Monday, May 30, 2011

Whatever you do, don't Sneeze!

Spent an interesting few hours on SUnday freeing my nuts off in search of the Night heron at Earlswood lakes..I was unsuccessful but had a really good time chatting to the other birders there and especially Kevin Groocock and Matt Griffiths (the starter of this rumour ).

The day started off with a bit of a mix up over the minibus and we eventually decided to go local in cars (Did I tell you it was a bird club trip?) So 4 of them set off to Rutland and the remaining 7 of us set off for Earlswood Lakes after it was suggested we try for the Night heron . The other lot were well on the way by then so didn't turn around .


We got to Earlswood and had a quick look round and there was no sign so it was decided to push on to Upton Warren and then come back later to try again, but I took a few shots whilst we were there.

Banded Demoiselle

Amphibious Bistort

So after a quick tea stop it was off to Upton Warren (somewhere I've never been before) and what a nice little reserve.  The highlight of the trip for me was a beautiful pair of Bullfinches first I've seen like this for ages.

Male Bullfinch
it was at this point Kammo Kath decided to get her camera ou and then just as she lined the shot up Alan Ramsell sneezed with the inevitable result
Aaachoooo!

So if you want a shot kath... £5 :D  We had the usual warblerage singing away and this fella stopped for a quick pose.

Sedge Warbler

and then it was back to earlswood for the long wait...

Mandarin and Mate
It was a bit slow as they say, and so anything that came into range got photo'd.  The mandarin duck for one (along with his mate a female mallard).

Common Tern
Unfortunately for us the damn thing appeared about 30 minutes after we left but it was still a good day.

Sunset at Earlswood









Monday, May 23, 2011

Norfolk Weekend - part two

So where did I leave you .. Ah yes, Titchwell so it must have been Sarnies, tea and bearded tits ! Right then Onwards and upwards.

Day 3 - The other way

Having ate heartily, we ventured to Kelling Heath in search of Dartford warblers of which there were none but we did get several stonechats and a solitary yellow hammer singing is heart out ( when he wasn't hanging on for grim death).

Yellowhammer


The heath looked a really good habitat but had had a few encounters with sparks from the steam engines of the North Norfolk Railway - never a good mix, dry heath and sparks.  But I guess this will result in some re growth in a couple of years time.

Female Stonechat


Whilst here we bumped in to a ex pat from Warwickshire (whose name I can't remember) but we had a good chat about local birders that he knew so it was good.

Male Stonechat


Also, his colleague ( God, I'm resorting to work speak in my own time now!!) was incredibly knowledgeable about the chats on the heath, he must have spent years watching them !

From here we shot over to Salthouse, again windy but sunny. Here, after a bit of searching, we managed to tick off Wheatear, Rock pipit and shore lark so not bad for an hour or so. then over to Cley our last stop before we went home.  I can recommend the Marsh-mans lunch - I have never seen such a slab of cheese!
Another Marsh man after his lunch

On the Marsh we only visited the two nearest hides I didn't think the strong winds would be conducive to anything popping out of the reed and apart from the "usual suspects" as they say we did manage a little and Temincks stint so pretty good considering.

I think the final species tally was 56 birds, 8 butterflies 2 damsels and a dragonfly (no ID) which when it was more of a learning trip for my friend and poor conditions and not a twitching trip was well worth it.  I just wish I could have taken more photo's but even with the tripod it was bad being buffeted all the time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Norfolk weekend - part one

After a bit of discussion we (myself and a friend) decided to have a birdwatching weekend in norfolk. A bit of searching we hit on Blakeney as a base. A couple of more meetings over a curry and a few beers and we had an outline of what we fancied doing (Subject to changes of course) So here we go...

Day One - the journey up

Left home at a reasonable hour and took a steady drive up the A5/A47 nothing spectacular till we got to Tixover and then we had excellent views of two Red Kite slowly drifting over the car ... if only we could have stopped for a photo opportunity!  Turned off into Collyweston and there was another Kite not quite as low but still good quickly followed by Buzzard Sparrowhawk and Kestrel .. so 4 raptors in the space of about 4 miles, pretty good going in anyones book me thinks. Originally we were going to head for the hotel and then take in some local sites but a quick change of plan and we headed towards RSPB Titchwell with the aim to arrive around lunchtime for a tea & sarnie stop ... it proved to be expensive but more later.

Early Purple Orchid at RSPB Titchwell


Fed and watered we took a slow walk around steadily ticking off the species that we wouldn't normally see in the heart of Warwickshire but it has to be said it was very windy and it was keeping some of the smaller stuf tucked well down in the reed beds. Then came the big mistake... on the way back to the car we called into the shop, I bought a couple of videos and John lashed out on a new pair of Bins, something he'd been planning to do but couldn't make his mind up. from here it was over to our base for the weekend, the Manor Hotel at Blakeney.

The Manor is an interesting place it has the look of a spanish courtyard about some of it.  The rooms were Ok  and you weren't restricted to two drinks per day like some places, with a bowl of milks and about 10 tea bags and the same of coffee - important for a tea-aphile like me :-)

Anyway, back to the birding, having check in tea'd up and unpacked we shot off to suss out a couple of site for the following day and then Wells Next the Sea for chips followed by a spot of owl watching.  I have to say the Chippy was excellent but they always are by the sea! the Owls... none existant ( never trust a man who says guaranteed spot for barn owls).  so back to the hotel for a few beers...

Day Two - oot and aboot

Following on from the first days success we had a conference over an excellent breakfast and decided not to go with what we'd decided and try some  different sites due to the crap weather forecast ... (never trust a weather person!) So we tried some of the lesser know spots like Burnham Marsh

Sea Campion
and Burnham Norton.

Thrift - Burnham Norton
Both of these looked good sites but again the problem was the high winds were keeping stuff down but we did manage a few warblers, a blue tailed and a small red Damselfly and quite a few Wall Browns which considering the wind was a feat in itself!

Wall Brown

Back to Titchwell for a cuppa and sarnie and we decided to have another look around ( still no rain as forecast!)  and saw more warblers then having sat on a bench for 5 minutes or so 3 bearded tit's appeared. but agin the blustery wind was making it hard work but it was still an enjoyable day 

Ragged Robin RSPB Tichwell



Monday, May 02, 2011

Mixed bag

Well the day started off normal enough.  After a conversation on the lotty yesterday with another member of the committee I sowed about 100 Greyhound cabbage seeds and about 10 courgette seeds to use on a spare plot we've got ( help keep it clean & tidy). I nipped down the plot only to be roped into moving a double glazed door for someone who wanted it on his shed! Quickly followed by three railway sleepers and another shed on to my plot!

SO, I have a base to construct and a shed to repair & erect this week to make ready for next weeks preparation to plant out the 30+ Chrysanths and my Dahlia's (if I have any intime!)

Then I returned home and a quick mug of tea and a sarnie before shooting off in search of Dragonflies .. and guess what!


HD
Hairy Dragonflies

Got them!!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Time for a bit of gardening ...

Well the last few posts have been about natural history so I thought it was time for some gardening.  At long last I've finished tidying the greenhouses out and have caught up with the potting up/seed sowing etc.

But forst a new one for me some Pleoines that have just flowered for the first time ...an'ct remember the names at the moment so a quick dash to the greenhouse is called for

pleione bulbacoides

Pln. 'Vesuvious Leopard'

Pln 'Vicky'

Stunning little flowers they are too.  Now some views in the greenhouses

The lefthand side of the big Greenhouse

On here are are a few of the chrysanths I'm growing  this year plus a few Border Carnations that survived the ravages of winter in the unheated Greenhouse.

Little greenhouse
And these are some more of the chrysanths plus the toms, peppers and a few other bits.  This greenhouse now houses the Propagating bench so it stays a bit warmer... but still not up to -26c!!  I lost quite a few Cacti this year as well (which I never have in the past) but I guess that gives opportunities for other things.