Posts Tagged ‘norfolk birds


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!


Never Close

The problem with raptors is they hardly ever do come close. The Pallid Harrier at New Holkham was no exception. It did show well but never gave us a fantastic photographic fly by.




It’s amazing how you can find simple beauty in simple things. Last week we watched this Black tailed Godwit immersing itself in the water searching for food.




Sometimes you can try too hard to find something. For many years now every time I’ve walked the paths across the heaths on the north Norfolk coast my eye is drawn to the horizontal branches and stumps in the hope of seeing a roosting Nightjar. To see one of these enigmatic birds in daylight has always been something that has been a wish during any walk in suitable habitat. Viewing them and attempting to photograph them in failing light when they come out to churr is ok but it’s hard to get a decent image and make out detail.

Let’s make it clear here it would be unethical as well as illegal to wander across the heaths and search for a bird. The risk of disturbing a rare breeding bird would be incalculably damaging. The idea is to find one viewable from a path, sat basking in bright sunshine well away from its nest.


We were watching a singing Woodlark the other day. A late one at that, but maybe it was a bird trying for second brood. It was flying high above us and belting out a song in the early morning light. Unexpectedly the moment was punctuated with the flypast of a Nightjar … in daylight! I thought it was a Kestrel at first. Very raptor like, appearing much bigger than a silhouette raking the gloom at dusk. Marvellous. It was there … and then it was gone.

Still not seen one on the deck … but I’ll keep running my eye over those logs and branches.



Morning after the night before

Looking a bit rough and ready was this little chap that appeared on one of our tours on the marshes the other day. Not quite resplendent in his summer garb but this Ruff was sort of … well … ‘getting there’.




Out across the marsh flew a wheeling flock of finches. I could see Goldfinch among them … and Linnet. By far the majority however were Twite. We estimated maybe 90 to 110 of these beautiful uplanders. It looks like Twite at last have had a good year as flocks on the coast are beginning to gain in number and size. I guess they could be from the Pennines (or maybe even Wales). At least one in the flock bore colour rings so we should be able to find out eventually.




A Sweet Desert

Well, it wasn’t a North African dry arid semi-desert but Gorleston promenade was about as close as you can get to it in Norfolk. The Desert Wheatear that visited us mid November chose a mild Southerly wind to travel north and find favour among the grass verges and beaches of our seaside town.

Desert Wheatears are not super rare. They tend to turn up most years, but they always mark the end of migration for me. OK we’ll get the odd very late bird winging it’s way in but the arrival of a Desert Wheatear marks the beginning of the winter drought of migrants. Our only chance now of something pretty good is an unusual weather event. A harsh cold depression over Russia spurring movement from the continent perhaps or something riding on the back of a strong southerly mild wind.  Who knows? There may even be something special already lurking in Holkham Pines … waiting to be discovered.

2014 11 10 Desert Wheatear Gorleston Norfolk_Z5A1378 2014 11 10 Desert Wheatear Gorleston Norfolk_Z5A1491



Why developing a thirst can be a good thing

Occasionally there are irruptions of species, particularly birds, out of their normal range.

At the end of last month Two barred Crossbills (a sort of Crossbill with insignias) started to occur in small numbers on the east coast between Shetland and Kent. Norfolk had its fair share. Initially to see birds it was about being in the right place at the right time but as birds moved away from the coast into more Crossbill friendly habitat they became a tad easier to see.

One juvenile bird took up temporary residence with its Crossbill cousins on Kelling Heath. A hastily conjured drinking puddle gave a centre for attention as the bird called occasionally, and I do mean occasionally, for water. It took a couple of visits but we managed to get a record shot in the few seconds it took for bird to quench its thirst.

Two barred Crossbill


Like a cork out of a bottle

Today it was spring. Blue skies, a warm southerly wind at last and birds arrived … in their hundreds. Chaffinches piled past us on the clifftop, splattered with Bramblings and Siskins; even a Blue Tit or two couldn’t resist the urge to migrate. A couple of Black Redstarts on the hill and another at Falcon Cottage heralded the start of a movement that was long overdue. Redwings, Fieldfares, Blackbirds and Meadow Pipits flocked over the fields and flew west. Snipe gathered around the local water before bursting upward and Chiffchaff could be heard in the woods to the north of us. Tens of Buzzards poured past, sometimes in company of others sometimes alone, sometimes west, sometimes off the sea. I counted 24 Sparrowhawks through this morning; an unprecedented movement. A single Red Kite then three more flexed and circled their way west. It appears the sun on their backs gave everything the urge to rush … to breed. Magnificent birds, magnificent day.

Black Redstart Red Kite Northrepps Sparrowhawk Sidestrand Sparrowhawks Sidestrand Norfolk


Rambling over Brambling

Few birds can match the Brambling for style and colour. Large wheeling flocks change colour from Orange to brown and then to white showing their sparkling rumps as the fly in unison Starling like. Several tens were visiting feeders this last week and were quite photogenic as they perched waiting their turn to take seed.

Brambling 1


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Apr 2023


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