On Saturday 8th June, I travelled to West Runton in Norfolk where I met up with operator of Wildlife Tours and Education, Carl Chapman (his blog can be found at letterfromnorfolk.wordpress.com) and a couple who were keen wildlife lovers. We first headed out to Horsey to hopefully catch a glimpse of some grey seals who regularly come up onto land there to rest while the tide is out. As we walked along the sand dunes, the meadow to the right of us ringed with the calls of skylark, whitethroat and stonechats. Just before we turned to the entrance to the beach, Carl pointed out a distinctive white spot halfway across the meadow, and upon further inspection through my 100–400mm lens, it was later confirmed to be a lesser grey shrike (see last image below), an unusual visitor to the UK as it usually resides in South and Central Europe. As this was a mammal tour, we were torn from this entrancing encounter and proceeded towards the beach, where we were greeted by five grey seals drifting along the shoreline. Grey seals are very inquisitive mammal, whether it be checking out small boats or people walking close to the waters edge on the beach. This allowed me to get some shots of the bull as it got caught up in the crashing waves.
Heading inland, our next encounter was to be the Chinese water deer near a place called St Bennets Abbey. The surrounding grassland was ideal habitat for these deer, and ended up seeing four individuals in total, only just as their small stature meant they were difficult to spot in the longer patches of grass! More birds were also spotted across this habitat, including goldfinches, carrion crow and marsh harriers hunting across the plains.
As the daylight began to fade, our last stop was along a disused railway line near Reepham, which Carl mentioned was the location of a badger sett which was currently active. After walking along a public walkway, we set up on the edge of a slope just above the sett and waited for the family to emerge. An hour passed, and it became difficult to see through the lens so I knew any chance of good photographs were diminished. However, we did manage to pick out a boar, sow and two large cubs emerging from their sett and headed out towards the meadow away from the walkway. It was a wonderful experience despite not getting shots of them, and this could be a potential place to return to on my own and see them emerge at an earlier time.
I greatly recommend Wildlife Tours and Education for all of those interested in flora and fauna, and their future tours can be found at www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk