Archive for the 'norfolk' Category


Larking about

Walking along the cliffs in the week was a delight. The sun was shining and the wind had dropped; it could even be said it was warm. Warm enough to make it pleasant to stand and watch the sea. It was high tide and the waves were licking the base of the cliffs. Very little was passing-by to the North but here in the grass around me the Skylarks were definitely feeling Spring in the air. The warmth had got to them too and their blood was up and flowing. Pairs were displaying. Crouching, wing spreading, bowing and generally larking about.


Who’s watching who

I was stood watching the marsh the other day and a Buzzard landed in the tree next to me. He was obviously uncomfortably sat on a load of spiky twigs despite there being better perches just a little further away. I wondered why he’d chosen that particular vantage point so close to me. Then I saw the rats running around nearby!


Good numbers

Seems to be some good numbers of wild swans about this winter. These Bewicks did a nice flypast last week.


Fabulous fabalis

There are two species of bean geese. Anser serrirostris the Tundra Bean Goose which occurs erratically but regularly in the UK and Anser fabalis the Taiga Bean Goose.

A regular flock of Taiga Bean Geese occurs near Falkirk each winter. This flock used to be on the itinerary of any winter visit North of the border. A regular flock also used to occur in the Yare Valley here in Norfolk. No more. Long gone are the days of 70 or 80 birds viewable from the end of the railway platform at Buckenham. They were always the subject of a regular winter visit to the Buckenham and Cantley marshes. The flock has diminished over time and for the last few years there have been few if any. A sad indictment of the current biodiversity depletion. As a consequence they have become a scarce visitor here in the South.

Taiga (pronounced Tiger) Bean Geese are larger, longer necked and bigger billed than their Tundra cousins; almost Swan like. I’d forgotten what a graceful bird they are until Tania and I saw a small group of four this week. Always distant and always wary we spent a little time watching them at Ludham. Fabulous fabalis


Fools dancing before an abyss.

It dawned on me quite early in my life that the way to protect the wildlife and birds in an area is to protect the area itself. Protecting the environment is key to having a safe home and area for creatures to live and breed. It’s not bloody rocket science is it? Cut down a forest for agriculture and everything in the forest will die or have to move elsewhere. Concrete and tarmac over a wild area and the insects that are key to supporting our wildlife will die or move on. Insect life supports everything above it like a Jenga tower. Pull out too many bricks and the whole lots clatters downward. The problem is we are running out of areas for our creatures to move to and we are loosing wildlife habitat and consequently our wildlife at a rate of knots.

Those of you that live locally will know of the area that is just to the West of Cromer on the South side of the A149 coast road. A wild piece of land full of bushes and scrub, often referred to as the site of the old zoo; not only important for breeding birds but also for migrants. Scrub is such an important habitat. It is not waste land. It’s essential habitat. I’ve seen Ring Ousel here, Red backed Shrike, Citrine Wagtail, Barred Warbler as well as commoner migrants. Those of you that have lived here longer than I will know of more rarities found here on migration. Well no more!

The area has been cleared. It’s gone. bulldozed and cut away to nothing. Some, self-important, pound greedy, cretin of an imbecile, has ordered the whole area to be cleared. We are in the middle of a biodiversity crisis and some idiot did this.

A few years ago I was just one of the individuals that objected to a building development on the land. For all the reasons outlined above, it did not seem like a good idea. Well take away all the ideal habitat and all the reasons to object are swept aside. Ruthless.

It was friend Andy (his photo below) that told me of the clearance. I went that morning to take a look. I was so so dejected. When will people understand that we are sawing away at the branch of the tree we are sat on. Bloody fools. Complete and utter … BLOODY FOOLS!

Photo credit: Andy Hale



A subtle but firm ‘tack’, gave away a Stonechat calling to his mate.


Craning a neck

One thing I love about the Broads is the wide expanse of reedbeds. Reeds talk in the breeze; softly murmuring. Their song is only broken by the haunting cry of Cranes. Last week we were craning our necks to see over reeds when up flew flock after flock; ‘whooping’ their way into the distance.


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.

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Feb 2023


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