Archive for Dec, 2015


2016 here we come …

So I guess we will stumble into the new year tomorrow night and we’ll all be reflecting where we are and what we’ve achieved.

For me there have been several moments I would like to forget but there have been many more that I will remember. The tours to Solway, Scotland, Mull, Northumberland, Wales and the Scillies as well as the days here in Norfolk and trips to France and Spain were all good. Full of good birds and sightings of special wildlife. One single day however stands out above all others. Saturday 18th July 2015.

I was with Sharon being shaken like a cocktail in a Zodiac crossing some rough seas off the Azorean archipelago. Amid the eye stinging spray and the clenching grip that held us steady her stare met mine and mine met hers … ‘what the hell are we doing here’… was written on both our faces. It soon became apparent what took us there when a pod of Northern Bottlenose Whales broke the surface some 100 yards in front of us. They like us were fighting the boiling sea, but with much more ease. What an animal. The moment was so far from watching one on TV stranding in the Thames nine and a half years earlier. These whales were free, unbridled and in their element… and so were we. After all the planning and anticipation seeing these animals meant so much. I will never forget the moment.

So what of 2016. Lots planned. Already the diary is bulging with tours. Another journey across Biscay is on the cards as is a trip to Grand Manan Island off Canada – Northern Atlantic Right Whales are on the agenda. Roll on 2016.

Northern Bottlenose Whales


All black

Facebook friend Debbie mentioned a melanistic Grey seal pub she’d seen and kindly gave me directions. I eventually found him. He was well hidden in the dunes and oh my word he was jet black; everything was black, fur, skin, nails, whiskers, the lot!

It was a bright mild day; out of the wind, dare I say warm. It was an odd day for late December. He was hiding among the dune grasses seemingly trying to keep cool by keeping in the shade away from the sun. Perhaps his black plumage was ‘attracting’ the heat more than he wanted. He was certainly well hidden. It took me almost an hour to get a photo and see his head properly. Eventually he rolled over and showed his face as he looked over his shoulder.

This is the first melanistic seal of the many thousands of common or grey that I’ve seen. Not Common at all.

Grey Seal (Melanistic)



Reared for part of my time as a boy on a dairy farm, a trip into the broads the other day to see some cattle was a rare treat. Rare breed Park Whites. Beautiful bovines with beautiful faces. Brought back from near extinction by the rare breeds survival trust.

Of course it was just coincidental there was a Cattle Egret among them ;0)

Up to three reported in the area gives hope they may stay and breed. This one was stick carrying for some time as I watched it. The last time I saw one do that was within an Egret breeding colony in the Camargue .

Cattle Egret



A Christmas Baby

Down on the beach I watched this recently born Grey Seal – a proper Christmas young one. How helpless he looked made me wonder if he would still be here the next time I visited. I feel sure however that he’ll soon dry out and get to be as cute and fluffy as his well fed older neighbour.

I’ll just take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads the blog and Facebook posts a Merry Christmas. In addition I’d like to thank all my customers who have supported me over the last year and wish them an extra special time.

I am so looking forward to the diary of dates mounting up for 2016 … but we’ll talk about those later.

Grey Seal 2

Grey Seal 1


Dunlin at eye level

I went to a presentation of a very prominent wildlife photographer last month. I was looking forward to looking at some great photography. Unfortunately his shots were a little too mono-cultural for me. All his photographs were taken from the same low level with the background out of focus. I was looking for something a little different. He would perhaps like this shot of a summer plumage Dunlin taken a number of years ago on Skye. I had to lie in the sea to take the shot!




The fullness of the neck ring on this Branta Goose photographed in the eye Field at Cley last week looks good for Black Brant. The white flank patch also looks pretty good as did the extent of the black belly through the legs. The mantle however looks a little too pale; perhaps indicating this bird is a hybrid. … maybe?

Black Brant



Berry hunter

Tidying the garden here at Falcon Cottage on Sunday I was conscious of a sudden change in wind direction. The arrow on the weather vane swung around to the east for a while. Almost immediately there was a change in what was coming to the bird feeders.

A number of Greenfinch landed in the Sycamores at the top of the garden. A few Chaffinch among them. A pale Coal Tit among the Blues and Greats at the feeder. Coal Tits are not common here on the hill. As I walked to the compost heap I flushed a large flock of finches from the cotoneasters, crab apples, pyrocanthus and yews. Among them I heard a familiar call. A Waxwing. Frustratingly in the melee of finches I didn’t see it. However it wasn’t long before it returned. It was only when it visited a neighbour’s garden I managed to fire off a few shots.




Pallid Looks

A walk down to the south end of Snettisham RSPB eventually gave good views of a special recent visitor.

Over the pit, fields and saltmarsh floated a boa donning harrier from the east. Roaming widely we had to wait some time before the orange washed Pallid came close enough to surrender for a meaningful photo.

Pallid Harrier


A growing fear

Sometimes I feel lost … helpless … inadequate. As though I’m faced with a blinding inevitability.

The Word Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is advertising on TV at the moment. Underneath their strap line of ‘What we need is you’ it states that 50% of the world’s wildlife has been lost since 1970.


Their website adverts state one in six species is at threat of extinction due to climate change. One in six for Christ’s sake.

The Butterfly Conservation (BC) states that on UK farmland butterflies have decreased by 58% over the last decade. Pesticides appear to be the problem; specifically, neonicotinoids are being pointed at!

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) UK breeding bird survey shows a decrease of 46% over the last 20 years. Some areas of the UK show a larger percentage. European numbers of Curlew have declined by 20% in the last 15 years.

There’s a small porpoise in the sea of Cortez off Mexico called a Vaquita. Due to them being caught in fishermen’s nets as they compete for fish there are now less than 100 left.

The extinction date of the Polar Bear varies depending on who you listen to. Many set a date at 2055 as they run out of summer hunting grounds on melting sea ice,

Do you want me to go on? … because I can … endlessly.

If you have young children or grandchildren chances are they won’t see a Vaquita, a Polar Bear or maybe even a Curlew.

For F***s sake what else do we all need to know and how many times do the people that matter need to be told? These things are the canaries in the mine … WAKE UP … and smell the gas! The planets dying and we’re not immune. We will die with it.

Unbridled human populations, the rape of the earth’s natural resources, synthetics compound production, the burning of fossil fuels, the use of insecticides but above all the oblivious blind nature of us all, is leading us like the fool before the abyss. It appears that who wins Strictly Come Dancing is ‘more important’ than the well-being of the planet. And those of us that do care are led into thinking that our tiny little energy saving bulbs and separating our rubbish into two or three different coloured bins will save us. The things we are currently doing make little difference. It’s like pissing in the sea and saying it’s deeper.

Even world governments cant agree on anything sensible when they get together to talk about climate change. The political will to make meaningful change is just not there. It never will be, because we vote the decision makers in and ‘we’ would never vote for the draconian changes that are now required. We are a selfish species.

God help the earth and all that lives on her. God help us.

I think I need cheering up!

… sorry for the bad language, but I feel passionately that governments should be listening and doing something. Frustration creeping in.




Rough sighting

Rough legged Buzzards have so far settled in the west of the county with no regulars that I know of in the east. This one was flying around Choosley Barns when we saw it with a Common Buzzard.

Rough legged Buzzard

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Dec 2015


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