Archive for May, 2012



One of my favourite birds in and around the garden at Falcon Cottage are Stock Doves. I think they are grossly underrated. When seen well they have some beautiful iridescent feathering. Given their quarry status they are normally a shy bird and to get close to them is difficult. On tours when we see them feeding out in the fields all we need to do is pull up the Landrover within 50 metres, the heads go up and shortly after the birds are away.

As I was typing away on the laptop last week a pair came to the feeders; although they were a little jumpy I took the opportunity to take a few photographs. They’re trying to nest in the Willow at the north end of the garden but the resident Collared Doves are having none of it!


Being Watched

I was thinking about the work I had to do back home. Should I really have been out and about today or should I actually buckle down to it and sort my accounts … and the windows could do with a lick of paint … and the lawns need cutting and there are bookings to finalise and e-mails to send. I drew breath. I held it for a while before releasing it slowly.

The sea below me was high up the beach and made a southing backdrop to an early morning cliff top walk. Yes there are things to do but I wanted to savour that moment. Breathe in the goodness of the spring and take stock.

It was only then when I stopped thinking about what I had to do and realised where I was that I became aware I was being watched. These two little playmates were as still as they could be; aware of me but not quite sure if I was aware of them. I looked away then back … and they were gone.


Conversation stopper

I was talking away to someone the other day aside a small ditch and reedbed when I noticed a dark shape moving through the stems of the reeds. I quietly excused myself from the conversation and lifted my camera. Deep within the reeds, foraging for food, was a female Bearded Tit not but a metre away. There was a lot of vegetation between me and her and the camera wanted to focus on anything but what I wanted it to focus on; but I hastily took a few shots before she slipped back into the depths of the reeds never to be seen again.


Not so Early

Thanks to a friend Tony, I managed to photograph some lovely Early Purple Orchids on the roadside locally the other week. These thick stemmed spikes have managed to survive the re-surfacing of the lane and passing traffic to give a glorious display.


Bee gone with you

As I write this I’m looking out of the window and I can’t see the top of the garden. A blustery north wind is blowing in a sea fret cold enough to have brass monkeys searching the welders section of yellow pages. Why anything or anybody would want to leave the sunny skies and warm winds of the Mediterranean for Norfolk at the moment is anyone’s guess; but one little chap has.

This charming Bee-eater turned up last week and disappeared for a while before being relocated on Sunday. As we watched him swooping out to catch the odd passing bumble bee I couldn’t help thinking he must have felt a little out of place.


Where’s Wally

Parenting is a trying occupation at the best of times; ultimately rewarding, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself, … but trying!

As we watched a reedbed on the fens at the weekend two parents were trying their best to fulfil their role. It can’t be easy to rear a child in the wild but these two Cranes made it look almost easy. As the two adults stalked slowly through the reeds their fledged* youngster stumbled along between them benefiting from their findings. Each tasty morsel was tenderly offered up and gratefully received. A true family party.

You can just make out shortie between dad with his head down on the left and mum on the right.

(*note the youngster had fledged, therefore this schedule 1 species may be photographed without licence as it is no longer at or near the nest.)


Wet nights

As we drove twixt two places in North East Norfolk last week we came across a rather confiding midday Barn Owl.

He was hunting a small patch of rough ground aside the road. No doubt the wet preceding few nights meant he was forced to hunt during the day to catch enough food. Woes betide the Barn Owl that ventures out into the rain. Their feathers are designed to be quiet; waterproofing takes a back seat.


Beetling Around in the Dark

Sometimes when you seek you find; however it is not necessarily the thing you seek that you find. So it was in the first week of May.

Traps were set in the water for newts. Light sticks were placed in the traps to encourage curiosity. Sure, the illuminated trap encouraged curiosity but not that of newts.

The following morning in heavy rain from the trap a large black water beetle was extracted. The last time I’d seen an adult water beetle of this size was when I was a boy fishing with a net on long hot summer days in my local stream in South Yorkshire. They were Great Diving Beetles and were proudly shown to others in my class at school the following day before being put to swim endlessly around a large glass jar on the ‘nature table’. This critter was similar to those Great Diving Beetles … but different. After much qualification and investigation it transpires it was in fact Dytiscus dimidiatus A Thick horned Beetle no less. A relict of the time the county was covered in fens. A rare find in this area … the last was in 1855.

No it’s not a good photograph is it? – please understand it was raining very hard at the time I was trying to hold a brolly and the camera at the same time as well as coping with a rather feisty beetle.


Who knows?

We have talked about the variations of Yellow Wagtails before and it is a complicated group but a local bird on the hill last week got me taking a few photos. The potato field next to Falcon Cottage has been turning up a few Wheatears (ten together at the time of writing) and it was only a matter of time before Yellow Wagtails found it on their journey north.

The odd bird among three wasn’t a Blue headed. Blue headed are the continental variation (Motacilla flava flava) of our own Yellow Wagtail (M.f. flavissima) and have a wonderfully blue head with a white supercillium, a short sub ocular crescent to match and tiny white chin. It wasn’t a Channel Wagtail either. These are the hybrids of our own Yellow Wagtail and The Blue headed continental birds. The head was not the pale Wedgewood blue it should have been and the white on the throat extended far too far onto the breast. It wasn’t a Syke’s or any of the darker headed varieties either Spanish, Ashy headed, Grey headed or Black headed. What it was … was a very interesting bird. Perhaps best described as a white throated integrade?


P*ssed (on) as a Newt

Thanks to  ARC (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) an entertaining few days in Peterborough last week was an attempt to learn a little more about newts; particularly about our protected species, Great crested Newts. After classroom tuition we had an evening laying traps in a Cambridgeshire pond and ‘torching’ to see newts scuttling about and carrying out their nocturnal display to one another. The traps were to be checked early the following day.

The morning arrived and it rained. No … I mean RAINED. It came down like welding rods. Traps were hastily emptied and I took a few photographs (under licence) of a Smooth and a Great crested Newt the one below showing the difference in skin texture between the two species.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

May 2012


%d bloggers like this: