Posts Tagged ‘birds


Bill me!

Those of you that have been to Scotland with me in the past may remember Chris and Anne. They used to run Willowbank Guest House at Granton on Spey where we stopped when I first did the Scottish specialities Tour. Anne was renowned for her culinary delights she procured from the kitchen. Chris on the other hand left an indelible memory giving out whiskey ‘tasters’ and asking my guests to determine the brand. They sold the Guest House some years ago and I started using the Granton Arms Hotel.

A little bizarrely Chris and I knew one another many, many years before I started taking groups to Scotland or indeed before I started ‘Wildlife Tours and Education’, which by the way is now in its 16th year. We hailed from the same part of Yorkshire and we calculated that we once met over a drink some forty plus years ago but didn’t meet again until, at a guess, about 1993 when I first took a holiday at Willowbank. It’s almost surreal how we were able to trace back a chance meeting in our past.

Ever since I first used Willowbank for tours Chris, Anne and I have stayed in touch. We’ve become good friends. Chris and Anne have not lost any of their ability to always be good company and it was a delight to meet up with them this week when they visited Norfolk. They have both generated a healthy interest in birds so it was appropriate we would meet up and go for a walk together down East Bank at Cley. What’s not to love about East Bank?

The over-wintering Long-billed Dowitcher has been a little more sociable of late. This Nearctic visitor has usually been at the far side of the marsh but recently it has been occupying an area close to the East bank footpath. Nice to study that unique snipe-like feeding action so close. Difficult to photograph as it never stops feeding. It eats more than me! It always seemed to have it’s bill in the mud. It did a wing stretch at one point and even then never stopped feeding.

As Chris, Anne and myself watched the Dowitcher yesterday a Peregrine decided to swing over the reedbed. It ended up being moved-along by Corvids; as Bob Mortimer would say “… and away”. However, as the falcon flew over the Dowitcher it was interesting to see it hold its ground unlike the million other waders on the marsh that took flight in panic. Not only did it stand its ground but it crouched flat; maybe in fear, or perhaps defence it half submerged itself in the water. Trying to make itself blend into the marsh by donning a cloak of invisibility. Although it could never match the flock of 44 Snow Buntings we saw feeding on the Sea Wall. Now they really are masters of disguise; easily turning from feather to stone … and back again.


Bathing beauties

Don’t you just love a Purple Sandpiper?


Les Oiseaux d’Ore

So … someone said she wanted a Golden Eagle for her birthday. Who am I to say no?

Golden Eagles are never easy on mainland Britain. I set expectations low. Who knew I was with an Eagle Whisperer? Three birds of various ages joined the four Buzzards and thirteen Ravens around the corpse of a Red Deer within 20 minutes. Job done.



In Wales a couple of weeks ago the Chough were dancing in the wind over the cliffs and sea. Love the playfulness of these corvids.


Fancy a Chat?

This young male Black Redstart was taking advantage of the fly bonanza on the undercliff at West Runton.

Now that full lock-down has started to ease it’s just great to get out and have a chat!


A walk to the Sea

The sea was full this morning; overflowing at the edges and pushing at the base of the cliffs. No wind so no waves but the swell was well over 2m. I had hoped a cetacean or two may break the surface but only a couple of Grey Seals put in an appearance.

Skylarks gave a backing to the percussion of Great Tits as I arrived at the cliff top. Plenty of Red-throated Divers still and the odd Brent moving West and then presumably back North; even a Great crested Grebe was on the sea evading the attentions of fish stealing gulls. However, there were a few new kids on the block. The Fulmars were back. On the cliffs, on the sea and gliding effortlessly by. Spring is around the corner.


Bald as a Coot

If Great Tit’s did Darth Vader…



A couple of the commoner migrants in the last few days.



Bits and Pieces

A few bits and pieces seen during the lockdown exercise walks in and around West Runton within the first half of April.

Quite a number of Stonechat wintered locally. Slowly numbers dwindled away in March/April as they moved back to their breeding areas

Thanks to Andy at Northrepps giving us ‘the shout’ a group of Cranes were picked up as they did their usual spring jaunt along the North Norfolk coast.

I’ve been surprised at the number of Red Kites seen on the coast this spring. I usually spend much of April each year in Scotland so never have a real chance of seeing these wonderful raptors on home turf

Wheatears are a wonderful hearald of Spring. Numbers got to around 17 in a single field on at least one day.

Given the lack of people around Foxes have been taking advantage and coming out more during the day. As a consequence we’ve found at least two dens we didn’t know where there.

Skylarks have been everywhere this April. Starting to pair and nest, fling North out to sea and coasting along the clifftops.

There have been four resident Kestrels entertaining us. This male was particularly bold.

We had up to eight Ring Ouzels in one field during the peak of passage

Several Green Woodpeckers around the village

Blackcap are now back in good numbers

Chiffchaff singing everywhere but few Willow Warblers at the moment

Lots of local Linnet but also a continuous movement east in the first few weeks of April


Larks Down

I’ve not seen as many Woodlark in Norfolk this year. It’s completely unverified but I get the impression numbers are down. However, we did come across this showy individual a few weeks ago that was completely unintimidated as it walked ahead of us through a car park.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Apr 2023


%d bloggers like this: