Tag Archives: Warham

15th November 2015 – Three Harrier Day

Day 3 of a long weekend of tours today, the last day. It was forecast to be windy, and that was certainly the case, gusting up to 48mph at times. It was also forecast to be mostly dry, but once again the Met Office let us down! At least it was just showers, and most of them were light. Still, it is worth going birding in almost any weather, because you never know what might turn up – and today was a very good case in point, with a surprise in store at the end of the day…

We started at Holkham. There were a few Pink-footed Geese along Lady Anne’s Drive as is usual at this time of year, loafing around on the grazing marshes, so we stopped to get a good look at them in the scope. Conveniently, there were some Greylag Geese nearby for comparison. We could see the smaller size, darker head and smaller darker bill of the Pink-footed Geese. We could also see their pink legs, if not their feet. A little further over were some feral Egyptian Geese as well.

IMG_2921Pink-footed Goose – we stopped to look at them along Lady Anne’s Drive

There was a big flock of Wigeon out by the pools along the road as well, along with a few Teal and Mallard. A few raptors were even braving the wind – a couple of Marsh Harriers circling distantly and a Common Buzzard hanging on the wind over towards Wells. A second Common Buzzard was more sensibly perched in a tree nearby.

IMG_2886Common Buzzard – perched in the trees by Lady Anne’s Drive this morning

We parked down at the north end – there were not so many cars there this morning – and walked out through the pines towards the beach. It was more sheltered on the north side of the trees and we could hear Coal Tits calling as we walked. There were several tiny Goldcrests feeding down low in the brambles by the path and we paused to watch one just in front of us – the UK’s smallest native bird, it was probably a struggle for them to find food in the conditions this morning.

We walked out across the saltmarsh and flushed a Rock Pipit from beside the path, which flew off calling. Several Skylarks also took off as we passed. There was a small party of about 20 Brent Geese feeding nearby, so we stopped to have a quick look at them. One was subtly different – a fraction darker on the back and belly, with a slightly whiter flank patch and collar – but it was not as striking as a Black Brant, like the one we had seen the other day. This was a Black Brant hybrid or intergrade – the offspring of a Black Brant which had paired with one of our more typical Dark-bellied Brent Geese several years ago. Brent Geese are remarkably site faithful, often returning to exactly the same place every winter. This Black Brant hybrid is a regular in these parts, so it was nice to see it back here again.

IMG_2899Black Brant hybrid – among the Dark-bellied Brent Geese

We watched them for a while, and the Black Brant hybrid reacted aggressively when any of the other geese got too close. It gradually became clear it was part of small family group, paired to a regular Dark-bellied Brent Goose and with a couple of juveniles in tow. It would be interesting to see what these birds look like when they are grown up, but it seems likely that they are largely indistinguishable from normal Dark-bellied Brents, which can be rather variable in appearance themselves anyway.

Out on the beach, we found some shelter in the lee of the dunes and scanned the sea. It was much rougher than yesterday, but similarly quiet bird-wise at first. After a while we picked up several Great Crested Grebes – and a couple of them were very close inshore, only just off the beach. A Red-throated Diver was a bit further out and diving constantly, which meant it was nearly impossible to see among the waves. We walked further west and stopped to scan again. This time, a smaller grebe further along caught our attention – looking through the scope we could see it was a winter plumage Slavonian Grebe, a scarce winter visitor here and a nice bird to see.

We made our way even further west, to try to get a better look at the Slavonian Grebe. We got another brief glimpse of it and decided to brave the top of the dunes to get a bit of height. This should make it easier to see things in the waves, but this time it didn’t help us and there was no further sign. At that point a squally shower rolled in, so we beat a hasty retreat to the shelter of the pines. Just into the trees, a tit flock was moving through – we could see Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Goldcrests as they moved quickly through. We only heard a Treecreeeper calling as the flock disappeared further in.

On the other side of the trees, we made for Joe Jordan Hide – just in time, as the rain picked up again for a while. It was a good opportunity to sit and scan the grazing marshes, and there was a nice selection of commoner birds to see here. The highlight was a small party of White-fronted Geese, though they were hard to see at times feeding down in the wet boggy bits. When they stuck their heads up, we could see the distinctive white surrounding the base of the bill, from which they get their name.

When the rain stopped, we started to make our way back. A tit flock was calling from the trees on the south side of the path and we watched as they flew one by one back towards the pines across in front of us. As well as all the species we had seen previously, a Treecreeper flew out and landed on a pine tree briefly.

We stopped again at Washington Hide. There were several Marsh Harriers circling over the marshes and we picked up a female on a kill out in the grass. We could see her bending down to rip at whatever she had caught, then looking round nervously. A very pale, white-breasted Common Buzzard was perched in the trees over the other side. A striking bird, again in its regular spot here, but a pitfall for the unwary. We had hoped the Great White Egret might put in an appearance, but it was very exposed on the pool in front of the hide and the wind was whistling around the edges of the reeds.

On our way back to the car, we had a quick look at Salts Hole. As well as a few Wigeon and Mallard, there were several Little Grebes as usual. Only one was braving the middle of the pool today, the others lurking around the edge of the reeds where it was more sheltered.

IMG_2907Little Grebe – only this one braved the choppy waters out on Salts Hole today

We drove to Wells beach for lunch. The car park is still in the process of being dug up and resurfaced and the acres of tarmac feel a little too metropolitan – it would now not be out of place in the city centre. Certainly, there is no chance of any puddles any more for the birds to come down and drink. Still it was a little more sheltered here than at Holkham.

We had a look out in the harbour afterwards. With the choppy conditions out at sea, we thought there might be some ducks or grebes taking shelter, but there were perhaps too many dog walkers out on the shore today. However, there was an excellent variety of waders feeding on the exposed mud or roosting on the sand. The first thing that struck us was the large flocks of Oystercatchers. Scanning through, we found one Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Knot in with them.

IMG_2925Oystercatchers and Knot – roosting on the beach at Wells Harbour

Further over were more Knot and lots of Dunlin. In among the latter were several similarly sized Ringed Plovers. Out on the sand were a few silvery white Sanderling, running around like clockwork toys. Down along the edge of the harbour channel were several much darker Turnstone. There were also a few Grey Plover, and lots of Curlew and Redshank. Not a bad selection of waders – a fairly typical variety for intertidal mud flats. Further out across the harbour, a large flock of Brent Geese were lining the channel.

We scanned across to the saltmarsh the other side of the harbour, beyond East Hills, where a Marsh Harrier was quartering. As we panned over, a smaller, slimmer harrier appeared. As it banked we could see it was paler below than the Marsh Harrier and then we caught sight of a white square at the base of the tail above – it was a ringtail Hen Harrier. Further over through the scope, we saw a Merlin towering up into the sky chasing after a small bird, probably a pipit. They were a little distant, but we hoped to see them close later.

On our way back to the car, we stopped to look at a Common Seal on the sandbank of the outer harbour. It had presumably hauled itself out when the tide was high and was now looking a little stranded at the top of the bank. A large mechanical digger was edging its way towards it – pulling up the sand from along the edge to try to keep the access channel open. Hopefully the seal would be able to get away before it reached it.

IMG_2935Common Seal – pulled out on the bank of Wells Outer Harbour

We had planned to go along to see the harrier roost at Warham Harbour this afternoon. It seemed like a good way to round off the tour. So with the afternoon getting on we went back to the car and made our way east along the coast road from Wells. As we walked down towards the sea, a flock of tits made its way ahead of us along the hedgerow, making the most of the last hour or so of daylight. We flushed a little party of Redwings, which flew off overhead calling. Perhaps fresh arrivals from Scandinavia, coming here for the winter.

When we arrived at the edge of the saltmarsh, one person we know well, Graeme, was already there. Fortuitously, as it would turn out, we stood next to him. Immediately, he drew our attention to a Peregrine perched on a tangle of dead branches out on the beach. As we got our scopes onto it, a second Peregrine appeared and started mobbing it. Then a ringtail Hen Harrier appeared, much closer than the one we had seen from the other side at Wells Harbour. We got a really good view of this one through the scopes.

IMG_2946Hen Harrier – a ringtail, out over the saltmarsh

A male Hen Harrier had been showing before we arrived and after a while it got up from the ground and flew past us – a striking, ghostly, pale grey bird with contrasting black wing tips. They are really stunning birds and such a shame they are so badly persecuted in this country. There were now a few hardy souls gathered to watch the roost, and a shout from further long the line drew our attention to two Merlins chasing each other across the saltmarsh away to the east. The first surprise of the evening was a Bewick’s Swan which flew west along the edge of the saltmarsh, presumably a fresh arrival from the continent coming in for the winter.

Apart from the swan, it was all much as we had hoped, until Graeme mentioned that he had a smaller, slimmer winged harrier out with one of the ringtail Hen Harriers. He knew what it was going to be, but we got onto it and when it turned we could see the distinctive pale collar and solid dark patch on the side of the neck behind, the so called ‘boa’ – we shouted ‘PALLID HARRIER‘ but at that moment it dropped down into the vegetation and disappeared before the rest of the group could get onto it.

There followed a very frustrating 20 or so minutes when neither the Hen Harriers nor the Pallid Harrier were flying. The tension rose as it seemed like the Pallid Harrier might not fly again before dark, until finally all the harriers decided to have a fly round. It was fantastic to see the Pallid Harrier with the Hen Harriers, and at one point it even had a tussle with a ringtail Hen – it was slightly smaller and noticeably slimmer winged, with a more pointed ‘hand’. We could see its plain, pale orangey underparts, as well as the head/neck pattern. Wow! What a great bird to see and such a surprise.

Pallid Harriers breed from Eastern Europe across into Central Asia, wintering in India and Africa. They appear to have spread west in recent years and have been turning up more often in UK, though it is still a rare bird here – it is only the ninth to have been seen in Norfolk! The first of those spent the winter of 2002-03 at the same site, Warham Greens, the only one to have over-wintered in the UK. Lets hope this one sticks around for a while as well.

What a great way to end the weekend. It just goes to show that, however unfavourable the weather may seem, it is still worth going out because anything can, and sometimes does, show up.

26th September 2015 – Catching Up on the Coast

Day 4 of a 5 day Autumn Tour today. Having headed west yesterday, we decided to go the other way along the coast this morning. It was glorious weather to be out on the coast – sunshine, blue skies and light winds. It could almost have been summer!

We drove along to Cley first and headed out to walk around the south side of the reserve. We could hear Bearded Tits calling almost immediately – there was a lot of ‘pinging’ coming from the reedbed this morning. As we walked along the path, suddenly four Bearded Tits flew up from the reeds and started climbing up into the sky. This is the time of year when little parties of them disperse along the coast but they could not pluck up the courage to move today and eventually dropped back into the reeds. It was perfect conditions for looking for Bearded Tits – sunny and still.

We walked round to where we thought we might be able to see them better and, between more bouts of ‘pinging’, we saw eight Bearded Tits flying around the tops of the reeds together. They kept flying round and dropping into the reeds, but eventually they landed and climbed up into the tops where we could get them in the scope. They looked amazing in the morning sun, with three cracking males with grey heads and drooping black moustaches (beards!).

IMG_1235Bearded Tit – cracking views of at least 8 today, including 3 stunning males

Nearby, a female Marsh Harrier was perched in the top of one of the bushes in the reedbed. We got her in the scope and enjoyed amazing views of her too. She sat there for a while looking round, then started calling. A Magpie came to investigate but just hopped around in the bush below her and she ignored it. She seemed to yawn a couple of times, opening her bill and stretching her neck up – she looked like she might be calling, but though we had heard her earlier we didn’t when she did this.

IMG_1259IMG_1254Marsh Harrier – stunning views of this female preening & yawning

She preened for a while and stretched, hanging out her left wing at one point, giving us a great view of the pale leading edge to the inner wing shown by adult female Marsh Harriers. Stunning views!

IMG_1264Marsh Harrier – stretching to show us the pale leading edge to the wing

The water levels on the reserve have been high in the last couple of weeks, which is good for the ducks arriving for the winter, but with all scrapes in a similar state it means there have not been so many waders. We had a quick look at Pat’s Pool and could see that there was still a lot of water. There were lots of birds present – especially ducks, mostly Wigeon and Teal, with a few Shoveler and a couple of Pintail. Most of the drakes are still in drab eclipse plumage, but a drake Teal was more advanced in its moult and already showing a rather smart head pattern. A single Gadwall was also a smart drake.

There were lots of larger waders present, but limited variety – a large mob of Black-tailed Godwits and lots of Lapwing. Amongst them were a few Ruff. They were mostly adults, with whiter underparts and white-scalloped grey-brown uppers. There was only one much browner juvenile.

P1090890Little Grebe – catching lots of fish in the channel in front of the hide

There was a young Little Grebe fishing in the channel right in front of the hide. It seemed to be doing very well, catching lots of small fish. Some of the group saw a Water Rail briefly along the channel as well, while the rest of us were still bewitched by the Bearded Tits.

P1090905Marsh Harrier – seen off by the Lapwings

When the Marsh Harrier had finished stretching and preening, she flew out across the reedbed and circled around the back of the scrape. She didn’t seem to be hunting – perhaps she did it just to cause mayhem in the birds loafing on Pat’s Pool. She certainly caused a stir, as all the birds over the back of the scrape took to the air. Several Lapwing set off after her, but she didn’t really seem to be perturbed as she drifted back to the reedbed. All the ducks and waders quickly settled again. A single Common Snipe had obviously been brought out by the activity, as it suddenly appeared out in the middle as everything else landed.

P1090911Pat’s Pool – the Marsh Harrier stirred up all the birds as it circled over

With not much else to tempt us out onto the reserve, we decided to move on further east along the coast. A Yellow-browed Warbler had been reported again this morning at Walsey Hills – it had been present for a few days but had been elusive earlier on in its stay. We popped in to have a look, but quickly discovered that it hadn’t been seen or heard of since early this morning. There were a couple of Chiffchaffs in the bushes and lots of insects buzzing round the flowering ivy. We didn’t linger, and continued on.

We had tried to see the Barred Warbler at Kelling a couple of days ago, without success. It seemed to have been showing more reliably this morning, so we decided to give it another go. A couple of Bullfinches flew ahead of us, calling, as we walked up the lane. One perched up in the top of an ash tree and we could see that it was a juvenile – more rusty-brown coloured and lacking a black cap.

There was a little crowd gathered for the Barred Warbler as we arrived. We waited patiently for a while and it flicked into view. It was rather furtive, working its way through the brambles and occasionally flying back up into the hawthorn, picking at berries. It kept showing itself as it lumbered around in the undergrowth – a large, pale grey warbler – though it kept dropping back into cover. It was good to catch up with it, having missed it earlier in the week. A couple of Blackcap were in the brambles as well and a Whitethroat was in the hedge further along.

There were lots of finches in the hedgerows and weedy fieldsĀ  – Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Linnets. A couple of Redpolls flew over calling. A Yellowhammer flew up and perched in the hedge, just long enough for us to get it in the scope.

P1090926Egyptian Geese – the resident pair on the Water Meadow

There was a lot of water on the Water Meadow still today – not so much of a surprise here, after all the recent rain, as there is no way to control the levels. The resident pair of Egyptian Geese were present as usual, along with a smattering of Teal andĀ  a single Shoveler asleep.

Walking round on the path, a Common Lizard slithered quickly off the path and disappeared into the verge. There were two Stonechats as usual on the hillside above the Quags. We followed the path up and could see another four more distantly on the fence over on Weybourne Camp. The sea was flat calm, but a small group of Wigeon were offshore and some very distant Gannets were flying past.

IMG_1044Stonechat – at least 6 at Kelling today, this one from the other day

The warm sunny weather meant perfect conditions for raptors moving along the coast. While we were watching the Barred Warbler, we had seen a little kettle of nine Common Buzzards circling up over the fields beyond. It was to be a bit of a theme today. When we got back to the car, another two Common Buzzards drifted off the ridge on the edge of Kelling Heath and over the village. Later in the afternoon, we saw more kettles circling along the coast.

After lunch, we started to make our way back west. Stiffkey Fen was our next post of call. There were Long-tailed Tits calling from the trees as we made our way our way along the path. We could just see a large white blob out amongst the geese as we walked past the Fen, through the overgrown vegetation. From up on the seawall, everyone could see it was a Spoonbill. It was asleep at first, doing what every self-respecting Spoonbill likes to do most, but woke up a couple of times briefly, just long enough to flash its long, spoon-shaped bill. The yellow tip confirmed it was an adult.

IMG_1293Spoonbill – during one of its waking moments, an adult

While we were watching the first Spoonbill sleeping, a second flew in from the direction of the saltmarsh. It circled over the Fen, dropping down towards the water. We could see it was a young bird from the black tips to its wings. Unfortunately it landed out of view behind the reeds. A Kingfisher called and flashed past upriver.

There was not much else of note out on the Fen. Once again, the water levels are too high here. There were lots of Greylag and Canada Geese and a respectable congregation of ducks, including a few more Pintail. Lapwing represented the bulk of the waders, plus a handful of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits. A Greenshank was feeding in the saltwater channel on the other side of the seawall together with a Redshank, giving us a nice side-by-side comparison of the two species.

We walked round to the harbour, with the view out to Blakeney Point beyond looking beautiful in the sunshine. The tide was still out, but we could see lots of birds out on the mud. The large gathering of gulls included both Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the latter’s custard-yellow legs glowing in the sun. There are already a good number of Brent Geese in here, plus there was a small group of Mute Swans out in the channel. When a small boat sailed past, a large flock of Wigeon took to the air and circled round over it. Pink-footed Geese were a big theme of yesterday, with many hundreds arriving in the afternoon. We had a couple more groups coming in over the harbour – heading off in different directions, both east and west along the coast.

The waders were mostly distant. Once again there were lots of Oystercatcher roosting on the mud and good numbers of Curlew. Another Greenshank was asleep in the channel in front of us, again with a Redshank for company. While we were standing there, we heard more Greenshank calling and seven more flew in over our heads and dropped down towards the Fen.

We still had time for one last stop on our way back, so we called in at Warham Greens briefly. Another Yellow-browed Warbler had been seen here earlier in the morning, but by the time we got there a few forelorn souls were searching in vain – it seemed to have moved off with one of the local Long-tailed Tit flocks a few hours earlier and no one seemed to know which way it had gone. We walked down to the end of the track and had a look in the sycamores. We saw a couple of Goldcrests on our way down and two Chiffchaffs flycatching in the late afternoon sun in the trees. We stopped to admire the big flock of Golden Plover out on the saltmarsh. Then it was time to call it a day.

18th January 2015 – The Varied Sights of NW Norfolk

Day 3 of the three day long weekend of tours today. There were several birds we wanted to catch up with and NW Norfolk seemed a good option for a selection of local specialities.

We stopped first at one of the Little Owl sites to see if we could catch up on something we had missed yesterday. Unfortunately, it was a foggy start to the day and the weather still wasn’t up to scratch for tempting the owls out (yet!). We didn’t linger long.

Our first stop proper was at Roydon Common. We had driven through patches of clear sunshine on our way, but the sun was struggling to burn off the fog completely here and it was cloudy and cold, with a crisp frost on the ground. We had come to look for the Great Grey Shrike which has taken up residence here for the winter, but at first we struggled to find it – perhaps it wasn’t enjoying the patchy fog either! Still, it was beautiful to be out – a flock of Redwings was feeding in the trees, several Stonechats were out on the Common, and a few Yellowhammers, Meadow Pipits and a small group of Siskin flew overhead calling. We stopped to watch a group of Roe Deer feeding out in the morning light and a Sparrowhawk sat up in the trees trying to warm itself in the few rays of sunshine.

Just when it seemed like the Great Grey Shrike was going to give us the runaround, it hopped up on a small birch tree in front of us. We had just got onto it when it took flight, and flew straight towards us, giving us a really close fly past. It landed up on the very top of a young oak tree, surveying the open expanse of the Common, then dropped down onto the fence line. We got great prolonged scope views of it. What a stunner – the black bandit mask, stout hooked bill, and striking monochrome plumage.

IMG_2294

IMG_2290Great Grey Shrike – finally gave itself up for us at Roydon Common

It dropped to the ground and disappeared for a couple of minutes. When it flew up it was clearly carrying some prey that it had just caught. It swept across the Common and dropped into thicket. It was only gone a minute before it flew up and perched right in the top of a dead birch nearby. Not enough time to eat whatever it was carrying, it had probably impaled it on a thorn it its larder – they are not called ‘butcher birds’ for nothing! It then flew straight back towards us and continued hunting further along the fence line. We left it to its work and headed back to the car.

Next stop was at Flitcham. The sun was now doing its job and burning off the fog and cloud, and blue sky was starting to show itself. We stopped to admire the mass of finches and buntings feeding in a cover strip on the edge of a field. A big female Sparrowhawk swept through and a vast number of Chaffinches, Linnet, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings erupted from the field and made for the safety of the nearby hedge. As we watched for a while, we started to pick out a few Bramblings amongst the finches, their white rumps giving them away as they flew between the crop and the hedge . Perched up, the orange breasts of the males positively glowed in the morning sun. Some buzzy chirping gave away the presence of a few Tree Sparrows also amongst the throng.

P1110032Brambling – a few were in amongst the finch flock at Flitcham

We headed for the hide. The reported Merlin which tempted us there turned out to be a young Sparrowhawk perched up in a tree. But the field at the back was full of Fieldfares and a few Redwings, as well as several Curlew. Lots of Teal were on the pond, along with a couple of Gadwall. Some careful scanning of the trees eventually produced a bird which we had hoped, but not expected, to see here. A Little Owl was (finally) basking in the sunshine!

IMG_2299Little Owl – hiding amongst the branches

From there, we headed up to the coast. We made a brief stop to admire a vast flock of over a thousand Pink-footed Geese in a field next to the road, but made it up to Holme just in time for lunch in the now glorious sunshine. We didn’t have to go far, across the golf course and just onto the beach, to find the Snow Buntings. A flock of around 40 were feeding on the edge of a small dune, but having been pushed to the end by a crowd of photographers, they flew out onto the saltmarsh with the Linnets. We watched them for a while and, after waiting patiently and at a discrete distance, they returned to where they had been, once the crowd had moved on, whirling round in a flurry of variably white-marked wings. Moving slowly, edging forward, we were able to get quite close without disturbing them. Cracking views!

P1110062

P1110075Snow Buntings – a lovely flock of 40 was on the beach at Holme

Having admired the Snow Buntings, we stopped to look at the waders on the pools on the beach. Three Knot were feeding amongst a larger group of Redshanks, a single Bar-tailed Godwit was nearby and several Grey Plover were on the sand.

From Holme, we made the short journey along the coast road to Thornham Harbour. We didn’t even need to get out of the car before we could see the flock of Twite which has been spending the winter here. They have become much scarcer in Norfolk in recent years, so it has been good this winter to spend more time watching them again. Superficially a ‘little brown job’, they are actually very pretty little finches up close. In the afternoon sun, their orange-toned breasts and yellow bills shone, and their constant chattering allowed us to enjoy their distinctive ‘tveeet’ calls from which they get their name. We also added Rock Pipit and Lesser Black-backed Gull to the weekend’s list here.

P1110082Twite – a flock of around 50 was in Thornham Harbour

The original plan had been to finish the day at Titchwell, which is always a great site to visit. However, given the fantastic late afternoon sunshine a quick straw poll amongst the group found everyone agreed on an alternative plan. It turned out to be a really good decision. A drive back along the coast and a short walk found us on the coast overlooking the saltmarsh and ready for action.

We had not been there long before a Short-eared Owl appeared, quartering the marsh. We have seen several over the long weekend (1-2 every afternoon!), and perhaps been rather spoiled for them, but this one was absolutely stunning in the low late afternoon sun. We couldn’t fail to appreciate it, and it flew back and forth in front of us for ages.

P1110086Short-eared Owl – we have seen a few, but stunning views this evening

There was so much to see. A group of Golden Plover wheeled overhead, the haunting calls of the Curlews out on the grass echoed around, flocks of chattering Brent Geese flew past, Little Egrets and Brown Hares ran around the saltmarsh. We didn’t know where to look – just standing there and enjoying the whole experience.

P1110089Brent Geese – over the saltmarsh in the evening sun

Next a male Hen Harrier drifted across the saltmarsh, a ghostly vision in pale grey, its black wingtips contrasting strongly in the sun. It dropped down out of view a couple of times, but kept coming up again, patrolling back and forth, further out along the edge of the beach now. Then a second male Hen Harrier appeared out to the west, it flew towards us and we got even better views of this one. Such stunning birds, one of them was rarely out of view. A shape on the top of a post turned out to be a Merlin sitting out on the marsh. Then the ringtail Hen Harriers appeared – while watching a first one flying in from a great distance, a second appeared much closer in front of us, the fourth Hen Harrier of the evening.

And in amongst them all, a Barn Owl appeared, hunting silently along the hedgerow to the east at first, then back and forth along the edge of the saltmarsh in front of us. At one point we had both Barn and Short-eared Owls quartering in front of us. What a fitting way to end the recent tours.

P1110084Evening on the saltmarsh – a great way to end the day