Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 110 - Razorbill

The Razorbill is another auk with more than a passing resemblance to a Penguin - but just as last time this is not the case.

The Razorbill - Alca torda - was not as common on the Farne Islands as either the Puffins or the Guillemots, but in the end I did manage to get good views.  Only about 350 pairs of this bird nest on the Farne Islands - and I suspect that a good number had already left by the time I visited.

I have to say that the dark eye on a dark head was a bit of a challenge photographically!

This is school concert week, so I will make this short and sweet!

PS: Have a look at the new header as well - more Puffins!

Now it's over to you - click away to join in.  Don't forget to visit the other WBW contributors if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cromer, North Norfolk

Cromer sits on the north coast of Norfolk, looking out to the bleak waters of the North Sea.

It has a beach with strands of wave washed flints, and a fine looking church.

But it also has an atmosphere of mournful emptiness - not the genteel decay of some other British seaside towns that have drifted past their sell by date, but a more tangible feeling of finality.  The town was neat and tidy, but it seemed that nothing was happening - maybe that's the charm some people find in the place, but if that's the case, it passed me by.

There is the distinct possibility that the place was actually shut while I was there, and that nobody had put up the notices on the edge of town to tell me about it.  If the town itself was not shut, then the "award wining" fish and chip shop where we eat a meal should consider it a sensible way to go.

Strangely, I find some of the images I made far more interesting than the time I spent there!

Maybe I was in a bad mood.  Who knows.

The flint beach was the best part of the town.  Each fishing boat the launches off the beach seems to have its own vintage tractor to haul it to and out of the water.  All of the tractors were falling apart in about a million different rusty ways.

I hope you like the pictures, and if you happen to live in Cromer, sorry for the less than glowing review!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM

Sunday, 17 August 2014


There are a number of things I would like to ask about this phone - but the most obviuous is why does it need the "three" button?

You an find more marco shots at Macro Monday2 and I Heart Macro.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday 109 - Guillemots

Yet more birds from my trip to the Farne Islands - I did got to other places as well, but this was special.

The Guillemot (or Common Murre in North America) - Uria aalge - is a bird remarkably reminiscent of a penguin. However, they are not really all that closely related with the Guillemots and Penguins being in separate orders.

I assume that the similarity is due to their similar ecology.  Maybe the pale underside acts as camouflage     against the sky when seen from below, and the dark back against the sea when seen from above.

What ever the long evolutionary story that has brought the Guillemot to the Farne Islands it is a wonderful looking birds.

It nest in dense colonies on open cliff face, and it's egg are pointed at one end so that they roll in circles, rather than off the edge of the cliff!

Cliff Edge Gathering
Crop of image above - central bird has a fish, note the chick at top right.
Like most baby birds that chicks of the Guillemot are not as good looking as the adults.

When the birds are in the water they look strangely ungainly, flapping off across the water as they try to start flying.  But even brief glimpses of the bird swimming underwater shows that they can fly in two mediums.

We had a few birds come close to the boat during the tours (yes, I did go twice - I have a tolerant family!), but they were not as cooperative as they may have been.  This is one of the better in the water shots - I like the way you can see the water "beading" off the oily feathers.

Another interesting thing about this bird is that two distinct forms of plumage can bee seen in the birds on the cliffs.  A small number of birds have a white line around the eye, so that when viewed from one side they look like they are wearing a rather dapper monocle!   This is known as the Bridled form of the bird - and this form generally becomes more common in populations of Guillemot as you move north - in the UK this form accounts for between 1 and 5% of the populations.

Well, thats your lot for the Guillemot!

Over to you - click on the link below and off you go.