Horsey Seals

New Years Day 2018 prompted a trip to see the grey seals on Horsey beach in Norfolk. I don’t know why I have never done this before as it seems to be such a popular day out in Norfolk, judging by the hundreds of people who showed up on New Years Day.

Seal fact: did you know that the scientific name Halichoerus grypus translates as “hook-nosed sea pig” !!

I’m sorry for all the seal spam coming your way but they are too cute not to share!

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Mousehold Heath, Norwich, December

This may end up being posted in January but I’m writing this in that awkward period between Christmas and New Year where no one knows what day of the week it is. After a little bit of social media scheduling, I got a headache and decided to get out and go for a walk. I rarely go to Mousehold Heath in Norwich so thought I’d have a little walk around and see what I could photograph – barely anything, as it turns out, because despite this being an ideal habitat for a variety of species, I rarely actually manage to see anything at Mousehold. Is it because it’s so popular with dog walkers and kids on mountain bikes that the wildlife daren’t show its face? I’m aware that it’s winter and there is less to see but the concerning thing is that I barely heard any birds either.

Anyway, I did get a few photos, including an action shot of a squirrel racing up a tree so not a waste of time in the end.

 

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Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk, December

The last birding trip of the year was to RSPB Titchwell Marsh on the North Norfolk coast. Home to all sorts of shorebirds and harriers and winter visitors, it’s a known hot spot, though I was still surprised to find it so busy on a windy day (the Norfolk landscape is flat and there was no protection from the wind for miles.)

We watched a marsh harrier hunting in the sunset, spotted little ringed plovers, and followed a curlew as it danced in the mud, pulling up large worms.

Ringed plover or little ringed plover?

 

A marsh harrier hunts in the setting sun.

Curlew or whimbrel? I never can tell!

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A squirrel on the feeder.
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A quarrel

Autumn Walks: Holt Country Park

Another post in my unofficial ‘walking around Norfolk in the Autumn’ series.

Holt Country Park is frankly a nice, easy day out, and it helps being so close to Holt as there is so much to do there – so many little boutique shops and tea rooms. We went to The Owl Tearoom for a cream tea, which is a very cute place with delicious food, a charming atmosphere and friendly staff – I would definitely go there again.

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Autumn Walks: Taverham Mill in Norfolk

Hello and welcome to Autumn! Isn’t it wonderful?

Here’s a few photos of what I’ve been up to so far this season. Recently I visited Taverham Mill in Norfolk. Here is a nature reserve on my doorstep that I didn’t even know about (because I thought it was just a fishery, which it is also is, but in the last few years has been deemed a nature reserve in its own right.)

The 100 acre site contains 4 lakes and is situated along the river Wensum, an SSSI. The highlight of my walk was certainly hanging out with the highland cattle, which have horns and an impressive fringe and are so gentle and calm.

If you’re interested in the history of the site, have a look at this site about Norfolk mills.

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Deer at Holkham in Norfolk

A few photos of a recent trip to Holkham estate in Norfolk. This was early October and sadly the stags weren’t quite ready to rut (at least while we were watching) but we still go to see them quite close.

There’s a very large herd at Holkham and they are mostly fallow deer but there is a smaller herd of red deer. It’s a really special area of North Norfolk as it also has very popular beach and nature reserve.

Other wildlife sightings:

  • 2 buzzards
  • 3 marsh harriers (one of which flew right in front of our car!)
  • 2 kestrels

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Hickling Broad, Norfolk, is being sold to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Hickling Broad is one of our most famous and internationally important broads in Norfolk. It houses a significant proportion of the UK’s common crane population, along with resident marsh harriers, bitterns, pochards, water rails, Cetti’s warbler, and the infamous beared tit.

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A large area of the estate has been managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which is this year celebrating its 90th birthday. At the end of the second world war, the Mills family, who have owner the estate for over 200 years, decided to hand over the management to the NWT. Now more than 1,400 acres of the important ecosystem have been agreed for sale to the charity, which is now campaigning to raise £1m to buy the land.

It’s not just birds that enjoy living on the broad – Hickling is also home to the rare swallowtail butterfly and the Norfolk hawker dragonfly. You can also spot otters and barn owls, if you’re lucky, as well as the hilariously teddy-bear-like non-native Chinese water deer.

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And it’s not just animals – the broad is the largest reedbed in the UK and contains three rare species of stonewort, milk-parsley and the holly-leaved naiad.

The current owner of this vast estate, Hallam Mills, said:

“The Hickling estate has been in my family for 200 years and during that time this lovely Broad has survived in fine style, despite the pressures of the modern world.  The family is delighted that, out of many expressions of interest, the Broad is going to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, who in many ways were the Broad’s natural owner.  The wildlife and conservation interest of the reserve will be very safe in their hands.”

You can donate to this appeal for the NWT to buy the Broad by texting LAND26 to 70070, including the figure you wish to donate. You can also visit the Just Giving page. At the time of writing, over £3,400 has been raised in just a few days but they need to get to £1m by March.

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‘Rewilding’ Project Could Return Lynx To The UK After 1300 years

Ambitious plans, formulated by the Lynx UK Trust, could see a return of the wild lynx, not seen in Britain for over 1300 years, to certain areas selected for the five-year trial programme. It is hoped that the once native lynx will curb deer populations and restore balance to the British countryside.

Lynx UK Trust assures us that lynx have never been known to attack humans, nor do they attack sheep or cattle, as they prefer the protection of remote woodlands, and would not naturally venture onto open pasture or farms. Farmers remain concerned for their livestock, but they will be rewarded with a compensation package. The threat posed to livestock is low, as lynx in Romania and Poland rarely prey on farm animals.

Once the Trust has gauged public opinion on the return of these extinct cats to the wild, they will launch an application to Natural England. The plan will see four to six lynx, each wearing GPS tracking collars, released into open, unfenced private areas of woodland in Norfolk, Northumberland and Scotland.

There are over 1.5 million wild deer in Britain, and they currently have no predators, so controlling their populations has been extremely difficult. The Deer Initiative believe the reintroduction of the lynx will help to solve the problem of the overpopulation of deer, which eat birds’ eggs nesting in low bushes, and they also damage woodland by overgrazing.

There have been fourteen previous reintroductions of the Eurasian lynx into the wild, which have proven to be hugely successful:

In Germany, 14 lynx were reintroduced to a site in the Harz mountains in 2000 and have since bred and colonised other areas. Another reintroduction, in Switzerland in the 1990s, has also seen animals breed and spread.

The lynx is the third most prolific predator in Europe, beaten only by the wolf and the brown bear. It hunts at night and is notoriously shy, so hopeful ramblers would be lucky to spot one if they are reintroduced. The lynx is thought to have been hunted to extinction for their fur during between 500 and 700 AD.

A representative of Defenders of Wildlife suggests that concerned farmers could take precautions to protect their livestock by getting a dog, as “Lynx have an instinctual fear of canines.” She points out that after the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho, only 30 of the 18,000 sheep in Northern Idaho have been lost to wolves in the seven years the predators have been roaming there.