Archive for the 'uk wild birds' Category


Larking about

Walking along the cliffs in the week was a delight. The sun was shining and the wind had dropped; it could even be said it was warm. Warm enough to make it pleasant to stand and watch the sea. It was high tide and the waves were licking the base of the cliffs. Very little was passing-by to the North but here in the grass around me the Skylarks were definitely feeling Spring in the air. The warmth had got to them too and their blood was up and flowing. Pairs were displaying. Crouching, wing spreading, bowing and generally larking about.


Who’s watching who

I was stood watching the marsh the other day and a Buzzard landed in the tree next to me. He was obviously uncomfortably sat on a load of spiky twigs despite there being better perches just a little further away. I wondered why he’d chosen that particular vantage point so close to me. Then I saw the rats running around nearby!


Good numbers

Seems to be some good numbers of wild swans about this winter. These Bewicks did a nice flypast last week.


Fabulous fabalis

There are two species of bean geese. Anser serrirostris the Tundra Bean Goose which occurs erratically but regularly in the UK and Anser fabalis the Taiga Bean Goose.

A regular flock of Taiga Bean Geese occurs near Falkirk each winter. This flock used to be on the itinerary of any winter visit North of the border. A regular flock also used to occur in the Yare Valley here in Norfolk. No more. Long gone are the days of 70 or 80 birds viewable from the end of the railway platform at Buckenham. They were always the subject of a regular winter visit to the Buckenham and Cantley marshes. The flock has diminished over time and for the last few years there have been few if any. A sad indictment of the current biodiversity depletion. As a consequence they have become a scarce visitor here in the South.

Taiga (pronounced Tiger) Bean Geese are larger, longer necked and bigger billed than their Tundra cousins; almost Swan like. I’d forgotten what a graceful bird they are until Tania and I saw a small group of four this week. Always distant and always wary we spent a little time watching them at Ludham. Fabulous fabalis



A subtle but firm ‘tack’, gave away a Stonechat calling to his mate.


Craning a neck

One thing I love about the Broads is the wide expanse of reedbeds. Reeds talk in the breeze; softly murmuring. Their song is only broken by the haunting cry of Cranes. Last week we were craning our necks to see over reeds when up flew flock after flock; ‘whooping’ their way into the distance.


Happy New Year

Well, the end of 22 is just about upon us and 2023 is about to open its doors. It’s been a more relaxed year here on the North Norfolk coast with restrictions fading into memory and life returning to somewhat like normal.

Throughout 2022 there have been several low points. Leaving Scillies in October the day after the Blackburnian Warbler turned up was one. Visiting Manchester and seeing the amount of litter both in the city centre and surrounding countryside was another; seeing such disregard for the environment was not just disappointing, but stomach churning.

Thankfully there have been some outstanding high points; including several ‘firsts’ for me. Eleonora’s Falcon, Cape Gull, Glanville Fritillary and Late Spider Orchid being a few examples.

Episodes with Broomrape, Bee Eaters and Little Buntings were entertaining and far reaching.

Despite foreign travel being shunned by Tania and me until next year we’ve had a number of trips here at home and tours have been UK wide. Scotland appeared on the agenda four times with Dumfriesshire, Sutherland and the Spey Valley twice. Scillies was visited twice with Spring and Autumn breaks. There were also tours to Knepp in West Sussex and the East coast including the Farne Islands. A very successful trip to Cumbria was enjoyed for its butterflies and dragonflies. We had a personal trip to the Isle of Wight which was very productive. A short trip to Kent with Tania and Tony took some topping; the range of Orchids we found coupled with time watching an Eleonora’s Falcon would take some beating. By a hair’s breadth however my moment of the year was in October on the island of Tresco. The day I spent with Tania photographing a Swainson’s Thrush was for me just the biz!

It’s been a long time since I have seen this diminutive, subtly marked species, so well. Seeing American Thrushes in the Americas is wonderful. Seeing one in the UK is always a thrill; but actually spending an extended period of time with one at close range was just exhilarating.

We are both looking forward to the New Year and what it brings, and hope you are too. Happy New Year from us both.


A Harrier among gentlemen

I finally found time to be at Stiffkey earlier this month. After a morning of faffing, I made myself a little lunch and set off after the mid-day news. The light was already beginning to go by the time I parked the car and walked down to the marsh. There were already a couple of guys looking for the Pallid Harrier.

We talked. I enjoyed their company. They were nice people. One guy had come a long way; from Wales for a holiday in Norfolk and the Pallid would be a new bird for him. It was fitting then perhaps he picked up the bird first as it flew over our heads and out onto the marsh. It perched for less than a minute and went down to roost. After a conversation of reflection my two new friends made their way back to their cars but I decided to stop and see if it re-settled. Sometimes as Harriers seek shelter for the night they fidget from their original spot in a restless flight as they seek a comfortable spot.

The dying sun showed below the clouds and bathed the marsh with the ‘death throes’ of an orange glow. The Harrier rose from it’s roost and circled. All the features of this beautiful bird were highlighted in the warm end of the spectrum; the orange underparts shone in the light and the boa wearing bird perched and once again settled as the sun pulsed out its last rays.


A Long Tail

One of the delights of Northern Scotland in the Winter months are the wildfowl at sea. Long tailed Ducks are just the biz!


A Waxed Wing

At the time of writing the influx of Waxwings that have invaded Scotland have not yet encroached in any number further South. Maybe the Northerlies forecast for the coming weekend will rectify that.

When we were on the North coast of Scotland last week, we came across a wonderful flock visiting berried bushes. Among them was a surprise male Blackcap and an even bigger surprise, a lumbering Northern Bullfinch. These bullfinches have a silver mantle and a trumpet like call. However, it was its size that took me quite aback. It was approaching the size of the Waxwings.

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Feb 2023


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