Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Tours


Stoately Wonderful

Sitting in the hide last week we watched the antics of a couple of Stoats. The lady next to me in the hide expressed how cute they were. I said to her that pound for pound they are probably our fiercest predators. Her retort made me smile when she said ‘it could hardly take down a Zebra!’ Maybe not but I did once see one take an adult Marmot in the French Alps, weighing in at 5 to 7kg, and then carry it off over a drystone wall. They are truly powerful little mustelids.

As we watched last week I was quite surprised when one emerged from the water, having swum out of the reedbed. When I’ve watched them around water previously they certainly didn’t like getting their feet wet.

The lady was absolutely right they are cute!


An Avian Angel of the North

For the second time in under four weeks I was standing in a deep Caledonian Valley waiting for Golden Eagles to break the skyline. It was bright but cold. an ideal raptor day. I was happy to have my Hotrox handwarmers and was donning lots of layers. My guests were likewise ‘rugged-up’.

Mercifully we didn’t have to wait too long. Over the adjacent bluff came sailing two big Golden Eagles; followed by another younger bird and an entourage of outraged Ravens. We watched the eagles for what seemed like an age. One adult disappeared ‘over the top’ and the remaining two, one at a time, came over where we were stood. As we craned our necks backward one of my guests commented on the similarity of the bird to the Angel of the North we had passed in Newcastle the day before. I saw straight away what she meant. An Avian Angel of the North. A befitting name to a magnificent animal.


Two for the price of one

It’s not without good reason I chose an enigmatic bird like the Alpine Swift as a logo for the company.

With a large influx of birds into the UK on typical March dates it was only a matter of time before one or two of them turned up on the Norfolk coast. Sheringham picked up a bird this morning. A bit ‘gappy’ in the right wing as well as in a certain amount of tail moult, this bird wasn’t as perfect as I’ve seen them. However, it still cut a nice silhouette against the grey Norfolk sky.


Tug of War

There were two birds that ‘got me into’ birding. The first was a ‘drumming’ Snipe. The second was the Lapwing.

I remember the day I took my newly acquired Swift 10×50 binoculars to ‘Pottery Pond’ near the Woodman Inn in Swinton; not too far from where I entered the world.

Pottery Pond was a regular haunt of the pre-teenage me. I used to fish there for sticklebacks as a boy. The pond was a deep steep sided flooded pit that had supplied the clay for the nearby large bottle-shaped kiln of Rockingham Pottery. Long since disused, the kiln had last been fired in the 1840s, the old Pottery and area held a fascination for me. It was on the edge of the South Yorkshire conurbation and heralded the start of the local countryside. I still have a couple of pieces of Rockingham Pottery; marked with their distinctive ‘griffin’ stamp. A reminder of times past.

I remember distinctly looking over the fence, with the pond at my back, into the ploughed field to see a continuous carpet of feeding birds. What gripped my imagination was the crest. That long plume of head feathers. Feathers that quivered and bent in the breeze. How could something so incredibly beautiful be living here, around where I lived? How had I not noticed them before? I sort of knew what they were, but a quick glance in my Observers Book of Birds when I got home confirmed my thoughts. They were Lapwings.

The species has never lost it’s fascination for me. My heart still skips a beat when I see one close-up. That metallic green mantle in good light is enough to take anyone’s breath away. When I see one well I’m always taken back to that day at Pottery Pond fifty something years ago.


Water, water everywhere

Sat in the hide with friends Bob and Bill this week we had independently decided to see if we could see the Water Pipits that had been kicking around Cley for the last few weeks. It was good to be out birding with them both. It’s been a long time since we’ve had an honest days birding together and the next couple of hours reminded me of how good it is to be in their company. I must admit I was paying attention to a 1st cycle Mediterranean Gull in the distance that Bob picked out when the lady sat in front of me asked me what the bird was right in front of the hide.

I was delighted to tell her it was a Water Pipit. Not a particularly well marked bird but nevertheless a Water Pipit. Feeding along the edge of the scrape the bird was working the muddy edge for a morsel or two. It didn’t stop long; but long enough for a shot or two.



A touch of Red-eye. Need to take more water with that Whiskey? This pristine male Pochard just caught the fading light as we sat watching it from the hide last week.


Who knew?

Who knew Kestrels had drumsticks?


Good numbers

Seems to be some good numbers of wild swans about this winter. These Bewicks did a nice flypast last week.


Fabulous fabalis

There are two species of bean geese. Anser serrirostris the Tundra Bean Goose which occurs erratically but regularly in the UK and Anser fabalis the Taiga Bean Goose.

A regular flock of Taiga Bean Geese occurs near Falkirk each winter. This flock used to be on the itinerary of any winter visit North of the border. A regular flock also used to occur in the Yare Valley here in Norfolk. No more. Long gone are the days of 70 or 80 birds viewable from the end of the railway platform at Buckenham. They were always the subject of a regular winter visit to the Buckenham and Cantley marshes. The flock has diminished over time and for the last few years there have been few if any. A sad indictment of the current biodiversity depletion. As a consequence they have become a scarce visitor here in the South.

Taiga (pronounced Tiger) Bean Geese are larger, longer necked and bigger billed than their Tundra cousins; almost Swan like. I’d forgotten what a graceful bird they are until Tania and I saw a small group of four this week. Always distant and always wary we spent a little time watching them at Ludham. Fabulous fabalis



A subtle but firm ‘tack’, gave away a Stonechat calling to his mate.

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Jun 2023


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