Archive for Dec, 2022


Happy New Year

Well, the end of 22 is just about upon us and 2023 is about to open its doors. It’s been a more relaxed year here on the North Norfolk coast with restrictions fading into memory and life returning to somewhat like normal.

Throughout 2022 there have been several low points. Leaving Scillies in October the day after the Blackburnian Warbler turned up was one. Visiting Manchester and seeing the amount of litter both in the city centre and surrounding countryside was another; seeing such disregard for the environment was not just disappointing, but stomach churning.

Thankfully there have been some outstanding high points; including several ‘firsts’ for me. Eleonora’s Falcon, Cape Gull, Glanville Fritillary and Late Spider Orchid being a few examples.

Episodes with Broomrape, Bee Eaters and Little Buntings were entertaining and far reaching.

Despite foreign travel being shunned by Tania and me until next year we’ve had a number of trips here at home and tours have been UK wide. Scotland appeared on the agenda four times with Dumfriesshire, Sutherland and the Spey Valley twice. Scillies was visited twice with Spring and Autumn breaks. There were also tours to Knepp in West Sussex and the East coast including the Farne Islands. A very successful trip to Cumbria was enjoyed for its butterflies and dragonflies. We had a personal trip to the Isle of Wight which was very productive. A short trip to Kent with Tania and Tony took some topping; the range of Orchids we found coupled with time watching an Eleonora’s Falcon would take some beating. By a hair’s breadth however my moment of the year was in October on the island of Tresco. The day I spent with Tania photographing a Swainson’s Thrush was for me just the biz!

It’s been a long time since I have seen this diminutive, subtly marked species, so well. Seeing American Thrushes in the Americas is wonderful. Seeing one in the UK is always a thrill; but actually spending an extended period of time with one at close range was just exhilarating.

We are both looking forward to the New Year and what it brings, and hope you are too. Happy New Year from us both.


A Christmas present

It’s been a period of distant raptors in Norfolk. After the Pallid Harrier showed for Tania and I we came across the White tailed Eagle that’s been haunting the Holkham area. It didn’t take us long to find the juvenile bird sat in trees to the North of Bones Drift.

Viewable from the coast road it sat majestically in a dead tree. Unperturbed at passing Marsh Harriers that were in mobbing mode it stood its ground as you would expect of a predator at the top of the food chain.

Seeing an Eagle whether it be in Scandinavia, Scotland or on the Norfolk coast, even if it is a reintroduced Isle of Wight bird, is always a treat. A nice Christmas present.

Merry Christmas to one and all.


A Harrier among gentlemen

I finally found time to be at Stiffkey earlier this month. After a morning of faffing, I made myself a little lunch and set off after the mid-day news. The light was already beginning to go by the time I parked the car and walked down to the marsh. There were already a couple of guys looking for the Pallid Harrier.

We talked. I enjoyed their company. They were nice people. One guy had come a long way; from Wales for a holiday in Norfolk and the Pallid would be a new bird for him. It was fitting then perhaps he picked up the bird first as it flew over our heads and out onto the marsh. It perched for less than a minute and went down to roost. After a conversation of reflection my two new friends made their way back to their cars but I decided to stop and see if it re-settled. Sometimes as Harriers seek shelter for the night they fidget from their original spot in a restless flight as they seek a comfortable spot.

The dying sun showed below the clouds and bathed the marsh with the ‘death throes’ of an orange glow. The Harrier rose from it’s roost and circled. All the features of this beautiful bird were highlighted in the warm end of the spectrum; the orange underparts shone in the light and the boa wearing bird perched and once again settled as the sun pulsed out its last rays.



A visit to the Northern Highlands is just not the same without a sighting of a Pine Marten. We saw two a couple of weeks ago in Scotland including this beautiful female.


Dead Man’s Fingers

A pink soft coral on the beach. Thanks to friend Rob for the conclusive identification as Dead Man’s Fingers.


A Long Tail

One of the delights of Northern Scotland in the Winter months are the wildfowl at sea. Long tailed Ducks are just the biz!


A Waxed Wing

At the time of writing the influx of Waxwings that have invaded Scotland have not yet encroached in any number further South. Maybe the Northerlies forecast for the coming weekend will rectify that.

When we were on the North coast of Scotland last week, we came across a wonderful flock visiting berried bushes. Among them was a surprise male Blackcap and an even bigger surprise, a lumbering Northern Bullfinch. These bullfinches have a silver mantle and a trumpet like call. However, it was its size that took me quite aback. It was approaching the size of the Waxwings.



When we visit Scotland in April we do so because that is the optimum time to see a range of species. Some species are easier to see than others at this time. Crested Tits are quite hard as many birds are ‘sitting on eggs’.

When we visited Scotland last week Tania and I found these endearing little ‘cresties’ at each site we visited. Much commoner and easier to see than in April!


Bathing beauties

Don’t you just love a Purple Sandpiper?

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Dec 2022


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