Friday, 27 August 2010

Here they come

It was only a matter of time before the birds started to visit my hide again, I have not been putting a lot of food about but I have kept a couple of wire feeders topped up with nuts, and one with sunflower hearts. I arrived to find them all empty which was no surprise as I have been away for a week or so, but it was pleasing to see the birds come in as soon as I filled the feeders.
The blue tits were the first quickly followed by the Green finch.

Blue tit

Green Finch
Chiff Chaff

Nice to see so many juvenile birds around, although I guess they will get thinned out a little as the Winter goes on. I became aware of a movement in the Hawthorn hedge to my right, at first I thought it was a Squirrel as the branches were moving more than they did with the smaller birds, it turned out to be a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, she took a peanut and disappeared, how lovely.
Juvenile GSW

Here are a few of the birds that appeared in my short time at the hide.

Jenny Wren

Not quite sure what happened to this Black bird but if he is on the pull tonight I reckon he will be unlucky.
As you might guess it was not long before a squirrel paid a visit, he looked very contented sitting in the hedge chewing my nuts, and I was visited very briefly by another little mammal when this Field Mouse almost showed.
You can't see me, right?

All in all a very satisfactory couple of hours. As I walked across the field back to my car the sky was alive with House Martins, feeding up before their long trip to Africa, as I passed a high Hawthorn hedge I disturbed a Sparrow Hawk, I assume he was in waiting for his chance to snatch a House Martin, one little bird had a reprieve if only for a short time.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The BSG Brabant & Limburg Open show

Geoff Tuplin and I judged the show in Belgium last Saturday, and then judged the Norwich & Norfolk show on Sunday, quite a trip to say the least.

The Belgium show was won by Andre Goossens, who also took the awards for the Best Any Age in show, Best Young bird in show, Best Opposite sex Young bird in show and Best Opposite sex in show. The winner of the other Major award for Best Opposite sex Any Age went to Heylen Partnership.

Best in show & Best young bird
Spangle grey cock.

Best Young bird in show
Cinnamon Sky hen

Best Any Age in show
Cinnamon Light Green Cock

Best Opposite sex Any age
Cinnamon Light Green Hen

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fly past

I have not been reporting much from "My Patch" mainly due to the fact there really has been nothing to report, very quite from a birding point of view. With Autumn not being too far away (I know, but its a true) I have been putting a little bit more food variety around my hide, in the past months everything I have put down has been stolen by the Crows, Jackdaws, Horse's and even the Sheep so I decided not to put too much premium food out, just some old budgie sweepings and a few peanuts and sunflower hearts.
Although I said not much was happening on the patch it certainly was as I passed the old Kestrel box and saw this great big Tup (Ram) complete with harness ready for action.

Line em up, I'm ready.

It was not long before he was in action too, right under my nose not exactly what you want to be greeted with when out birding.

Will Lamb be OK?

I got to my hide, unlocked and set up my camera in case a bird did decide to pay visit, what I really wanted to do was set up a few perches in readiness for the time the birds were really hunting food, then I would be ready for them.

My hide as today.

There is an old tree trunk that I have had my eye on for some time, so today I decided I would have a go at shifting it. It was not the brightest of idea's as it was only on Friday I put my back out cutting the Ma-in-Law's lawns, all three of them. Anyway I decided to give it a go, I reckon I thought I was Geoff Capes for a minute. Although I could lift it, I was certainly not going to shift it far. I abandoned that one and looked elsewhere. I came across an old Hawthorn hedge root that Joe at some point decided to grub out, that would do I thought, shame it was about as far from the hide as you could get. I set about placing it in situ at the hide, but I am not happy with it, it seems wherever I put it something was amiss, I am sure as I settle down over the next few months I will find the right spot for it.

The view from my hide

By now I was too knackered to do much now but sit down, so I settled in the hide for an hour or so. As I said there has not been a lot about, just a few baby Blue-tits and a baby Robins put in an appearance which I was very grateful for.

Juvenile Blue-tit

Juvenile Robin

I sat trying not to doze off which is a very easy thing to do in the hide for some reason, I started to tick off the birds I had seen in my birding book when I heard the unmistakable sound of the Moorhen, where was he/she? I watched for a few minute when out from the back of my woodpile it put in an appearance fleetingly.


One thing that always disappoints me although I understand it has to happen is the spraying of the nettles. If they were left unchecked they would take over the land but nettles are the place where Butterflies lay there eggs and feed, if we all removed this habitat our Countryside would be a poorer place. The Autumn colours are starting to appear already as can be seen from this next image.

Dead Nettles

As I was heading for home, as if to say hello, one of the young Kestrels flew bye. I would like to think he waved at me for helping him and his family through the hard times, but then you would all say I had lost the plot.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Common Hawker

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The trouble with me is I'm too happy

The forecast for Norfolk looked OK so off we set for a few more days on board Ruby Tuesday, we can't get away now for as long as we used to with the Ma-in Law as she is, but it's still nice to get to sunny Norfolk as often as we can. We arrived around tea time on Wednesday and unloaded the stuff from car, set up the TV Ariel and had a brew. It was a nice evening so I decided on a walk, Jak's was reading a book. I like to walk aroung the chalets that line the river, nosey I guess. On returning to the marina I saw a few Wagtails both Pied and Grey flitting around the boats. On closer inspection I noticed that they were actually stealing flies from the spiders web's, how enterprising I thought.

Cobweb thief

I watched a few Swallows catching flies as they swooped over a small grassy area in the next marina, there was also a large flock of Goldfinches flying overhead, I would estimate the numbers to be in excess of fifty. A great Crested Grebe was preening and stretching close to my boat and a female Blackbird juvenile came and landed next to me as I was watching a Greenfinch feeding it's chicks, all in all a very nice hour or so before Coronation Street.

Time for a stretch

Thursday morning we had a leisurely trip along the river, it's amazing the lack of boat traffic on the water in the first week of August as again we seem to have the river to ourselves.

All alone

A few short stops along the way, then a longer stop off close to Strumpshaw nature reserve in the hope of seeing the Otters that reside along the river. Almost everyone I speak to in recent times have seen the Otters, we have seen them on a couple of occasions but not lately. Our first sighting was last October and the most recent one was in April when a Dog Otter crossed the path in front of me. This time we were unlucky again but it was no less pleasurable looking for them.

I came across a few Dragon flies and always take the opportunity to try and photograph them, this this time was going to be no different as I waited for one of them to land. How frustrating seeing Common Hawkers flying around me but not being able to get close to one, today I would have to settle for a lovely Ruddy Darter. As Arnie would say "I'll be back"

Ruddy Darter

We got back to the marina around tea time so with Jak chilling I decided on a walk around the RSPB reserve, it looked very busy when we passed by earlier on the river, as it turned out I had the place to myself. I had a quick look around the pool at the side of reception, there was the usual noisy Black headed Gulls, a few Shoveler and Mallards and a lone Little Egret, I didn't bother taking any images from here as the light was straight at me so any pictures would have been silhouetted. As I walked toward the Fen hide I became aware of the total silence, not a sound could I hear, yes I have a blocked ear at the moment that needs syringing , but even allowing for that it was so quite. No birds to be seen or heard at all, that is until I came across a male Pheasant who was obviously enjoying helping himself to the many Blackberries around at present.


Not much doing at Fen hide so I headed for the tower hide, I like this hide in the last few hours of the day as the sun sets behind it and can provide some stunning light, again there was the usual suspects around and I was pleased to see a few Lapwings feeding around the margins. I spotted a Chinese Water Deer on the left bank of the fen and watched as he seemed quite agitated, it took me a while to realise that this fella had decided he wanted the place to himself, any bird that dare land on his piece of bank was going to get short thrift. I was amused for around a half hour as he chased and chased anything that came near, and when he had seen them off he ran and jumped with joy then rolled on the ground, I felt privileged to have seen it

Get off my land

As the evening wore on I hoped that a few more birds would come in, but apart from a couple of Little Egrets and a Grey Heron that was about it. I had enjoyed my solitude on Strumpshaw Fen and my stomach was telling me it was time to head back to the boat, as I was closing the shutters in the hide the sun suddenly made an appearance from behind a huge cloud over the top of the hide, you know the sort of thing, just when you think that's it for the day, what a spectacle it gave me, I only wished I had another lens with me to capture the moment, I did get a shot but at 100mm it did not show the whole beauty I witnessed.


Friday morning arrived with bright sunshine, followed soon after by my mate Tuppy who turned up with Julia after a very early start from Hull. Bloody hell I can feel a verse of Shining White Street coming on. After exchanging the usual pleasantries we decided to take a trip to Langley Dyke, I am always happy to visit this location as it gives me the chance to pursue my two main interests when in Norfolk, fishing and photography. Off we set, me and Jak in Ruby Tuesday and Geoff and Jules in Adagio. We arrived just over an hour later and moored up for the day.

The bank opposite the public mooring can be a haven at the right time for Butterflies and Dragons Flies. A quick brew and a chat to Tuppy who was setting up his fishing tackle in readiness for another very important fishing match (it usually takes him about 45 minutes so I felt safe in having an hour or so walk without worrying too much about him gaining too a big lead in the fishing stakes) I was amazed by the numbers of insects buzzing around and pleased to see a good number of Common Hawkers. This time I did manage a few shots as some of these wonderful creatures rested a while. I had noted that Tuppy had placed a couple of small fish in his net so it was time retain my title in the fishing stakes.

Common Hawkers

As we were fishing I became aware of a Great Crested Grebe tussling with a fish, a fish that was obviously too big for him, but if nothing else the Grebes are persistent so it was no surprise to me that this fella would spend the next twenty minutes trying to swollow the Roach. He had it in the correct position to swallow it on around eight or nine occasions, but in the end it was inevitable that he would have to give it up as a bad job and seek a smaller meal.

Too big for my belly

I know you are wondering how the fishing went, well suffice to say that I netted three for everyone of Geoff's, total eighteen to six. Jak had decided on a Cornish pasty for tea, but had forgot we would be away from our permanent mooring so no electricity, I said I would BBQ them, eager to try out my modification to my BBQ, needless to say they were a disaster as the bottoms burned, while the insides were still cold, I can't believe I did not take an image of them, even if to keep showing Jak if she ever wanted me to cook a meal again, but I fed them to the fish in disgust. I did capture my BBQ modification though.

I think an improvemen


Time to head back to the marina, again we had the river to ourselves as we pushed the tide. A large flock of Greylag geese heading towards us, they turned at the last minute and I guess proceeded to land on one of the many pools that border the river, there was an Albino amoungst them, shortly after that a small flock of Canada geese headed directly at our boats, it really did look like a head on, obviously they gave us a miss in time and I did manage a shot as they passed us by.

Fly past

Saturday saw the girls shopping, Geoff was fishing so I decided on another trip to the nature reserve, this time with a view of sticking it out in Fen hide for a few hours, the Otters have been regular visitors here,but not this time. I am glad I waited though as I was treated to the site of four Marsh Harriers feeding over the fen. One parent I think and three juveniles, one with a bloodied meal in its claws, too far for pictures but a great site in the binocular's. Suddenly a Kingfisher appeared in front of the hide, he stayed for around fifteen minutes as he dived and missed its prey, then dived and caught, this action was repeated a number of times. It's just a pity that it was overcast as the images could have been so much better.

A Favourite

I returned to the boat and waited for the girls to return, in due course they did and we decided to take the boats out again and moor in Surlingham Broad, a beautiful little Broad just off the main river Yare. We tied up together and did a bit more fishing. One of the reasons we moored where we did is because the area at the shallow end of the Broad is an attraction to birds, I was hoping to sight another Kingfisher. A grey Heron arrived after a short time and walked amoungst the sunken Wherries, this area was a dumping ground in days gone buy for Wherries that were passed their best.

Wherry dumping ground

Heron bath time

As expected a Kingy did turn up, spotted by Geoff a juvenile, we watched as it attempted to catch a meal, he hung around for quite some time flying from one favoured perch to another. I smiled to myself as I realised how lucky we were to be able to experience nature like this at close quarters.

Geoff continued to enjoy his fishing, and I well remember the days when I was as keen as he is at present. Jak and I had to laugh though when we heard him say "The trouble with me is I'm too happy"

A great few days away, I can't wait to get back to Norfolk again.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Will I? Won't I?

I could not make my mind up if I wanted to go fishing or attempt to photograph some Dragon Flies, so I set off this morning to try to do both. I took my spinning/Jigging rod and reel set up and my camera, but it does not stop there does it? I needed my forceps incase I caught anything, my lure box, spare traces, my binoculars, a drink, some chocky and a Jak gave me a pear as I walk out the door. All this meant I needed my chair backpack to put my gear in. I set off down my patch and headed towards the river, the problem with the little river Sence is that it is either flooded or virtually no water, but there are one or two decent pools on the stretch so it was these I intended to have a few casts. Unfortunately the river is very overgrown at this time of year and I found it very difficult to get into position, especially as I was in my shorts, I soon got fed up being stung by nettles and gave it up as a bad job.
My jigging gear
I had parked my car next to Joe's pond so decided on a couple of casts in there, as far as I am aware it does not hold any predatory fish, but you never know. Half a dozen casts later and I was on the move again. I left my car and headed towards the canal, here I could fish and hopefully see some Dragon flies. I bumped into Joe as I was leaving the Manor he told me he had recently noticed a couple of Kingfishers circling the pond, probably juveniles and seemed quite excited by the fact. I will be keeping my eye on this area the next week or so.

As I walked the towpath I saw a boat heading towards me, then one appeared from behind, it was soon evident that the fishing gear was to be just a passenger, the water was a dark muddy colour, not really conducive to lure fishing. I took the camera from my backpack which made it feel a little more comfortable and carried it on my should with the strap, at least I would be ready if a photo opportunity presented itself, It didn't, certainly not Dragonfly or bird wise anyway, it has been very quite as far as the birds are concerned for some time now. I did notice a few things that reminded me we were heading for Autumn though. One in particular was the sight of some conkers on a small chestnut tree.

Early Conkers

The fact that there was not a lot of wildlife to be seen made my walk no less pleasant, I am always happy when I am out and being near water for me is a bonus. I came to a small lake that is nestled very close to the canal, it must be ten years since I was last here, I got talking to a Scottish guy who was fishing and I recalled how it used to be full of large Carp, he told me they had all been moved, either sold or stolen and that all was in there now were small carp and silver fish. I could hear a Green Woodpecker very close although I never got a sighting, another place to bear in mind when the leafs fall and make it easier for birding.

After about a half hour of passing the time of day I moved on, by now I had walked about three miles, and never fancy covering the same ground on the way back so as I continued my walk I called Jak on the mobile and asked if she would pick me up when I felt had walked enough? Being the good gal she is said she would if she could find me.

I noticed some Bulrush growing in the margins of the canal and it reminded me that most folk do not recognise it as such, they refer to Reed mace as Bulrush, strange as they are miles apart in appearance.

Reed Mace

I walked for another two miles and then came across two guys tending to the towpath, one with a mower and the other with a very loud strimmer. I was close to a road now and thought it time to ring Jak, come and get me I said. She said she would be half an hour so I walked a further 500 yards to an old lock house where I notice a large number of Swallows, great I thought as I watched them swooping down to the water and take a drink, I positioned myself at the base of a set of steps that lead to the next level of water at the side of a locks, I could look directly down the canal, ideal as the sun was also in the right direction. I tried to focus on a couple of Swallows without success but thought it only a matter of time. How wrong could I be as strimmer boy appeared on the bend of the footpath, he appeared and the Swallows disappeared.
Strimmer Boy

I walked the short distance back between the locks to wait for Jak, as I got to the bridge she was coming over it, great timing. She took me back to the Manor and I got my car. I was not giving up yet, not with the Dragon Flies anyway, so I headed to the lake on the edge of Newton Harcourt, built especially for the farmer to water his taters. I had seen a few Dragons there in the past, I was not to be disappointed this time, although there was only a couple of pairs. I tried to get some in flight images but at this time of day I reckon my reactions had slowed so I settled for trying to find them as rest, not always easy I can tell you.
I can across a Common Hawker female and watched as she continually flew back and forth over a short stretch of water, in time she landed, now was my chance.

Common Hawker (Female)
She had started to lay eggs so I hoped she would be too pre-occupied now to notice me and my big lens.W hy do the always face the wrong way? Dunno buy they do, Its not easy getting close without disturbing them, especially when you have a dodgy knee, but I was not going to let a bit of pain stop me from achieving my objective.

The egg laying process

I was happy I had at least got a couple of images, I hate being out and returning with nothing. I managed a one shot of a Common Darter, before it darted off, so all in all a good day.
Common Darter

Maybe I should have gone directly to the lake this morning, but I did enjoy the walk if not the fishing.