Sunday, 29 March 2009


I've never had much luck with Adders [Vipera berus] before and have resolved this spring to 'get my eye' in with this rather elegant reptile. When I saw the weather forecast for today, clear blue sky's and a weak but warming winter sun, I decided to head for Kelling Heath a well known Adder hot spot in north Norfolk.
After an hour and a half of carefully walking the heath with my friend Jim and neither of us spotting a snake [we did manage a couple of Common Lizards, Zootoca vivipara] we were heading back to the car park when I saw another friend and his wife staring through their binoculars at the base of a tree trunk. When we wandered over to them they pointed out two Adders basking in the dead bracken and then took us to another spot a short distance away where two more Adders could be seem.
A wonderful result and I hope time and weather permitting to get back here again this spring and summer to improve on the pictures I took today.

Friday, 27 March 2009

You Looking at Me?

Now when the birds are back at their nest trees but before they can hide behind new leaves, is the time to suss out where the local Little Owl's are nesting. This bird is at a new site for me, a small, gnarled old oak tree in a hedgerow along a quiet back road.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Hare & The Harrier

This afternoon we were driving a back road through Hare country. I was busy scanning the trees in a hedgerow for Little Owls, when the wife said "There's a Harrier". Sure enough a ringtail Hen Harrier flew down the road in front of us and into a stubble field, where it landed next to a hedgerow. As it flew we could see that it was carrying prey.

Within a minute of the Harrier settling in the long grass, a Hare came down the side of the Hedgerow and 'flushed' the Harrier, which then flew low across the field. At this point the Hare appeared to give chase with the successful intention of preventing the Harrier from landing in the field.

It would be easy to suppose that the Hare was the mother of the Leveret that the Harrier had caught [on blowing up some pictures the Harrier is either carrying a young Rabbit or a Leveret] chasing away its killer. It could though be that the Hare just wanted to be rid of a large and possibly dangerous predator. This would be a similar strategy to that adopted by flocks of small birds that come together to mob Raptors and Corvids. A risky strategy, but an effective one, as the harassed predators tend to move on far enough away from the scene of the mobbing so as to cease to be an immediate danger to the birds. Whatever was happening it was an exciting couple of minutes.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ringo's Back

The weather this week has been on balance grey and rather poor for photography, but every now and again the clouds blow away and the sun breaks through for a little while. Yesterday evening was just such an occasion and I headed down to Brancaster Staithe for the last 45 minutes of daylight. I had the harbour almost to myself and as the tide dropped away down the hard, this splendid Ringed Plover fed close to my car.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Hare field

Early start to avoid the weekend crowds and to try and get some photos of Brown Hares. I found this field one afternoon a couple of days ago, it looked promising but the hares were a long way off. I liked the fact that unlike a lot of fields it had no hedgerow down one side so I could get a clear arc to move my camera through and its on a quiet road with little disturbance. What I didn't bank on was that where I parked my car was opposite a gap in the hedge of the field on the other side of the road and that I was in a perfect spot for hares to cross the road in front of me. An hours quiet sitting and waiting was rewarded with several close views and at one point a group of six hares ran past the side of my car a few feet from me. Really top quality wildlife watching and nice when a plan comes together, I hope to spend more time at this location over the coming days.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Gypsy Morning

Monday morning, half an hour to spare so I wandered down Gypsy Lane [or Gypsy Drove if you prefer] at the east end of Titchwell village. Great to hear the Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in song, and in the small patch of wet woodland at the start of the path 3 Bullfinches were as ever a delight.

A biggish tide filled the saltmarsh creek, a reminder of the fact that Titchwell is a place on the edge of the land and the sea, and the value of saltings such as this as a sponge protecting the land, as well as being great places for wildlife and a wonderful landscape to enjoy being in.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Spring on the way

Pleasant weekend of sunshine and a cold wind. Yesterday [Saturday] had a brief visit to the bird hide at Abbey Farm, Flitcham. Always a great place to stop to have a quiet birdwatch on the way back from shopping in King's Lynn. Highlights were a Common Buzzard, singing Chiff Chaff, half a dozen Bramblings and a Tree Sparrow.

A herd of a dozen Fallow Deer on the edge of a wood between Flitcham and the Anmer turnoff was unexpected. Popped into Titchwell for an hour before dusk and got my second spring migrant of the day a Little Ringed Plover on the Fresh Marsh. Also saw and then briefly saw a Bittern in the reedbed.

Today popped down Dersingham Bog with Bricker and Phil for the Great Grey Shrike which we had good scope views of plus lots of fly over Crossbills and Siskins.

Got this grab shot of a hunting Barn Owl over a field on the south side of Barrow Common yesterday afternoon. If Norfolk has a signature bird species surely this is it.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Frog on Frog

Had a chance to pop over the cemetery for half an hour earlier in the week. The Common Frogs in the small pool are now well and truly consumed by lust and there were a couple of mating balls of randy amphibians, plus at least half a dozen lumps of spawn. Other highlight was a Rosary Cemetery mammal tick in the form a of Fox, apparently a two were also seen last week by some folk from the office.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stunning Snipe

Spent an hour at Titchwell late on Saturday afternoon with this beauty. Feeding on the Fresh Marsh right underneath the Parrinder Hide window, less than six feet from where I was sitting. Even better most of the time I had the hide to myself so didn't have to worry about anybody else accidentally flushing the bird. Did get to share it with a couple of ladies who wanted to know if it was a Water Rail as they thought Snipe were much bigger ;-)

Took lots of photos with my Canon 100 - 400 Zoom at 400 ISO. With its tail spread showing those wonderful orange tail feathers this is my favourite.