Posts Tagged ‘Mammals



THIS HAS TO STOP. A couple of days on a 10 mile stretch of the Yorkshire coast gave an indication of the fish stocks offshore; Red throated Divers in their hundreds; one flock alone of 50 flew past us. Bottlenose Dolphins, a good sized pod of Harbour Porpoise and 10 Minke Whales feeding offshore. Crab pots littered about the sea in their hundreds (we counted 260 from one viewpoint alone) and the ominous shape of Supertrawlers. A fleet of them offshore. All, beasts and man, sharing the same bounty from the ocean.
The one dead Minke Whale pictured (you can see the diagnostic white band on the pectoral fin) was close in shore. We saw three dead whales in that ten mile stretch. It may have died AND THEN become wrapped in pot lines, it MAY have been bycatch from the super trawler nets. I don’t know and neither do you; but three dead whales in such a small area is GREAT CAUSE FOR CONCERN. We should be sharing the oceans NOT EXPLOITING THEM!

Something stotally different

A Stout Stoat. When I took these photos I thought I was watching an adult Stoat that had a clearly demarcated black tail tip, with young. It’s been brought to my attention these are in fact Weasels! – What I’d been watching was an interaction between Weasels and a Stoat. I’ve learnt something – every day’s a school day!



On our journey through the Bay of Biscay last month we came across a school of Pilot Whales. These are very social mammals; often touching as they swim together..

I shall be organising a trip through the bay next year in August let me know if you’re interested in finding out more



The UK Mammal Photographer of the Year

The UK Mammal Photographer of the Year is an award based upon an annual competition run by the Mammal Society. I don’t normally enter competitions. I’m a bit too bashful. ;0) Anyways, I was talked into entering the 2019 event and I was lucky enough that my photo of a Minke Whale ‘Minke Miniscus’ taken last June, won the runners-up prize. gives all the details. My congratulations to the winner, Roy Rimmer, who’s photo of a mouse is lit to perfection.





We saw this Chinese Water Deer on tour last weekend. A small alien from the other side of the world but no less beautiful for that.



Graceful encounter

Stood at the gate we watched the scrub moving at the far edge of the stubble field.

Out popped a deer. It was a Chinese Water Deer. Much more benign and attractive than the Reeve’s Muntjac our other small introduced deer this individual actually ran towards us. Something we couldn’t see must have spooked it. The animal gave us a close encounter as it ran gracefully passed.


UK Mammal Tour 2018

Just one of the moments from our 2017 UK Mammal Tour last month. Download the itinerary for next years tour here


Times Past

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately; far too much in fact. I’m missing the outdoors. The problem with reading old Norfolk bird and mammal reports to extract details about cetacean is that I get easily distracted.

What I find amazing is how things have changed in the last 50 years:

  • In the 1950’s and 60’s there seems to have been regular trips out to Scroby Sands to monitor the tern population. Does that get done today?
  • In 1956 birders went to great lengths to protect details of what was thought to be the first Collared Dove nest. In fact they had bred in 1955.
  • In 1962 the sea was much under watched. There were only 4 reports of Harbour Porpoise in the county – compare that to 2014’s 210 sightings of over 300 individuals
  • In 1954 there were 10 winter records of Spotted Crake – are they gone, do they winter elsewhere or are we overlooking them?
  • May 12th 1964 westward passage at Cley of 300 Turtle Doves – I don’t think I have seen a total of 300 Turtle Doves in my lifetime.
  • Twelve breeding pairs of Red backed Shrike scattered around Norfolk in 1961
  • 28 Fulmars on the cliffs at Cromer in 1960 – with the collapse of the fishing industry I think Fulmars will continue to contract their range
  • In 1963 there must have been over 100 Smew in the county – no doubt a cold, cold winter
  • We tend to think of Golden Oriole as a lost Norfolk breeder but in 1965 there were just two sightings – perhaps we have always been on the edge of its range.
  • The 1959 entry of Pomatorhine Skua takes a deep breath to even say
  • In the 1955 report there’s an excellent photo of two Greater black Backed Gulls quarrelling over a dead Wader. The Hooded Crow in the photo doesn’t even get a mention. Entry in the systematic list states it was abundant on the coast after 24th October
  • In 1960 Coypu had reached pest proportions. 400 per year were being killed on the A47 between Great Yarmouth and Acle. In 1959 they had spread from the broads and were breeding in the cliffs at Trimingham.

The accompanying photo is of a Coypu I took in the Camargue some years ago which has a story of its own. I had crept underneath the front of my car to photograph it much to the alarm of a passing French lady who when she saw my legs sticking out into the road presumable thought I had been hit by the vehicle!

Coypu IMG_3414


Natures rich Milk

Walking down the beach at the weekend I was surprised at the number of Grey Seal pups – already well over 500 at one of the rookeries.

Although the northerly was screaming off the sea and nipping at our faces, pups were littered along the beach sleeping. When they weren’t sleeping they were feeding. One particular mother was shielding her young from the skin shearing sand that was filling the racing air up to half a metre above the beach. The pup fed until it had its fill or perhaps she tired and needed a break. With such rich milk some of the youngsters were already quite round. After three weeks from birth they will be 35kg heavier and will be learning to find food for themselves.

Grey Seal Mother & Pup 1

Click eo enlarge


Simply Unthinkable to ignore everything but the headlines

Hares are enigmatic creatures wrapped in folklore. Perhaps it is their mystique that makes them so appealing. During our trip to Scotland last weekend on the Cetacean Tour we saw several.

These were Mountain Hares; not white as we usually see them on our April Bird Watching Tours but donning their silver summer pelage. Now, before I generate a picture of a Hare bounding over a series of breaking waves like some adapted Guinness advert; I’d like to point out that the tours I run are headlined by a particular species or group of species. Last weekend it was cetaceans. However, if something lands in our lap like this Mountain Hare leveret we wouldn’t ignore it. To simply pass it by without so much as a sideways glance would be unthinkable.

Mountain Hare – just one of the 14 species of Mammal we saw on our four day tour which included Bottlenose Dolphins and Pine Marten.

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Apr 2023


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