Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife


Goodbye 2020

It’s always difficult to give the best wildlife moment of any year. Usually because there are so many to choose from. 2020 has been made no less easy due to there being less travel and fewer occasions when wildlife has presented itself. A pauper’s choice? Maybe, but we forged a few worthwhile memories.

The year opened with a Black necked Grebe within photographing distance at Holkham. The only one we saw all year. The Eastern Yellow Wagtail continued to present itself on an inland muck pile throughout January and was more photographable for the habituality developed by the proximity to its steady stream of admirers.

Ever since a raw February day in 1991, almost 30 years ago, when I first distantly saw an American Bittern in a ditch on the outskirts of Blackpool, I have dreamed of finding my own. I’d have preferred finding it at Cley or Titchwell but I guess the Everglades will have to do. We watched an individual as it stalked its way through a reedbed in Florida. The best thing about it was it was close. So close we could have touched it. My guests always say to me the best things they see when they are out with me are the birds and animals they see well. They are right.

Many other delights presented themselves in Florida and a small selection of photographs is included here.

As the year went on a few good birds presented themselves in Spring. Perhaps the pick of them was the Blyth’s Reed Warblers splattered about the East coast. We were lucky to have very good views of one in North Walsham.

Heath Fritillary Butterflies and White legged Damselflies to the South in June were a welcome break from local walks here in West Runton.

In July I saw my first comet with a tail. I couldn’t get enough of it. Another wonder of the natural world marked off the bucket list.

Southern Migrant Hawkers in West Norfolk gave me a good opportunity to study the species. We stopped and watched them for a full day. I’m sure they will become more frequent in future but getting so close to them at Thompson Common will live long in the memory.

It took two trips north to see the Lammergeier. I was pleased to see it despite not getting the front row stall seat views others obtained, but that didn’t make it any the less exciting. I hope to see more Bearded Vultures within Spain during 2022.

Silver spotted Skippers and Adonis Blues were on the menu in high summer and as October dawned a Hoopoe gave excellent views, again on an inland muck-pile, in Norfolk. Can you see a trend developing here?

On Scillies this year, as always, it was a treat; but one bird stands out for me as being particularly close and obliging. It’s not rare, but still special to see on this side of the Atlantic. A Pec Sand on Tresco gave itself to us. It has been a few years since I’ve had one that has been so confiding.

A ‘first’ is always memorable and in October, between tours, an Eastern Rufous Bush-Chat made landfall on a muddy saltmarsh a few miles down the road. We watched it along with others as it fed and spread its tail within the suaeda. Much more satisfying however was the Pallas’ Warbler not but a few hundred metres away that picked insects from the underside of sycamore leaves like a miniature trapezist right in front of our faces.

November was all local. A corking Desert Wheatear and a Lesser Yellowlegs that had no fear were both within walking distance of one another. It looks like the opening months of 2021 will also need to be local. However this wont be forever.

I’m looking forward to what 2021 will bring.


The Best British Butterfly … Probably

Arguably the smartest British Butterfly is the Silver Spotted Skipper. Why? Well firstly its identify is beyond doubt when seen; its livery is as distinctive as they come. It is beautiful. It’s a diminutive butterfly full of character; tempting the photographer low to the ground and then before the shutter can be released they skip away in erratic flight. You can almost hear them laugh.

Supposedly a grassland species we saw swarms flying high into Blackthorn bushes this week. What’s all that about?

Come along and join us on a new tour to see these delightful little characters next year on the 12th August. See here




With the relaxation of restrictions we went a little further for our shopping this last week. We went to Morissons’ in Fakenham rather than Cromer. A  few more miles but we feel it cleaner and more organised. Something that now could be said to seriously matter.

I was surprised to see we were practically the only people wearing masks and given this is supposed to protect other people rather than yourself (regardless if you believe that or not) it perhaps shows the selfishness of people. This feeling was reinforced by how reluctant people were to keep to the 2m distancing rule. Maybe they thought the easing of restrictions meant it was the beginning of the end. I feel it’s just the end of the beginning and we have a long way to go. Whichever which way, I am decidedly uncomfortable going to supermarkets. I feel uneasy given outside hospitals these spaces are perhaps the ‘petri dishes’ for contraction. Maybe it’s just me.

Anyways, I thought I would publish this photo taken in the Indian Ocean taken a few years ago. I was sailing out of Marissa in Sri Lanka on my way to hopefully find Blue Whales, when we passed a fishing Dhow topped with brightly dressed fishermen backed by a rainbow on a sea boiling with fish . Rainbows are supposed to symbolise hope. It was just a moment I thought to capture. A moment of colour. A moment of hope. The end of the beginning. I hope all my customers and followers are well and continue to be so.


Bits and Pieces

A few bits and pieces seen during the lockdown exercise walks in and around West Runton within the first half of April.

Quite a number of Stonechat wintered locally. Slowly numbers dwindled away in March/April as they moved back to their breeding areas

Thanks to Andy at Northrepps giving us ‘the shout’ a group of Cranes were picked up as they did their usual spring jaunt along the North Norfolk coast.

I’ve been surprised at the number of Red Kites seen on the coast this spring. I usually spend much of April each year in Scotland so never have a real chance of seeing these wonderful raptors on home turf

Wheatears are a wonderful hearald of Spring. Numbers got to around 17 in a single field on at least one day.

Given the lack of people around Foxes have been taking advantage and coming out more during the day. As a consequence we’ve found at least two dens we didn’t know where there.

Skylarks have been everywhere this April. Starting to pair and nest, fling North out to sea and coasting along the clifftops.

There have been four resident Kestrels entertaining us. This male was particularly bold.

We had up to eight Ring Ouzels in one field during the peak of passage

Several Green Woodpeckers around the village

Blackcap are now back in good numbers

Chiffchaff singing everywhere but few Willow Warblers at the moment

Lots of local Linnet but also a continuous movement east in the first few weeks of April



Just you try and steal my eggs!


Dragons in the air and Dragons at our feet

In Dorset at the moment leading the ‘Birds and Wildlife of the Jurassic Coast’ Tour.

This Wall Lizard was caught unawares as it ran out from underneath our feet; posing beautifully for photographs. Other dragons have been flying around us as we walked over the heaths with great views of Keeled Skimmers among many others.

Lots of butterflies, and I mean lots; including Lulworth Skippers. Orchids are having a good year here with Musk Orchid being at the top of our list on the tour for sure. Moths yesterday were seen in droves with good views of both large and small Elephant Hawkmoths, Privet Hawkmoth, Hummingbird Hawkmoths with Scarlet and Jersey Tigers putting in an appearance. Even the sea got in on the act and gave us a pod of 30 Bottlenose Dolphins to celebrate our arrival.

Birds haven’t disappointed either with Dartford Warblers and an evening visit to a local heath giving great views of five Nightjar around us in the air together.

Next years tour is already open for bookings. Full itinerary is available at




Walking from a melody of Blackcaps staccatoed with Chiffchaff and soft Bullfinch wheezes, the song changed to enticing Woodlarks and grating Dartfords.

There was still a chill in the air on the coast with just the hint of a sea fret. Further inland the temperature was ten degrees higher. Here on the heath it smelt of honeysuckle and gorse. A sort of sweet coconut heady mix. The purple drifts of heather were eye catching.

It didn’t take me long to find the first Silver Studded Blue Butterfly. Then another … and another. Despite the low cloud the sun was fighting to break through. Each time it did butterflies rose from the heather. All, apart from a hasty passing Painted lady, were Silver Studs.

Photographing these beauties is never easy. They stay low. Scrambling about on all fours our legs were soon scratched and bleeding from the piercing gorse. Why did I wear shorts? As we watched them perch on the purple flowers of the heather they stroked their hind wings against one another; as if rubbing their hands at finding such a wonderful source of nectar.


More Otters

Some good sightings of otters on recent tours. This individual was extremely curious of passers-by.


Bittern in flight

No wonder Bitterns died out; just look at the drumsticks on that!


Don’t start

I went to Leeds this week. My god it’s changed since my business development days. I was a stranger in a ‘hip’ city full of instrument carrying bearded students wearing converse footwear without socks. I don’t like cities. Too many people. Too much traffic. Too few green places and not enough connection with the real world that should matter; but sadly doesn’t. This was the realm of a disjointed population. A developing culture determined to be set apart from its origins.

As Holly, my daughter, and I walked from the university to her halls of residence I heard familiar noises. It’s like hearing your name mentioned in a crowded room. It stood out. I looked up to see a small gang of Pied Wagtails flutter down from the escarpment of a Victorian facaded building into a sparse ornamental tree being choked at the roots as it bulged the edges of surrounding designer brickwork. The crowds around us oblivious to their presence. Even here nature was taking a stand; trying to compete with the noise of traffic and pushing back the paving. The tree and the wagtails brought a smile to my face.

Holly was just asking me if I thought the name of the nearby café would have been purposely named based on it’s address when I heard another sound. Less familiar … but I recognised it. It took me a little time to locate the Black Redstart calling high above the café. A bird of scree and rocky valleys had found a home here in a concrete and plastic pretence.

A migrant … or even a breeder perhaps?


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Jul 2022


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