Archive for the 'norfolk birding' Category


Hair of the cow?

I’ve spent a few mornings recently down at Water Lane Car Park here in West Runton. Patiently awaiting arrival of Spring migrants. With the recent Northerlies they weren’t coming in ‘thick and fast’. To pass the time the other day I was watching a few Jackdaws collecting nesting material. If you see any bald bovines about … you know why!


The Proposed Barrage over The Wash

I went to Wells earlier this week, to visit the theatre. There was a debate being held on the ‘Future of The Wash’. The debate was primarily between Dominic Buscall of Wild Ken Hill and James Sutcliffe CEO of Centre Port Ltd.

Dominic is a modern farmer and conservationist who has developed a well-known regenerative agriculture and rewilding area, at Wild Ken Hill, in Northwest Norfolk. He is rapidly becoming a hero of mine.

You may already be aware that Centre Port Ltd wish to privately fund an 11 to 15 mile long barrage between Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The barrage would effectively be a road across The Wash between the two counties. Situated on that road would be a container port. The barrage would house a number of turbines that would generate electricity from the incoming and outgoing tides. The barrage was also being heralded as the answer to rising sea levels brought about by climate change that would protect the low-lying areas of land adjacent to The Wash.

The developer’s website claims that a core aim of the development is to provide guardianship of the ecology of The Wash and Fenlands, its agriculture and the preservation of the natural habitat in the face of escalating climate change. Needless to say the effect on wildlife, particularly birds, within the most important estuary in North-West Europe had hardly been considered. The effect on the wildlife, particularly birds in this important area would be tragic. Just where Centre Port Ltd have been for the past few years is unknown but wherever they were they failed to hear we are in a biodiversity crisis.

Mr Sutcliffe made some astounding claims during the evening regarding consultation with environmental bodies which were not only proved by several in the audience to be fabricated but he also seemed to get rather confused over the costings of the project.

Mr Buscall retorted to Mr Sutcliffe’s presentation with some well thought through arguments against the barrage that were confidently and well delivered.

At a time in our history when we are advocating ‘buy local’ a new container port in the UK, shipping goods from and to distant parts of the world, can be judged nothing more than a White Elephant. Although the project was being heralded as a ‘green’ project because of the production of tidal electricity the increase in greenhouse gas emissions on site and in distant parts of the world supplying business for the container port would add to the effects of global warming and thereby add to increasing sea levels.

The electricity production naturally takes energy from the tidal water. That water replenishes the silt and sand within The Wash. One expert in the audience stated the project would turn The Wash into nothing more than a ‘green, fetid lake’. Mr Sutcliffe seemed to think that a sandy beach along the dual carriageway atop the barrage would be a boon to the leisure industry. He even sited the port could be used by Cruise Ships for visits to York and Cambridge.

I’m just dismayed that once again wildlife comes second; the effect upon this important flyway, feeding and wintering ground for migrating birds is considered after the event. For Christs sake just leave The Wash alone and let the birds thrive and prosper as much as they can.

There was much talk during the evening about the extreme weather events that we are experiencing. Events that discharge flood water into The Wash. Water that would be prevented from leaving the area due to a barrage as quickly as it was hoped would in itself create a flood risk.

We do have to deal with Climate Change. We will have to make changes to combat effects of rising sea levels; I feel a barrage over The Wash just isn’t the answer.

The legal protections offered to The Wash are many and varied. It is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). The area has also recently been added to a list of areas in consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Every single local and national wildlife body that has made comment is against the project.

I cannot believe anyone would want to invest in something that is so clearly doomed. Sadly, the effort required to halt construction and the distraction it will provide for environmentalists is tragic. Anyone connected with the greed for money that is so obviously driving the Centre Port Ltd project should hang their heads in shame.


In flight stripe

Not quite on our lawns … but not far away.

Tania had been down to the cliff top earlier in the week and seen our smart visitor but I’ve been tied up working. So this evening after we had both finished work we had an amble on the cliffs. Although the little chap was being disturbed by dogs, walkers, joggers and a young lady with a camera he kept finding refuge in fields away from the cliff top path. He appeared to be finding plenty to eat and seemed happy enough.

I always find it amazing Hoopoes can fly several hundreds of miles; given their flimsy butterfly flight it hardly seems that they can make it over the next hedgerow let alone the English Channel. I wonder if it is the same individual that turned up in the same field last Autumn?



The marshes at Cley seem to have a couple of Bitterns this Spring. One even took on an Australian trait as it went ‘walkabout’ the other day; completely forgetting it should be making itself invisible within the reedbeds.


Waiting on Red

Whilst waiting for one of the Alpine Swifts to turn up in Sheringham the other week a Red Kite swung low over Sheringham and I couldn’t resist taking a few shots. It’s getting hard NOT to see a Red Kite on a day out in Norfolk these days. However, I’m in no way complaining … they are a superb contingent of the county’s fauna and long may they flourish.



The protracted stay of the Long billed Dowitcher at Cley can’t go on much longer can it? It’s perhaps overstaying it’s welcome more than Donald Trump. We were watching it yesterday and it appeared to be getting a little frustrated. The target of all that pent up aggression was an unfortunate Black tailed Godwit. The Dowitcher certainly wasn’t daunted by the larger size of the Godwit but a particular method of attack was employed presumably for its own safety. Firstly the Dowitcher debilitated the sword like bill of the Godwit by clenching it shut with its feet and then proceeded to give headache inducing blows to the poor Godwit’s head. A pure ‘Get-art-a-moy-pab’ moment (to be said with a Barbara Windsor accent)


Two for the price of one

It’s not without good reason I chose an enigmatic bird like the Alpine Swift as a logo for the company.

With a large influx of birds into the UK on typical March dates it was only a matter of time before one or two of them turned up on the Norfolk coast. Sheringham picked up a bird this morning. A bit ‘gappy’ in the right wing as well as in a certain amount of tail moult, this bird wasn’t as perfect as I’ve seen them. However, it still cut a nice silhouette against the grey Norfolk sky.


Tug of War

There were two birds that ‘got me into’ birding. The first was a ‘drumming’ Snipe. The second was the Lapwing.

I remember the day I took my newly acquired Swift 10×50 binoculars to ‘Pottery Pond’ near the Woodman Inn in Swinton; not too far from where I entered the world.

Pottery Pond was a regular haunt of the pre-teenage me. I used to fish there for sticklebacks as a boy. The pond was a deep steep sided flooded pit that had supplied the clay for the nearby large bottle-shaped kiln of Rockingham Pottery. Long since disused, the kiln had last been fired in the 1840s, the old Pottery and area held a fascination for me. It was on the edge of the South Yorkshire conurbation and heralded the start of the local countryside. I still have a couple of pieces of Rockingham Pottery; marked with their distinctive ‘griffin’ stamp. A reminder of times past.

I remember distinctly looking over the fence, with the pond at my back, into the ploughed field to see a continuous carpet of feeding birds. What gripped my imagination was the crest. That long plume of head feathers. Feathers that quivered and bent in the breeze. How could something so incredibly beautiful be living here, around where I lived? How had I not noticed them before? I sort of knew what they were, but a quick glance in my Observers Book of Birds when I got home confirmed my thoughts. They were Lapwings.

The species has never lost it’s fascination for me. My heart still skips a beat when I see one close-up. That metallic green mantle in good light is enough to take anyone’s breath away. When I see one well I’m always taken back to that day at Pottery Pond fifty something years ago.


Water, water everywhere

Sat in the hide with friends Bob and Bill this week we had independently decided to see if we could see the Water Pipits that had been kicking around Cley for the last few weeks. It was good to be out birding with them both. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an honest days birding together and the next couple of hours reminded me of how good it is to be in their company. I must admit I was paying attention to a 1st cycle Mediterranean Gull in the distance that Bob picked out when the lady sat in front of me asked me what the bird was right in front of the hide.

I was delighted to tell her it was a Water Pipit. Not a particularly well marked bird but nevertheless a Water Pipit. Feeding along the edge of the scrape the bird was working the muddy edge for a morsel or two. It didn’t stop long; but long enough for a shot or two.



A touch of Red-eye. Need to take more water with that Whiskey? This pristine male Pochard just caught the fading light as we sat watching it from the hide last week.

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Jun 2023


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