Archive for Jun, 2012


Short Lived

Walking along the bottom of the cliffs at the weekend we saw a temporary pool of water. Although swelled by the recent rain pouring down from the soaked boulder clay above, the pool was indeed temporary. Lurking in the wings was the encroaching North Sea. Within the hour the tide would fill and swamp it with brine. The pool had residents. Washed down from the puddles on the cliffs were tadpoles, their short lives inextricably linked with the movements of the sun and the moon; their fate sealed.


A new seawatching hide at Cley

… however architect grossly over estimates how warm it can be on the north Norfolk Coast.

Art? in the eye of the beholder I guess; but does it have to be placed in one of our most beautiful places?

I view good art as something I can’t do or I can’t produce. Give me a Turner or a Constable any day. That IS Art. Where are the metal thieves when you need them?


The Italians have it

Those in the know will realise the Italians have always been bigger and better than the Brits.

There’s a very peculiar family of plants called the Arums. Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo Pint – Arum maculatum – as it is sometimes called is one member of the family. It can be quite common within the woodlands of Norfolk and can litter the floor of our deciduous forests with their 35cm tall tumbler like plants.

There is however an Arum which can only rarely be found within Norfolk; more common on the continent ‘Italian Lords and Ladies’ – Arum italicum – stands head and shoulders above maculatum growing up to double the size. It appears the Italians produce not only football teams that are bigger and stronger.


Snails Pace

It is said that the Bee Orchid mimics a now extinct bee to assist in its fertilisation. Things now seem to be done a lot slower!



A sign of the times

A couple of weeks ago I took out Simon Barnes; a columnist for the Times. He is a charming gentleman full of anecdotes that I could have listened to all day long. We sat staring at the North Sea for a few hours as he would have liked to have seen a Harbour Porpoise. In writing an article about them for the Whale and Dolphin Week organised by the Seawatch Foundation; a sighting certainly would have given the article a certain ‘street cred’. The Porpoise had other ideas. An unseasonal June meant several layers of fleeces and gloves later we gave up, retiring gracefully to the coastal ridge and later Hickling Broad. Just for a look around you understand. The original article was published last week but some of what we saw he has celebrated in a couple of articles in today’s Saturday Times Newspaper. Thank you Simon for the mention; but more so, thank you for some wonderful conversation.


Mr Spider.

Ever since I was knee high I’ve had an obsessive compulsion for knowledge about the natural world. So when someone stares into a reedbed and says to me “Do you want to see something really rare?” I would have to say “Yes”.

The other week I saw an example of Marpissa radiata shaken from a reed head into the palm of a guy’s hand. No, I’d never heard of it either. It transpires it’s one of the Jumping Spiders. There are around 5000 different jumping spiders and M.radiata is just one of them, but it’s quite rare … apparently.

Any which way I’m grateful to the chap that pointed it out to my guests and I.

Marpissa radiata … you’d think they would give it a more catchy name wouldn’t you.



Safe Haven

Maybe it was the slow encroachment of our boat, maybe it was the sharp eyed guests on it with me or more likely a combination of the two but we had some close sightings on our tour down the waterways of the Norfolk Broads at the weekend. From the Common Terns that accompanied us across the broads to stalking Grey Herons and food passing Marsh Harriers the wildlife was unhindered and relaxed. There’s nothing like seeing something well.

The Great crested Grebe we saw carrying young upon its back is something you don’t see too often and something you rarely see close enough to photograph.



A Canvas of Colour

It’s good to go somewhere new. When that place is so close to where you live and holds a true spectacle it is a surprise.

I was taken for a walk by my friend Tony last week to a little known common. I was astounded.

The carpet of Orchids that greeted us was of the like I have never experienced before. We had difficulty finding a clear space to tread.

Large spikes of flowers were beacons of light; the Southern Marsh, Leopard Marsh, Common Spotted and hybrid Orchids coating the common made for a blaze of colour that easily outshone any Cézanne landscape. A truly beautiful place.


Fritters for breakfast

A look for some Orchids the other morning turned up a bonus.

Warming itself in the sunshine and keeping low out of the wind was a Marsh Fritillary. This is a butterfly that became extinct in Norfolk some years ago. No doubt the individual we saw is part of some impromptu reintroduction scheme. Given the biology of the species demands interaction between a number of close colonies, I’m sceptical the Frit is here in Norfolk for good … but I hope I’m wrong. It’s a cracking butterfly!


June’s Mystery Bird

Well the mystery bird in May caused a few problems with nobody getting to the correct answer; although a few were close. That still leaves Phil and Jan Thorp in the lead with five consecutive answers. It is in fact a second year American Herring Gull. Identification features are subtle and adults cannot be told reliably from Herring Gulls. The clinching feature is the bill which could easily be placed on a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. The article by Pat Lonergan and Killian Mullarney cannot be bettered on identification so I’ll not try. I photographed the individual in Lerwick harbour on Shetland some years ago.

Junes Mystery bird is a hidden teaser of a bird I photographed (badly) earlier this month in Suffolk. As usual e-mail me with your answer.

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Jun 2012


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