Archive for Dec, 2021


Happy New Year

This year has been a strange one. A year of two halves and contrasts. The first half, once again like 2020, became a period of sedentary incapability. Tours and trips had to be cancelled. Unpicking the arrangements with boat operators and hotels is never easy. Indeed, sadly some of them financially went to ‘the wall’ as their business slumped.

I always said that because of the way I run the business, and my financial affairs, WT&E would front out anything thrown at it no matter how long the lockdown, without the help of government handouts. Little did I know that the business levels in the second half of the year would bounce back so strongly and so quickly.

Guests were keen to get back into the countryside and I couldn’t blame them, having been isolated and restricted for so long. However, safety of guests was paramount. Local day tours were conducted by guests following in their own vehicle and longer tours when we shared a vehicle were carried out against a background of testing by both guests and me. As a consequence, we had some good local tours and some effortlessly successful tours away.

A good relationship this year with ‘Wild Ken Hill’ and involvement in a small way with some of the good things they are trying to do there was very pleasing. Long may their rewilding and regenerative agricultural development continue.

Still no trips abroad. I feel it would be foolish to commit to these yet. To do so in the current environment is inviting difficulty and potential unnecessary expense. Maybe in 2023. The wilds of Australia, North and South America will all still be there; as will the Atlantic Islands. All on our agenda.

A single new bird for me during the course of the year was the Syke’s Warbler on Blakeney Point in September. The supporting cast of other birds, dragonflies, butterflies and cetaceans were many, but perhaps the pick of the crop was the Sei Whale in the Firth of Forth.

The accompanying photo I took of a Sanderling last week, a bird renowned for running up and down beaches, perhaps summarises the year; a lot of backwards and forwards.

All in all a good year. 2022 promises even more. I hope above all hope the coming year gives you your needs and desires. Happy New Year.



This young male Grey Seal was hauled out on a lonely Norfolk beach this week. He was resting and we left without disturbing him.


Merry Christmas

I’d only just mentioned to the girls that we should keep an eye open for Bob. Sure enough he appeared like some sort of apparition; feeding the gulls as we passed Walcott. It was good to see him. It’s been a long time since we got together and it was pleasing to spend a little time together.

Spending time with people has been difficult over the past twelve months. I’ve missed the camaraderie of friends and family; it was very pleasing Holly made it down from Manchester to spend Christmas with us.

We decided to have a morning walk at Cart Gap; that’s where we were heading when we saw Bob.

Scouring the beach we looked for mammoth teeth. This was the second day in a row we’d searched the shore for fossils. One day I’ll find a nice example.

It was Holly who saw a flash of orange behind the breakers. I suspected it was a Turnstone. No. On closer inspection it was a Purple Sand. Not one but three of them; picking and pecking at the alga on the walls and rocks. A nice find for Christmas.

I hope you all manage some time with family and friends this Christmas, you stay well and have a pleasant surprise or two. Merry Christmas from Tania and I (and Holly too!)


Turning Over

The photographs I’ve taken this year will soon be turning over and disappearing into annals of the Wildcatch Photography site; they won’t be available to view in the one place under the ‘Latest Photograph’ section.

So if you would like to take a browse of the latest photos please do so now … I hope you enjoy them.


I’m a fan

I’ve always been a fan of the Dartford Warbler. An iconic species that is represented in Norfolk by possibly the most Northerly population in the world.

We waited for around an hour in a cold wind for one to show last week. I know it was there as I’d heard it chuntering from inside the gorse. This is a species that shows on it’s own terms. However, I could see the blue sky on the horizon slowly working it’s way towards us. A little sunshine always helps to procure a sighting and sure enough he eventually sat atop his thorny perch; even fanning his tail for us.


You’re having a Lark

It was quiet at Holkham when we arrived. I was surprised given the place is normally heaving at this time of year. Tania and I ‘rugged-up’ against the ripping northerly and ventured out onto the saltmarsh. It was good to see Marcus leading a tour and it was also good to have the opportunity to congratulate him on finding a first for Norfolk last week. He told us the Shore Larks had just flown south over the pines. We waited a while for them return but eventually ventured out onto the dunes to take a look at the sea.

I think it will be fortunate indeed if we get to grips with the species that may be within the Scoter flock offshore without a boat. Something to consider perhaps. The tide was out and the flock was just at the edge of my discernible vision. I couldn’t make out much detail at all. There were however a good variety of other birds offshore and we enjoyed sorting through them. Eventually the cold got the better of us and we ventured back into the pines… but not before encountering the recently returned Shore Larks.

Always good to see these Northerners. We had five birds on the saltmarsh. Numbers are not what they once were. Birdtrack data seems to indicate a real decrease within England. Although ‘historical’ records are poorly defined, the graph below indicates a reduction in records (if you know the definition used by the BTO please let me know). Maybe birds are not coming so far south now. It would be good to have an up-to-date winter count throughout the whole of Europe at some point. However, I suspect these beauties are going the way of many of our former relatively easy to find winter visitors.


Some people should just be barred

The roads at Wiveton are narrow. Visitors to the Barred Warbler were asked not to park on the road or verges; but one idiot still did. Churning up the verge in front of resident’s houses. No wonder suppression of sightings seems to be on the increase. This attitude promotes it. The ignorance of some people just raises my hackles. ‘It doesn’t apply to me’. ‘I’ve no need to give way’. ‘I’ve no need to wear a mask’. ‘The injection program doesn’t apply here’. Pure unadulterated arrogance. I’m tiring of uncooperative people. Some should just be barred!

However … the Barred Warbler luckily didn’t take any notice of the raised voices behind me. This is the latest I’ve seen one in the UK. By now it should be feeding in some Turkish Olive grove. Normally long gone from our shores by December, this young bird did what Barred’s normally don’t do; it showed surprisingly well. Tania and I enjoyed watching it feed on insects within the ivy covered hawthorns. Why is it here? I think a quick look around any trees on the coast will give you the answer; many are still in leaf. We’ve not really had any frost to speak of as yet. There’s still a veritable insect larder within foliage.

I wonder if this bird will over winter? I suspect not, but I’d love to revisit it in March when it would be starting to look like a Barred Warbler at its best.


Escaping the weather

I could tell our second trip to Wales in November was going to be a bit chancy with the weather. Even the week before the forecast was showing there was going to be heavy winds. When we set off last Saturday morning we didn’t realise we had perhaps missed the worst of it.

As we wended our way across the Midlands, through snow, conditions gradually improved. By the time we got to Powys it was bright sunshine. Judging by the bits of trees scattered around the worst of Storm Arwen had already passed through.

As usual lots of Kites to photograph.

The weather on Sunday was better still. It even felt warm in a few sheltered spaces.

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Dec 2021


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