Archive for the 'norfolk birding' Category

02
Mar
19

A miss was a hit

Missing something by just minutes is always pretty galling. Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers had been seen shortly before we got to the site. By the time we got there I could hear nothing of them. Just the distant drumming of a Greater Spotted. However; there was consolation .

Lesser spot would have been the golden ribbon around a suite of Breckland birds on the ‘Breckland Birding Day’ a week or so ago. Some beautiful singing Woodlarks, best ever sightings of displaying Goshawk, crest raising Firecrests, a flock of leaf litter tossing Hawfinch, more Brambling than you could shake a hairy stick at and some of the reddest male Crossbills you have seen in your life! Throw in a bold Water Rail with black faced Siskins and a small flock of Marsh Tits and we had a day that was memorable.

For me however the thing that topped the lot were the two Otters feeding beside us as we waited for the Lesser Spots… beautiful.

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26
Feb
19

Darting about in the bushes

We went to see the somewhat elusive Dartford Warbler occupying the dune bushes at Holkham last week; and had more success than some others!

22
Feb
19

Camouflaged

Some large flocks of Snow Buntings along the Norfolk Coast at the moment. These birds were within one of two flocks we saw on a coastal tour last week. Superbly camouflaged against the shingle they are just the pinnacle of evolutionary design; hardly perceptible until they moved.

 

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.

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.




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