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Showing posts from October, 2015

Charity Begins at Home

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I've been giving some thought lately to a project. Perhaps a better label would be pipe dream, to see every kingfisher, bee-eater and roller species that currently inhabits this wondrous world in which we live. I dreamt up this plan following a 'bucket list' session with the mem sahib down our local pub a couple of weeks back (which more than filled the paper napkin on which I scribbled). Realising such an endeavour would benefit from a modicum of research, I fished around on Amazon and there found a book wonderfully entitled ‘Kingfishers, Bee- eaters & Rollers’ which contains colour plates, detailed descriptions and distribution maps for every one of these colourful species known to science: fate or what?Needless to say I purchased the book and have been flicking through it for the past week or so wondering if it would really be possible to actually put this plan into action.
The 24 species of bee-eater seem relatively straightforward since most are to be found in Afr…

Golden Autumn

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What drives these minute little birds to make the journey? Why do they take such a huge risk? Launching themselves across the cruel broiling sea in a seemingly hopeless attempt to reach more promising feeding areas, safe from the advance of winters bite. The odds are so severely stacked against them, but still they come. And for the past week or so they have arrived in their thousands; Goldcrests mainly, minuscule packages of feathers no bigger than your thumb. On our east facing coast every stand of bushes or trees has held several of these incessantly active bundles of feathers; busy stocking up with the slim pickings of autumnal insect life to replace the energy expended in their epic journey across the featureless waters.
A look at the weather chart, or indeed poking your head out of the back door, over the past week would show lowering, rain filled cloud driven by a strong North-easterly wind clipping eastern England. The low pressure area producing these classic autumnal ‘f…

Once Bittern

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I knew it was there, stealthily stalking amongst the dense stand of reeds. I knew it was there because I'd seen it fly across the broad and land amongst the uniform stand of luxuriant summer growth. I knew it was there but I could not see its cryptically patterned form. Patience: the key to success, it was bound to show eventually. Other birds briefly enlivened the scene; jays looping to and fro in their mission to stash acorns, a green woodpecker bounding, a marsh harrier soaring, a Cetti's warbler blasting. But still the bird remained hidden. In the soporific warmth of another sultry early autumn afternoon, a brimstone butterfly, soon to hibernate in the shelter of some ivy clump, flittered lazily around the screen behind which I was positioned. Siskins, newly arrived from the dense tracts of Scandinavian forests, wheezed in alders above me whilst a heron stretched skyward spreading its voluminous wings to soak up the rays of the most welcome sunshine, looking for all the wo…

A Week in Autumn

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Autumn, the season of change: summers end and the gradual descent into winter’s frosty grip; chilly, mist enshrouded mornings and foreshortened evenings, soon to be gaining daylight at breakfast and robbed of an hour at day's end. The season of colour: rainbow hued woodlands, hedgerows ablaze with scarlet berries. The season when the natural world is in a state of flux: frantic activity of mammals to store provender for the long, cold months just over the horizon; the last flurry of butterflies and wasps feeding greedily on ivy flowers; the movement of birds in numbers beyond count from north to south around the world. And it is these things that I have witnessed over the past little while.

Saturday 26th September - a brief trip to NWT Ranworth. A spell here, sitting nibbling a snack on the picnic area outside the visitor centre, was quite productive with a pair of hobbies and a pair of sparrowhawks spiralling above us in the clear skies of early autumn. The hobbies were intent onl…