Archive for Mar, 2018


A bone to pick and a beard to trim

Last week I was asked to identify a bone that had been found on Titchwell beach. If you are interested a photo and write up can be found here

The journey over to Titchwell from West Runton isn’t a short hop so I thought I’d go onto the reserve and take a few photos; making use of the time I had to enjoy myself. The sun was still low over the reserve, Titchwell comes into its own during the afternoon when the sun moves behind you; so conditions were not ideal for photography. However the Bearded Tit were performing so I fired off a few shots. I like the golden quality of ‘into the light photography’ that you often get in reedbeds.

It’s worth noting during my visit to Titchwell and the tour to Minsmere two days earlier I never saw or heard a Cetti’s Warbler. Purely anecdotal of course but I wonder if the recent cold weather has reduced numbers.


Southern Scotland

Over the past few years we’ve been doing tours to see the geese and wild swans of southern Scotland during February. The long weekend tour has been successful. We would normally set off on a Friday and return here to Norfolk on the Sunday. It seems such a shame to get to the area and miss out on some prime birding so in 2019 we will be setting off on Thursday (28th February) and returning on the Monday (4th March) giving us ample time to soak in the avian delights of the area.

I have two places left Full details in an itinerary here

This is an ideal tour for photographers and birders alike. If you have any questions give me a call.


Fancy a Shag

Well if nothing else the title to this blog should ensure it gets a lot of hits!

This Shag was resting between bouts of fishing at Sheringham on the Norfolk coast the other week … the 7th March actually. He, or is it she, was sporting some jewellry. A nicely marked colour ring on the right leg and a BTO ring on the left leg. The ‘BTT’ code of white on green lettering could be clearly seen; the lettering on the BTO ring was less distinguishable.

I guessed it would have been ringed on the Isle of May off the east coast of Scotland and indeed it was. Details sent off to the ringer, Mark, brought about a swift response.  He tells me it was ringed as a chick (BTO ring: 1493017 ) on the Isle of May, Fife on 19/6/17 as one of a brood of three. He also tells me  BTT was still on the isle when he last went out on 20th February but since the extreme weather a lot of the shags have disappeared.

I’m resisting the temptation to make any comments about shags in the snow!


Spots and Dots

I remember the first time I saw a Snowy Owl. It was in the middle of a large dark windswept Lincolnshire field. The bird appeared in Norfolk towards the end of it’s stay. I saw it then too. I’ve also seen a couple more since but they are one of those enigmatic birds you just have to see. So when one turned up at Titchwell last weekend I just felt obligated to go and see it.

It was distant. I mean, really distant. A scope pulled out a little more detail, but it was still a long way away. A dot on the horizon. However, it was still good to see.

With so many other focusing in on the owl it was a shame the nearby Spotted Redshank got such little attention. Even the flyby Peregrine got short thrift from the assembled masses. All in all the day was a collection of spots and dots.



There and back

On our way to, and on our way from, the Solway last month, we called at some prime birding locations. Among the delights around us were a host of Snipe feeding in reedy shallows. Earlier we had a small flock of Pintail. these are duck that are hard to get close to in Norfolk. I particularly like the rear view shot of the drake as it swam away revealling an angle of the neck stripes not often seen in photos.



Go North

A couple of weekends ago we were in the North of England; more about that at a later date. I was surprised to see so many Great White Egrets around that far north. One settled. It was against the light, a bit ‘sticky’ and still quite distant but I thought it made an effective subject.


Not so cold shoulder

There are four similar species of Elanus kites worldwide. The Black-winged Kite of Europe and Africa; long awaited as a vagrant to the UK, the White-tailed Kite of North and South America, the Australian Black-shouldered Kite and the Letter-winged Kite both of Australia. I’ve wanted to photograph one of these beautifully striking small raptors for many years. In Africa, Europe and the Americas they were always too distant. Some smart and careful manoeuvring of the vehicle by my driver in Australia recently helped raise my game. We encountered Black Shouldered Kites a-plenty in the grasslands north of Melbourne and around the water treatment plants to the west. The contrasting ghost like plumage and shining red eye all make this an absolutely stunning bird.



On the 2nd of March I was beginning to get cabin fever. With a tour cancelled because of the snow and my supplies here at the flat exhausted, it was time to venture out. The snow was no longer falling but temperatures were low. I mean … low. The cold wind was one of those winds that didn’t go around you. It cut straight through. Two pairs of overtrousers, two coats, gloves, hat and all I could get on and still walk, and I was still bloody cold. I took the camera to the beach here in West Runton. Ten minutes later I was thinking to myself ‘What the hell am I doing here’. Cabin fever seemed like the better option. As I approached the boat ramp I could see gulls were flocking on the tideline. A sheltered spot and I was able to do a sweep through them. An Iceland Gull and a Med Gull … unlikely bedfellows. I decided to venture onto the beach and get a photo of the Iceland. As I picked my way between the boulders the slicing wind took on a new energy; seemingly determined to push me over. I got to the tideline and no sign of either gull. All that was left was me and a lonely Sanderling, both of us leaning into the wind.

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Mar 2018


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