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Showing posts from August, 2015

Eastward Ho!

It is 7pm (Monday 24th August) and I've just noticed a party of gulls heading east over the house. They are going to their roost somewhere in the broads, maybe Wroxham or Ranworth. The season is turning and this evening flight heralds, in a small way, the transition from summer into autumn. Although at present it seems only small numbers are involved, the daily movement will soon gather pace so that towards dusk during the shortening days ahead numbers will build. By the end of November large impressive flocks of mainly the larger species will fill the sky as they purposefully seek overnight sanctuary. I attempted to count the birds one evening a couple of years back but had to give up because I couldn't keep track of the numbers involved over quite a large front. It was also getting too cold (my dedication to science only stretches so far). However by the time I jacked it in I had recorded well over 1000 birds over my own back yard travelling in loose 'V formations. My vi…

Stop That Pigeon!

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There was a flutter of correspondence in the EDP a while ago concerning the increasing numbers of woodpigeons running riot across the land. As you would expect most of the commentary was rather negative with various solutions being presented, most of them of a terminal bent, including many opinions to the effect that they should all be shot. Whilst I’m a little dubious of the legality of this approach, I will not dispute that they can be troublesome, especially if you are a fruit or veg grower, or maybe park your car under a roost!
The population of woodpigeons has burgeoned greatly in recent years, and they have become increasingly urbanised. Basically they are a successful species that seems able to eat vast quantities of just about anything – a kind of goat of the bird world. Yet despite their seemingly unending appetites, general clumsiness and dull wittedness (why do they always fly towards a speeding car?), they do have another side, so I would like to offer an alternative view …

Harried Harriers

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Hen harriers. There's been a lot of activity amongst conservationists recently concerning their perilous plight, and quite right too. And with the ‘Glorious 12th’ having been reached, the cash crop of the (over)managed moorland can be reaped by the moneyed folk who believe blasting some living thing from the sky is good fun. But do we as a nation really care? We are supposedly a country of animal lovers, with whole industries devoted to the wellbeing of domestic pets, with charities doing sterling work looking after that icon of British wildlife the endearing and endemic donkey. Yet we stand by and allow a bunch of gun toting idiots to obliterate one of our most fantastic and beautiful birds of prey; our bird of prey, not some African or Indian species whose tenuous grip on existence would doubtless cause people to launch Facebook campaigns and empty their pockets in a vain attempt to reverse the downward trend. Nothing wrong with that of course, but hells teeth! we have a crisis …

On a Summer Afternoon

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Summer. The season when the fancy of every birder temporarily moves away from those avian creatures we love so much and migrates to a variety of other winged creatures - the insects - that at this time of year proliferate. The hemp agrimony, golden rod and buddleia scattered around the garden now play host to a bewildering variety of flies, butterflies, beetles, spiders and other tiny denizens of the undergrowth. Close scrutiny of the flower heads reveal a rotating cast of characters that is quite literally buzzing.
Armed with my new toy, a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens, I spent some time over the weekend admiring at close quarters various striped, spotted and otherwise decorated bugs as they went about their business supping nectar, gathering pollen, mating and predating. I live in Sprowston a suburb to the north-East of Norwich in an area developed during the 1930s. Apparently our immediate surroundings once comprised fruit orchards and certainly when we moved here in the mid1980s ther…