Archive for Mar, 2012


Dawn Chorus

As I walked out of the door the other day the sky was blue and the bright sun was casting long crisp shadows out over the newly sown winter wheat. The still air was full of birdsong. Skylarks, Chaffinch, Song Thrush and Blackbird all chivvied one another for top spot in the morning chorus.

The most prominent song however was a resident perched atop the Elm in the north of the garden. Reciting his ‘ Little bit of Bread and no Cheee’eze’ the bright Yellowhammer was singing as though his life depended on it… which … in a way … I guess it does!


Leaving soon

As spring encroaches the number of our winter visitors begins to dwindle.

Here on the coast there are Snow Buntings still, but numbers are reducing.

This particular little bird was moving between gorging on seed and having a long drink from a puddle. Fed and watered it will soon be making its way to Greenland, Iceland or Scandinavia – we have populations from all these areas visiting Norfolk in winter.


March Mystery Bird

Raptors are difficult to identify at the best of times especially when perched. It is good therefore that every single entry for last month’s mystery bird named a raptor. It is just a question of which one! All answers fell into three camps; Osprey, Hen Harrier and Rough legged Buzzard.

The picture shows white in the tail/rump area. Given the angle it is difficult to tell if this is actually on the rump as it would be in a Harrier or on the tail as shown by a Rough legged Buzzard. All the possible Harriers with white in the rump; Montague’s, Pallid and Hen are all slim birds with varying slight builds. In fact Harriers can sometimes be attributed to species simply on their structure. Our bird is bulky and broad in the beam and shows a lot of white not a small patch as it would show in the case of a Harrier. It is in fact a Rough legged Buzzard. Photographed in North east Norfolk this winter this individual came into roost in the same general area each night attracted to the area by the cache of Rabbits in a nearby warren. Another photo of the same bird is below.

Six people got the right answer. One of the six entries was submitted by Phil and Jan Thorpe who maintain their record of correct answers and now have three in succession. Well done.

March’s Mystery bird is also below and depicts a Gull. Please submit the id by email to The rules of the competition can be found in a previous posting here. Give it a go … it doesn’t cost anything and you could easily win as successively correct answers mount up!



We quite often hear of rare American birds that reach the UK; what we don’t often hear about are our birds that reach the States.

If you look at any map of North America and find a place that is central, a place equidistant from the sea whichever way you look, then the chances are you have found Nebraska. Here, among a flock of wintering Sandhill Cranes, a local has picked up on an associating Common Crane from this side of the Atlantic. Although Nebraska has hosted Common Cranes previously on migration, this is the first time a wintering individual has been found.

We saw Cranes in three different parts of Norfolk on our last six tours. Here’s a pair we saw a few weeks ago.


Bio mass – revisited

I’ve been told my post yesterday didn’t make sense – see, a good Scotch and mistakes creep-in. I’ve therefore re-worded the original entry so it now reads ok … even when sober. A few pictures from Iceland are in the latest section on the Wildcatch Photography site.



On the first morning, looking out over the fjord as the sun rose and light increased I was in awe at the volume of Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls and Eiders that filled the sky as well as the water’s surface. Although I have been to Iceland before I have not experienced such a bio-mass as was laid out infront of me. Birds were beginning to return to their breeding haunts and lying offshore until the spring reached the west of the island.

Even under the waves life wasn’t in short supply. Over three days, Killer Whales, the main target of our intent, were much in evidence. We perhaps saw around forty during our time in the country.

A couple of boat trips out into open water got us within spitting distance of the Orcas. It is difficult to convey the feelings at being close to something adapted so well to the ocean and at the top of its food chain. I felt privileged to share a little of their environment and see how the pod of these so called Killers, gathered around the young in their group. How tender they seemed. How similar to us they are… yet so different. The whole experience will be alive within me until I take my last breath.

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Mar 2012


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