19
Dec
14

Curly

One of my favourite images from the summer; a purple hairstreak. Why one of my favourites? These butterflies normally inhabit the tops of trees. This one came down low enough for me to be able to climb up to it with a macro lens. I had to work hard to get the shot … and I just love his curly tongue.

Purple Hairstreak

17
Dec
14

Thinking back

All the media and Facebook storm about the Long finned Pilot Whales in Essex last month made me think of our trip to Tenerife a year last spring. We were lucky enough to spend some time on the water with their Short finned cousins. Beautiful blackfish.

2013 02 28 Short finned Pilot Whale Off Cristianos Tenerife_Z5A1106

Sadly one of the Long Finned Pilot Whales, a female, stranded and died in Essex but the remaining pod looks as though they then went back out to sea.

15
Dec
14

Eventually

You would think it would stand out like a new shilling in a sweeps … well … pocket; but it didn’t. An all white goose among the many grey geese in North Norfolk this year should have been easier to locate. No matter where we searched for the Lesser Snow Goose floating around Norfolk among the 10,000 or so Pink footed Geese it just didn’t materialise. We played hide and seek for hours and couldn’t find it no matter how hard we tried.

The search starts with harvested sugar beet fields. The geese just love the sweet taste of those sugar beet tops. When we found a good field and then returned to it the following week we discovered it had been ploughed. Tut. However a tip off (thank you Pete) that it had been around Egmere in mid Norfolk saw us giving it a go. Sighting skeins of Pinks  in the distance and watching them land we soon found the flock and there … eventually … at the back of the field was the white goose we’d been seeking.

I’d only just crept around the back of the car to get the camera out and the geese were flushed by the farmer. Double Tut. I managed to get a few flight shots but would have liked for us to see it for longer. No matter how many more fields we looked in we just couldn’t relocate it. I suppose we’ll cross paths again as it will probably be around all winter. Who knows it may even fly over Falcon Cottage at some point … plenty of Pinkfeet do!

2014 12 12 Snow Goose Egmere Norfolk_Z5A5641

13
Dec
14

… Tundra’s

At Weybourne here on the coast a harvested sugar beet field hosted a nice sized Pinkfeet flock. Among them were eight or nine interlopers. It’s amazing how folds in a seemingly flat field can hide something as large as a goose. Add rain, mist, failing winter light and a considerable distance to the birds into the equation and it wasn’t without some degree of difficulty we photographed the Tundra Bean Geese; pushing our cameras to the limit.

As they suddenly appeared, and then disappeared just as easily, we struggled to even find the Tundras in camera viewfinders. Big geese with sloping flat bills like wedges of orange and black compared with the stubby bills of the Pinks… and then there’s the orange feet and legs… if you can see them!

Tundra Bean Goose 2 Tundra Bean Goose

10
Dec
14

Heroes

There are some unsung heroes within the birding world; people that spend an awful lot of their time involved with bird recording, from which we all benefit. Pat and Dave Wileman are two of these heroes.

They religiously take note of ringed birds seen in and around Cley-next-the Sea. Not only the ones they see themselves but also those seen by others and they regularly produce an updated document detailing the sightings for those of us that are interested. The report makes for an informative read and contains some spectacular recoveries of birds that make seemingly ‘impossible’ journeys.

Enduring near arctic temperatures (I’m turning into a southern softie) I took the following compilation of photos this week on the shingle ridge at Salthouse just east of Cley on the Norfolk coast. They are of a ringed Turnstone and were taken in an attempt to piece together the ring number. By my observation the bird bears a Museum of Stockholm ring and by using the ‘known’ wording on the ring as a sort of ‘Rosetta Stone’ it’s possible to compile the order of the digits below the lettering as 4595522.

The bird had been seen at Salthouse before and was recorded in Pat and Dave’s document. I was able to glean that the bird had been ringed in Sweden on the island of Nidingen, Halland in the Kattegat which is actually off the west coast. That was on 7th September 2012 when it was a first winter bird. It was still there when it was re-trapped the following day. It was next seen at Salthouse in Norfolk the same year on 24th November and it was still around in the new year on 12th February. The Turnstone was again at Salthouse the following winter on the 26th November 2013.

We can’t prove it from the information we have (at the moment) but the implication is that this little Turnstone flew from Sweden to Norfolk in 2012, Norfolk to Sweden in 2013, and back again at the end of the year, Norfolk to Sweden in 2014 and back again to Norfolk this winter. A total of 4195km – as the Turnstone fly’s – another little hero.

Compilation 2014 12 09 Turnstone Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A5566

09
Dec
14

Another Wild Goose Chase

The other week news of a Lesser Snow Goose in North Norfolk had us searching the flocks of Pinkfeet for the pale American. Geese kept tumbling out of the air in small flocks from tens to hundreds; each individual being scrutinised carefully as they landed. We thought the field where they were gathering would burst at the seams … and still they kept on coming. Throughout the day we estimated we’d seen around 10,000 geese. This has to be one of the most impressive wildlife spectaculars within the UK.

A Buzzard flew over that gave more than one of us the impression of a Rough legged. Not this time unfortunately. There was a split second, as we crept along a hedgerow to see the flock in the corner of the field, when I thought I’d found the Snow Goose. A pale goose took to the air among the mayhem of birds. It was in fact a leucistic Pinkfoot. Where had that been hiding?

We never did find the Snow Goose. I’m sure however it’ll be around somewhere.

2014 12 05 Buzzard Great Bircham Norfolk_Z5A4361

Pale tailed Buzzards can catch you out!

2014 12 05 Pinkfooted Goose Great Bircham Norfolk_Z5A4355

As can pale Pinkfeet – if only for a second.

07
Dec
14

Christmas Pudding

Did I say it was all over? Well it certainly isn’t. Winterton proved once again it can pull in the migrants with this beautiful male Desert Wheatear being found on the beach and dunes north of the car park on Friday evening. The second for Norfolk this autumn. I popped along to get acquainted with it on Saturday morning. What a little cracker.

Desert Wheatear




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