Archive for the 'norfolk wildlife' Category


Workshop at Cley NWT

Just a note to all you whale and dolphin lovers out there – the Norfolk Wildlife Trust tells me there are still a few places left on the “Whales and Dolphins of Norfolk” Workshop I’ll be running at Cley this Saturday 10th June. If you’d like further details and would like to book a place follow this link –


Cetacean Course

Details of a cetacean course in June at Cley NWT are here – everyone is welcome, booking essential.


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.



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.


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.



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.



Over the past week or so there’s been a movement of our wild swans back North. I’ve seen several parties of Bewick’s tracking East along the coast and Whoopers heading back North. These are not our birds. We only borrow them for the Winter.


Who knew?

Who knew Kestrels had drumsticks?

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Jun 2023


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