“We are all keen bird watchers and we weren't disappointed. ”Jan
What would most people see in that image which is already zoomed in? Probably just a tangle of trees and branches. But that isn't what Ross sees.
Now you can see a fledgling yellow beak & an eye and Ross would have identified it as a Heron parent feeding its young who are still in the nest. By this time Ross would have cut the engine and started punting Lady Ann enabling an almost silent approach to the nesting site. On that particular trip the passengers had a wonderful 'watching and photography' moment whilst the parents collected food and fed the fledglings in full view.
Marsh Harriers, with their spectacular aerial feeding display, Bitterns with their Booming, Bearded Tits which are known locally as Norfolk Reedlings and have no beard - just a few seasonal examples that Ross will show you during the one hour trip covering Horsey Mere & Meadow Dyke.
“In September 1979, a tenant farmer [Frank Starling ed.] who had some cattle grazing in the marshes rang me up with some excitement in his voice to say that he had “just seen the biggest bloody herons I have ever seen in my life” - in fact two of them.” John Buxton, The Norfolk Cranes' Story
Thanks to John Buxton MBE, Horsey Mere has secretly been the protected natural home of two stray Eurasian Cranes who arrived by chance in the late 70s. This was the beginning of the reintroduction, after 400 years, of Cranes and the start of their spread across eastern England and into the West Country. The 'Norfolk Cranes' Story' published in 2011 written by John Buxton & Chris Durdin is available from Amazon . Now, at the beginning of August 2014, Slimbridge has completed its introduction of around 100 juveniles to the Somerset Levels in south west England, and they feel that, together with the Horsey cluster, Herons should be able to fully return to the UK. A great project repairing the damage humans did through draining the Crane's natural habitat and through the massive slaughter for banquets.
Interesting links to explore
'Tweet of the Day' by the BBC is a great resource for listening to various birdsong - it will let you continue the memories of your trip.
Check out the wonderful story of the mv Lady Ann's returning swallows and their implicit trust in Ross. ...and here is a BBC News report from 2013 which explains the swallows' habitat nicely!
It looks like Derek, who is possibly 'our' cuckoo, is on the move! He was one of the last to leave the UK but currently is well on the way to his 2014/15 African home. You can track his progress here. You can sponsor Derek to support the costs of tracking him: the BTO says "The more we can raise, the more work we can carry out. Each satellite tag costs £2500 to buy and then £60 a month per Cuckoo for the satellite service."