Archive for the 'norfolk' Category

18
Feb
19

Winter Visitors

There are a few Shorelark wintering along the Norfolk coast this year. Some in a variable numbered flock others as scattered individuals.

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14
Feb
19

It was Sparrow with his Bow and Arrow

A valentine’s day bow and arrow from this Tree Sparrow.

Strange how this species seems to be doing better (ie: more common and more widespread) in Victoria, Australia as an introduction, than it is here in Norfolk. This individual was among what I would term as a ‘relict’ population at Welney WWT.

24
Jan
19

Within a Whisker

Trying to fly things by wire from abroad is not easy but I have good friends and colleagues here in the UK and bless them they do help me out when necessary. I’m blessed to have them around me. It was last December and I’d had a good portion of the day at the laptop in ludicrously hot Victoria trying to sort out a problem here in the UK.

The door opened and in breezed Tania after her day at work in Melbourne CBD. I wheeled back on the desk chair and she could see I’d had a rough day. “I know exactly how to fix that face” she said.

She took me to Werribee harbour to do some birding!

For the life of me I don’t know why Marsh Terns don’t regularly breed here in Norfolk. We have the most ideal habitat among the broads. Black Terns nest just over the water in Holland so why aren’t they habitual Norfolk breeders? I honestly don’t know. The same can be said of the rarer Whiskered Tern. Also a Marsh Tern, it breeds as close to the UK as France seemingly ignoring those wonderful open reedbeds offered by the Norfolk Broads.

I’ve never managed to get any decent photos of a summer plumage Whiskered Tern. However, we found a couple of them fishing along the harbour front. I got a few record shots before they flew off west. We followed them and drove into the mouth of the river a mile or so further along the coast. I couldn’t believe how many Whiskered Terns were fishing off the beach. I was in birding heaven. I spent far too long photographing the terns and dodging the surf as the birds plunged into the breakers picking up fish. Needless to say the hot day at the laptop was completely forgotten in the cooling ocean breeze as I did something I love; losing myself in nature.

Birds and our other wildlife, whether it’s at home or abroad, are a real healer; a true medicine to be treasured.

 

30
Dec
18

2018 – the best bits

2018 for me set off being a somewhat muted year but rapidly escalated into something as special as it gets. Finding someone special to share my life was a revelation that I didn’t expect. The downside of that is a whole planet separates us. 2019 will be spent putting that right.

One discovery for me in 2018 has been the state of Victoria in Australia. The pull of this part of such a remote continent has been extreme. It’s undulating landscape, amiable weather, compelling wildlife and of course one special inhabitant have made this the most special place I’ve ever been. Australia is just the best. My two months here within 2018 have been the most outstanding part of my personal year. Within that two months Tania has taken me to some fabulous places. Mountains, remote bushland, deep dark eucalypt forests, small islands and open wide beaches. However, one place stands out in my mind as it holds birds that have been a part of my life for so long in the UK. Rare birds. Birds that blew to the UK as waifs and strays. Birds such as Red necked Stints and Sharp tailed Sandpipers. In Victoria, Werribee has a water treatment plant holding these birds in mind boggling numbers. Numbers I could only have dreamed about. Who would have thought a sewage plant would have topped my years best bits… but it has. It even topped the Beluga in the Thames!

But what of my professional year. There have been some great times. Scilly once again was terrific, so was Wales, the Farnes were at their best and the Scottish tours were formidable. Picking the best? … well that’s easy. The 2018 Mammal Tour of the UK. Without doubt the best tour I’ve ever done. Some fabulous wildlife; Minke Whales and Dolphins of three species you could have touched. Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and Badgers at arms length. However, to single out one moment of the tour I would have to go to a small beach at the fishing port of Wick on the Scottish East coast. Reading books from being a child through to adulthood enables everyone to conjure up dreams. Bucket lists. Events to experience. Things to see, places to go. I crossed off number one on my own bucket list on that small beach last May. My guests and I experienced the sight of a Walrus in British waters. OK it’s not the cuddliest looking animal you’ll ever come across. But hell … what an animal!

Roll on 2019. Happy New Year.

21
Nov
18

Atlantic Greys

These adult Atlantic or Grey Seals were popping up around our boat the other week. When it comes to seals think ‘dog’ in terms of curiosity. They will always come close to check us out.

16
Nov
18

Pupping

It’s that time of year again and those blonde babies are once more appearing on the beaches. The reason Grey Seal pups are white at birth is a hangover from the ice age when they would have been camouflaged among the ice. Camouflaged against predators. So far the seals in Norfolk have been predator free. However, it’s only a matter of time until an Orca finds the rookeries here. This was one of the first pups to be born on Blakeney point this year. Taken on a photographic tour last weekend.

12
Nov
18

Light and easy

Pallid Swifts within Norfolk during November are regular but always a little contentious. They are never easy to distinguish from Common Swifts. Even photographs can be a little confusing and it’s not too difficult to inadvertently change a common to a pallid during processing. Time must be taken to watch the birds in a variety of light from various positions. It’s only then that distinguishing features can be clinched such as the dark eye, the darker saddle and underbody, darker primaries and leading edge of the wing that contrast with paler coverts and secondaries, the paler head and throat and the slightly shallower tail fork as well as paler feather edgings on the flanks. The feature of a blunter wing tip on Pallid is not as easy to distinguish as literature states and in my opinion varies from bird to bird. I guess it is one of those features that is dependant on it’s attitude in the air.

A message from Ben today stating he had a Pallid hawking along the cliff top at Overstrand saw me make a diversion from the shops in Cromer to the cliffs above the golf course. The light was immaculate as it frequently is in Norfolk and we were looking north to watch the bird hawking in front of the cliffs. Although relatively distant the bird’s milky coloured plumage was immediately apparent. However it took a while for the bird to come closer so the other features could be seen but in the end the identity of the bird was unquestionable.

Today’s Swift was in the company of a white rumped hirundine. Shame it was only a House Martin!

 




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