A MEGA, a patch first and a LIFER.

Wow a busy few days around the village but I will start with the one I missed and only found out about today. In Birdwatching a Mega is a real rarity and if you are familiar with The Birds of Hethersett we are talking Golden Oriole. On Sunday morning Facebook posts appeared of a rare visitor to the UK let alone the Hethersett Recreation Ground. A white stork had arrived on the football pitches just in time for Sunday League kick off.

The Hethersett stork courtesy of Carol Gardiner and with small children in the back ground to add scale as this bird can stand at well over a meter tall.

Apparently this was not a vagrant European bird attracted by the local footballing talent but an escapee captured by the RSPCA and returned to Earsham in Suffolk from where he had drifted. Most sightings in Norfolk are of escapees from the likes of Thrigby Hall but they are none the less stunning birds.

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Slightly more photogenic bird which I had prepared earlier for just such a story.

The previous Friday in search of something just as rare and stunning I went out to nearby Marlingford for the monthly survey of waterbirds. It is now September so whilst the singing birds and locals are still quiet there is a real chance of something migrating through. I was hoping perhaps for a rare wading bird but after much scanning found the delightful yet common sandpiper picking at lakeside insects. The lake was quiet with the summer common terns now well on route back to Africa and other noisy visitors such as the oystercatcher also gone to coastal climes. There were good numbers of geese brown ducks and cormorants but my eye was drawn to a couple of monster gulls.


Greater Blackbacked Gulls.

Photo Credit: JRochester Flickr via Compfight cc  These gulls dwarfed the lesser black backed gulls, herring gulls and black headed gulls and stood nearly shoulder to shoulder with the local canada geese. This was the first time I had seen them locally and they are often out at sea or on a mud flat and the true majesty of the birds is not always apparent. If seagulls really ate babies or small dogs it would be these that did it.

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Also present on my count the tiny cousin of the big boys a black-headed gull.

After the excitement of my local ‘Patch’ first and a rarity in itself I was to be given an exclusive guided tour of a site not too far from the village which was for me a life time first. Like most my experience of badgers is seeing them dead by the side of the road and on one very unfortunate occasion adding to the death toll as a large boar was chased  another in front of my own car to the significant detriment of the car and badger.  This was my first non vehicle related badger sighting:

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Now the more observant viewers will notice this is a tree not a badger

There are a number of key features that you are near a badger sett not least of which is their scratch tree which they use to sharpen their claws and this one shows scratches up to about 4 and a half feet (in old money). For a great site with details of badger setts and how to identify them and other interesting facts badger related  (click here) .Having never seen one before I was amazed at the size and structure.

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Big badger sized hole with claw marks around. They tend to be badger shaped and are clearly not any other animal when seen in the flesh.

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Big earth works. Unusually this sett is straight down rather than cut into a slope. It is six foot across and on the right is my camera bag which is where the following camera footage was taken from.

The first video is as expected a badger emerging from the main sett entrance. Badgers emerged either at the beginning or end of the day with little exception but they were not alone as the camera trap also caught grey squirrel and blackbird as well as the following passer by the entrance.

Having watched a few badger videos as they got used to the trail cam and its infra red light it was nice to capture the next video which hints at more to come.

So at least two badgers at this site and lots more likey, but I will have  to wait until late spring for some photographic opportunities as although badgers do not hibernate they are a late riser so only long summer days offer the best photo opportunities. Contact me via the website email if you are interested in in photographing these amazing creatures in the wild.





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