Spotted, but not Spotted

One wader that seems to set more problems for my customers than any others is the winter plumage Spotted Redshank.

In summer plumage when the bird is as black as coal from bill tip to toe nail … no problem. It;s when it enters the cold grey plumage of winter it takes on the guise of its commoner cousin. A half decent flight view will sort Common Redshank from Spotted; the lack of white on the trailing edge of the wings is obvious. On the deck the dark eyestripe and white supercilium which appears to extend the length of the thin drooping bill being the most obvious. The whiter belly and grey plumage are also good pointers to it being spotted. This one was photographed at Kelling the other day.





Skitty Coot

Wherever you go in the UK you will have a high chance of seeing a Moorhen. Even on the smallest pond, the shallowest ditch or the narrowest flowerbed; the Skitty Coot will be there. This young one was strutting his stuff outside the centre hides at Cley the other day.


As darkness falls

The park was busy on Sunday. Dog walkers, screaming kids, joggers and cyclists. I was beginning to wonder why I’d brought the camera. As dusk approached it started to quieten; a little at first but I soon found myself alone. I walked away from the path and stood under one of the big oaks. I was reminded of the first line of a poem – “I sat beneath a tree … and it surrounded me” – for the life of me I couldn’t remember any more. My thoughts were immersed in trying to recall where I’d heard it; so immersed I didn’t notice I wasn’t alone.

A Roe Deer walked right passed me; within a few metres. I gave a sharp intake of breath and held it, so as not to disturb my new friend. I dare not move. If I raised the camera she would be gone, As she started to graze and muzzle the ground I had the chance to slowly lift the lens. It was now quite dark and I could almost hear the camera groaning to gather enough light. Operating at the thin end of capability I managed to get a few shots before she moved slowly away and I was left just with the darkness.




“To your right!”

The intermittent Iceland Gull within the Cley area recently, has been damn difficult to see. We were stood in the ‘beach hotel’ at the NWT Car Park when it flew east just offshore at nothing less than warp eight speed. “Our engines canny take any more Jim” It couldn’t have flown faster had it been designed by Sir Frank Whittle.

Too quick for some to see … apparently.


Attention seekers

We don’t get many Purple Sandpipers during winter this far south. No big flocks anyway. Just a few birds maybe, scattered around rocky parts of the coast. This one was one of three we saw at Sheringham the other day when on tour. They are one of those birds like Gadwall or Chiffchaff that improve the longer you look at them. The intricacies of plumage on a Purple Sandpiper; the feather edges and the subtle tones of colour, are quite attention seeking.


On Fire

The grey misty dank days of late autumn are lit up by the finding of the odd Firecrest. This one was in the Holm Oaks at Holkham Hall. What a delight to see. They have to be my favourite British Bird.


Urban Myth

It’s said that we are all no more than 10 metres from a rat. It is in fact an urban myth … however this Carrion Crow found one the other day. The thing that attracted me was the noise. I just got the shot off before the hapless rodent got carried away kicking and screaming.

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December 2017
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