Breckland Round-up

Although I only advertised one trip to Breckland this month, I ended up doing several due to demand.

I thought I’d give a bit of a round-up for all my customers.

Some of the classics gave excellent views; Goshawk were not difficult at all again this year and Woodlark could often be heard singing before we left the car! Lesser spotted Woodpecker were more difficult – unusually when we saw them they were silent and when we could hear them they were so far in dense woodland we couldn’t see them. Firecrests were there but not yet as active as they can be. Hawfinch didn’t show on all occassions and were in relatively small numbers compared with last year. I wonder why that is when numbers are seemingly everywhere else in the county after a continental influx. Crossbills are in short supply but again we did see them although they are a very nomadic species. A bonus this year is of course was the Parrot Crossbill flock that has been floating around Santon Downham. Starling murmurations were at their peak last week – I couldn’t be sure but I reckon on Sunday last we watched close to 500,000 birds coming in to roost right at the side of us. The sight, sound … and smell of them will live long in the memory. All good value birds with a few Otters, Hares, Roe Deer and Reeve’s Muntjac all putting in an appearance. Rabbit numbers seem to have decreased everywhere of late. RHD2, the new viral strain from the continent, has obviously taken a hold. I do hope this does not have an effect on the Stone Curlew population which thrive on the rabbit grazed short swards of our heaths.

Anyways, all that aside, I thought I’d show another photo of the Parrot Crossbills … just because I like them so much!

Next years tour to Breckland is already on the website – Book Early! https://www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk/tours/special-day-tours


Sea Watch Foundation

You will perhaps know I am involved with Sea Watch Foundation. Kathy James, National sightings officer, and the sightings team around the UK have prepared a very useful document. It comprehensively brings together all the sightings in last summers National Whale and Dolphin Watch.  A good read. I can recommend it http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/National-Whale-and-Dolphin-Watch-Report-2017.pdf


Think Again

Think you’ve seen a big gull when you’ve seen a Glaucous? Think again. Ever seen a Pacific Gull? Take a look at that mother of a bill. What a brute. A British list contender? Who knows?


three degrees and a rising tide

A temperature shock greeted me as I walked along the beach. Three degrees of mercury and a cutting wind which took no prisoners. A far cry from the searing Antipodean heat. Here on the North Norfolk coast a long staying Glaucous Gull was playing ball and being photographer friendly. Not so the reported probable Viking Gull which never made an appearance,


A city aflame

The St Kilda pier on Melbourne’s waterfront is a known stakeout for Rakali; Australia’s largest rodent. Two of these otter-like rats swam around us, but it was the Little Penguins that captured our attention. A couple of them came into roost on the rocks that evening.

The dying sun set the distant Eureka building within the city aflame. There are features of the building which celebrate the historic gold wealth upon which Melbourne is founded. The gold roof reflected a shaft of light down into the city in a dazzling display.

Australia is a wonderful place full of an eclectic mix of wonderful people; and they all seem to get on. Racism takes a back seat here. Would I come back? … at the drop of an Akubra I would.



‘Make like a tree’. Tawny Frogmouths are just the masters of disguise.



On a beautifully sunny day in Port Phillip an inviting turquoise sea lurred us out across the bay.

With only 150 Burrunan Dolphins known to exist, in two populations, it has to be one of the world’s rarest mammals. I was elated to see them almost immediately we left the quay. Around eight animals came and played around the boat and bow rode the passing ferry. Excellent stuff.

Education is a key to protecting habitats and the creatures that occupy our planet. Disappointingly the boat operator we used never mentioned once to their assembled clients what species of dolphin they were, how they differed from other Bottlenose Dolphin species and any how rare they were. Getting people in the water with the dolphins seemed to be a priority. I’ve never been keen to swim with dolphins myself; it’s their habitat … not ours, however, I can see how it appeals and if it’s done in the right way (which it was in this case) I don’t feel it does much harm. I had a good day on the water in Port Phillip. Good sightings and excellent company. Every day you see a cetacean is a good day. Even the enforced visit to a cold, windy and wet botanical gardens in the dark later looking for Possums was enjoyable!

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February 2018
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