Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Wildlife Tours


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.


A Chasing Chaser

Downy Emerald Dragonflies are not common in Norfolk so when they hatch and the opportunity of a nice sunny day comes along I thought I’d pop along and take a look at a private site I had been told about. Apparently a few days earlier they had been resting on brambles and Iris close enough to photograph. The first time I went they were there sure enough, but never close. I went along the following morning when the sun was lighting up the brambles to see if that made a difference.


A few Four Spot Chasers were now on the wing and one had taken up territory around the brambles. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to do and ‘chasing’ anything out of his patch. One or two ‘Downies’ were trying desperately to perch but were thwarted by the antics of the chaser. I never did get a shot of one sitting up nicely … I had to make do with a flight shot.

Downy Emerald



Expect a Cull

As we waited for an Otter to show last week we encountered this little chap. Completely oblivious to us at the other side of the river he was slowly munching his way through sprouting bluebell leaves.  Muntjac, although native to Asia have now spread widely through Britain after escaping from wildlife parks.

They are regulars in the garden here at Falcon Cottage and we even saw one a few years ago on one of our tours to Scotland, well beyond their reported range. They are set to be the UK’s most common deer. Given numbers of deer generally are said to be at their greatest ever within the UK (a claim to which I do not subscribe) undoubtedly Muntjac will be swept up within the proposed recommended deer cull. It would be a shame to loose such a charming little animal but it has to be said they do a great deal of damage to the understory of woodlands that would otherwise support breeding Warblers, Nightingales and the like.

Muntjac 1



Her vibrant wings of delicate lace …

The Peacock Butterfly is one of the few British species that overwinter as mature adults. They will frequently find a hole in a tree, an outbuilding or other sheltered space in which to spend the colder months. Often these places are regularly frequented by several insects and are used year after year.

Last week I was told of a roosting site and upon inspection there were around thirty insects present. Camouflaged by their drab under wing just occasionally one would flash its coloured upper wing in an attempt to scare away intruders, perhaps detecting our presence. Thirty Butterflies are not something you would expect to see on a very cold February day.

Peacock Butterflies


Keep your distance

At the weekend we visited the coast and came across several young seals; not pups, but still young enough to be dependent on their mothers for some tuition. Over the past few years the wardens have told me pups are being born earlier and later in the season. Maybe this is due to milder winters. I don’t know. What it means is that young seals are on the beach for longer. One in particular we saw was hiding in among rocks but was attracting more than its fair share of attention from passers-by.

The cameras in mobile phones have just got better and better. I see many people now using them and the results are good high quality photographs. They are however no substitution for a long lens when it comes down to wildlife. Mobile phones will not give quality photos on zoom setting therefore to get frame filling photos you would need to get close. Ensuring you keep a reasonable distance from any animal or bird is paramount. The way to do it is to let your subject come to you; letting them do that as a matter of their choice is the way to get a photograph with no harm or distress to your subject. This of course takes time and patience.

Some obviously do not have the time or the patience. Many passers-by respected the young seal at the weekend and viewed and photographed it from a reasonable distance. One particular mother however despite my very loud and definitive protestations let her children almost crawl all over the animal.

Approaching a seal and causing it obvious distress by poking a mobile phone in its face is just unacceptable.

How not to view Grey Seals


Sharing Complements

I have been called many things in my time; but recently I have felt very flattered.

I was said to have the” Skihari of a Big Game Hunter” – a complement indeed.  Only last week one of my customers referred to me as the “Pied Piper of Norfolk” while on a Norfolk Birding Tour – we had seen a distant Barn Owl and I squeaked at it drawing it a little closer to where we sat in the Landrover.

I like people to have good views. For no other reason than I want my guests to see clearly what I and others have been seeing all our lives and if you can’t share something with someone then I feel it is devalued. I guess what I’m saying is it’s good to share with friends and companions. Let’s hope we have enough sense to keep and treasure our wildlife and wild places for our children’s children to see and share.


I’m Badgering Nobody

One good thing about the current government is they will listen to majorities.  If 100,000 signatures are collected in response to particular subjects they do get debated in the House of Commons.

One bad thing about the current government is they do not listen to common sense. Natural England has issued the first Badger Cull licence this week. What an ill conceived idea based on bad science that will mean the death of hundreds if not thousands of healthy mammals with no bettering of the bovine TB situation. As I’ve said many times before I don’t coax others to the signing of petitions – I’ll leave it to individual choice. I just can’t help thinking I would be responsible for letting this cull proceed if I didn’t raise my hand in objection. There are currently half of the number of signatures required on the petition.

I take customers on Badger Watches quite often through the summer months although I don’t advertise the fact. I find them charming creatures that fill an important niche. If you’re interested in coming along on one give me a shout … while there’s still some to watch!


A mouthful worth waiting for

We watched the water in silence. The only sound was the water rhythmically lapping the side of the Zodiac. The sun was hot even out at sea and it cast diamonds of light on any imperfection on the oily surface.

It’s always like this Whale watching. 50% of your time is travelling and 45% waiting. The remaining 5% is the best; when cetaceans show themselves. We were waiting to see a Humpback in the St Lawrence, Quebec. It had dived somewhere in this area 10 minutes earlier.

Sometimes they can come up from the deep far from where they went down. But sometimes, just sometimes …. they can come up real close.



We quite often hear of rare American birds that reach the UK; what we don’t often hear about are our birds that reach the States.

If you look at any map of North America and find a place that is central, a place equidistant from the sea whichever way you look, then the chances are you have found Nebraska. Here, among a flock of wintering Sandhill Cranes, a local has picked up on an associating Common Crane from this side of the Atlantic. Although Nebraska has hosted Common Cranes previously on migration, this is the first time a wintering individual has been found.

We saw Cranes in three different parts of Norfolk on our last six tours. Here’s a pair we saw a few weeks ago.

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May 2023


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