North Norfolk, September 2015

Posted on 12 September 2015, 12:43

Jeez – what a dismal experience that was…

I love North Norfolk – I’d like to retire there, and if I ever win big on the Lottery, that’s where I’ll end up – but my God, I wasn’t happy when I spent the first week of September at the Blakeney Manor Hotel, which is – for the avoidance of any doubt – a noisy, grubby, grossly overpriced (as in £100+ a night) for what you get, shit-hole.

It comes to something when you’re glad to get home from a “luxury” hotel advertising itself on “rest and relaxation” in order to get some peace and quiet and a good night’s sleep. Especially given that I’ve got noisy neighbours on one side, and what currently amounts to a building site, on the other...

I can’t blame the hotel for the weather though – strong winds for most of the week, resolutely in the wrong direction (ironically, the day I came home they swung from westerly to easterly, and it started snowing migrants); and there was (and had been) quite a lot of rain.

Hint: don’t get wet if you’re staying in that fucking hotel in September (and it’s not as if North Norfolk is the Atacama Desert): you and your kit will stay wet, because there are no drying facilities, and they flatly refused to turn the radiators on.

I was also very disappointed to find that the wader pools at Salthouse are now under thousands of tons of flint shingle off the beaches after the last few years’ Winter storms.

So, not much in the way of birds – photographically speaking, anyway: I saw Spoonbills; various LBJs of the warblery variety (nothing exotic, but welcome); and I even got my first Black kite overhead around Glandford, but nothing to point the camera at.

That said… Three days in, I found a fantastically photographable Tawny owl south of Glandford, in (for a change) lovely light.

Framed by Ivy, berries and whatnot, it was the perfect opportunity. The bird knew I was there but seemed entirely unconcerned about my unobtrusive, stealthy presence; a few pictures of it would have more than made the entire trip.

My heart was pounding, as other bird ‘togs reading this will understand, especially as I currently have no Tawny owl pictures to my name. Indeed, before this one, I can’t remember the last time I even saw a Tawny.

I was lined up, focused, and literally on the point of pressing the shutter button, when – out of nowhere, on a stretch of road that hadn’t seen a single vehicle on it in over an hour – a car clatters right up to me (all the roads here are covered in loose gravel, so the noise of him braking was considerable), to ask for directions. Which cacophonous commotion immediately sent the bird off into the distance!

The dozy sod even had the nerve to try and take the moral high ground and take offence at me when I asked him “could you not see I was fucking doing something?

There’s no need to be like that“, he reckoned…

I – not at all politely – begged to differ, and after some robust exchange of opinion, he had the good sense to get out of my sight. Search as I might though, I couldn’t find the owl again.

Even Titchwell was a bust: the few beach waders I found (after a long walk west) were far too skittish to photograph; and I couldn’t even find a Titchwell Robin as back-up.

I did get a few images of the Usual (very Usual) Suspects though, nothing I couldn’t find within a mile of my own front door, but a nice picture of a common bird is better (or so I’m trying to convince myself) than a poor shot of an “interesting” bird, so with that in mind…

Black headed gull, Blakeney

Grey heron, Blakeney

Grey heron, Blakeney

Jackdaw, Blakeney

Starling, Morston

Collared dove, Morston

Black headed gull, Blakeney. The orange behind it and the Common gull further down is the roof of the Blakeney Hotel.

Moorhen, Cley. This bird was actually feeding avidly on the Blackberries.

Common gull, Blakeney

Collared dove, Morston

Black headed gull, Blakeney. On my first morning, the tides were high enough that the cars in this picture would have been in water up to the top of their wheel arches.

Jackdaw, Blakeney

Wood pigeon, Titchwell. Sigh… That it’s come to this.

Black headed gull, Blakeney

Collared dove, Morston

I’ve got some Common seal images from Blakeney Point too, but nothing I’m overly thrilled about – maybe I’ll post them – but I expect more of North Norfolk than a set of images of birds that for the most part I get in my own garden…

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