Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Tours in Norfolk


Hard to Swallow

At the local reservoir the other day the cold morning air kept the insects down closer to the water’s surface. The Swallows followed and were more obliging for photographs.
Birds in flight especially something as erratic and fast as a Swallow are never easy to capture but with a little patience it’s possible to get a decent shot or two. I set out with the intention of getting a shot of the tail spotting of a nice long tailed male.
This shot was taken using the camera (Canon Eos 5D with a 100-400mm zoom lens fitted) on manual setting with a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second and the aperture wide open at 5.6. The ISO was set to automatic and a reading taken from the ground at my feet. The ISO was then set to the resulting 640. As usual click to enlarge.



A Brush with a Barnie

I was doing some survey work last week down on the Waveney when a Barn Owl came so close it almost brushed me with its wings. I don’t know who was more surprised … it or me!

It was certainly too close to miss the photo opportunity.

The snow cover is making hunting for raptors and owls more difficult. This particular Barn Owl had to hunt during the day as well as at night to get enough sustenance.

Barn Owl


Mystery Bird the Finale

To conclude the mystery bird for 2012 we need to discuss the bird pictured in the December mystery Bird post. Well what can I say; it’s obviously a Lark, and with that huge hat of a peaked crown it could only be one species … Crested Lark. Still very rare within the UK this photo was taken in Hungry during an autumn visit in 2005. There were both votes for Skylark and Crested Lark.

Jan and Phil Thorpe managed nine correct answers during the course of the year but more importantly had four consecutive correct entries. This puts them at the top of the board: well done Phil and Jan. A small token of reward has already been despatched to them.

So what of Mystery Bird for 2013. I think we’ll give it a rest for a while and maybe reintroduce it at some point in the future. In the meantime here’s a picture of a Skylark for comparison with the Crested.




In the cold weather last week the water at Whitlingham Great Broad had frozen. Ice pushed the wildfowl closer to the bank giving opportunity to observe many duck at close range. Among the tufted duck was an interloper; an American one at that. This Ring necked Duck was swimming around and diving along with her British Aythya cousins. There was talk of her parentage perhaps not being as pure as could be; her crown not being peaked enough and her flanks being too dark, but she looked like a little cracker to me.

Ring necked and Tufted Duck

Ring necked Duck


Mystery Bird – November

Every single entry for Octobers Mystery Bird was correct. It was of course a Great Skua. The wing flashes, chocolate ginger plumage and distinctive brutish build were a dead giveaway. Taken in August the photograph was shot on this year’s Dogger Bank Pelagic.

This month’s photograph is below. Make your entry as usual by e-mailing me on


Norfolk Sun

If when walking on the north Norfolk beaches you do so with your head down you may miss a flypast rare tern or gull but you will stand the chance of finding something equally as interesting and just as rare. Occasionally it’s possible to stumble upon a Common Sunstar. These Starfish are distinguished by their many arms; usually between 12 and 14 whereas an ordinary starfish of course has five.


June’s Mystery Bird

Well the mystery bird in May caused a few problems with nobody getting to the correct answer; although a few were close. That still leaves Phil and Jan Thorp in the lead with five consecutive answers. It is in fact a second year American Herring Gull. Identification features are subtle and adults cannot be told reliably from Herring Gulls. The clinching feature is the bill which could easily be placed on a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. The article by Pat Lonergan and Killian Mullarney cannot be bettered on identification so I’ll not try. I photographed the individual in Lerwick harbour on Shetland some years ago.

Junes Mystery bird is a hidden teaser of a bird I photographed (badly) earlier this month in Suffolk. As usual e-mail me with your answer.


Bit of a stink

I was told of a site for Stinking Hellebore last week. Not the best name in the world is it? It does have others; Dungwort, or Bears’ Foot, but gets its commonest name from the pungent smell when the foliage is crushed.

The plants occupy lime rich soil which is not often at the surface in Norfolk. It takes a cutting, cliff or escarpment to expose the underlying chalk. This site is therefore the only place (as far as I’m aware) where this plant occurs in the north of the county.

This early Hellebore is heaven sent for the early bees. It has yeast that lives within the plant and it’s the resporation of the yeast that raises the temperature of the flower just a little above its ambient surroundings. The slight heat generated helps to disperse the flowers scent to attract the few insects around in early spring. What an intricate reliance.

Of course being early flowering if you are one of only a few plants obvious on the forest floor you have to have some built in protection and every part of the plant is quite poisonous despite having quite beautiful green bell shaped flowers edged with purple.

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Aug 2022


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