Archive for Jun, 2018


Bulling up the finches and washing the warblers

During warm dry weather it’s possible to sit and wait by water to see what comes along to drink. We were on a photography day recently and this Bullfinch over-powered his hesitation to come down and quench his thirst. The Blackcap was obviously washing away the grime of parenthood!


In search of Butterflies

The search for Wood Whites and Black Hairstreaks took us into Northamptonshire on tour this weekend. As well as the target species there was the odd surprise too!



Pied Crow

I explained carefully to my guests for the day there had been a ‘rare’ bird seen in the area of the dunes in which we were walking. Just in case they saw a funny crow I gave them instruction to shout up. I explained it’s undeterminable status, gave them a brief description and told them it would be nice to see. Several Hobbies, Great White Egrets, Bittern, Grey Seals, Water Deer, Norfolk Hawkers and Swallowtails, among many others, later, I bid them good-day and wished them a pleasant stay in Norfolk for what remained of their holiday.

It wasn’t until I drove through Cromer I received a message to tell me the Pied Crow had turned up about a mile from the flat just down the road from me. How could I ignore it?

OK no doubt there will be much discussion about if it’s an escape or not, if it’s the same bird that was seen at Spurn Point and if it could have got here on board a ship. Well sure it’s right to have these discussions but it matters not to me … it was good to see it acting as wild as the Jackdaws, Rooks and the odd Crow with which it was associating.


Quiet and Peaceful

You would think that Norwich, the county town of Norfolk, being only 100 miles from the centre of London would mean the whole of the county would be overrun with visitors. However, it’s a county where it is still possible to find remote areas. Remote and quiet.

I had been out on the marsh for around 2 hours. I had seen nobody. Nothing but a pair of Marsh Harriers quartering the reedbed for company. I was walking slowly on a floating mass of vegetation. Stepping forward the whole ground around me moved for a radius of several metres. It was like walking on thick pale green custard. If I stood for a while I slowly sank until the cold reminder of my boots filling with water prompted me to move. The thought suddenly occurred to me that if this meniscus of vegetation broke I should slip without a trace beneath the bog only for my remains to be discovered in the next millennium clutching camera and rechristened ‘Canon man’

All dark thoughts disappeared under a cloak of excitement, and relief, when I looked down to see the smallest twist of flowers struggling for attention amid a thatch of rushes. The most iconic of Norfolk’s orchids was reaching skyward, fingers outstretched, at my feet. Along with Bittern, Swallowtail, Norfolk Hawker and Crane; the Fen Orchid has to be listed within the county’s ‘big five’. As rare as it is beautiful this small delicate gem is only now found in dune slacks around Kenfig in South Wales as well as Norfolk.

Thank you to David for his more than perfect directions.


Wild Charge

A herd of Wild Cattle, the only ones in the UK, roam the hills around Chillingham in Northumberland. Expertly looked after by Ellie, the stockwoman. Stockman is definitely not right and Stockperson sounds like a warehouse operator. Cowgirl as used by some newspaper articles is just not a proper name for someone who has one of the most dangerous jobs there is! So stock woman it is. We saw the cattle last month on our round the UK mammal tour. The talk given by Ellie was informative and interesting as it always is. She obviously holds a wary respect for her charge; and rightly so. These are formidable beasts.


Crex Crex

The number of calling Corncrake on Mull this year was not as many as I’ve seen in previous years. I have a feeling numbers are again declining but this may be anecdotal. However, a little careful waiting aside a very friendly lady’s garden gave us good views of this very secretive bird.


Mammal Tour 2019

The 2019 Mammal Tour is now open for bookings – full details are available to download here

Take a look at just a few of the mammals we encountered this year … and it’s not just about mammals either … some amazing birds to be seen too.

The Scottish Badger is a smaller race than the English version.

We saw two pods of Bottlenose Dolphins on the east coast.

We saw around 150 Common Dolphin – always the most entertaining of mammals and everyone’s favourite – this was taken from the boat before the animal surfaced..

Porpoise were in good numbers around Ardnamurchan. I stopped counting when I got to more than a hundred.

One of seven Minke Whales we came accross

We watched this Osprey displaying with a fish. One of nine birds we saw during the week

The most enigmatic mammal of the Highlands this Pine Marten really entertained us

A surprise interloper at a bait ball we came across was this Pomarine Skua sporting full ‘spoons’ – always good to see.

Prolific in the Highlands we saw some good herds of Red Deer

Never as easy to find during late May as they are earlier in the year we eventually saw a few Red Squirrels

Several Storm Petrels were seen during our boat trip to the Cairnes of Col

One surprise mammal was this male Walrus. Something we REALLY didn’t expect to see.

We saw several White tailed Eagles while searching for the 22 mammals we eventually saw


Checking us out

Think ‘intelligent dog’ when considering cetaceans.

During the UK mammal tour this week we had a rather curious Minke Whale that came to check out our boat. Circling us twice giving superb views down to a few metres – he then continued his feeding. In calm glassy conditions the whole whale was visible under the water. It was even possible to see the pectoral white bands as the animal descended back into the deep.

Full details of next years mammal tour will be available in a few days time.


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Jun 2018


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