Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Tours


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.


Happy New Year

Well, the end of 22 is just about upon us and 2023 is about to open its doors. It’s been a more relaxed year here on the North Norfolk coast with restrictions fading into memory and life returning to somewhat like normal.

Throughout 2022 there have been several low points. Leaving Scillies in October the day after the Blackburnian Warbler turned up was one. Visiting Manchester and seeing the amount of litter both in the city centre and surrounding countryside was another; seeing such disregard for the environment was not just disappointing, but stomach churning.

Thankfully there have been some outstanding high points; including several ‘firsts’ for me. Eleonora’s Falcon, Cape Gull, Glanville Fritillary and Late Spider Orchid being a few examples.

Episodes with Broomrape, Bee Eaters and Little Buntings were entertaining and far reaching.

Despite foreign travel being shunned by Tania and me until next year we’ve had a number of trips here at home and tours have been UK wide. Scotland appeared on the agenda four times with Dumfriesshire, Sutherland and the Spey Valley twice. Scillies was visited twice with Spring and Autumn breaks. There were also tours to Knepp in West Sussex and the East coast including the Farne Islands. A very successful trip to Cumbria was enjoyed for its butterflies and dragonflies. We had a personal trip to the Isle of Wight which was very productive. A short trip to Kent with Tania and Tony took some topping; the range of Orchids we found coupled with time watching an Eleonora’s Falcon would take some beating. By a hair’s breadth however my moment of the year was in October on the island of Tresco. The day I spent with Tania photographing a Swainson’s Thrush was for me just the biz!

It’s been a long time since I have seen this diminutive, subtly marked species, so well. Seeing American Thrushes in the Americas is wonderful. Seeing one in the UK is always a thrill; but actually spending an extended period of time with one at close range was just exhilarating.

We are both looking forward to the New Year and what it brings, and hope you are too. Happy New Year from us both.


Heavens Above

Ever thought you were being watched?



The Chilterns is a wonderful place for butterflies. One of the reserves we called at was Aston Rowant NNR. The reserve slopes are great for Silver Spotted Skipper, and we saw many of them. However, it wasn’t just about one species … we managed 15 in all, including Adonis Blue, Brown Argus in spades as well as Brown Hairstreak which is the first time I’ve seen it there. It’s ironic really as on the following day I ran a Brown Hairstreak tour when we didn’t see any at all. However, as I’ve constantly reiterated to those that follow this blog and come on the tours … there’s always something to look at.

Perhaps the best find at Aston Rowant, for me, was an aberrant Chalk Hill Blue. I find these variations to the norm fascinating – as yet I’ve not been able to tie it down to type and give it a name (possibly Ab. postico-obsoleta) but I’m sure someone out there will be able to; although there are more than four hundred named varieties of this beautiful species (Russwurm, 1978)



Just a few of the beautiful butterflies we saw on the Cumbria Butterfly Tour this month. Next years tour is available for booking here

Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Grayling, High Brown Fritillary, Large White, Northern Brown Argus, Small Heath, Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary.


A rare bird and a rare dragon

Without doubt one of my own personal highlights of the recent butterfly tour to Cumbria was finding several White Faced Darter Dragonflies. One of our rarest insects it sports a very smart livery indeed. One in particular was lying low out of the wind warming itself on the boardwalk.

Perhaps the only thing that could have ousted it from the top spot was a bird sat on a pub sign just West of the Welland as we ventured back into Norfolk. As bold as brass, sat at the roadside sporting distinctive red feet was the dark slate form of a male Red footed Falcon. Seeing a good bird at 60mph is never satisfying so I even negotiated the traffic to turn around and go back for a better look … only to find it had moved on.



When we went to the Isle of Wight last week we looked for Glanville’s Fritillary. It’s a butterfly that neither I, nor of course Tani, had seen before. It took us quite a while to find our first. Numbers were not in the realm of those conjured up in my imagination by others. Perhaps they are having a subdued year.

We did the Essex Tour this week to see Heath Fritillary. In the books it appears some consider the Glanville’s and the Heath Fritillary easily confused. I’m not too sure about that but take a look at this composite photo I’ve put together and tell me what you think. I think those dark spots towards the rear of the hindwing on the Glanville’s are quite distinct.


Broad Sweep

Broad bordered Bee-Hawkmoths were around the Valerian the other week. We had three hovering around one plant all at once. So fast these things. We decided to give them honorary bird status!

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Feb 2023


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