A totally irresponsible person walks near the nesting gulls, scaring and 

causing them to rise up and create their own form of murmuration

May 20th 2020

Lockdown restrictions are eased. The weather is fantastic. I considered it safe to drive on my own to Norfolk and walk the normally empty beach at Brancaster!

The first sign of potential problems once near Kings Lynn is the traffic, it is heavy more like a normal summer day.

I take the country route to Brancaster and not many cars are moving along this road. Once in Brancaster though it is obvious that there are crowds here. I have never seen the beach carpark so full, even the overflow is full with more and more cars arriving full of familys looking for a day on the beach.

The area around the Golf club house is crowded, but a short walk away to the right the crowds thin. Within 10 minutes there are virtually no people. Out on the sandbars are groups of Gulls and Oystercatchers.  As I walk along the shore line I am searching for birds in the sky and sea life at my feet.  I spot large numbers of Sea Stars some clearly dead some alive.

Sea Star

The common starfish, common sea star or sugar starfish (Asterias rubens) is the most common and familiar starfish in the north-east Atlantic. Belonging to the family Asteriidae, it has five arms and usually grows to between 10–30 cm across, although larger specimens (up to 52 cm across) are known. The common starfish is usually orange or brownish in color, and sometimes violet; specimens found in deeper waters are pale. The common starfish is found on rocky and gravelly substrates where it feeds on mollusks and other benthic invertebrates.


Next floating in the shallows a dead crab, one wonders what caused the death.

In the distance I can see a local fisherman collecting Mussels, once closer I can see he has a large haul.

I am now a long way along the beach and the families are dots in the distance, my telephoto lens brings them a bit closer. I am glad I am where I am, and not anywhere near them.

Onwards, numbers of Oystercatchers are looking for food on the many outcrops of sand and rock. I sit and watch them for a while.  I catch movement of to my right, a flight of Geese which turn out to be Brent Geese.

Brent Goose

Amazingly I have never seen Brent Geese before so a nice surprise. I walk along further before turning around and heading up the beach towards the sand dunes which are roped off to protect nesting birds and sure enough I can see a pair of Oystercatchers. Luckily my long lens enables me to stay at a good distance to get some shots.


After watching the Oystercatchers for a while I move on and high above is a Skylark singing away … I decide to move back down to the shoreline, way out in the distance is what I think is a group of gulls and I gets some shots. I turns out that in amongst the Gulls are also some Eider Ducks, another first for me. It is turning into a good day.

Seal Pup in Distress

I spot a small grey seal on one of the sand bars and whilst photographing it a lady approaches me. She is looking for a new born seal in distress,  this clearly is not the one. I tell her I will look for it and phone in if I see it.

As my return journey evolves I collect shells and take 10 minutes to have a snack and some water. The Mussel collector turns into a rescue person, 3 people have been cut off by the tide turning it does come in quickly here.The small boat is so laden it is almost submerged. I imagine this is a regular occurence here when the day trippers are here.

Eventually I near the families, Brancaster is so big though you can isolate yourselves with ease.  Some clearly find that difficult though. I walk through and past the crowds along the other side of the beach towards the Titchwell end. At the end I turn and go over the dunes onto the wash lands behind.

Out in the distance is a Marsh Harrier hunting, and in the area before me there are Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Rock Pipits. Above me flies a Little  Tern ( another first!)

Very slowly I make my way back to the car, it is now 6 o’clock, I  have a bit of food then set off back to home. Brilliant journey 2 hours 10 minutes.

A fantastic day, mind refreshed, good excercise and bird spotting.

I have walked about 10 miles, mostly in the shallows. Wonderful.

Meadow Pipit

Rock Pipit