Archive for Jul, 2012


Hunter in the Kelp

We went to the Corryvreckan Whirlpools off Seil Island on our cetacean tour of Scotland at the beginning of the month. As we stood on the boat waiting to cast off, on the opposite bank we saw the second otter of the day. It moved out of the water and chewed fiercely into a morsel brought from the bottom of the loch. I never tire of seeing these enigmatic animals. Camouflaged beautifully it wrapped itself in the kelp to secure its secrecy. Even though we looked carefully, it was anything but obvious.


A gift from a lady of the night

Sharon and I marvelled at a Privet Hawkmoth we pulled from the moth trap the other day. She held it in her hand to get a closer look. This is a beautiful insect, larger than some bats. Garbed in a black, grey and pink evening dress of satin she was humming her wings to keep warm.

As this little creature of the night purred away she left the ultimate gift and laid a small green egg. She was returned to the night and that egg is now tucked safely away awaiting hatching.


Norfolk’s Silver washed Fritillaries

Last year there were a number of sightings of Silver washed Fritillaries in Holt here on the Norfolk coast. This year the sightings have been repeated. I presume they must have bred locally; which is great, as they are a beautiful butterfly that can only enhance our walks in the countryside.

I went to find them earlier this week. It didn’t take me long. A glimpse was all I could manage. The orange phantom drafted through the forest ride and away through the trees like a spectre on speed. Not once but repeatedly. Then there were two. This only aggravated the situation as one was unlikely to settle while being harassed by another. The heat of the day wasn’t helping. Not helping me as I was getting uncomfortably hot and not helping the Frits as they were unlikely to settle in the heat of the day. I decided to sit it out. They had to land sometime. I found a shady patch overlooking some brambles and waited.

A White Admiral passed by followed by the orange spectre again and then it went quiet, then two orange flashes; and so it went on. Each time they passed my brambles by. I was about to give up when lilting from the canopy came a Fritillary. It settled on a leaf for an instant, only to be pushed away by a bee. How dare it! Just present long enough to fire a shot or two.


Summer Display

The heath was a riot of colour last week. Full to the brim with wild flowers it was truly a spectacle; the Purple Blues of the Vipers Bugloss complemented perfectly the yellows of the Evening Primrose.

A display fit for a summer.


Lighting up the sky

Hardly the firework display that one always hopes for but it was a treat for those of us this far south none the less.

At 1am last Monday morning the feint glow of the Aurora Borealis in the northern sky over Norfolk gained a little momentum. For just a moment or two a blue, green and purple haze generated into an almost imperceptible display brightening the horizon.


Winter Visitor?

One could be forgiven for thinking we are in some other season than summer. Things are a little ‘topsy turvey’ and when you see a winter visitor on the marsh it doesn’t add to the normality of the situation. This Whooper Swan was seen this week; it should be in Iceland! There were times last week when it felt as though I was in Iceland. Let’s hope the ‘summer’ forecast for next week happens.



At last I managed a few half decent shot of some of the Red veined Darters that have been cropping up around the Norfolk coast. If they weren’t sporting worn or tattered wings they were far too far away or hidden in vegetation. A decent photograph seemed impossible.

As I walked adjacent to a small marsh I noticed this male perched on a grass stem overhanging the path. Although he had a small tear in one wing he still looked resplendent in his red chain mail. He stopped just long enough for me to focus and press the shutter. Click to enlarge.


Showing Well

Some birds are secretive; crepuscular in nature. Just occasionally however they can break their habits.

There are a few Dartford Warblers that are resident in Norfolk. Dartford Warblers occupy areas of gorse and thick heather; staying low and usually out of sight, as a consequence they are never easy to see well. On a tour last week however, a nice wine coloured male gave us an excellent extensive showing. He even came close enough to enable us to take a few shots before he flew away across the heath.


Too Tatty to be Bothered

It seems improbable but it is not only birds that migrate; some insects do too. Just lately there has been an influx into Norfolk of Red veined Darters; scarce visitors, presumably from the continent. There aren’t many, just a few to be found in some coastal wetlands.

Such a journey eventually takes its toll and I watched an individual the other day that was so worn and tatty it couldn’t even be bothered when a meal flew by.


Maori Invaders in Northumberland

Some alien species have become embraced into our countryside; the Little Owl and the Horse Chestnut for instance. They are now almost quintessentially British. Others are a constant threat to our own wildlife. I seem to receive e-mail after e-mail from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership telling me Himalayan Balsam in the broads is rampant. Indeed as I was waiting yesterday for guests that were staying in a river fronted property, I noticed the whole of the garden was overrun with it!

At the weekend, on the Farne Islands Tour we called at Holy Island on the coast of Northumberland; a marvelous place of ruins, racing tides and rolling dune slacks. The place is steeped in history and intrigue; invaders of various nationalities have played their part in shaping that history over the centuries.

The latest invaders are from New Zealand. As we walked through the dunes they attacked us in numbers. Brought to the UK within sheep’s wool the prolific nature of The Pirri Pirri Bur soon became apparent. For what seemed like an age we were picking the seeds from our boots, socks and trousers to which they clung with vigour. Although I have already seen this invader in Norfolk on Kelling Heath we didn’t want to add to its distribution.

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Jul 2012


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