Saltmarsh and solitude

The weather today was pretty dreadful, and I had a lot of work to do for ESTA (see including collating articles for the next issue of their Arco magazine. But by about 2pm I needed a break and the weather had cleared….a bit!

So I headed out to Stiffkey and walked west along the coast path to the “whirlygig”. This was the UK’s only rotary launch pad, and was used for launching dummy aircraft from a rotary arm, to be used as target practice.

the expanse of saltmarsh between Wells and Stiffkey, viewed from the whirlygig

There’s something very calming, I find, about being in the middle of this large area with not a human in sight, and this feeling was intensified today by the stormy weather – it felt very primeval.

At first sight the marshes look almost completely devoid of birds, but once you start to scan them more closely (a telescope definitely helps!) you begin to find things; black-headed gulls, lots of little egrets, shelduck, and camouflaged groups of curlew and lapwing. Skeins of geese pass overhead. The haunting calls of curlews ring out over the wilderness.

I had thought I might catch up with a hen harrier or maybe even a merlin: Both species that are here at this time of the year. But not today. I did however encounter a small, noisy flock of linnets, closely followed by a handful of a bird that I always love to see: the bullfinch. They have a habit of following the line of a hedge ahead of you, calling with a short musical whistle, and showing a distinctive white rump as they fly ahead to a new perch.

On my way back to the car I glimpsed a muntjac deer on the path – it quickly disappeared into the undergrowth, but there were clear prints in the mud.

muntjac prints

And yes, you’ve guessed it… moths today!

Stop press: Brenda was on her way to a church meeting at Holkham Hall this evening when she saw two Egyptian geese. There is a small population of these introduced birds around Holkham, but she’s beaten me to seeing them in 2023. Perhaps a small consolation for the current lack of moths 🙂

New species for January 10th:
Birds: linnet, bullfinch

Birds = 73
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 8