Archive for the 'norfolk birds' Category


A Howl

Another shot of one of those amazing Short eared Owls that are gracing many of Norfolk’s marshes and dunes at the moment.



I’ve seen bold kestrels fly up to Barn Owls and steal their catch. Until yesterday I’ve never seen a Kestrel do the same thing with a Short-eared Owl.

It was as if the marsh was giving birth to owls. They just kept springing up. First one, then two. Three, four five and maybe a sixth. They offered superb photo opportunities. I followed one through the viewfinder of the camera and watched it swing in an arc down to the ground. It jumped as a vole lept forward in a desperate attempt for freedom. The shortie cut off the escape route. A kestrel swung down from above and took the vole from under the owls very nose! … but not without a bit of a fight.


Lincs or Essex

We were speaking to the ‘rellies’ in Australia today when the alert popped up. A red breasted Goose at Cley.

I’d been conscious of a couple of these arctic breeding geese being in both Essex and Lincolnshire this winter. I must admit as we were driving to Cley, shortly after hanging up the phone, I made the comment it was probably the Lincolnshire bird that had made the leap across The Wash. It wasn’t until I got to Cley friend Mark told us the Lincolnshire bird was still present. So this bird must have flown North from Essex.

These small colourful geese should be wintering around the Black Sea before returning to Arctic Russia. Occasionally they get wrapped up with other geese species and end up in the UK. The Cley bird was with a large flock of Dark bellied Brents and was quite obliging.



I’d seen a post on facebook that pictured what purported to be a Long Eared Owl seen in East Norfolk. Looking at the photo I could see it was in fact an Eagle Owl. It wasn’t too difficult to find out where it was; it fact it wasn’t a million miles away from the bird that Tania and I saw at Winterton a few years back. Maybe it was the same bird maybe it was a fresh one.

I went to see it a little earlier in the week. I couldn’t find it. You would think that something the size of quite a large dog sat in a tree wouldn’t be too difficult to find. However, it wasn’t in the trees where I was told it had been in previous days. Interestingly a few of the dog walking locals said it had been around for a couple of months. I left without seeing it at all.

I went back for another go in sunnier weather on Wednesday. I was still some distance from the site when I heard a single, low, deep ‘Woo oo oo oo’. It could only be the Eagle Owl. I searched the area from where the call emanated. It took me a little while but I eventually picked it out and found a place where it wasn’t obscured by branches.

As dog walkers and residents passed me their curiosity was quite naturally peaked and they wanted to ask what I was looking at. Some had seen it previously. Despite being ‘three stories-up’ the bird was obviously not relishing their sometimes very loud voices below and walked off into a less than accessible position. So I left him in piece to enjoy his siesta.

Whether these birds are wild vagrants from the continent or escaped falconers birds can never be proven one way or another. It certainly wasn’t sporting rings or jesses that I could see. I did look for a feather, thrown pellet or a splash of ‘whitewash’ that may just hold an isotope or DNA secret of its origins, but wasn’t successful in finding anything.


Towering Waders

I caught a flock of Grey Plover sweeping through the village last week. Those dark auxiliaries; the armpit feathers, are a dead giveaway for an otherwise quite bland winter plumage wader. Several flocks have been around the village for a week or two now. If they aren’t in the clifftop fields they will undoubtedly be down on the beach.


Grab a grebe

Already this year when sea watching some of the scarcer grebes have cropped up. Usually, they are just a fly-past. If we’re having a lucky day they’ll be sat on the water and if we are even luckier it’ll be windless with a nice flat sea and they’ll not be ducking in and out of the troughs and waves like a fairground target. Invariably though they are distant and difficult to see. So, when one of these grebes ends up dropping in on an inland body of water, they are worth going to see.

At the beginning of the year a Red Necked Grebe was reported on Ormsby Broad so Tania and I thought we’d pay it a visit.

On arrival it had a number of admirers and was pretty distant and it never did come much closer … but at least it wasn’t constantly disappearing in a swell.


Hardly Iceland

A day or so before New Years Eve the rain had abated and left a balmy end of year Southern wind casting up from the Azores. The warmest winter temperatures for a long time … maybe on record.

I took the decision to make the most of the heatwave and visit Cley to seek out the Iceland Gull that had been roaming the coastline there for the past week or two. It had been visiting a seal carcass just east of the beach road. I thought that may be a good place to start. Even as I walked down the beach I could see the distinctive white winged form cutting the air distantly towards North scrape. It promptly flew over me and West to Halfway House. I’d no sooner put the message out and it returned and flew east towards Weybourne. Taking a photo wasn’t going to be that easy. To add to the difficulty the beach couldn’t have been busier if it had been a bank holiday. Still I had some good company as i waited for the gull to return which it eventually did. Sadly it looked to have an issue with one of its legs. I was told this was because of an entanglement with fishing line the previous day. Enough said.

A seasonal bird in un-seasonal weather.


Happy New Year

This year has been a strange one. A year of two halves and contrasts. The first half, once again like 2020, became a period of sedentary incapability. Tours and trips had to be cancelled. Unpicking the arrangements with boat operators and hotels is never easy. Indeed, sadly some of them financially went to ‘the wall’ as their business slumped.

I always said that because of the way I run the business, and my financial affairs, WT&E would front out anything thrown at it no matter how long the lockdown, without the help of government handouts. Little did I know that the business levels in the second half of the year would bounce back so strongly and so quickly.

Guests were keen to get back into the countryside and I couldn’t blame them, having been isolated and restricted for so long. However, safety of guests was paramount. Local day tours were conducted by guests following in their own vehicle and longer tours when we shared a vehicle were carried out against a background of testing by both guests and me. As a consequence, we had some good local tours and some effortlessly successful tours away.

A good relationship this year with ‘Wild Ken Hill’ and involvement in a small way with some of the good things they are trying to do there was very pleasing. Long may their rewilding and regenerative agricultural development continue.

Still no trips abroad. I feel it would be foolish to commit to these yet. To do so in the current environment is inviting difficulty and potential unnecessary expense. Maybe in 2023. The wilds of Australia, North and South America will all still be there; as will the Atlantic Islands. All on our agenda.

A single new bird for me during the course of the year was the Syke’s Warbler on Blakeney Point in September. The supporting cast of other birds, dragonflies, butterflies and cetaceans were many, but perhaps the pick of the crop was the Sei Whale in the Firth of Forth.

The accompanying photo I took of a Sanderling last week, a bird renowned for running up and down beaches, perhaps summarises the year; a lot of backwards and forwards.

All in all a good year. 2022 promises even more. I hope above all hope the coming year gives you your needs and desires. Happy New Year.


Merry Christmas

I’d only just mentioned to the girls that we should keep an eye open for Bob. Sure enough he appeared like some sort of apparition; feeding the gulls as we passed Walcott. It was good to see him. It’s been a long time since we got together and it was pleasing to spend a little time together.

Spending time with people has been difficult over the past twelve months. I’ve missed the camaraderie of friends and family; it was very pleasing Holly made it down from Manchester to spend Christmas with us.

We decided to have a morning walk at Cart Gap; that’s where we were heading when we saw Bob.

Scouring the beach we looked for mammoth teeth. This was the second day in a row we’d searched the shore for fossils. One day I’ll find a nice example.

It was Holly who saw a flash of orange behind the breakers. I suspected it was a Turnstone. No. On closer inspection it was a Purple Sand. Not one but three of them; picking and pecking at the alga on the walls and rocks. A nice find for Christmas.

I hope you all manage some time with family and friends this Christmas, you stay well and have a pleasant surprise or two. Merry Christmas from Tania and I (and Holly too!)


I’m a fan

I’ve always been a fan of the Dartford Warbler. An iconic species that is represented in Norfolk by possibly the most Northerly population in the world.

We waited for around an hour in a cold wind for one to show last week. I know it was there as I’d heard it chuntering from inside the gorse. This is a species that shows on it’s own terms. However, I could see the blue sky on the horizon slowly working it’s way towards us. A little sunshine always helps to procure a sighting and sure enough he eventually sat atop his thorny perch; even fanning his tail for us.

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Sep 2022


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