Archive for Sep, 2013


Against all odds

It’s a shame but it does happen. This dead Badger was seen on an evening drive recently. You would think they had enough to contend with at the moment without being hit by cars been driven far too fast on our country lanes.



That Marsh Harrier

Remember the Marsh harrier that was found injured and later died?

Well I am (sort of) pleased to say x-rays on the corpse have revealed it wasn’t shot. The hapless bird was probably the victim of a speeding vehicle.

Marsh Harrier


Draped on bushes

There have been some very beautiful dragonflies this year on our tours. This Southern Hawker for example. It hung itself, nay draped itself in the garden last week as we were talking away with friends.

Southern Hawker



Walking among the trees and the open fields we saw something quite out of place. Bob’s directions had been spot on. The last time I’d seen these I’d been in Namibia, Africa.

Above us swung a couple of Buzzards and Long tailed Tits could be heard to our right but it was what was ahead of us that caught our attention. Distantly in the fields were a flock of large game birds; not instantly recognisable. A couple more came out onto the path a little closer and their shape gave them away as Helmeted Guineafowl.

You may ask what a large flock of Guineafowl are doing in the depths of Norfolk. The species has been domesticated for millennia. They are often kept for their meat, their eggs and they make excellent guards as they are very noisy when disturbed. These individuals however, wandering around Norfolk, are wild. Believe me, getting close to them was not easy. Escaped or introduced, who knows, but they do appear to be part of a self-sustaining population.

Despite obviously not being on the British list it could be argued Helmeted Gunieafowl’s credentials may rival those of  Golden Pheasant.

Helmeted Gunieafowl




On one of our Norfolk Safaris last week we were scanning the beach and amid the Grey and Common Seals there was one that looked a little odd.

Shining out like a beacon this seal certainly stood out. It was decidedly orange; perhaps best described as ‘ginger’. We walked down the dunes and along the sand to investigate. Sure enough ‘Ginger’ was a Common Seal but a very different colour morph.

Common Seals like Greys have a colour range; from black to pale brown through to white and everything between. ‘Ginger’ however was at the far end of the Common Seal colour spectrum.

Common Seal


A splash of Red

When Turner was painting he would often add a splash of red to break up a green and otherwise monotonous landscape. Red and green being at the opposite ends of the spectrum wheel the two colours complement one another.

It was one of those junctions where you have to look back hard over your shoulder for oncoming traffic. It was whilst craning my neck that I saw a flash of red in the hedge bottom. I pulled over to investigate.

It was the Lords and Ladies Berries that had caught my eye. When we started to look there were so many. The vivid red added a touch of colour to brighten the autumn day.

Cuckoo Pint Berries



There I was sat in the hide at Cley trying to photograph the Wilson’s Phalarope; a rare visitor from the other side of the Atlantic.


When people are describing the location of something that I’m intent on photographing and they begin their sentence “It’s at the back of …” I know I’m in for a tough time. The damn thing was further away than the planet Pluto. I decided to sit it out and wait for it to come nearer.

I must have been in there about an hour when every wader within sight got in the air. I looked around for a raptor. Various shouts were made in the hide “HOBBY” and then “PERIGRINE … perhaps”

I looked around for the perpetrator of the mayhem and saw a small immature falcon. Yes, it was a Hobby. Just a minute … no … it was a Peregrine. It took me a while to decide. It appeared to have a long tail and slim wings … and did it have a touch of paleness at the base of the flight feathers? Oooh er! Thoughts of the Mediterranean came to mind … but a Peregrine it was.

Anyway, by the time the raptor display was over and all the waders had settled the Wilson’s had taken umbrage at being disturbed and was nowhere to be seen. Added to that the call of a cup of coffee back at the reserve centre was strong so I decided to call it a morning.

Maybe I can get some better shots of the Wilson’s Phalarope latter … if it stays … and if the Peregrine spares it!

Wilsons Phalarope




Perigrine 2


Perigrine 1



Ratty and Hammy

If you have enough years behind you to remember the Woodentops, Bill and Ben and Captain Pugwash then you will undoubtedly remember Tales of the Riverbank. a nostalgic view of the English Countryside (and some) with Johnny Morris – It’s difficult to believe this kept me cross legged in front of the TV every day.

On the last few tours we’ve encountered Water Voles feeding in among the reeds around the pools – just made me think of Tales from the Riverbank.

Water Vole


Aye aye skipper.

A boat on the broads enables a close approach to wildlife. We found this out the other week when we sailed onto the open water at Salhouse. Sharon the Sherpa acting skipper put an adult Great crested grebe down the starboard side close enough to see the whites in its eyes … or should that be the red in its eyes?

Great Crested Grebe


Emeralds of Salix

We found six or seven Willow Emeralds earlier this week. Sheltered from the wind and bathed in the autumnal sunshine when they stopped flying and melted into the branches of the salix they were quite impossible to see. Only when they moved was it possible to find them.

This scarce odonata is easily identified by the ‘hook’ on the thorax and their tan coloureds pterostigmas outlined in black. They are also much larger than Common Emerald Damselflies.

Willow Emerald

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Sep 2013


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