Some people should just be barred

The roads at Wiveton are narrow. Visitors to the Barred Warbler were asked not to park on the road or verges; but one idiot still did. Churning up the verge in front of resident’s houses. No wonder suppression of sightings seems to be on the increase. This attitude promotes it. The ignorance of some people just raises my hackles. ‘It doesn’t apply to me’. ‘I’ve no need to give way’. ‘I’ve no need to wear a mask’. ‘The injection program doesn’t apply here’. Pure unadulterated arrogance. I’m tiring of uncooperative people. Some should just be barred!

However … the Barred Warbler luckily didn’t take any notice of the raised voices behind me. This is the latest I’ve seen one in the UK. By now it should be feeding in some Turkish Olive grove. Normally long gone from our shores by December, this young bird did what Barred’s normally don’t do; it showed surprisingly well. Tania and I enjoyed watching it feed on insects within the ivy covered hawthorns. Why is it here? I think a quick look around any trees on the coast will give you the answer; many are still in leaf. We’ve not really had any frost to speak of as yet. There’s still a veritable insect larder within foliage.

I wonder if this bird will over winter? I suspect not, but I’d love to revisit it in March when it would be starting to look like a Barred Warbler at its best.


Escaping the weather

I could tell our second trip to Wales in November was going to be a bit chancy with the weather. Even the week before the forecast was showing there was going to be heavy winds. When we set off last Saturday morning we didn’t realise we had perhaps missed the worst of it.

As we wended our way across the Midlands, through snow, conditions gradually improved. By the time we got to Powys it was bright sunshine. Judging by the bits of trees scattered around the worst of Storm Arwen had already passed through.

As usual lots of Kites to photograph.

The weather on Sunday was better still. It even felt warm in a few sheltered spaces.



On Saturday I held a ‘cetacean workshop’ in the reserve centre at Cley NWT. It was a good interactive group of interesting people. The morning was classroom based and after lunch we went down to the ‘beach hotel’ to look for a few porpoise out at sea. We unfortunately didn’t see any and guests gradually bid their farewell, but there were a few birds passing to keep interest high. As the light was failing the Black Guillemot that had been moving up and down the coast for the past week or so sailed-by. All the remaining guests managed to get onto it and have a good look through the scope. Some compensation at least for the absence of porpoise.

I took a few record shots as the bird bobbed and dived in the swell. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular given the distance and the failing light. I put the camera away and took the opportunity to look at the bird through the scope myself. It was then I saw it tilt its head sideways and look up. I’ve seen many birds do this over the years and it’s always indicative of them seeing a raptor above. However, I’ve never seen any species of auk do it previously … and I’ve seen a lot of auks.

Following the guillemots line of sight I looked up myself and very high above us was a Short eared Owl coming in off the sea. Seeing an owl come in-off is always good; a treat in itself. The owl spilled air from it’s wings and steeply dropped down onto the marsh behind us.

I pondered on the fact that the two species, Black Guillemot and Short eared Owl, would rarely be in the same environment and have a chance to interact. So how did the auk know the Short eared Owl was a threat? I guess it is just hard-wired into most birds that birds of prey, whatever the species, are just not good news.



So proud to see Holly graduate, with honors, last week. She’s come a long way … but was always ‘the performer’.


A little history and a bird and site revisited.

It’s been a long, long time since I was at Blacktoft Sands on the Humber; perhaps thirty years or more. A visit to Leeds to see Holly graduate was an opportunity to call at this RSPB reserve I once so frequently visited.

Blacktoft is an hours drive from Darrington on the A1, where I used to live. Fairburn Ings, Potteric Carr Blacktoft and Spurn were regular haunts.

The White-tailed Lapwing that had been seen briefly at Stodmarsh, Kent in June this year had made its way to Blacktoft on the 26th August. It more or less took up residence but was no longer being reported however I guessed it may still be in the area. So, a visit was planned to break up the journey North last week.

This is a species that has only ever occurred in the UK a handful of times, but I had seen one that previously turned up at Leighton Moss in Lancashire during June 2007 after I had missed it at Caerlaverock in Dumfries and Galloway the previous week. However, it would be a new bird for Tania.

Visiting the reserve brought back a lot of memories. The hides and layout of the place hadn’t changed much. It didn’t take long to find the Lapwing feeding and sleeping in front of Xerox hide. I saw it much closer that I’d seen one previously, so managed to get a few acceptable photos. We concluded that it was one of the best birds we had seen for a while and spent a couple of hours in its company before heading off West.

We also took in a little bit of history by calling in at nearby Whitgift to see the Church. Lord how we laughed … Ha Ha.



A wonderful fallow stag on the ‘Wild Ken Hill’ estate the other week. Even if he was a little lob-sided. Tours are available here https://wildkenhill.co.uk/


Not so Red

The Red throated Divers are still hanging around offshore here on the coast. This juvenile, which are darker on the head and sides of the neck than adults, was one of several that came in close in foggy weather a couple of days ago.


A weekend in Wales

There’s nowhere quite like Wales. The scenery is to die for and it contains some incredible wildlife.

Ever since I set the business up some 14 years ago I’ve been visiting the Kite feed at Gigrin in Powys. It never fails to impress guests and this year was no exception. The speed of the birds test the resolve of any photographer. However we had a good group this last weekend and they did well. Another trip at the end of this month will bring different sightings and different memories.



A whale was the target of our attentions yesterday. We were supposed to be travelling West but we ended up going East. We made camp at Overstrand and viewed the sea. Friend Ben had seen what was most likely a Minke travelling far offshore. Squinting eyes revealed no sign of cetaceans. However, around are feet was a more showy arctic visitor vying for our attentions. This Snow Bunting would just not leave us alone. Having first coupled with friend Megan a few days ago, it was still seeking company.


You’re having a Lark …

Friend Andrew has a great view from his bedroom window here in the village. That’s how he found the Short toed Lark among Skylarks and Linnet that were feeding on the fresh plow in the field opposite.

I couldn’t get down the road to see it yesterday but I called at first light this morning. It eventually flew in from the South West corner of the field and showed pretty well before the rain set in. However, it was always pretty distant. I left it until later in the day when fewer people were around and the sun came out before I tried again. Tania joined me on the clifftop after she finished work and we both enjoyed good views as it slowly made its way over the field towards us.

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December 2021


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