Springtides & Barn Owls

Filed in Articles, Places Of Interest, Workshops on Sep.09, 2019

There a few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring tides that start in earnest from this month onward and for me herald the onset of Autumn and Winter.

During a Spring Tide most if not all of the estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater. Out on the mud and sand flats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide, as the tides rises, the mud and sand flats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea.

They then take off, fly in vast flocks towards you on the beach. A place that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats. Its an event that really has to be seen to believed, so many waders and geese now it’s just incredible.

The noise, power and grace of all these birds moving in harmony is really hard to describe in words. I hope the following images in someway try and portrait this event in natures calendar. I’ve used slow shutter speeds, wide angles and close in compositions to try and convey what I’m writing.

There is something very special when you’re watching a wild Barn owl hunt over a field and then it heads towards you. For me it’s always a great privilege to see a Barn owl, they are one of my favorite species that have fascinated me since I was a small boy. You just never know where or when they will turn up and they are absolutely silent giving you no clue to their presence.

Norfolk is also a stronghold for Brown Hares, I have many locations for both Barn owls and Brown hares in Norfolk all found by myself over many years. Some of these locations have both species that share the same habitat. This particular one does, and while laying down, hidden from view and using the woodland as cover we watched the Brown hares feeding. Then one begins to run towards us and stops.

Their eye sight isn’t good but their sense of smell and hearing is amazing so it’s best not to move and let them settle. This beautiful Brown Hare came quite close and then stopped, chest sticking out and wondering what the faint noise from the camera was. An unbelievably encounter that I feel you can sense from this photo.

That first contact with nature, where human meets wild animal is very special and I can’t explain in words so I’ll let this image speak for me. Nature is just incredibly and when you’ve come across another living being like this it moves you at the same time you get a sense that there is more than just us out there.

I absolutely love all waders as you maybe able to tell, I will be giving a talk at the Wader Quest – “Inspiration of Waders” day on 27th October at Cley Marshes visitor centre , Norfolk. So come along, be inspired while helping and supporting Wader Quest. Norfolk is a stronghold for lots of wildlife including Brown Hares. I run a number of one day workshops there, for all the dates and information then see the following link


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