Archive for Jul, 2022



Despite the massive reduction of Bonxies (up to 80%) we found a bathing group of Great Skuas this week in the heights of Scotland. Twenty-two birds eventually came together in a small lochan for a wash and brush up. The sighting prompted us to ponder what the collective noun should be for a group of skuas. We came up with ‘An attack’ of skuas.

I was in conversation with Simon Barnes about his wife’s lovely art installation at Cley. Cindy is very talented, if you are around please go and see it first-hand. I mentioned the sighting of the skuas to Simon and he said the following: ‘Surely an assault of bonxies. More violent and a punning hint of their environment’

What do you think?


National Whale and Dolphin Watch

Next Saturday 30th July Tania and I will be holding our annual Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin Watch. We will be at Weybourne (NR25 7AH) 100m East of the beach car park from 9am to 4pm – everyone is welcome to come and help spot cetaceans. Bring along binoculars and some small change for the car park.


All Skua’d out

I’m currently in the very North of Scotland leading the Sutherland Tour. Yesterday we visited a skua colony attended by wardens. Both Arctic and Great Skuas nest in the colony and numbers are down because of avian flu. The Great Skuas are suffering greatly … an 80% reduction in numbers at this one colony will mean populations will be low and vulnerable for some time. The Arctic Skuas are doing better.

I think a pale phase Arctic Skua takes a lot of beating.



Just a few of the beautiful butterflies we saw on the Cumbria Butterfly Tour this month. Next years tour is available for booking here

Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Grayling, High Brown Fritillary, Large White, Northern Brown Argus, Small Heath, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary.


A rare bird and a rare dragon

Without doubt one of my own personal highlights of the recent butterfly tour to Cumbria was finding several White Faced Darter Dragonflies. One of our rarest insects it sports a very smart livery indeed. One in particular was lying low out of the wind warming itself on the boardwalk.

Perhaps the only thing that could have ousted it from the top spot was a bird sat on a pub sign just West of the Welland as we ventured back into Norfolk. As bold as brass, sat at the roadside sporting distinctive red feet was the dark slate form of a male Red footed Falcon. Seeing a good bird at 60mph is never satisfying so I even negotiated the traffic to turn around and go back for a better look … only to find it had moved on.


Black Yank Back

When we went on the East Coast Seabird Tour last year one of the intriguing birds we saw was a Black Tern in Northumberland. That in itself is not so unusual. What was a little different was Black Terns are Marsh Terns and wouldn’t normally be found in close association with Common, Little and Arctic Terns in a beach colony.

I’ve never seen an American Black Tern in summer plumage. I’ve only seen winter plumage birds – that wear distinctive ‘headphones’ like the one I photographed in 2011 at Covenham in Lincolnshire.

It transpires that the white leading edge to the wing and sparkling white underwing, shown by the Northumberland bird are two features not shared by the European Black Tern in Summer Plumage. The bird was in fact an ‘American Black Tern’ of the race surinamensis.

Amazingly, what was undoubtedly the same bird returned this year and we called to see it on the East Coast Seabird Tour last week. When we first arrived at the colony it was nowhere to be seen. However, it wasn’t long before we saw, and heard, it fly in from the sea and come over the beach to where we were standing with the wardens. Being quite vocal it wasn’t difficult to keep track of and it showed amazingly well, enabling me to fire off a few frames as it flew overhead.

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Jul 2022


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