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23
Apr
18

An entertaining couple of hours in Babcock Hide

“You wont need that” Marcus said as I grabbed my coat. He was quite right I wouldn’t need it. The day was warm and bright. Not a cloud in sight. However the forecast had said rain and I was being cautious as I intended stopping in the hide for a while. It was late Sunday afternoon and the sun was swinging into the west and people were going home after a weekend on the coast. I figured I might have the hide to myself for an hour or so. There was a popular Black necked Grebe on the scrape and I’d promised myself some time off from working at the laptop to do a little photography before I needed to get back and put the Yorkshire puds on. There isn’t a good hide on the North Norfolk coast that looks west; they all face east into the morning light. Afternoons are therefore usually best for hide photography here. Better light, fewer people.

The Black necked Grebe was indeed present. In full summer garb. Spikey gold headgear and all that. At distance. It was as far away as it could get. If the scrape had a far right-angle corner I’m sure the bird would have been cowering in it. I waited. People disappeared.

The storm clouds gathered and eventually, as promised, it rained. I mean really rained. It rained like someone had upended all the clouds and it rained hard. Thunder, lightning, the whole first scene of Macbeth.; and the migrants started dropping in. Grounded by the bad weather a couple of Sandwich Terns came to take cover, Wheatears appeared in their ‘just got out of the shower’ plumage and a Short eared Owl pitched in at the back of the scrape. Several Marsh Harriers battled away into the downpour and the Spoonbill thought ‘bugger this’ and flew off. Black tailed Godwits and a totally confused Dunlin pitched in too. All lovely birds to see.

As for the Black necked Grebe … it did come closer … but not much.

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19
Apr
18

A Highland Horde

Our birders tour to Scotland has just completed. Most of the usuals were sighted with a few additions. We even managed to call in at Musselburgh and see three species of Scoter; Common, Velvet and American White Winged. The bird of the trip for me had to be Crested Tit. They never fail to endear themselves to me. Never easy to find in April as they disappear from their previous winter haunts and females start to sit on eggs. If you fancy coming along on next years tour here are the details.

https://www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk/app/download/10083937/Itinerary+-+Scottish+Birders+Special+Tour+2019.pdf

 

12
Apr
18

Looking back to looking forward

Been looking back at a few photos from January … in Australia. Just love the place. Really, really can’t wait to go back. A selection of the photos I took can be found in the latest section of the Wildcatch site here.

08
Apr
18

A Sea of Seal

Some big numbers of Grey Seals on the East coast at the moment. On yesterday’s tour we estimated we could see at least a thousand from one viewpoint. Lots of moulting moaning itchy pinnipeds.

31
Mar
18

A bone to pick and a beard to trim

Last week I was asked to identify a bone that had been found on Titchwell beach. If you are interested a photo and write up can be found here

The journey over to Titchwell from West Runton isn’t a short hop so I thought I’d go onto the reserve and take a few photos; making use of the time I had to enjoy myself. The sun was still low over the reserve, Titchwell comes into its own during the afternoon when the sun moves behind you; so conditions were not ideal for photography. However the Bearded Tit were performing so I fired off a few shots. I like the golden quality of ‘into the light photography’ that you often get in reedbeds.

It’s worth noting during my visit to Titchwell and the tour to Minsmere two days earlier I never saw or heard a Cetti’s Warbler. Purely anecdotal of course but I wonder if the recent cold weather has reduced numbers.

28
Mar
18

Southern Scotland

Over the past few years we’ve been doing tours to see the geese and wild swans of southern Scotland during February. The long weekend tour has been successful. We would normally set off on a Friday and return here to Norfolk on the Sunday. It seems such a shame to get to the area and miss out on some prime birding so in 2019 we will be setting off on Thursday (28th February) and returning on the Monday (4th March) giving us ample time to soak in the avian delights of the area.

I have two places left Full details in an itinerary here

This is an ideal tour for photographers and birders alike. If you have any questions give me a call.

23
Mar
18

Fancy a Shag

Well if nothing else the title to this blog should ensure it gets a lot of hits!

This Shag was resting between bouts of fishing at Sheringham on the Norfolk coast the other week … the 7th March actually. He, or is it she, was sporting some jewellry. A nicely marked colour ring on the right leg and a BTO ring on the left leg. The ‘BTT’ code of white on green lettering could be clearly seen; the lettering on the BTO ring was less distinguishable.

I guessed it would have been ringed on the Isle of May off the east coast of Scotland and indeed it was. Details sent off to the ringer, Mark, brought about a swift response.  He tells me it was ringed as a chick (BTO ring: 1493017 ) on the Isle of May, Fife on 19/6/17 as one of a brood of three. He also tells me  BTT was still on the isle when he last went out on 20th February but since the extreme weather a lot of the shags have disappeared.

I’m resisting the temptation to make any comments about shags in the snow!




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