Archive for the 'norfolk wildlife' Category

05
Sep
21

One Day

It doesn’t often happen that a customer cancels a tour but occasionally everyone gets ill. So it was last Friday. The day was mine to do with as I wished.

I thought I’d have a go at the Red breasted Flycatcher that had been around Trimingham churchyard the previous day. Busmans holiday and all that. As soon as I arrived a Pied Flycatcher flipped into an eye level branch of a beautiful open Cherry tree. It stayed just long enough for me to un-clip the camera bag and get the camera out. It had vanished by the time I’d raised the camera to my eye. I waited another hour before I saw it again. It perched just above an old girl kneeling at a gravestone, whispering to herself or maybe her interned loved one. Rather than disturb her I went for a walk to the sea. The scene was grey. The wind was whipping in from the North off the water. There was a smell of rare bird in the air. It was palpable.

By the time I returned to the churchyard I had it to myself again. I heard the Pied call and followed the sound to a spreading oak, before seeing it in the canopy and firing off a few record shots. As I was watching the bird something caught my eye. It was a bat circling the church. A Natter’s Bat. I tried to take a few pictures but as soon as I’d altered the settings on the camera it disappeared under the church eves. Presumably it was late in from a night shift. I never did see the Red breasted despite assistance from Paul and Rose that popped in for a quick look, so I presume it had moved on. Curiously a good number of Speckled Wood butterflies were alighting on gravestones. Not sure why; absorbing salts maybe?

I used to visit this area a lot when I lived at Falcon Cottage. It’s grown up a little and the trees in the churchyard are now ideal habitat for migrant birds. The area suffers from an absence of parking. Something to consider if anything truly amazing turns up there. In fact when I returned to the vehicle I had a polite but lengthy note on my windscreen asking me to consider where I parked as they couldn’t reverse into their drive opposite when approaching from the main road. Well my lovie, if you couldn’t reverse into your drive given the space I’d left …. I think it’s about time to give up your licence. It did occur to me they could have rung me in the time it took to write the note, the mobile number is on the side of the car. I was only yards away. I’d have gladly come and moved the damn thing. I did think I’d leave a ‘counter-note’ where they could read it but thought better of it. Some of my friends still watch this area. I didn’t want to escalate anything that would reflect upon them when they visit. I resolved not to park there again.

Home for lunch and then I though I’d take a drive West to Cley. As I pulled away from Sheringham a beautiful green locomotive was steaming its way towards Holt. I got ahead of it and took some photos of the stately beast as it crossed the road. Steam engines still hold a thrill. I guess it comes from having a father who gave most of his life to British Rail.

A message on my phone regarding a Sykes’s Warbler was going to change my afternoon. This is a bird from the Middle East that winters in the Indian subcontinent. It’s occurrence here is accidental with less than twenty previous UK records. I missed the first one in Norfolk in August 2002. It would have felt churlish to ignore the second.

The bird acquired its name from William Henry Sykes, a naturalist serving with the British Army in India. He discovered fifty six species of bird new to science and several species, including the warbler, bear his name.

The bad news is this individual was on Blakeney Point; well half way up Blakeney Point to be exact. Another avian progeny of James McCallum and Kayn Forbes. I hate Blakeney Point. Three steps forward and two back. All that calf burning shingle. I took my time walking out there; a bit like a reluctant kid going to the barbers. Walking along the suaeda edge was no fun at all. The only passerine I saw in the two mile walk was a single Reed Bunting.

When I arrived at Halfway House the bird was still being watched at the end of ‘the runway’; a short turfed area amid the shingle and suaeda bushes where I’ve seen several rarities over the years. It was periodically being glimpsed by a line of optic toting admirers as it flew over the sea of fruticosa. I joined them and managed to watch from a high point and get one or two distant photos but I wanted to get a good look at the bird rather than photograph it. Over the years I’ve found in these instances it’s better to give the bird room and wait for it to show. Some in the crowd even voiced this … but it fell on deaf ears. Bush bashing, drive type twitching in my eyes is impatient bird watching and no longer appeals to me. I would rather the birds welfare came first. The bird needs to rest and should be left to show on its own terms. However, this sort of habitat, deep bootlace ripping growth, doesn’t promote the bird being seen without some intervention. I left slightly disappointed, with mixed feelings and perhaps earlier than I would have normally.

I dragged my feet walking back as I contemplated the day. Would it be better to make a ‘second plantation’ at Half Way House duplicating the area at the point to make observation a little easier for bird and birdwatcher alike? I don’t know.

I decided to make the return journey on the seaward side, along the beach; still shingle but maybe a little firmer and a bit of sea to look at too. It was good to have Ian’s company for part of the walk East. When Ian strode out ahead I was joined by a Grey Seal curious enough to follow me for a while; although she wasn’t up for much conversation

All in all … a mixed day.

08
Aug
21

Dragons Den

A couple of photos of dragons taken last week. Firstly a Southern Hawker at Foxley Wood and a Black Darter (female) taken on the recent Cumbria Butterfly Tour.

Southern Hawker
Black darter (female)
06
Aug
21

A few More

A few more butterflies from the last couple of weeks.

Silver Washed Fritillary
Dark Green Fritillary
Gate Keeper showing some additional spotting and a blemish on the left wing
Wall Brown
Small Copper showing unusually long ‘tails’ on the hind-wing – tails are not unusual on males of second broods but these are quite long.
23
Jul
21

Odds and Sods

A few photos from this spring and summer, taken on tours around the county and country, that I haven’t had time to post previously …

18
Jul
21

New Life

New (sleepy) life on the marsh.

14
Jul
21

A speeding swift

For the second time this year I have managed to photograph an Alpine Swift in Norfolk last week. Thanks to friend Ben who found it among a flock of Common Swifts over the golf course in Cromer Tania and I braved the busy Cromer traffic to see it before it disappeared to the West around lunch time.

Flying high and fast it was never going to provide as good a subject photographically as the last individual but it was good to see it all the same. No doubt the swifts had been attracted in by the myriad of hatching flies. I think I ate more flies than lunch that day.

Alpine Swift
09
Jul
21

… and there was light

You wouldn’t think that something so small, and quite frankly ugly, could light up a heath on a dark, dark night. This female glow worm was … well … glowing the other night. Perhaps not so ugly after all.

30
May
21

Hares

Some cracking numbers of Hares around the Norfolk fields at the moment. At Kelling the other week we saw around 20 in one field.

21
May
21

Early Purps

Roadside nature Reserves are such important little havens. Someone ought to produce a book on them … now there’s a thought.

Last week I went back to my old stomping grounds to see the regular Early Purple Orchids flowering along the country lanes. I didn’t quite get the spike count to a full ton … but 91 isn’t bad. Such a beautiful orchid holding so many promises of spring.

20
May
21

A Morning to Remember

This morning was a ‘red letter’ visible migration day. Stood at what is fast becoming the UK’s Golden Oriole corridor I had arrived to ridicule. I had missed the first good bird of the day; an Oriole had made it’s way west at stupid o’clock in the morning.

‘It’s all quiet’, ‘not much about’ and ‘should have been here earlier’ were the phrases cast my way. However, the day had an air of ‘rare’ in the wind. This little corner of Norfolk had high misty coverings but no rain. The cooling wind swung around to Southerly, perhaps with a touch of East and ‘BANG’ stuff started to move. An Osprey picked up by Ian at incredible distance slowly worked its way towards us moving up and ever westward it eventually passed us 2Km out to sea. A cuckoo moving west dropped into trees and later leapfrogged into the paddocks. A smattering of Yellow Wagtails, a Couple of Marsh Harriers and Hobbies with a suspect pair of Barnacle Geese was set against an ever increasing number of Swifts and Hirrundines.

Then the icing on the cake. Again Ian called it first. A large swift coming in low over the fields. When I saw front on those languid wings generating a breakneck speed I knew it could be nothing other than an Alpine. It passed in a few seconds and was later picked up at various points further West before it left Norfolk at Hunstanton.

Now where’s that Collared Pratincole up the coast at Blakeney?




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