mystery tracks, perhaps

To my mind this is one of three things.

a) the tracks of a Seal that has hauled out on the shore

b) the tracks of a dog with an itchy arse dragging its rear end up a beach

c) Something much more sensible

Any ideas?

tracks doing mystery

photo three


To reflect the fact that the blog is properly up and running now, I’ve given it a little tweak (you may have noticed) as the previous design was just a bit shit actually.  I also now have Fatbirder prescence and a countery thing – as in the past, this is for my amusement rather than any kind of quality indicator (yesterday I was #1127 – haha!). 

Have another photo that has been untouched by any post picture tweakery, and now edited to show the whole picture ffs.

sun rising over the patch. subzero it was too.

not the sloth – this!

That Chris Packham was on the telly last night (again, you might say) doing a program about the ten best discoveries of the decade, natural history wise of course.  Number one was a sloth that sits in splendid isolation on an island off Venezuela. No, no, no, no, no!

This was obviously the wrong choice.  The correct choice for the best discovery had been dismissed at the beginning of the show.  A fish with a see-through head.

A fish.  With a see-through head.

Its given name is the Barreleye (Macropinna microstoma) and it looks like it has eyes above its mouth but they are nostrils and its eyes are in the top of its head staring out of its see-through head.  It is the weirdest mofo on the face of the planet and should have won hands down.  Check it out…

I nicked this photo by the way.  I’m not, as you could probably guess, in the habit of taking photographs underwater of fishes with see-through heads.

not a fun christmas quiz

Here is a question for you.   As you might expect, it’s like a quiz, but a rubbish one with no prizes that is really short.

I’m reading Bird Migration by Ian Newton which was recently given to me. It is ruddy brilliant. Thick, weighty, thorough and quite superb. Full of fantastic knowledge and the result of immense amounts of collated research – and occasionally top bird facts!

Like the answer to the rubbish quiz question, which is…

What is the quantity of individual migratory birds (from 186 European species) that traverse the Sahara each year?

save the gannet

The BTO are excellent, that is without doubt. But that new logo? Pants isn’t it?

It’s time to dig out the old enamel gannet and stick it on the floppy hat in protest.

Save the Gannet!


After the huge excitement of last week, it has all come back to normal patch birding. ie nothing much happens.

Today on the beach for example. A Sanderling. A Pied Wagtail. A Lapwing overhead. Not even a Cormorant. There was a Grey Plover (again singular) earlier in the week that I was given a nod on, which was a patch tick and a nice bird too.

The wind turns northerly over the weekend, so hopefully the excitement can begin again.

the meaning of life not contained within this post

Yesterday was dominated by one thing. Fog. As the day progressed, the fog got worse. By nightfall (or perhaps more accurately, midafternoonfall) the visibility was down to a miserable forty or so metres, and was turning the edges of bushes to ice. Not the trees. Not sure if I’ve actually got any trees here. Needless to say that the birding was lousy. So bad in fact that I actually counted the Herring Gulls.

There were 43.

If there had been one less then I could have pontificated about the number of Herring Gulls on a foggy east Norfolk beach in December being linked to the meaning of life and everything. But 43 there was. And very little else.

Today has improved weather wise and bird-wise as I managed to get a crafty peek at a socking great 60 Snow Buntings behind the beach.


ticking over nicely

Geddit? Ticking over? Ticking? Ticks? Oh whatever.

Sparrowhawk yesterday – small fast moving male. Still no Wren though.

This morning I was a little spoilt by seeing a Peregrine and a Black Redstart within 2 minutes of each other. I’m probably not allowed to speak about Black Redstarts at all in the summer for obvious reasons, so I might just stop talking about them now to be sure. Suffice to say, that as patch regulars go – get on down!

a small patch update

Eventually the Robin and the Blackbird were found for the patch list. Since then it’s been pretty quiet, but the following few have been added to the patch list which is now in the thirties (I’ll update properly it when I get a chance). Dunnock and Wren are still missing.

Brent Goose



Long-tailed Duck

Black Redstart

Tough out here, eh?

in association with Leica…

That Ray Mears was on the telly last week, and he was in Norfolk too. I like what Ray Mears does, and as ‘jobs’ go, reckon that his is a bit good. Take out all the telly, and I reckon it would be immense.

However, although this particular episode was a good bit of telly and all that (even though regrettably he didn’t show us how to create a fire with Marram Grass and drift-plastic) I was a little disappointed in Mr Mears choice of optics. I would have thought (or perhaps I would have preferred) that he would have had some truly knackered pre-war german porro-prism superbness that had been gifted to him by some obscure tribal chieftan after Ray (I’m on first name terms obviously) taught them how to make fire on a handmade boat from something that they couldn’t make fire from before and thus saved all their children from certain death and was then adopted by the tribe that all wore binoculars that Livingstone had given them in ceremonial dress, but no. He proved that he can survive in the 21st century and that he probably knows how not to look a gift horse in the mouth because he was loaded up with Leica. Full on mega-vids or whatever they are these days and a proper new scope and stay-on-case and tripod. Maybe he bought them, but maybe they gave them to him. Bastards.

As I say, I am dissapointed – but only by my own expectations of Mr Mears based on his telly-visual prescence. However, if Leica decide to go into blog sponsorship then count me in – "Norfolk’n Birds in association with Leica". Got a certain ring to it, no?

10 minute tick

Ten minutes. That’s all I had over the weekend, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. However, I did manage to pick out a Common Scoter on the sea and quite close in too.

Compared to my previous patch – his new patch birding is bloody brilliant! I haven’t even seen a Blackbird, Robin or Wren and I’m racking up Common Scoter on a 10 minute visit!


tomato, tomato

It’s occured to me of late that there are differences in the pronunciation of the name of a small duck amongst birders. Well I say birders, it might just be me.

Pochard. How do you say it? I’ve noticed recently in places like London and Norfolk and on the tellybox (most recently at Whitlingham the other day when a young chap was talking about a Red Crested Pochard) that most people say Poch-aard, whereas I have always gone for Poch-ud. Poch-aard? Doesn’t sound right to me, but maybe I’m in the wrong. Either way, if it turns out that I’m saying it differently to everyone else it’s going to be difficult to start pronouncing a word differently after 30-odd years of saying it a certain way. Poch-ud.

Especially if I know I’m right…

a little patch action

It’s got to the point that I am relying on the e-mail posting scenario – if you see this then it has worked. If you cannot see this, then I am typing into the ether for little purpose. Not that there is great purpose behind this whole shebang, but you get the idea.

A brief visit to the patch over the weekend was bereft of passerines. Although on the previous visit I had been swamped by Pipits and pleased with Buntings in the dunes and Wheatears on the fences and beach, when last there were none at all. I had half hoped that the area could have been good for a wintering flock of pipits, and would have been happy to have the company but it seems that they were passing, on passage, and they have now gone to wherever they go leaving me with nothing. Other than that it was pretty mundane fair bird wise, but I did see some distant Gannets so that little gap in the patch list is filled.

killing in the name of…

Watched that Attenborough documentary last night about the ocean studies and the surveys and all that. 

Couldn’t help but notice that the conservationists didn’t half do a lot of killing in the process of doing their research.

he’s back

There are many bird/natural history blogs out there, and occasionally the standard is a little higher than the norm.  There was one called North Downs and Beyond that a chap called Steve wrote.  After a while he chucked it in, possibly because he actually voiced opinions and some people didn’t like it.  However, to the benefit of the blogging community he has returned.  If you didn’t read or link before – I recommend that you do now.

Here you are…