Friday, 30 July 2010

Where's Mick gone?

If I needed a reason to go out today it was Jak's pet budgie sitting on my head saying "Where's Mick gone" after hearing it for the fortieth or fiftieth time I could stand it no more, where would I go? Any bloody where to get away from that bird, its getting worse that "Shining White Street if ya don't mind" going around in my head. I was reading about the forthcoming butterfly day where we can all take place in a day of counting butterflies, not sure I can be arsed with that but I could go out and photograph a few. I walked the local canal towpath with little success, but I noticed after a while I was paying more attention to putting my foot down on a clean part of the path trying to avoid the dog poo, rather than looking at what I could photograph.

I decided to visit Saddington Reservoir, well know locally as a good spot for flutterby's. As I reached the turn into the resi I became aware of a blonde girl in the field that the road borders.

Chance meeting

I parked up and went for a closer look, by this time she was kneeling down looking towards the ground, is she taking drugs I thought? I approached her and shouted are you OK? She stood and said she was then asked should I not be here, I replied no problem I just wondered if you were OK. It turns out she was photographing small things, i.e. grass hoppers and small mouths etc that were habitating there. She saw I had a rather large one (Lens, drag ya neck in) and we got chatting about photography, it appears she would like to be a Professional togger and wanted to study the craft in collage. She asked me about my photography and said I had inspired her, I felt very pleased. I said goodbye to Danny and wished her well, she said she was pleased to have met me, I wish all chance meetings were as pleasant as this one.

Walking around the reservoir I became aware of a high number of Damsel Flies, I am interested in these but do not really have the equipment to photograph them properly.

Banded Damesell Female

I may in time invest in a proper Macro lens. I saw some Peacock butterflies, these never cease to impress me with their vibrant colours and massive eye's on their wings to deter predators always amazes me.

Peacock Butterflies

The Cabbage whites which were in abundance never interested me but I did see a few Comma's another strikingly beautiful butterfly. I have never been happy with my butterfly and insect images, one I don't think I have the patience to get the shots I might, also the macro equipment to do the job properly so I guess I will have to make do for now, I just can't resist photographing them when I get the chance though, and it gives me something to do when the birds are scarce which they appear to be at present as far as I am concerned.

Comma Butterfly

Not too many Dragon Flies to be seen around the reservoir but I did see a few Common Darter, i prefer the colouration on the female to be honest but I guess they are both beautiful in their own way.
Common Darter (Male)

Common Darter (Female)

I was getting bored now, giddy is probably a better description spinning around with the camera pressed to my face chasing bloody insects all over the place, so I decided to get myself over to Gumley, but before I did I took one last shot of a Bee on a thistle, when I looked at the pic on the PC I noticed the Hover Fly, hovering. Bonus aye.


I know an area in Gumley near the cricket pitch where a large Bramble grows and is a heaven for Dragon Flies for a reason unknown to me. But as I reached my chosen spot I noticed a tractor to my right, the guy inside got out and walked towards me, I said Hello mate to which he replied, you know you are way of the public right of way don't you? I replied no I didn't, he said well ya do now F. Off. I can hold my own in a shouting match but thought it would be fun to watch this guy explode as he appeared pretty much wound up as it was. I asked him not to swear at me, he said he will do as he liked as I had no right to be on his land. I asked him what rights did I have to which he replied you have no rights now I explained to him he was totally wrong and that I infact did have a right to be there, is that your car he said, yes I reply (which was parked one metre off the main road. He threatened to get his tractor and remove it, feel free I said and while you are doing that I will call the Police.
Mr Grump

I reminded him that he may well have been the bully at school, it may well have got the results he craved for, but it certainly was not going to work with me. At this point he stormed off muttering to himself and headed back to his tractor. I wished him well and suggested he have a nice day. What a contrast to the start of my day and other chance meeting in the field with Danny. I can't say it did not spoil my day a little, a simple would you get back on the road and I would have been gone. I wonder what wound him up today, maybe one of his cows shit on him at milking, I have to say I don't blame her either.

I decided it was time for home, I was mad, but was not going to let one annoying liaison spoil my day, as I entered the house Jak whistled me as she always does when I get back, Billy flew on my head and said "Where's Mick gone" made me smile.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Broad Bodied Chaser (Female)

Broad Bodied Chaser

Blacktailed Skimmer

Common Darter

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Barn Owl.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Torbay B&FBS Show

My budgie partner and I were invited to judge the Torbay Silver patronage show over the weekend, and what a great event it turned out to be even though the show hall was a little restrictiveat times, it appeared to be bulging at the seams with birds and exhibitors. If this show gets any more popular the Committee will seriously have to consider looking for a larger venue. The standard of the birds throughout the sections were outstanding and it was a pleasure to be able to judge some of them, my only issues was the space restriction when judging, making it difficult for me to access the birds properly, also the light was not great. Having said that we were made most welcome and treated exceptionally well from start to finish.

The major winning exhibits were staged in excellent condition, with the Best in show award going to Brian Sweeting's wonderful Grey Green cock, a real show man just like his owner.

Brian with his Best in show.

Best Young bird in show went to Roger Long's Cinnamon hen, Roger was also awarded Best Opposite sex Young bird with his Spangle cock.

Roger & Kath Long

Intermediate Any Age was awarded to C. Williams and the Intermediate Young bird award went to. P. Huntley.

In the Novice section I was pleased to see Darren Snell do very well by taking both Novice Any Age and Young Bird, no wonder he had a smile on his face all Sunday afternoon.

Darren Snell

Barry Lowe took both Beginner sections, also winning the Light Green Challenge certificate with his excellently staged Light Green cock.

Ronnie Biggs

The Junior section was dominated by Tom Salem, I was so pleased to see Tom do so well after his poor breeding season, I am sure he feels much better about his birds now than he did earlier in the year.

Nice one Tom.

All in all a very good day, rounded off by a BBQ at the lovely home of Sue and Barry Lowe. The woman chatted all night, I wonder where the Guy's were? Oh Yes, admiring Barry's budgerigars.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.

Jeff Attwood & Ian discussing budgies

Barry inspecting a nest box.

I would like to thank Sue & Barry on behalf of myself and my partners for your wonderful hospitality, but get some bloody tea bags in before our next visit.
Please pass on our thanks to your Committee and Members for a very pleasant judging experience and a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Wednesday started with me getting up early and having a walk around Brundall, the Swallows were still in numbers around the marina and a Pigeon was starting the build a nest in a small tree, other than that there was not a lot about, we had decided to visit Whittlingham Country park, this is reachable by boat with a small public mooring for around six boats. We set off up river in both boats, pushing the tide we decided on a nice steady pace, it was a wonderful Summer Norfolk day. As we reached Woods End we started to see a few Kingfishers along the river bank, Geoff pointed one out to me sitting on a rope of an old boat tied outside a farm house, I could not get a good shot but it was not for the want of trying. Jak kept circling the boat maneuvering into position for me to get the best view, the very obliging Kingy must have been peeing himself at our antic's. I happened to look up as we were playing silly beggars on the river to see three strapping Policemen, bloody hell I thought, what now.
Evening all

I apologised for taking up most of the river and blamed Jak, they said OK, we all laughed as they passed us, I wouldn't mind a job like that I thought. We continued our trip to Whittlingham and arrived about forty minute later.
Geoff tied up first and then it was my turn, the girls Jak and Julia decided to sit at the side of the river and have a natter and enjoy the sun, Geoff and I chose to have a walk, maybe not the best idea on such a hot day, it was very warm as we set off and not long before the decision to take my tri-pod seemed a bad one. We went off the beaten track into the wood in the hope of spotting some birds (any birds yes) and dragon flies on the edge of the wood, we were disappointed, even more so when out of the blue we were confronted by a flight of steps made from wood and bark as the path we were following decided it would go straight over a huge hill. We both made it OK but Geoff did admit to Julia later that he thought he may not. On exiting the wood we found ourselves walking along a cut off the main river Yare, here we did see a few Dragon Flies although too nifty to get any pictures of them.
Geoff noticed a different looking bird as we watch some bathing Greylags, we could not recognise what it was but it looked like a cross between a Greylag and some other Goose.

Greylag cross?

Geoff at the half way point

Eventually we arrived at the halfway point around the main Whittlingham Broad, thankfully there was a bench seat where we rested a while, we got chatting to a guy with a camera and large lens about our sightings, I recalled I had spoke to him before at Rockland Dyke I remembered he was very evasive at that time, he was no different today. We did get out of him that the woman he was with was not his Wife, and that the Wife was at home, time to move on we felt. Geoff spotted a Dragon fly that looked like a young Broad Bodied Chaser, the light was wrong for a perfect image but managed a shot anyway.

Juvenile Broad Bodied chaser

We were struggling by now and wished we had taken a drink with us, we could see the boats in the distance although a way off, and eventually managed to reach them and enjoyed a very welcome drink. It was not long before we decided to head off to the pub and get a meal, arriving at Woods End we moored and enjoyed a very welcome shandy, the menu was not to our liking so we decided to move on and eat at the Yare pub.

Moored outside The Wood End

A good day was had by all and another was expected tomorrow as Geoff's Brother Jim was due, time for me to gain revenge in the fishing stakes.

Thurday we went into Surlingham Broad, a lovely little Broad just off the river Yare, but on route we came across a Great Crested Grebe with its babies on its back, such a lovely site.
Grebe family

On entering the Broad where I usually photograph Cormorants that roost and dry their wings after fishing on a dead tree, I was disappointed to discover the tree had fallen down possibly due to being subjected to years of Cormorant poo. I will be interested to see where they choose now to dry. We had a slow cruise around the edge of the Broad and saw a couple of Grey Herons fishing, these birds are very wary and fly off at the drop of a hat. I did manage to take a picture of each one and also saw another hiding in the reeds/tree branches.

Grey Herons at work

It was not long before the silence was soon broken as Geoff turned up with his Brother and the girls, a quick chat then we all set off down river for a cruise.
Meet the Tuplins
Jak likes to drive our boat from time to time, she does what I call religious driving " Across here across there" and when she does manage to keep it straight does so on the wrong side of the river. We moored in Rockland Staite and I got the electric connected so we could have a brew. A fishing match did take place and I regained my title, enough said.

Walking around the Broad I saw a Chinese Water deer, plenty of butterflies and some some Warblers, entering the the bird hide I could here a Sedge Warbler, its very difficult to get a clear view of these. I have the Sedge's call on my mobile and played it to them, in seconds there were four or five flitting around I was unable to get a shot of one though, they just never stay still.
A couple of Flutterby's

I was getting a little peckish by now so headed back to the boat, we had decided on a BBQ Geoff said he had never done a BBQ before but was bragging about the fact Julia had won one in some competition. I thought wait until you see mine.My BBQ

Do you think we should join Mick

A great meal, a couple of drinks and some great fun was had by all. Jim, Rene and Kev had to head back home so it was time to get back to the marina, Geoff led the way as we followed in convoy across the wonderful Rockland Broad, it was a mill pond and looked so peaceful.
Rockland Broad

We arrived back at the marina and said our goodbyes to Jim, Rene and Kev, I guess they go back to "Shining White Street" now. Geoff decided on a bit of fishing while I sat on my boat with a cuppa, we chatted about what a great three days we had just had and about when we would be back for more. Tired, and ready for bed I said good night.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Shining White Street if ya don't mind!!!

That bloody statement has been on my mind for weeks now, infact since I was on my boat and Tuppy's Son and Brother (see July 3rd) turned up. In conversation about the old days and in particular our childhood, it transpires that Geoff & Jim's Mum or Mam as they say Up Norf was selected to appear on a Surf advert, no not because she was good at riding the waves in Newquay, but because she lived in White street in Hull. She was selected along with loads of others who lived in White Streets or White Chappel etc. When the interviewer said you live in White Street, she had to reply "Shining White Street if ya don;'t mind" Since they told me this it won't leave my mind, I find myself out of the blue saying the bloody thing at all times of the day and night, it's like a song or tune that's you just can't lose. So as you can imaging when I went back to Norfolk for a few days, and Geoff said he was also going to be there and Jim would be coming over on the Thursday it brought it to mind even more so. I think I even greeted Jim with "Shining White Street if ya don't mind"

More of Jim later. Having arrived at the marina on Monday afternoon we unpacked and had a brew and snack, I was aware as I drove into the boatyard that the sky was a mass of Swallows mainly juveniles so I was keen to try and get a few images of them. I love baby Swallows, they look so miserable at times.
Mr Grump

I watched them for some time first as they landed on the phone lines and boats, infact anywhere they could safely land and wait for the parents to bring them a meal.
Juvenile Swallow

Once fed, off they shot into the air again, some were swooping down in an attempt to get a drink, often unsuccessfully as they misjudge their decent and ducked themselves, it was quite amusing to see this. All of a sudden there was not a bird to be seen, I looked around and wondered why, looking up I noticed what I thought at first glance was a Sparrow Hawk, that would explain their sharp exit, on closer inspection I could see it was a Hobby, one of my favorite Falcons, there was five or six brave Swallows attempting to chase it off.
The Hobby

The hobby feeds on insects and large Dragon flies, and will take House Martins and Swallows, I did manage a shot of the Hobby before it disappeared. It was soon to be dusk and a few birds were already starting to find their roosting spot for the night.
Time for bed

The following day Jak and me had a trip down river, I wanted to go to the pub "The Beauchamp Arms" about an hours trip. The reason was to try to photograph the House Martins that build their nests on the pub each year. I was hoping to see a few babies about, I did get to see some but was about a week too early as they were still in the nests.

Two of a kind

It was still nice to know they had returned this year and were using the same nests as last year. Some nests seemed to have three or four babies some just one, all the same I really enjoyed watching the parents catching insects on the wing and bringing them back to their offspring.

Oh what a mouth

We stayed a while sitting on a picnic bench next to our boat and had a shandy, it was a glorious summer day in Norfolk, there is no place I would rather be on a day like this. During the afternoon I took the boat to Rockland Staithe in search of Dragon Flies and maybe a few butterflies to photograph, having been unsuccessful two weeks earlier. I walked around the Broad towards the bird hide and saw a few Ruddy Darter on the low wall that runs around one end of the Broad, not the nicest perch concrete but beggers and all that.

A Ruddy Darter

I looked from the hide for twenty minutes or so and saw a few Broad Bodied chasers flying around but not close enough for a decent image. On leaving the hide I saw a Ruddy Darter on the hand rail, he was quite obliging really at one point I thought he was stuffed.
A close encounter

I was seeing Dragon flies but unable to get close. I decided to get into the meadow in an attempt to get some pic's. I did manage a few but not of my desired species. I did like the look of a Teasel head developing as the sunlight hit it, and the fact there was a Ladybird on it was an added bonus.

I saw a few Butterflies Butterfly and a few Bee's but no Dragon flies, by now I am about shattered having been on my feet most of the day in the hot sun.
A Comma

I made my way back to the boat and a well earned drink, Jak was doing her usual, sitting on the top of the boat reading a book, she looked knackered. I recognised a couple I had spoken to a couple of years earlier, they were doing the same walk from Rockland to The Beauchamp arms, we got chatting and he reminded me of a conversation we had at the time, he was in negotiations with Tesco, they wanted some land he owned, he was nervous they would pull out, it turns out the deal went through, he then proceeded to tell us about how they had purchased a now boat. Some folk have all the luck aye. Just as they said good bye, I saw a Barn Owl heading straight for my boat, I had placed my camera inside the cabin and made a dash for it, I got back just in time to get a shot of its bum.

Silent in flight

I love seeing the Barn owl at anytime day or night, a real graceful bird to say the least with its silent flight, no wonder its prey never know they are in danger until its too late.