Category Archives: nature

Sixteen Minutes

I’ve not been sleeping well in the heat, though this difficulty seems to disappear if you stick me in front of the TV. As a consequence tonight has been spent watching quizzes, snoozing, wrestling with an automated bidding system, eating a delicious meal of sausages and Mediterranean vegetables and taking Number Two son to work.

That leaves me with sixteen minutes to write this post.

There was an interesting radio programme on tonight, about invasive species and Acclimatisation  Societies.  These societies were an aspect of imperialism that is still damaging things today.

The invasive species in UK include Zebra Mussels. Their main effect in the UK, according to the programme is that they colonise drains and water supply pipes and choke the water flow. Not a problem I’d ever thought of.

Three minutes to go. Phew!

 

An Evening in the Marshes

After we’d had our chips we took a drive out into the marshes and Julia took a walk along the beach. I need a firmer footing so I stayed inland with the camera.

As I pottered about the marshes taking blurred photos of larks and pipits a hare came for a look. It’s strange how things always seem to pose awkwardly. In this case the hare managed to stay behind the intrusive fence wire. Then I failed to photograph a Cormorant, a Marsh Harrier and a flight of Oystercatchers.

I ended up at Blakeney harbour taking pictures of boats that were stuck in the mud. They are much easier than birds.

The car park is free to National Trust members, which was the high point of the holiday for me.

I could offer a more insightful view into marshland, tourism and the National Trust, but I won’t, because I’m feeling quite relaxed after looking at the photos and remembering the evening.

The Butterfly Safari

We’re now travelling back in time. It’s back to Monday morning this time, to a time before the Sheringham Fish and Chips. I put the the postcode for Strumpshaw Fen into the sat-nav and was once again mesmerised by its capacity for random navigation and time travel.

It started off by leading me in what I thought was the wrong direction and then took a turn for the worse as we took in a selection of narrow roads with grass growing down the centre. It was like taking a trip into a time of more relaxed transport and I’m sure I saw a Hay Wain in the distance.

The main butterfly at the reserve is the Swallowtail. There were, according to reports, several still to be seen on the reserve. We also had hopes of seeing White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries.

From the lack of Swallowtail picture in the header you may be able to deduce that things did not exactly go to plan. You may also search in vain…well, you’ll find out in good time. For now I will keep the tension building.

The first thing we saw as we crossed the railway line to the reserve was a bat, which fluttered down into a bush. They have Pipistrelles in the roof of one of their buildings, though they don’t usually fly in daylight. It might, we agreed, be suffering from the heat.

Pipistrelle Bat, Strumpshaw

Pipistrelle Bat, Strumpshaw

We took a walk through the woods, looked at the wire contraptions that used to shelter orchids, saw a few surviving orchids, pointed a camera at several butterflies and muttered bad words at my lack of success in actually photographing them. Ditto for dragonflies.

We did see a Marsh Harrier, but, to be fair, they are hard to miss. The Canadian lady who was in the hide at the time was ecstatic at seeing one, and the conversation moved on to her difficulties in seeing Polar Bears in Northern Canada. It was nice to think of a cold place while burning up in the middle of a Norfolk reed bed.

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Marsh Harrier over Strumpshaw Fen

Whilst listening to tales of the frozen north I noticed that a Comma had settled next to the path. As soon as I pointed the camera at it, it flew away. It’s a common butterfly and I have lots of shots of it, but it was still vexing to miss yet another shot.

I also missed a White Admiral – twice. We had good views of them, but they didn’t settle long enough for a photograph.

I was able to get some damselflies, some blurred dragonflies and, after returning to my primeval origins, hunt down a darter.

This is a Ruddy Darter. Probably.

These are Damselflies – possibly a Common Blue and a Blue-tailed.

Finally, as we sat under an ivy-covered tree, drinking tea and (in my case) restocking my calories with a big chunk of flapjack, I noticed a butterfly. It was the tomato soup red colour of a Comma, which was a poor second prize for a day of butterfly spotting in Norfolk.

However, as I zoomed in I noticed it was a completely different shape to a Comma.

And that was how we managed to take a photograph of a Silver-washed Fritillary.

That evening, after chips, we took a ride out into the marshes, where I enjoyed myself taking blurred photos of larks and pipits, missing a shot of a female Marsh Harrier and, eventually, getting some shots of sitting people and moored boats. They move slowly so I can manage them.

I’ll post them later as I have to go out now.

 

Some Guest Photos

Julia managed some decent shots in the Mencap garden this week – I particularly like the one in the featured image, a parent Great Tit shoving food into a permanently open mouth. As a parent I find that image strikes a chord.

She took some video of Blue Tit parents flying in and out of a box, but it won’t load. However she did get a shot of the other Great Tits in the garden. Three broods, all doing well.

The other Great Tit nest

The other Great Tit nest

 

Yesterday’s Photographs

Here are some photographs from yesterday.

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Glossy Ibis – not a great shot but the best I could get

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Bogbean

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Cream Tea – functional but not as elegant as Clumber’s offering

Bempton Cliffs and the Truth About Puffins

It was a nice day at Bempton, being pleasantly sunny and with a nice breeze. There were dozens of people about, many of them wearing jackets and a lot of them wearing shirts, hats, shorts or trousers of various hiking wonder-fabrics.

Me? I had a ten-year-old shirt on, with the sleeves rolled up in casual manner. Julia noticed that the edges are starting to wear through, so I’ve been banned from wearing it again.

I had my normal trousers on. I was just getting where I wanted to be, with seven pairs of identical navy blue cargo trousers when Julia bought me two pairs of khaki for my birthday. At one time all my trousers were khaki, but I changed to dark blue as they are more serviceable for a man with a bladder problem.

They are also better for funerals.

Khaki, I feel, is a bit frivolous for a man my age.

I think it’s a woman thing, having all your clothes different. I’m quite happy for them to be all the same; it cuts down on the chances of making a bad fashion choice.

Women also prefer, it seems, clothes where the buttons match, the colours aren’t faded and the edges aren’t fraying. As indicated above, we had quite a discussion on this subject.

Then we moved on to my hat. That was not a comfortable conversation either.

The reports of hundreds of Puffins on the cliffs and hundreds more at sea proved to be an exaggeration. There were two burrows where birds had been seen flying in and out, and we spotted three Puffins out at sea, though one did dive and disappear within a couple of seconds of being spotted. They are like that.

Fortunately I’d been half-expecting this, as it was what had happened last year, so we weren’t particularly disappointed.

The two we saw at sea were quite cute, so it wasn’t a wasted day.

Anyway, even without Puffins, a day on the cliffs with my wife and a decent breeze is never wasted. There were other birds, a number of flowers and a seal eating a massive fish while gulls tried to steal it.

I’m not sure what sort of seal it is – apparantly being grey isn’t a sign that it’s a Grey Seal. You need to look at the nostrils. It was in the sea, I was on top of a cliff – I was struggling to see the head, let alone the nostrils. Anyway, the nostrils are situated quite close to the teeth so I’m prepared to exist in ignorance. When you go to Donna Nook they warn you about the teeth.

I’m afraid I didn’t do well with the photographs – there is no excuse apart from lack of enthusiasm. I just couldn’t seem to get things right.

 

Part Three follows…

Natural History from the Car

As I drove to Newark this afternoon I noticed a group of rooks whirling aimlessly round the sky. On looking closer I realised they weren’t being aimless, but were in fact mobbing a buzzard. here were about 20 of them, though it wasn’t that easy to drive safely and count rooks at the same time.

Shortly after that I passed a roadside tree full of strange ball-like growths in its leafless branches – mistletoe in its natural state.

A bit later in the same journey I had to brake sharply when a large fox decided to run across the road. You don’t see many foxes in the middle of the day, and this is the first time I’ve ever had to put the brakes on to avoid one. It looked healthy and well-fed so I’m not sure why it needed to be out and about. Sometimes things are meant to remain a mystery.

The only other bit of natural history was a buzzard roosting in the roadside tree. Always nice to see, but let’s face it – they aren’t rare these days. It just goes to show what’s about, even on a grey day of driving round doing errands.

The picture is a random pansy. They are out in the garden so I thought it would be OK to show one.