Garth Peacock
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A couple of trips to norfolk

Friday 16th November 2018

Deer and more Deer

Thursday 15th November 2018

Some activity at last.

Saturday 3rd November 2018

Welney Widlife Trust Norfolk

Monday 22nd October 2018

It's all still very hard work

Wednesday 17th October 2018

It's not getting any easier

Saturday 6th October 2018

A stormy week

Sunday 23rd September 2018

It's all still very hard work

Sunday 16th September 2018

Bits and bobs over the last 10 days

Sunday 9th September 2018

Another update

Monday 27th August 2018

About time for an update.

Friday 10th August 2018

Bitterns and a Hobby

Tuesday 17th July 2018

The Danube Delta - a busy final day

Saturday 14th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 5

Wednesday 11th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 4

Thursday 5th July 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 3

Wednesday 27th June 2018

The Danube Delta - Day 2

Friday 15th June 2018

The first afternoon

Tuesday 5th June 2018

View Blog Archive >>
Friday 16th November 2018

A couple of trips to norfolk

9th November and I had an early start (for me that is) heading for the Norfolk coast.

As usual, my first call was at Thornham harbour where Twite had been reported. Twite are a small finch and a winter visitor to this part of the country, breeding in the upland areas of northern England and Scotland and there has been a small flock at Thornham harbour every winter for the past few years. They can be very nervous, especially when there are a lot a people around and Thornham has become very popular with walkers, either with or without dogs.

Anyway, there was one person with a camera already there and he said that the flock had been landing on the upturned old posts in the harbour - just hang around - so I did and he was correct.

Mid-morning, I moved on the Holkham beach where Shorelarks had been reported. This species is also a winter visitor to north Norfolk and an area of the beach had been roped off to protect them from the many birders and photographers - except they had been spooked by a Red Kite and flew off before I got there.

As a consolation prize, there was a small flock of Snow Buntings that were not too distant.

I have photogrpahed them many times before, especially during my summer trip to Iceland so I did not spend too long there which was a pity as the rest of the afternoon proved totally fruitless.

I returned to north Norfolk the following Tuesday but there was no sign of the Twite at Thornham. However, the Shorelarks had returned to Holkham although were distant in the middle of the roped off area.

The flock of Snow Buntings was nowhere to be seen.

Returning to the car, I noticed another winter visitor, Pink-footed Geese. There were two feeding close to the road which is unusual as they are normally very cautious and keep their distance..

No sign of the Twite again at Thornham on the way home but I waited there as the sun was setting with a few photogenic clouds on the horizon. Approching dusk, it is normal for thousands of Pink-footed Geese to fly over to roost on the mud flats in The Wash and I had visions of photographing them against the setting sun.

Well, this is unpredictable wildlife and the geese did not show up!!!

 

 

 

 

Thursday 15th November 2018

Deer and more Deer

It has taken me nearly three weeks to edit the 2000 odd photos I took during the day at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire allowing for other trips in the meantime that I will comment on after this.

There are at least three car parks here and we parked at one of the smaller ones on the north/east side, to be closer to the deer. Entering the park, we followed a track up the hill and found one lone young Red Deer stag. Not to miss an opportunity...

We followed the track over the hill to find a marvellous view, but no deer. Asking another visitor coming in the opposite direction, he told us to walk through the wood and there was a small herd of Red Deer - he was correct - a 12 pointer stag with about seven or eight hinds.

A 12 pointer is called a Royal stag, 14 pointer an Imperial, with a 16 pointer being a Monarch, made famous by Sir Edwrad Landseer's iconic paining, The Monarch of the Glen. Well, this is the closest I have been to a full blown adult stag - a very impressive animal. He had been in a fight during the ruck and his left eye was swollen and mostly closed so it was a matter of concentrating on his better side.

The hinds moved around and he was constantly chasing them to keep them close.

It is so easy to concentrate on getting the better photos and forgetting that these are wild animale, despite them being accustomed to people on a deer park but this stag soon let us know when we were too close. This image is not cropped - he was about 30 feet away..

..so we politely took a few steps back!!!

We were thinking about trying to find some Fallow Deer but a small herd walked up the hill towards us, saving us the trouble.

and then it got interesting. One stag that had jumped up onto a nearby wall tried to get down and another refused to let him so he jumped...

...and then all hell broke loose.

This carried on for over 10 minures before a female started to nose in...

and that ended the fight with one giving way...

..and being chased off.

After this excitement, we walked to another area where there was a much larger herd of Red Deer - one Royal stag and 28 hinds - he will be a very busy lad!!!

We then noticed a Fallow Deer stag laying down under a tree. He did move once and was badly limping and then lay down again. He was the loser from this mornings fight so we took a couple of photos and left him to recuperate.

A fascinating day where still photos cannot do justice to the spectacle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 3rd November 2018

Some activity at last.

I have had some successes during the last couple of weeks - quite out of the ordinary, if I am honest.

After having a thoroughly disapponing dry spell for interesting photos, a friend and I decided that we would visit Bradgate Park, Leicestershire for the deer rut, somewhere that neither of us had visited before. At least our intended subjects would definitely be there!!!

An excellent day with me taking over 2000 photos that I have not fully processed yet so watch this space.

There have been up to eight Cattle Egrets in my immediate area. They are not a common species to the UK yet, although our increasingly warm climate is attracting more of them from the Mediterranean. I had tried to find them three previous times without success but last Monday, needing some fuel from the local Tesco garage, I suddenly decided to take my camera and have another try.

Bingo. There they were following the cattle herd and not too flighty.

On Wednesday, I travelled to Frampton Marsh RSPB. Not expecting to be successful with all, I had sights on the long staying Long-Billed Dowitcher, the Ruddy Shelduck and the local Merlin. One out of the three would be good and so it transpired with the Long-billed Dowitcher on show, rather distant but the weather conditions were good. This is an American species and, as far as I know, is the only one on the country at present. It is a juvenile so rather drab.

The rest of the day was disappointing with only a feeding Little Egret of real interest.

Yesterday, Friday, I visited nearby Burwell Fen, well known at this time of the year for the over-wintering Short-eared Owls. There were four or five of them flying around with at least 28 photographers anxious to excercise their trigger fingers. I took just a few shots as I have loads of photos of this species already.

I really went to photograph the large flock of a winter thrush, Fieldfare, but they were much too flighty with all the attention they were getting.

Overall, an interesting week - now back to the deer!!!!

Monday 22nd October 2018

Welney Widlife Trust Norfolk

There are several classes of birder. The 'twitchers' that chase around to see as many rarities as possible to add to their lists, the 'patch workers' that concentrate their efforts on working a local patch and do an excellent job by informing the rest of us about local sightings, the general birders, general birders that also take photos to record what they see, and pure bird/wildlife photographers.

When I first started this interest, it rapidly became clear to me that just seeing something and ticking it off on a list would not satisfy my needs.

At the time, when considering the options, a friend asked me whether I would get more enjoyment from a long-distance record shot of a rare bird, or a really good shot of a common bird. The latter was my immediate choice and so bgan the the expensive merry-go-round of new and increasingly expensive kit every so often. I place myself firmly on the latter category.

Last Thursday, with reasonable weather, and another day tidying up the garden not at all attractive, I suddenly decided, about mid morning, to throw the gear into the car and spend some time at nearby reserve at Welney. No great expectations which was just as well.

Welney is famous for it's winter gathering of Whooper Swans that have migrated from summering in Iceland and other arctic regions. There were a few present but not the usual number as the recent south-westerly winds had held back many of our wintering migrants. Apart from that, there were usual common suspects so, once again, it was time to try to improve on my stock photos.

First were Greylag Geese that were flying around.

with loads of Canada Geese

An interesting shot of a drake Mallard showing off it's tonsils (if birds have any, that is!!!)

A few Mute Swans occasionally took to the air instead of their usual activity of just swimming looking pretty.

and a rarish sight for me, a juvenile flying around.

Finally, a couple of shots of the Whooper Swans.

So another day when reasonable quality shots of common stuff had to satisfy me. Still, after all that, I really look forward to getting a decent shot of something different for a change!!!

 

Wednesday 17th October 2018

It's all still very hard work

This is a familiar story and although it is no consolation, many others are finding the same thing. Despite it being the height of the migration season, there is very little about. The weather is the main factor - winds from the north to the east are required and most have been from the south-west making flight in a southerly direction difficult.

Anyway, on 9th of this month, with a couple of hours to spare, I went to my local RSPB reserve at Fen Drayton. As expected, nothing really exciting but a Long-tailed Tit eyeing up a passing fly was worth a shot

and a female Kestrel, while some distance away and against the light, was of interest for something different.

On 10th, a friend and I decided to try somewhere that we had not visited for some time - Strumpshaw Fen RSPB near Norwich. Local photgraphers had had recent success with some Bearded Tits - well we didn't!!!

In an effort to make something of the trip, I took a Mute Swan with a nice reflection

and a Black Swan too.

Black Swans are unusual as they are an Australian species introduced here and any found are escapees so not really exciting but worth a pop with the shutter button.

Going to the far hide, there were only common wildfowl.

and that was the sum total of the day.

Yesterday, (16th), we travelled to north Norfolk. A particular species, Shorelark had arrived but in a large area of saltmarsh, we did not track them down. The weather was supposed to be fine and sunny. It was grey and horrible.

After the first miss, we went to nearby Thornham. Couldn't resist one of the local Curlews in a natural setting

or a female Kestrel that hovered relatively close but against a grey sky backdrop.

Just after lunch, with the weather still grey and dismal, we went to Titchwell RSPB. The hide was packed but there was nothing of interest to be seen from it anyway. From the path, a Ruff was eyeing up a snack.

and then onto the beach with the tide receding. The sun appeared for half-an-hour or so but there was only common species on the tideline. Once again, I tried to make something decent and different, firstly with a Black-tailed Godwit

and a sole Knot

Not much to show for our efforts.