireworks were excellent, shame it was blowing a gale straight off the sea!

DSC_0202a
Cliff top path to town

Traditionally a fishing town famous for its ‘Cromer Crabs’, it was in the early 19th century that it started to become fashionable as a holiday resort.  This was boosted in the 1880’s when Clement Scott wrote of ‘Poppylands’ combined with the coming of the railways. The church tower (on the left of the image) is the highest in Norfolk.

DSC_0211a
I would liked to have got a perfectly symmetrical shot looking straight down the pier, except there is a lamp post on my right stopping me!

The pier as you see it now has stood since 1902.  There have been jetties and wooden piers on this site since the thirteen hundreds all ending up destroyed by the power of the North Sea.  In fact this pier nearly ended up the same way.  In November 1993 a barge broke free of it’s moorings in a storm and cut the pier in half.  Twenty years later and a storm surge caused considerable damage.  It’s always a popular place for visitors.  Beyond the the pavilion theatre is the R.N.L.I lifeboat shed.  Cromer’s lifeboat men are renowned for their bravery, the most famous being Henry Blogg.

DSC_0204a
The Henry Blogg memorial

Finally before I go I would like to thank petrel41 for nominating me for their ‘Real Neat Blog Award’  Check out their blog https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/DSC_0218a

 

 

 

Let Us Prey

What more magnificent sight is there in birdwatching than a majestic bird of prey cruising high up on the thermals in a clear blue sky.  These are fascinating creatures.  The fascination being that you rarely see that many and opportunities to study them up close are very few and far between.  However, not everyone shares my delight in seeing a raptor.  There are those who would seek to destroy the adults and nests because they have the audacity to eat their precious grouse, pheasants or racing pigeons.  This is despite these birds of prey being fully protected by law.

Enjoy some shots of these wonderful birds taken in recent weeks.

DSC_0118c
Fly a Kite! A pair of Red Kites playing over Holkham. Although I’ve had closer images of Kites this is the first time I’ve got a shot of the upper wing

The Red Kite (Milvus milvus) has had a roller coaster existence in the UK.  In the 16th century these birds were so common they fed on waste in the centre of London.  Then they were, by an act of parliament, hunted to the point of extinction.  By the 1960’s there was probably no more than a dozen pairs left in hidden valleys in mid-Wales.  Now fully protected it was decided to re-introduce the Kite to the British countryside.  Eggs were obtained from Scandinavia, hatched, reared and released in the Chilterns.  I well remember an early morning journey along the M40 near High Wycombe many years ago.  Kites were everywhere alongside the motorway even flying into peoples gardens!  The first releases were such a success that other areas were chosen.  These birds have spread and recolonised much of Britain.  Though still rare, I often see them in Norfolk, with their 5 foot (165cm) wingspan and deeply forked russet coloured tail which they twist and turn, they brighten up any day out.

DSC_0017d
Buzzard over Sculthorpe

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo).  Thirty years ago to see a Buzzard in Norfolk was an unusual sight.  They have always been common in the West Country and Scotland.  Now they have spread and established and almost any suitable patch of woodland has a pair.  Smaller than the Kite at 4 feet (125cm) these birds are also mostly scavengers feeding on dead or sick animals and birds.

DSC_0008a
A female Marsh Harrier at Ormesby Broad

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus).  This is another bird of prey which, like the Red Kite,  was driven to extinction by the end of the 19th century through persecution and habitat loss.  For me this is a special bird for it re-established itself here in the Norfolk Broads.  What a thrill it was when out on the river to see a Marsh Harrier gliding low over the reed beds, wings held up in it’s distinctive V.  Now thankfully they breed in very good numbers.  Same size as a Buzzard but slimmer wings and a long narrow tail.

DSC_0141b
Kestrel hovering at Holkham

Finally a common and familiar bird, the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).  Often seen perched on posts or hovering over road side verges.  This Falcon is one species that has benefited from man’s desire for more and more motorways, as the short grass verges are a perfect habitat for it’s rodent prey.  A small bird with a wingspan of 2.5 feet (80cm).

Hope you enjoyed these.  At last we are seeing sense and giving these wonderful birds protection, they are once more gracing our skies.

Happy holidays everyone!  From me, Mrs H and the Lemming!

 

 

 

Hide & Seek

Sometimes when you have a plan things don’t always play the game as it transpired a few weeks back.  The idea, on a nice work free day, was to try and get some images of bird life with a touch of autumn colour.  With this thought in mind I visited Ormesby Broad which has an excellent path through woodland to the water’s edge.  It was looking good when I arrived, warm, still, a nice bit of sun and I could hear and see flocks of birds moving around.  Then a bank of cloud moved in and the birds went and played hide & seek.

DSC_0004b
The Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

With the light gone it was difficult to get any half decent shots.  The cropped image of the Wren really highlights the background noise of using high iso.

The Wren is a tiny bird with a very big voice.  It can be found in all types of habitat and is surprisingly the UK’s commonest breeding bird with over 8.5 million territories.  I say surprising because you never see them in flocks, usually on their own, hence the Latin name Troglodyte which means hermit or cave dweller.  In winter they will gather together to roost communally in tree holes etc.

DSC_0001b
Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)

The only other small bird I managed to photograph was the Marsh Tit.  The image would be ok if it wasn’t for those bright, out of focus leaves on the left.  Sometimes you have to take what you can get, and it is sort of autumnal.  As my teacher would have marked at the bottom of my school report ‘Must try harder’!

Untitled

Just cannot think of a title for this image.

 

 

 

DSC_0182b
Cantley

If you buy sugar from the UK there is a good chance that it started here.  Standing on the banks of the River Yare, overlooking the Cantley Marshes, this is Cantley sugar beet processing factory.  Every day during the winter period over 8,000 tonnes of beet is cooked to extract the sugar.  Hundreds of huge lorries daily bring the crop from a radius of over forty miles.  The smoke can be seen from quite some distance due to the flatness of our countryside. I live over 20 miles away and if the wind is in the south I can smell it.

On the plus side there is many acres of settlement lagoons where the sludge is deposited.  These are a magnet for waders and wildfowl.  When the factory is not in production you are allowed to go birdwatching there, and it has turned up many rarities.