Posts Tagged ‘Carl Chapman



There’s always something magical when nature decides to share itself with you. I’m no dragon whisperer but this Keeled Skimmer came to rest on my hand the other day. To be fair I think it was more about the warmth from my finger than something deep and eitheral between us … either way I enjoyed it. :o)



We’ve done quite a number of Butterfly Tours in the last couple of weeks. Despite the weather being a bit topsy-turvy I think I’m right in saying we’ve managed to get twenty or more species on each day. On some days it could have been more and and some days I’m surprised we didn’t get less.

There is one particular species I’m always pleased to see. It’s not a dramatic hit you between the eyes Swallowtail or Silver Washed Fritillary. It’s not even cute like the two species of Hairstreak’s that have graced the tours to varying degrees. It is a species which is very low key in all respects. This is a butterfly that loves the open heath and stony ground where it can wallpaper itself into its environment in a very cryptic way. Subtle beautiful scaling and a low inobtrusive flight are the signature of the Grayling.




In Australia we saw plenty of Little Black Cormorants; LBC’s. They appear to be a sort of cross between our own Cormorant and Shags; showing features of both.


Dragons in the air and Dragons at our feet

In Dorset at the moment leading the ‘Birds and Wildlife of the Jurassic Coast’ Tour.

This Wall Lizard was caught unawares as it ran out from underneath our feet; posing beautifully for photographs. Other dragons have been flying around us as we walked over the heaths with great views of Keeled Skimmers among many others.

Lots of butterflies, and I mean lots; including Lulworth Skippers. Orchids are having a good year here with Musk Orchid being at the top of our list on the tour for sure. Moths yesterday were seen in droves with good views of both large and small Elephant Hawkmoths, Privet Hawkmoth, Hummingbird Hawkmoths with Scarlet and Jersey Tigers putting in an appearance. Even the sea got in on the act and gave us a pod of 30 Bottlenose Dolphins to celebrate our arrival.

Birds haven’t disappointed either with Dartford Warblers and an evening visit to a local heath giving great views of five Nightjar around us in the air together.

Next years tour is already open for bookings. Full itinerary is available at



Racing Post

Paddock inspections of horses before they race is not an exact science but it helps you choose the animal on which you can loose your money. I don’t really do a bundle on horse racing but I do like the pageantry and colours of the occasion. If the weather’s good it’s an enjoyable summer’s day out. Anyways, late July saw me at Newmarket trying to choose a winner at the parade ground before the 3:30 race. A sign in front of me clearly stated I shouldn’t go any further and should stand well back from the frisky horses. The sign was mounted on a metal pole which was obviously hollow. There was a drilled hole about 8mm wide halfway up the pole which I guess had previously hosted fixings but was no longer in use. As the horses paraded by in all their pent up glory something caught my eye hovering about a foot from my face. It buzzed. I always look at buzzy things. Ever since as a five year old just starting school I was stung by a bee. It’s an automatic self preservation thing. The sound emanated from a bee carrying a rolled-up leaf between its legs. It was a leaf cutter bee. The bee promptly disappeared into the hole in the pole and pulled in the leaf behind it. I fumbled for my phone and was hopelessly slow at opening the camera to get a shot. There are around six species of leaf cutter bee in the UK and I wanted to see which one had taken up residence in this extremely hot metal tube. It returned several times and I never did manage a good enough picture to clarify identity.

We were sat in a hide last week watching a Bittern when another buzzy thing entered my personal space. It was another leaf cutter. I was able to identify this individual as a ‘Patchwork Leaf Cutter Bee’ based on the gingery sticky-out hairs on the underside of the abdomen. A common enough species but a small industrious thing of fascination.




Dragons and Butterflies

It’s always difficult to be sure that the weather will be suitable for insects when I book a tour so far in advance. However pick the right time, the right place and even a little sunshine will bring benefits. This years day tour for Norfolk Hawkers and Swallowtails went well with good views of both species being obtained.


Checking us out

Think ‘intelligent dog’ when considering cetaceans.

During the UK mammal tour this week we had a rather curious Minke Whale that came to check out our boat. Circling us twice giving superb views down to a few metres – he then continued his feeding. In calm glassy conditions the whole whale was visible under the water. It was even possible to see the pectoral white bands as the animal descended back into the deep.

Full details of next years mammal tour will be available in a few days time.



A Whale of a time

You would think a very  very showy Cetti’s Warbler, a subtly marked beautiful female Ring Ouzel and sixty odd other species was enough for a mornings bird watching to throw at us? How wrong could I have been?

We were on our tour to Minsmere in Suffolk yesterday and my guests were already pleased with what they had seen. Little did we know there was so much more to come.

Our bird list for the day was escalating quickly but on reaching the sea I scanned the horizon only to find it disappointingly bereft of birds. I scanned again. Was that a dark shape I just saw? Studying the sea closely it reappeared and then went down below the waves again. Although it was a long way out it was definitely a cetacean; a large one at that. It was facing me and looked broad as it surfaced again. I know that shape well. A clear bushy blow discounted Minke. When it turned side on at the next surfacing the stubby fin confirmed we were watching a Humpback; Suffolk’s second ever. We watched it for quite a while and enjoyed the moment. Judging the appearances there may have been another cetacean nearby but of this I remain unsure.

The Stoat chasing a Rabbit almost around our feet during our picnic lunch was a delight to watch; the predator at least having the decency to despatch his quarry out of sight. The day was turning into a ‘mammal day’.

Perhaps for my guests the icing on the cake was the Otter we watched surfacing and surprising the Teal and Wigeon flock. For me … it had to be finding that long winged new-englander lounging offshore. It made my year!


Humpback Whale _MG_1574

Here’s one I photographed earlier!



Mystery Bird December

All the answers for the November Mystery Bird fell into three camps; American Golden Plover, Golden Plover and Grey Plover. The answer is in the underwing.

Prior to American Golden Plover and Pacific Golden Plover being split into two separate species they were regarded as one and the same species, they were conspecific; the ‘Lesser Golden Plover’; One of the identification features of ‘Lesser Golden Plover’ and therefore of American (and Pacific) is they have dusky grey underwings.

Grey Plover may be eliminated as it would show the blackest of armpits in flight. The bright white underwing of the mystery bird dictates it must be a Golden Plover. This individual was photographed during late summer this year in the eye field at Cley Marshes in Norfolk.

This month’s photograph, the last one, is pictured below. As usual send me your entry on e-mail to

Mystery Bird December

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Apr 2023


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