Sunday, 30 November 2008

Patterns in decay

A grey and gloomy day. To get some fresh air had a walk around Courtyard Farm near Ringstead in the afternoon. Not much in the way of photo opportunities in the poor light but I did like the patterns of decay in this leaf and the way that I could use the milky sky as a backdrop.
After leaving Courtyard Farm I popped down to Brancaster Staithe for the last 30 to 40 minutes of dusk. Too dark to take photos by then, but some nice birds were present. A ringtail Hen Harrier twice came through the harbour putting up flocks of waders and wildfowl in its wake. In between the harriers' patrols a Sparrowhawk shot through low and at speed also spooking the other birds. Then just before I left a Kingfisher flashed by. Not a bad half hours spotting in low light.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Snowy Sunday Morning

Ivy flower and leaves covered in snow at Titchwell.

Juvenile Herring Gull checking out possible food source, Brancaster Staithe.

Water Rail in trailside ditch at Titchwell

Couple of rather stoic and pony's Burnham Norham Norton.

Female Blackbird after berry's, Titchwell car park.

It started snowing in Hunstanton first thing this morning and continued on and off until lunchtime. By this evening the temperature had risen from -1 to 4 degrees and the snow melted away.
For much of the morning I was confined to the car as the snow was being blown hard and horizontally. This was OK at Brancaster Staithe where I was able to use the car as a hide. By the time I got to Titchwell it had stopped snowing and I was able to go for a walk around the Fen Trail and down as far as Island hide. Highlight of this walk was a Bittern flying over the marsh to the west of the west bank path and a couple of Water Rails in the ditch by the side of the path one of which is shown here.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sunny Sunday Morning Beach Walk

Woke to a clear blue sky and blustery breeze. Decided to walk along the beach from Hunstanton towards Holme. Great light and for most of the walk relatively few people about. Started out taking pictures of the waders and gulls feeding on the exposed mussel beds beneath Hunstanton cliffs. The Common and Herring Gulls here have learnt to drop mussels from a height to break them open and as is the case elsewhere on the coast the Turnstones have learnt to try and get to the broken mussels before the gulls can descend.
A bit further along flushed a Little Egret which dropped down in front of me giving me a chance to fire off a couple of snatch shots including the cropped version here.
On the beach by the top end of the golf course I found the flock of Snow Buntings reported on Birdline East Anglia yesterday, over 50 birds in the flock, quite flighty and by now the beach was getting busy so this is the best image I managed to get.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Timed a Barn Owl

Travelling back towards Docking from Burnham Market yesterday, we saw a barn owl hunting the rank vegetation by the side of the road. The owl pounced on a small mammal and flew off in front of the car, it didn't want to fly over the tall hedgerow that flanked the verge and so flew parallel to the road and our car allowing us to record its flight speed at 22mph with vole.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Greener Scotland is Sold Down the River

I'm angry, because today it looks like those who want to trash the natural world have won a victory in a fight that could have and should have been avoided. And because of a decision that defies logic and common sense in its wholesale caving in to the demands of the developer.

Yet a few months ago months ago some local politicians showed great strength of character in facing up to the full onslaught of one of global capitalisms less pleasant faces and rejected the application to build over a unique sand dune system in Aberdeenshire. In part this act of moral courage was underpined by the realisation that Donald Trump and his acolytes were not prepared to compromise over the development that would see irreparable damage to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, this despite RSPB Scotland employing golf course designers to show that a course could have been constructed without damaging the SSSI.

So what happened next?

Well Scotland's SNP leadership showed a complete lack of backbone or real belief in the importance of Scotland's natural environment and caved wholesale to Donald Trump's demands. In the process undermining any credibility that they may have in their claims to being a mature party of government.

If you'd like to know more you could start by following these two weblinks to the RSPB website

Last word on the decision making process can go to the leader of Scotland's Liberal Democrat's Nicol Stephen.

“These meetings raise serious questions about the First Minister’s judgment and whether he acted appropriately.

“The First Minister has a clear conflict of interest and should have played no role in the planning process.

“His actions have been at best unwise and are potentially seriously prejudicial. The sooner the First Minister makes the position clear with a full statement of the facts the better.

“He needs to come clean about his discussions with the Trump Organisation and senior civil servants.”

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Winter Redshank

Another grey day but without yesterdays blustery wind. With limited time to spend outside I headed for Brancaster Staithe harbour. In the quiet months from the end of Otober half term through to Easter, this is a great spot for using the car as a mobile hide.

The best of the snaps I took today is this cropped image of a redshank.

After 40 minutes in the harbour taking pictures and drinking a takeaway Coffee from Deepdale Cafe, I moved to Titchwell and spent half an hour watching from Fen Hide, not much doing other than a brief view of a Water Rail and a distant female Marsh Harrier.

Had a short dusk walk at Courtyard Farm, where the Hawthorn bushes were full of flocks of Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds and a female Sparrowhawk patrolled the edge of a field presumnably looking to catch a thrush going to roost.

Autumn Glow

I only had time today for a quick early morning boot around Holme Marsh. A grey sky and blustery easterly wind that later in the day brought rain. Plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares around the marsh and scrub and flying over. I hadn't seen a Marsh Harrier down here for a couple of weeks so it was good to see a male and female hunting over the main block of marsh between the hides and the White House. The number and variety of wildfowl loafing on the small pool in front of the hides has also gone up in the last week or two, a sure sign that autumn has now almost finished its transition into winter.

In the short time I had available no birds came close enough to photograph, but I did like the lovely red tones of this fading bramble leaf which seemed to glow in the diffuse November light.