Archive for the 'birds' Category



We had a great time in Scotland with an impressive tally of birds for the group. Specialities included. This was no doubt helped by the mild warm southerlies that brought on a spell of early migration. However, there was one bird that dominated the tour. At every single place we ventured from the vehicle this year we could hear and often see Siskin. They were everywhere!



Some of the Black tailed Godwits visiting Cley at the moment are just stunning.


A Bird from Kent or a Kentish Plover

I was engaged doing something which must for the time being remain a mystery. However, the story will reveal itself in the fullness of time. Anyways, I was thinking I better get off home and do a little work before the tour to Scotland at the end of the week when a message popped up on my mobile phone. ‘Kentish Plover on Simmonds Scrape at Cley’

It’s been a good while since I saw the last one but I played it cool and had a vegan cake and an oat milk coffee at the reserve centre before walking out to the hide. Although a very smart male the bird might as have well been in Lincolnshire; it was miles away at the back of the scrape. I gave it the opportunity to move closer by waiting a couple of hours but it stubbornly stayed well out of range of the camera.

I sat in the sunshine outside and dealt with a few emails before intending to walk back to the car park. It was only when friend Trevor came out and said it had moved closer I put the plans to leave on hold. The Plover had indeed moved to the nearest sandy island. Although it was still aways-away I at least managed a record shot.



In Wales a couple of weeks ago the Chough were dancing in the wind over the cliffs and sea. Love the playfulness of these corvids.


Let’s just Gloss over that

When Bob told me he’d been photographing Glossy Ibis he said it was possible to get close. He talked in terms of the width of a living room. I was intrigued. I though it was worth investigating. He drew me a map. I needed it. The route to the bird was convoluted over rough ground and not at all easy carrying a 400mm 2.8 prime lens.

His directions were spot on. I no sooner arrived at the site and the bird was right where he said it would be. However, I couldn’t get close. The bird spooked at over 60m. Passing kayakers, dog walkers and nearby kite flyers were flushing the bird and it wouldn’t settle in my presence. I sat down, had a drink of water, and thought the situation through.

I zipped up my jacket so the white t shirt I was wearing wasn’t on show, walked away from the bird, around it, and approached with the light behind me so the sun wouldn’t flash on the lens. This paid dividends and thankfully the ‘motorway’ of morning dog walkers abated, the kayakers disappeared and the kite flyers got called in for lunch.

Reeds and vegetation were always an issue, but as I crouched on the river bank the bird made it’s way slowly to me. The light was excellent. For what is superficially a dull brown bird Glossy Ibis have a wonderfully coloured plumage.


Let’s go Fly a Kite

Tania had never been to Powys in Wales. Never seen a Kite feed. Last week, the weather was good so why wouldn’t we take a break in central Wales.

Once we (or rather one of us) had got over the temptation to photograph every lamb in Wales we made it to Gigrin.

Advertised as the world’s biggest bird table, Kite feeds are quite something. A site to watch open jawed as birds flock to be fed. A photographers delight.


Some you win … some you lose

I’ve been working at Wild Ken Hill for around seven months now leading some of the ‘Big Picture’ tours. The tours cover the coastal marsh, the regenerative agricultural implementations on the estate and also the 1000 acre rewilding area. At WKH they are doing some amazing things which I passionately believe we should be doing.

I don’t take my camera with me on the walks as it’s quite a heavy beast of a thing and can be a little strength sapping when on foot all day.

Tania came with me last Saturday, as she sometimes does. About 2 hours into the morning tour we were just starting to climb the hill that is ‘Wild Ken Hill’ within the rewilding area when I saw something flitting half-way up one of the Scots Pines. I raised my binoculars expecting to see a Robin. In fact what I saw floored me. The red wasn’t on the breast but down the flanks of the bird and as it turned I saw an ivory white throat and a beautiful blue tail. It was a female/first winter type Red flanked Bluetail. I forget what I actually said … but it was something quite exclamatory! The bird flew down to a pile of scrubby removed Rhododendrons and promptly disappeared.

I think this is the second March record for Norfolk. None of the twelve guests with us were bird watchers and I had a timetable to observe. However, I explained the significance of the sighting and reluctantly left the area, with more than a single backward glance, to continue the tour. In the short time we had available to look on the afternoon tour it was nowhere to be seen.

The following day, on Sunday, we decided to see if we could see any of the Garganey that had been reported at Cley NWT over the preceding week. Garganey, our only summer visiting duck, are normally elusive; preferring the shelter of vegetation and reedbeds to open water. After waiting unsuccessfully in one hide most of the morning we decided to have lunch back at the centre and try the centre group of hides in the afternoon.

As we got to the hides friends Greg and Andrew were departing and announced they had seen a pair going up and down the drain close in front of them. Well, they weren’t wrong. The birds were ridiculously close. I had to take off the extender and reset the minimum focusing distance. In fact I could have easily have taken photos on a mobile phone.

Sometimes you win by taking the camera … sometimes you lose when you don’t.



We had a great tour down to Minsmere last weekend with excellent sightings of Hen Harrier, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bittern, Bearded Tit at point blank range, displaying Great crested Grebes, Great White Egret, a couple of Whooper Swans, a pair of absolutely pristine Pintails and Mediterranean Gulls and more Dartford Warblers than I’ve ever seen in a single day.

Wrap all that lot up, and more, with the good company of my guests and it made for an excellent day.



This Little Owl popped up on a Farm Tour at Wild Ken Hill the other day. To me they always have that angry expression … as if they are shouting ‘WHAT?’


Just a Duck

We called at Leighton Moss RSPB on our way up to Southern Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Why wouldn’t yoy? It’s a great reserve. A duck was in front of one of the hides that I didn’t immediately recognise. Based on the size of the bill it was a shoveler species. An obvious escape. I thought initially Cape Shoveler but no, it was more like something I was much more familiar with … Australian Shoveler.

However, it didn’t match exactly the birds I’d seen on my many visits to the former colony. The breast and flanks seemed to be the wrong colour/patterning and the facial crescent was much more prominent. A 2018 paper in Dutch Birding describes the quest of several Dutch birders to identify a similar hybrid duck on the island of Schiermonnikoog. The article is here. What do you think?

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Jul 2022


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