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Friday, 24 March 2017

Photo Exhibition at Holme Bird Observatory!

Peter Clarke with his father Bert and Grandmother

The photographs of my father from aged 1 to 90, which we displayed at Holme Bird Observatory for the funeral on Monday, will remain for viewing until late Sunday afternoon. There are some fascinating photos of years gone by, for any of you that were not able to attend the funeral or wake. The condolence book is also still available to sign at the observatory. Any donations that people would like to make in memory of my father for the Norfolk Ornithologists' Association, (to be shared jointly with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust) can still be sent to John Lincoln Funeral Directors, 40 Greevegate, Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 6AG – thank you very much.


Long-tailed Ducks x 2 at Titchwell RSPB
Glaucous Gull, Snow Buntings x 2 on beach at Winterton
Garganey by Iron Road at Salthouse
Firecrest at Pilgrim Shelter, Trimingham
Great White Egrets x 2, Yellow Wagtail at Welney WWT
Cattle Egret in sheep field behind church at Felbrigg Hall NT
Great White Egret, Garganey x 2 from Washland Viewpoint at Hockwold Washes
Gargeney x 2 at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
Short-eared Owl at Holme NWT
Long-tailed Ducks x 2, Velvet Scoters x 4 on sea at Holme Dunes
Waxwings x 5 on St Walstan's Close, New Costessey
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, at Blunt's Corner near B1105, 2/3 miles ESE of New Holkham
Woodlark flew north over Hemsby



Thursday 23rd March
Jack Snipe at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Cattle Egret in sheep field behind church at Felbrigg Hall NT
Great Grey Shrike NE of Sparham Pool NR, NW of Lyng
Garganey x 2 at Ken Hill Marsh, Snettisham
Ring Ouzel at Snettisham Coastal Park
Garganey by Iron Road at Salthouse
Ring Ouzel at Sheringham Golf Course
Short-eared Owl, Common Crane at Haddisoce Island
Common Cranes x 3 flew west over Cathedral, Norwich
Common Cranes x 2, Short-eared Owl at Breydon Water
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, south of Drymere, NW of Cockley Cley
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, flew SW over carrot field by road, just NE of North Creake
Long-tailed Ducks x 15 on sea off Holme Dunes
Rough-legged Buzzard reported in tree east of Lady Anne's Drive, Holkham
Great White Egrets x 3 at Welney WWT
Hawfinches x 3 at Lynford Aboretum
Scaup x 14 at Hickling Broad NWT
Woodlark x 3 at Coastal Watchpoint, Happisburgh


Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Tree Pipit at north end of East Bank, Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank at Cley NWT
Sedge Warbler singing at Blakeney Freshmarsh
Common Cranes x 7 over Holme, Thornham, Titchwell RSPB, Blakeney Freshmarsh, Salthouse, North Walsham
Cattle Egret in sheep field behind church at Felbrigg Hall NT
Snow Buntings x 12 on beach at Winterton
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field from Blunt's Corner along with Great Grey Shrike west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
Garganey x 2 at Ken Hill Marsh, Snettisham
Jack Snipe x 2 at Srumpshaw Fen RSB

Balranald RSPB, North Uist, Western Isles

RBA Weekly Round-Up 15th to 21st March!

By Mark Golley

The Day After!

Tuesday 21st March
I felt terrible today. As a close friend said would probably happen – I've crashed and burned. I was crying from early morning and have burst in tears several times throughout the day. Dozed on the sofa, eaten cake, made coffee, eaten more cake – oh dear!


Tuesday 21st March
Water Pipits x 2 at Titchwell RSPB
Cattle Egret still at Weybourne Camp
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field from Blunt's Corner along with Great Grey Shrike west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
Snow Buntings x 12 on beach at Winterton
Black Redstart on roof of Ladybird Nursery, Sheringham
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, south of Drymere, NW of Cockley Cley
Raven flew over, Hawfinch at Lynford Aboretum


Monday, 20 March 2017

The Funeral – The End!

My Dearest Father, always with me, rest in peace

After a night of no sleep whatsoever, I headed over to pick my sister Lucy up and we drove to Mother's house in Holme. Vivien and her partner Ray had arrived minutes before us. It was very tense in the Clarke household, the nerves were awful. It was surreal – the final day. This was it.

I was so proud of my mother and sister's – they all looked beautiful, it was so nice to see us all dressed up – rare indeed! Ray didn't look too bad either! The usual panic to get out of the door – checking on the cat, loo visits, handbags, tissues, locking up, keys etc. Out of the door and then quiet composure enveloped us, as the hearse arrived at just before 10am.

Father's hat was already placed on the coffin as we had requested and we added my decoration I made last night, with the approval of my mother, Lucy and Vivien.
Father's hat (top picture) along with my decoration of marram and grasses from Holme beach and tied with green ribbon, were placed on the coffin. Father requested no flowers at his funeral, but the hat would have looked rather lonely by itself. I think I got away with the 'no flowers' request – Vivien thought it was because he didn't like wasting money – well, if you're listening father – it only cost me time and the price of a ribbon!

I was struggling not to cry, as I didn't want to get myself in a state before I read my poem. I had decided to do one of the most challenging and brave things that I have ever done – my mother wanted a poem read out. I'm one of the most emotional, sentimentalists and cry about so many things! Plus I hate having to speak in front of a lot of people – even the thought of it makes my stomach churn – I can chat away like there is no tomorrow to a handful of people, but I clam up completely when it comes to presentations and large crowds. As the day's went by over the last couple of weeks, I decided that I needed to take control of my emotions and attempt to read this poem out at the funeral, for both my mother and father. I was petrified about doing this and recited that poem so many times, so that it hopefully sounded right on the day.

We left in convoy for the crematorium at 10.05am. I drove my mother and sisters in my car and Ray followed behind. Poor Lucy got upset straight away. I thought that driving behind the hearse would be difficult and take forever to go to the crematorium, but I don't seem to have that much recollection of it now, so it must have been quick. There was no sunshine to keep our spirits up, it was a dull day with menacing rain clouds and it had started to rain.

We arrived with five minutes to spare. John Lincoln stepped out of the hearse and walked in front of the hearse to lead us to the entrance to the chapel. Ray had gone in ahead, leaving us to walk behind the coffin. We could hear the music. Vivien walked behind the coffin with mother and Lucy and I behind. I squeezed Lucy's hand and tried to look after her as we walked into the chapel – my stomach was churning and I felt like I couldn't breathe properly.

Double Concerto in D Minor for 2 Violins and Orchestra – 2nd Movement 
J. S. Bach

As we walked in, I was aware there was a large number of people, but I couldn't look, I had a poem to read, I couldn't allow myself to cry until afterwards. As the coffin was lowered and placed, we walked to stand in place in the front pew. We must have missed most of the music, which was seven minutes long, for as soon as we were all asked to sit down by John Lincoln, the music finished. John then announced the reading of the Eulogy and Robin Jolliffe walked up to the lectern to read this out for us.

Robin, who had so kindly said he "would be honoured to read this out" for us, did a fantastic job, a gentleman, an excellent speaker and a lovely man, whom our family has known for many, many years and who was once on the NOA committee – thank you so much.

It took my mother and I so long to write this eulogy, with extracts taken from father's unpublished autobiography. We spent a good while trying to get things in order and it was very hard to condense it. We could have written so much more and added so many more names of friends over the years – a quick mention of just a few from way back in the 'good old days' when I was a lass: Chris Knights, Peter and wife Ruby Jackson and girls Debbie and Ruth from Hertfordshire, Geoff Want from Norwich, John and Mary Dixon, Beryl and Jim Jolly from Snettisham, Malcolm and Eileen White from Heacham, John Sheldrake, Fred and Pat Britton, Ron Clark and Ken Davies, Ron and Mary Longstaff, Kevin Shepherd, Jack Reynolds, Peter Allard, Paul Kirby (who kindly rang my mother last night), Barry Spence and Bill Rollins to name but a few. We didn't want to end the eulogy on a sad note – mother decided that the only appropriate end, would be to say that the Holme Bird Observatory and NOA would "inevitably.... evolve" which of course it will!

 Kindly and beautifully read out by Robin Jolliffe
Written by Margaret Clarke with assistance and editing from Penny
Extracts taken from father's unpublished autobiography

"Peter Clarke was born in Rochester, Kent in 1926, but from an early age he had strong connections with his paternal grandmother in Feltwell and his maternal grandmother in North Walsham in Norfolk. At the outbreak of the 2nd World War, he moved with his parents to Walcott and then in 1946 to Sheringham where they remained for 16 years.

A brief unsettled period, due to his father’s ill health led them from Walcott to Shipley in Yorkshire, which he hated at first, but then learned to love the Yorkshire Dales. His photographic skills were continually to the fore and a rare picture of a Great Crested Grebe’s nest at the watery edge of Malham Tarn, appeared in a national magazine! His mother took him to Variety Theatres in Leeds and Bradford and also to Pontefract races where they enjoyed “a flutter on the horses”. A fridge freezer at Peter’s home in Holme is testament to his early love of racing, as it was purchased with a 50p accumulator win!

The Yorkshire odyssey came to an abrupt end after two to three years, when his father found a small house cum fishing tackle shop in Sheringham. Their subsequent poor income was supplemented by Peter lugworm digging for many years, which entailed cycling daily, through summer and winter alike. Peter disliked Sheringham, but was able to reach “all the good birding spots” by cycle. Peter joined the Cromer Camera Club, which was on the verge of closure with only a handful of members. He was persuaded to take control and the club soon flourished.

On 23rd July 1949, a local wildlife journalist called “Sea-Pie” invited Peter to his home in Cley for tea, where he introduced him to a mystery guest, the Cockney born bird artist, Richard Richardson and from that moment on his fate was sealed! Richard gave him a crash course in bird ringing and recommended him to the BTO’s Elsie Leach. Not such a simple process nowadays! On Christmas day of that year Richard joined him for dinner at their new home in Sheringham. He also met for the first time one of his oldest and most loyal friends Peter Jackson, who had helped to construct Cley’s first Heligoland trap. His other contemporaries included NWT Warden Billy Bishop and fellow photographer, teacher and naturalist Dick Bagnall-Oakley.

Peter spent “every minute of his time at Cley and further along the coast”. Some amazing statistics from the archives, included the fact that from 1950 to 1958, Peter ringed 91 fledgling Nightingales, 88 young Red-backed Shrikes and 108 juvenile Yellow Wagtails – all in the Cley and Salthouse area! Unbelievable in today’s depleted environment and a cause for very sad reflection.

In 1962 and with no more than a £200 overdraft from Barclays Bank, he set up Holme Bird Observatory with the initial help of his parents and business partner Graham Byford. The observatory’s HQ was “The Firs” house. Peter met Margaret in 1962 on the East Bank at Cley. Margaret had moved from her home near the Hardley Flood area of South Norfolk, to work in the area – they married in 1964. Their first season in 1962 could not have been more challenging: the most severe winter of the century. Huge icebergs littered the shore at Holme for weeks on end and then later in 1965, the sale of “The Firs” seemed to be the last straw. Graham saw only failure, but Peter enlisted the support of surrounding landowners, who genuinely empathized with his predicament and enabled him to gain almost half the area’s land, to set up an observatory in an old half buried air-raid shelter, east of “The Firs”. Peter, Margaret and Penny who was born in January ‘65, lived in a caravan for a while, until they were able to find more suitable housing. Various, but well meaning friends told him to “give up” and that his “head was in the clouds”, but he ploughed on regardless. His father died of lung cancer during this critical period and his mother moved to the more civilized climes of Hunstanton. Peter and Margaret’s daughter’s, Lucy and Vivien were born in 1968 and 1969.

As membership increased, the NOA was established as a registered charity in 1970 to act as the parent body to the observatory and to further the study of ornithology in Norfolk. Peter and his committee oversaw the purchase of other reserves, including Walsey Hills, and Redwell Marsh.

Peter published books including “Bird Watching – Nesting Birds Along the Coast” in 1963, “Bird Watching” in 1965 and then later on “Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia” with his wife Margaret in 1987. He wrote “Nature Notes” illustrated with his own photos monthly, for the Lynn News between 1979 and 2012.

Peter was also responsible for setting up part-time wardening of the marshes at Snettisham and Titchwell, which led to firm and permanent establishment of reserves by the RSPB.

Peter retired from his post in January 1994 after 33 years service as Warden at Holme Bird Observatory. His passion for wildlife continued with photography and insect studies in his garden at Holme. Peter also assisted with moth identification at the moth events at Titchwell RSPB for a few years, until a series of strokes and sight loss led to other severe health issues and ultimately his death at aged 90 on the 23rd of February.

After various political upheavals, it is now in the more than capable hands of Warden Sophie Barker, who has known the area since childhood visits with her family. One could say that the “ship has been steadied” once more, and inevitably the picture will continue to evolve."

The Eulogy was followed by a piece that I choose (kindly suggested from a selection from John Furse, thank you) – "The Lark Ascending", which is the most beautiful and uplifting music and brought me to tears before I read my poem! I realised that I had about a couple of minutes left to compose myself and I had to fight with every bit of mental strength I had, to regain calmness and control. How stupid was I, choosing this particular piece of music before reading my poem!

The Lark Ascending
(Romance for Violin and Orchestra)
Ralph Vaughan Williams
(13.34 minutes long, but we faded it out at 5.30 minutes)

I had informed the funeral directors that I would be reading the poem out, even though I had not written this on the order of service. I didn't write it on there, as I didn't want to commit myself in case I was a real wreck – after all, you don't know how you will be on the day do you! Maybe John Lincoln thought I wasn't able to – he had started to read the poem out as I stood up to walk to the lectern. He obviously stopped when I said that "I am reading the poem" – this situation didn't deter me. I paused, took a breath and started to read. I didn't look up, if I had looked at anyone I would have crumbled. I managed ok, but I paused just before the last two lines, I was close to losing it at this point. I regained control thank goodness and managed to finish the poem. I must have floated back to my seat, as I can't remember this moment at all! I recorded myself reading this in a more controlled manner – please listen to my YouTube video below.

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep
Written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye 
Read By Penny

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Piano Concerto in No. 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’,
2nd Movement (Adagio un poco mosso)

Ludwig van Beethoven

Chosen by dear Lucy who remembered that father loved this music

Curtains closed around coffin part way through music

“I Did It My Way”
Frank Sinatra
Mother chose this to walk out to – quite apt, as father did do things "My Way"!

We met everyone outside to thank them for coming – lots of hugs, surprises, tears etc. My biggest surprise was seeing my lovely work colleague Hilary who as an Occupational Therapist, had treated my father in one of his hospital admissions – she said "I had to come, I knew how much your father mean't to you" – lots of tears with Hilary! At work she has me in stitches with laughter! I also met two distant relatives whom I don't recall ever meeting: Marion Cogger and Angela Collison who had both travelled a long way to be here with us, lovely to meet you and thank you for coming! Nigel and Biben from father's care home also kindly attended. I'm not going to name everyone that went – it will take too long, but thank you all so much for joining us today, it mean't alot to all of us xxx.

Several people turned up whom I hadn't expected and that I thank you for, from the bottom of my heart. There were a few people who would have been there, but couldn't through either being too poorly themselves or for other reasons. We reckon through the number of Order Of Service booklets left over, that there were approximately around sixty people there – not too bad at all really! Maybe there had been more than that, if anyone left their order of services behind, which I doubt to be honest, most people like to take them with them. Holme NWT Warden Gary Hibberd and his partner Alison were not able to attend as they had offered to take on the very kind task of doing all the catering for the wake!!! Some people had kindly taken time to attend the funeral, but were not able to come to the wake and vice versa.

One of the coffin bearers had returned father's hat and I placed it inside my car – maybe it should have gone down with him on hindsight. We left and headed for The Firs House NWT at Holme for the wake. If anyone thought the road was uneven, trust me it was as smooth as a baby's bottom compared to what it was a week ago – well done to the NWT team!

The Firs NWT Visitor Centre at Holme
Hosted By Gary Hibberd with partner Alison
With very kind assistance from Robert, Tom and Janine

The weather had deteriorated badly – the rain was heavier and a short while later, it was torrential! Father died in Storm Doris and was going out in a storm! We parked as close as we could to the Firs House, as we were all in silly and inappropriate girly shoes!

As we walked inside, most people had already arrived. I couldn't believe what Gary and Alison had created. Their attention to detail was beyond anything I could have possibly done myself and it brought a tear to my eye. I had printed out quite a number of large pictures of father yesterday and they had arranged these beautifully on the window sills and tables, surrounded by tulips and daffodils in vases. 
Getting ready for our arrival at The Firs, Holme NWT
© Gary Hibberd

Vintage tablecloths covered the tables with beautiful crockery and tiered cake plates. Such a beautiful display of food and far more than we had requested. There were selections of sandwiches, crisps, breadsticks, salad choices, dips, pork pies, sausage rolls, pineapple and cheese on sticks, scones with real cream and jam, biscuits: savoury and sweet, After Eights, Terry's Orange segments, Carrot Cake, Coffee Cake and I'm sure much more, but memory now fails. I didn't spot until much later that Gary and Alison had placed lots of Polos in little white bowls – they had remembered that they were a favourite of fathers, such a nice touch and this made me smile. Tea's, Coffee's and cold drinks were of course on offer too. Eddie was beaming when he realised his favourite Carrot Cake was on the table! So funny! Lucy made me laugh, she is a chocolate and cake connoisseur like me, but the first thing she picked up to eat was the sliced raw cauliflower, which she loves apparently – didn't know that!
 Getting ready for our arrival at The Firs, Holme NWT
© Gary Hibberd

Gary also showed father's film on repeat, that I got made into a DVD for him: "Struggle for Survival" – a silent film which was taken on cine film between 1962/63, converted to VHS and now recently onto DVD. It was perfect for the wake, as there was no sound and several people enjoyed watching this unique footage of the ice floes on the beach, birds and scenery around the Firs House. My idea about holding the wake here had paid off – it was the perfect setting and was hosted perfectly. So nice to chat and meet up with so many lovely people again, including neighbours from the village Jackie, Pauline and Clifford, whose children we went to school with. Nice to see ex warden Bill Boyd here too! Chris Knights, John Sheldrake, Vernon Eve, Richard Brooks, Sophie, Pat & Geoff, Robin Jolliffe and his wife, Moss Taylor and so on to name but a few. When the rain was at its most torrential, I heard Alison shout "all outside now" – made me chuckle, its ages since I spent time with Alison, she doesn't mince her words (like me), but she does make me laugh! So nice to chat to Marion, one of my two distant relatives today, although I didn't really get the chance to chat to Angela.

We were all waiting for the downpour to stop, so that we could walk the short distance to the bird observatory for people to view the display of photos that Vivien, Ray, Sophie and I had put up yesterday. The rain continued with no let up. Mother had got her 'I want to go and check on the cat' expression on her face. When I highlighted that the cat would be curled up asleep on the same chair we had left her on, it didn't make much difference! But, with kind encouragement from Gary and a loan of his coat and brolly, mother trudged in the puddles and rain along with the rest of us to the observatory to look at the photos and memorabilia.

We were like sardines in a tin can in the observatory – one of the reasons it would have been impossible to hold the wake in there! People enjoyed looking at all the photos I had printed out and there were lots of discussions about who was who, in the old group photos. It was fascinating looking through the old visitor signing books and other records that Sophie had kindly put on display. David Bratt had stepped in to man the observatory today, whilst Sophie had attended the funeral along with her mother Jenny. I never imagined that after the torrents of rain, that the sun would come out, but it did! Blazing out! We had such a lovely walk back to the Firs House in the sunshine.

Mother nearly departed with Gary's coat, I had to remind her she still had his coat on! Mother, Lucy, Vivien and Ray went back home to Holme and I stayed a short while longer to thank everyone and then was offered food to take back – how could I refuse!!! Coffee and Carrot Cake and more! Lovely!

Huge thanks to Gary and Alison along with Tom, Robert and Janine (for helping Gary with the cakes and scones), for so kindly hosting the perfect afternoon. I can't thank you all enough. Also thank you to NWT HQ for allowing us to hold the wake here, much appreciated and made a difficult day much easier. It also created a unique and chilled place to spend time with friends and family, old and new.

I was handed a few donations in cash inside cards for NOA/NWT and will pass these to Sophie in the next couple of days to add to the total of donations, which is then being divided. A huge thank you to anyone that donated today for both the NOA and NWT. I know that John Lincoln have received several cheques. I will of course let you all know how much the total raised was, as soon as I know.

I spent the evening with my family and ate more scones with cream and jam – lovely! We all felt shattered and drained. A very difficult morning, but a beautiful service. Lucy summed it up when she said, "we did really well and the music was all beautiful" – how right she was! She had me in tears when she said how well I did, to read the poem out. The afternoon however, was not difficult, just simply beautiful and joyous. We placed father's hat on the windowsill next to his bed where he used to sleep – tears filled my eyes. Tears filled dear Lucy's eyes when she read Ruby Jackson's card (Peter Jackson's wife) which ended with 'until we meet again'. Vivien Lucy and I have had so many sister hugs today – its been lovely!

Vivien and Ray returned to Ely and I took Lucy home to King's Lynn. I didn't want to leave mother for several reasons – she looked so lovely in her outfit today and I simply wanted to stay with her, but sadly life has to go on.

Lastly I would like to say thank you so much, to all of you that took time out and travelled so far, to be with us and share your memories of Peter – this made the day so memorable in so many ways. Thank to you everyone who has sent cards of condolence with such beautiful words, the many emails I have received, messages and support from both people we do know and some we don't, via my blog – it is much appreciated, more than you know.

Peter Clarke
Rest in Peace
2-11-1926 — 23-2-2017
To My Dearest Father

My love and memories will never fade
I will never forget your beautiful smile,
your humour, kindness, love and support.
You have always been there for me as I for you.
"Until We Meet Again"

"The Order of Service"

The order of service booklet was designed by myself on Applemac 'Pages' word processor. This was then given to John Lincoln Funeral Directors, who had different software on their non-Mac computer and the final version was almost identical to this.


Cattle Egret west of Muckleburgh Collection at Weybourne
Waxwings x 5 behind Carpet Right at Cromer
Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Great Grey Shrike east of Lime Kiln Road at Sparham
Black Brant east of East Bank at Cley NWT
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field from Blunt's Corner west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
COUES'S ARCTIC REDPOLL in garden at Cockley Cley
Water Pipit at Thorpe Marshes at Thorpe St Andrew


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Day 25 – Funeral Tomorrow!

Peter, Robert Clarke

Its been a crazy day, not how I wanted to spend it, but there was lots of things to do for the funeral. Took all my laminated pictures down to the observatory and along with Sophie, my sister Vivien and her partner Ray, we put all the pictures of father and others up on the display board – this is standing on a table and we adorned the table with pine cones to decorate! Vivien also added lots of her pictures too. There will be a condolence book here and also another at the Firs NWT.

Took framed photos etc to Gary and Alison – they had started to arrange furniture, tables and things in preparation for tomorrow. I am so grateful for what they are doing, I really am, thank you both so much and to anyone else who has been involved at the Firs House.

Made a free decoration for the coffin – more on that tomorrow! I am getting really nervous now, I really hope I hold it together until a certain point, again more on that tomorrow night! I expect I will see some of you at the funeral and wake, so I will sign off now and say good night.

The funeral is this Monday at 10.45am at the Mintlyn Crematorium, King's Lynn. The wake will be held at The Firs NWT Visitor Centre at Holme as details below: 

All those that knew Peter – birders, friends, carers, therapy staff are very welcome to join us.


Great Grey Shrike east of Lime Kiln Road at Sparham
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field from Blunt's Corner, Great Grey Shrike NE of Blunt's Corner – west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
Garganey x 2 at Washland Viewpoint, Hockwold Washes
Hen Harrier at Stiffkey Fen
Snow Buntings x 2 at North Beach, Winterton
Velvet Scoters x 20 at Titchwell RSPB
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, south of Drymere, NW of Cockley Cley
Hooded Crow in pig field south of Mautby Lodge
Garganey yestereday at Potter Heigham Marshes
Hawfinches x 6 at Lynford Aboretum
Black Brant east of Beach Road at Cley NWT
Glaucous Gull, Short-eared Owl at Breydon Water
Great White Egret at Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
SAKER early afternoon, flew SE over sea, White Wagtails x 2 on golf course at Gorleston-on-Sea
Hen Harriers x 4 at Warham Greens
Common Cranes x 4 at Hickling Broad NWT


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

North Ronaldsay, Orkney

Mainland at Sandwick, Shetland

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Day 24 – Scanning Photos for Funeral!

I have had a pretty chilled day, which I needed to be honest. I have been scanning old photos in of father from aged one onwards!!! These are laminated and will be on display at Holme Bird Observatory, along with other memorabilia that Sophie is arranging, including old Visitor signing books which hold several interesting signings from iconic birders – also my sisters and I have written in these books several times as youngsters!

I could have put all of these photos in the NWT Firs Visitor Centre, where the wake is being held, but it will be packed in there anyway. The observatory can be a second place to visit – walk the cake off and look at unseen photos of years gone by! Also Gary will be showing (I think) my father's silent film "Struggle for Survival", which he took on cine film in the harsh winter of 1962/63 with ice floes shown on the beach at Holme! I only had this film in video format (as did Gary), but recently got it converted into DVD's, which makes for much easier viewing! The film is shaky but absolutely fascinating and shows starving Water Rails eating from the hand, Fieldfares eating carrots and more!

Just a reminder, the funeral is this Monday at 10.45am at the Mintlyn Crematorium, King's Lynn. The wake will be held at The Firs NWT Visitor Centre at Holme as details below: 

In case anyone wonders on the day why there are no flowers or hymns, this was one of father's requests! So anyone that likes singing will be disappointed and those that don't like singing will be relieved! It will be a unique service!


Hen Harrier east of bridge at Halvergate
Black Brant at the Serpentine off the East Bank at Cley NWT
Hawfinch, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Garganey x 2 yesterday at Washland Viewpoint, Hockwold Washes
Great White Egret, Garganey at Kimberley Hall Lake
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field from Blunt's Corner, Great Grey Shrike NE of Blunt's Corner – west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem over fields behind Creake Abbey Farm, north of North Creake
Great Grey Shrike east of Lime Kiln Road at Sparham
Glaucous Gulls x 2 1.5mls NNE of Beach Road, Snow Buntings x 2 at North Beach, Winterton
Glaucous Gull at Stiffkey Fen
Lapland Bunting flew in off sea, Spoonbill flew west at Sheringham
Black Redstart yesterday briefly on The Esplanade at Sheringham
Great Grey Shrike on wires at Cockley Cley Wood, south of Drymere, NW of Cockley Cley
Waxwings x 8 flew over car park at James Paget Hospital at Gorleston-on-Sea
Hawfinches x 9 at Lynford Aboretum
Great White Egret at Buckenham Marshes RSPB


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

North Ronaldsay, Orkney
Mainland at Sandwick, Shetland

Friday, 17 March 2017

Day 23 – Thank You!

I spent this morning, replying to all your very kind and beautiful emails and messages I have received since my father's death – thank you all so much. Also wrote out a thank you card to the care home to deliver later this afternoon.

I'm starting to feel nervous now, with the funeral being on Monday. I'm looking forward to giving father a good send off in an odd kind of way, but also looking forward to getting back to some kind of normality too. I miss being at work with all my colleagues and am looking forward to returning. I may sound like I'm in control and level-headed, but I can assure you I'm not! Its been such a long wait for the funeral. If I had been made of iron, I suppose I could have gone back to work whilst waiting, but I have not been in and still not in a fit state mentally, to care for stroke patients. It's going to be very difficult too, with my father having died of a stroke. I'm sure I'll manage though, I've been working there long enough now.

Delivered chocolates and thank you card to the care home and got emotional when I walked in – knew that would happen. It was nice to chat to some of the staff – disappointed not to have seen Nicola since father died, she has always been so kind as have many of the other staff. A silver/grey blanket that Vivien had bought for father's 90th birthday and had gone missing since the 2nd November, was finally found and given to me today by Biben! It was found underneath the mattress, when the air mattress was rolled up and returned to the company that it was hired from! I will return this to Vivien – it will be a nice memento. The new bird design apron never turned up – goodness knows where that went to.

Went to John Lincoln's to collect five of our "Order of Service" booklets, which are now printed and ready for Monday and to chat about the schedule. It is so cold today – back to winter weather! Father died during "Storm Doris" and looks like his funeral day isn't going to be too much better either!

Arrived at Holme where mother tried on her new outfit for Monday – she was very pleased with what I had chosen for her, which was good. None of us are planning to wear coats, but will throw them in the car for after the funeral – it could be chilly by the sea!

Returned home to King's Lynn and didn't do very much at all. I STILL have to print out pictures for the memorabilia display board – think I will do this tomorrow now.

Happy Birthday to my very old and dear friend Christine today – known her since I lived in Lavenham! Also big congratulations to my work colleague (Therapy Assistant) Emily M. and her partner Chris on the birth of their baby boy 'Thomas' today!


Black Brant at the Serpentine off the East Bank at Cley NWT
Velvet Scoters x 24, Long-tailed Ducks x 22, Slavonian Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Water Pipits x 2, White Wagtail at Titchwell RSPB
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Adult flew east over Creake Abbey at 11.18, north of North Creake
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem NNW of North Creake
Snow Buntings x 13 at North Beach, Winterton
Hawfinches x 7, Firecrest at Lynford Aboretum
Great Grey Shrike, 1/2 mile east of Blunt's Corner, 1 mile ESE of
New Holkham
Waxwings x 2 flew towards Thorpe Business Park, Thorpe St Andrews
Great Grey Shrike north of Lime Kiln Road at Sparham
Hen Harrier at Waxham
Hooded Crow on Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire
North Ronaldsay, Orkney

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Day 22 – More Jobs!

Had a very weird and aggravating random phone call this morning – phone rings, a lady says "I'm phoning about your car accident". "What car accident, I havn't had a car accident" I reply. Pause.... lady says "when did you have your car accident?" Fuming...... I reply loudly "what do you mean? I haven't had a car accident!!!" At this point, the lady replies with "ok" and puts the phone down! Hopping mad, I ring the telephone number back to have a go at the company, but guess what you are not able to ring back – on dialling the number I got a "bleep bleep" sound. This made me cross all morning.

Went to the Funeral Directors to check the Order of Service booklets – amended and finalised with staff and now ready to be printed out. Left father's hat with them – its going with him on Monday. We've honoured father's request of no flowers, even though its seems rather odd.

I visited the crematorium for a short while today – I have not been here for many many years and wanted to know the layout before the funeral, to help with my anxiety and stress levels! It seats 100 people and the lighting is appropriately subdued. Looking at the schedule, it seems our funeral is the first one at 10.45am and the next is 11.30 and so on. The service is 25 minutes long, the other 15 minutes allows for arrival and departure.

Took mother for a hair cut at "The Old School House Hair Company" in Old Hunstanton this evening – formerly the primary school, where both my sisters attended. This is the most beautiful hairdressers I have ever walked into! Chandeliers suspended from the roof beams, luxury seating, glitz and glamour! See picture here. A lovely lady called Anita made a very good job of my mother's hair, considering my mother has been cutting it herself recently!

Two very distant relatives phoned this evening to say they would be coming to the funeral – one whom my mother has not seen since she was around 10 years old and another who said she hasn't seen me since I was 10 years old! I have a gut feeling there may be more people coming to the funeral than I first thought!


Hooded Crow flew east past Cromer & Sidestrand
Hooded Crow at Sheringham
Glaucous Gull at Sidestrand
RAVENS x 2 flew east over Kelling Heath
Hen Harrier at North Dunes, Snow Buntings x 13 on beach at Winterton
Garganey at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT
Waxwings x 2 at Co-op car park at Martham
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem over fields behind Creake Abbey Farm, north of North Creake
Hawfinches x 2, Crossbills x 5 at Lynford Aboretum
Russian White-fronted Geese x 162, Water Pipits x 2 at Heigham Holmes
Glaucous Gull, Short-eared Owl at Stiffkey Fen
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Waxwings x 9 at Bawburgh Lane, New Costessey
Black Brant at Eye Field, Cley NWT
Garganey at Potter Heigham Marshes
Great Grey Shrike, 1/2 mile east of Blunt's Corner, 1 mile ESE of
New Holkham
Garganey from Fen Hide at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Great White Egret at Cantley Marshes RSPB
Glaucous Gull River Yare mouth at Gorleston-on-Sea


Balranald RSPB, North Uist, Western Isles

North Ronaldsay, Orkney

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Day 21 – A Better Day!

Father at Holme Bird Observatory 
A typical pose in his hat and shorts! Captured by: ©Eileen White

I was very lucky this morning, Sainsbury's kindly agreed to cancel the order, phew! All my tyres were inflated, but the same message was still up on the dashboard about low pressure, so took to garage to get checked out – apparently several customers have had the same issue. I was told it was due to the change in temperature. The car had no punctures, thank goodness for that!

Wandered round in the town centre in a daze and did some errands. Didn't go to the funeral directors, too tired, going tomorrow instead. What a beautiful day its been! Picked up my parcel from the sorting office, which was two "In Loving Memory"condolence books to be placed at The Firs NWT Visitor Centre and at Holme Bird Observatory on Monday. Visited Lucy to make sure she was ok – she's decided that she is wearing all black to the funeral with a colourful scarf.

We now have a wonderful person to read out the Eulogy and someone to read a poem which my mother requested at the funeral, so all sorted now thank goodness!

I've just stumbled across a tribute in the Lynn News HERE


Garganey x 2 from Washland Viewpoint at Hockwold Washes
Glaucous Gulls x 2 at Stiffkey Fen
Great Grey Shrike, 1/2 mile east of Blunt's Corner, 1 mile ESE of
New Holkham
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Snow Buntings x 15 on beach, Hen Harrier at North Dunes, Winterton
Great White Egret at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem + Hen Harrier, over fields SE of Creake Abbey, north of North Creake
Hen Harrier at Burnham Norton
Mealy Redpoll at Fritton Woods
Red-necked Grebe offshore at Holme
Woodlark flew west over Sidestrand
Hawfinches x 10 at Lynford Aboretum


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire
North Ronaldsay, Orkney

RBA Weekly Round-Up 8th to 14th March!

By Mark Golley

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Day 20 – A Utterly Rubbish Day!

Lucy and I were far longer at the funeral directors than we thought we would be, which made us late picking Mother up. All three of us then went to King's Lynn, had a quick lunch and then tried to find suitable new clothes for Lucy and Mother for Monday. My Mother's health is now affecting her ability to walk any kind of reasonable distance without getting short of breath, so we didn't get very far. Mother purchased two new tops, but not warm enough for the day and she wasn't even that happy with them. Took Lucy home and then Mother back to Holme. Stayed for a short while and then returned to King's Lynn. I don't have the energy to go into all the stressful things and other stuff that went on today.

On route home I had ANOTHER dreaded low tyre pressure message!!! Someone has to be sticking nails under my tyres, there is no way I can be that unlucky to get another bloody puncture! If one of my tyres is flat in the morning, it will be the fourth puncture in a matter of months! I then got involved in phone calls to do with the funeral and forgot the time, resulting in forgetting to cancel my mother's on-line Sainsbury's shop by the deadline of 11pm – this means she will have 12 packs (9 in each pack) of toilet rolls arriving tomorrow! I can hear some of you chuckling! I'm going to be in BIG trouble! Like alot of Sainsbury's customers, if you want to guarantee a delivery spot, you have to purchase items over £40.00 – then, nearer the time, when you know what you want, you simply delete all the toilet rolls and add the items you actually want. This is the first time I have messed up with that! There are no customer service numbers available until 8am – I will try and cancel it but if I can't, I will have earache later!

Trip to the garage again to check the air pressures in tyres, will obviously be my first job of the morning, or calling the breakdown service if its a puncture. Back to the funeral directors to check the order of service booklets in the afternoon. Feel really fed-up and I've given up trying to hold of Bill Oddie – too late, time has run out.


Swallow, Lapland Buntings x 2, Mealy Redpolls x 3, Long-tailed Ducks x 8 at Burnham Overy Dunes
Snow Buntings x 14 on beach, Short-eared Owl at North Dunes, Winterton
Russian White-fronted Goose at Potter Heigham Marshes
Scaup west of Rush Hill Scrape at Hickling Broad NWT
Shorelarks x 32 east of Holkham Gap at Holkham Bay
Great Grey Shrike, 1/2 mile east of Blunt's Corner, 1 mile ESE of
New Holkham
Russian White-fronted Geese x 32, Great White Egret at
Holkham Freshmarsh
 Garganey x 2 from Washland Viewpoint at Hockwold Washes
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Mealy Redpoll in alders on Sunday at Colney Gravel Pits
Hawfinches x 5 at Lynford Aboretum
Russian White-fronted Goose, Velvet Scoters x 4 at Holme
Great Northern Divers x 2, Velvet Scoters x 19, Water Pipit, Hen Harrier at Titchwell RSPB
Short-eared Owl at Claxton Marshes
Russian White-fronted Geese x 350 last week at Heigham Holmes
Lapland Bunting at Sheringham Bird Observatory


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

"A" Rating for Stroke Care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, Norfolk!

 Some of my lovely colleagues on the West Raynham Stroke Team
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, Norfolk
© Queen Elizabeth Hospital

"West Raynham Ward has achieved an A rating from the Royal College of Physicians – the highest rating a stroke unit can receive"

Monday, 13 March 2017

Day 19 – Sleep & Jobs!

Not an exciting title to my post, and it probably wasn't worth posting at all! But, I'm finding that writing a daily diary is somehow helping get through each day, and especially now its count down to the funeral. I find writing very therapeutic and really enjoy doing my blog most of the time. Although, sometimes I do feel too tired to bother to write up all the daily bird news and sometimes I can't always write, what I really want to say!

Some kind work colleagues were sending me supportive messages this morning, thinking the funeral was today, obviously they have got mixed up! The funeral is next Monday 20th March at 10.45am at Mintlyn Crematorium and wake afterwards at The Firs, Holme NWT. Here are the details again.

I got up very late today, just didn't want to get up. I keep having emotional moments and tears on a daily basis, but don't write that here on every post, as everyone doesn't want to keep hearing that! I'm sure I will feel more 'normal' after the funeral, hopefully anyway.

I wanted to wear a dark green top/jumper for the funeral as this was my Father's favourite colour, so googled 'green jumpers' and found an extravagant 'Phase Eight' asymmetrical jumper in Debenhams. I nipped to the town to see if they had one in store and luckily they did! Not lucky for my bank balance though! Went to visit Lucy for a short while to see if she was ok, then returned home.

I have been trying to get hold of Bill Oddie over the last week – he's a difficult man to hold of!!! I emailed his agent with a request, but didn't receive a reply! I sent a tweet to Bill this evening with my email address, so we will see! I had this fantasy idea, that he could come and say a few words at the funeral. Most of you are probably are not aware of this, but Bill used to visit Holme Bird Observatory quite alot in my father's day, many years ago. I can certainly remember seeing him walk up to the observatory on at least one occasion from my long term memory bank! When I catch up with Bill annually at the Bird Fair, he always remembers my father, which is nice. I last saw Bill at the Norfolk Bird Fair in May 2016. Such a pity that this event is not able to go ahead this year, I will miss that. My father would be smiling if he thought I had bagged a celebrity to attend his funeral and he liked Bill alot – can't see it happening though, one must be realistic!

Tomorrow Lucy and I have to take the order of service stuff and pictures to the funeral directors and also listen to the music they have downloaded, to make sure it is what we requested. The weather is supposed to be really nice tomorrow, not that I have been out and about in any kind of weather recently! What I really need to do is to go birding and go on a good long walk – always good for the soul.


Velvet Scoters x 12, Long-tailed Duck, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Waxwings x 6 at St Walstan's Close, New Costessey
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Shorelarks x 20 east of Holkham Gap at Holkham Bay
Snow Buntings x 11 on beach, Short-eared Owl at North Dunes, Winterton
Russian White-fronted Goose, White Wagtail at Breydon Water
Russian White-fronted Geese x 100 at Potter Heigham Marshes
Garganey x 2 at Washland Viewpoint, Hockwold
Glaucous Gull at Harbour Mouth, Gorleston-on-Sea
PALLID HARRIER juv. fem, in field north of Blunt's Corner, west of B1105, ESE of New Holkham
Great Grey Shrike at Field Barn Farm, Wighton
Scaup x 8 at Rush Hill Scrape, Hickling Broad NWT
Long-tailed Ducks x 2 offshore at Holme Dunes
Hen Harriers x 4 at Warham Greens
Hawfinch at Lynford Aboretum


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Day 18 – Family Meeting!

We all met up at mother's house to discuss the final funeral arrangements for next week. Did we want a limousine or not, where do we start from etc etc. Were we going to break father's request and have a floral arrangement on the coffin, when he requested 'no flowers at all'?! How many order of service booklets to get printed? Decisions about readings and who was doing them and more! Exhausting, when you don't really feel like making any decisions. Showed my mother and sisters my layout and design for the order of service, which they were more than happy with.

Vivien, Lucy and I met up with Gary at the NWT Firs to discuss the catering for the wake and how many people to cater for? That is a very good question indeed – we have no idea how many will turn up, could be 20, could be 30, 50 or more, who knows! It would be great if we knew numbers, but we don't, so will just have to hope there is enough food to go round. We then walked to the observatory to reminisce of hot sunny days in our childhood – it was raining!


Garganey x 2 from Washland Viewpoint at Hockwold Washes
Velvet Scoters x 8 from outflow at South Beach, Heacham
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Hen Harrier at North Dunes, Winterton
Waxwings x 6 at Bawburgh Lane, New Costessey
Glaucous Gull at Harbour Mouth, Gorleston-on-Sea
Short-eared Owl at Hardley Staithe, Loddon
Black Brant on Billy's Wash, Caspian Gull on Arnold's Marsh and North Scrape at Cley NWT
Gargeney x 5 at Potter Heigham Marshes
Glaucous Gull on beach at Mundesley
Glaucous Gull on beach at Paston
Velvet Scoters x 80, Long-tailed Ducks x 30 at Titchwell RSPB
Great White Egrets x 3, Spoonbills x 5, Russian White-fronted Geese x 220 at Holkham Freshmarsh
Great White Egret, Short-eared Owl, Glaucous Gull at Burgh Castle
Great White Egret at Pentney Gravel Pits
Great Northern Diver at Hickling Broad NWT
Great White Egret at Colney Gravel Pits
Black Redstarts x 2 on cliffs at West Runton
Short-eared Owl, Spotted Redshank at Breydon Water
Long-tailed Duck at Lynn Point, King's Lynn
Rough-legged Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Bittern at Haddisoe Island


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Kinvarra, County Galway, Ireland
North Ronaldsay, Orkney

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Day 17 – Writing Eulogy!

My mother wrote father's eulogy for the funeral yesterday, with quotes and information taken from my father's autobiography (unpublished as yet) and I typed it up and amended it today, along with a few bits I added in for extra interest. There is still no sign of the family album – its big enough, I can't understand why it has not surfaced yet!

Mother and I watched one of my father's films 'Struggle for Survival' this evening, which I had converted onto DVD and some of my wedding video, to show her how slim we all were in those days! She was fascinated by the films and remembers the icebergs on Holme beach.

We have a few issues with the eulogy, we don't have anyone to read anything out, I have asked someone, but they have not got back to me. John Lincoln from the funeral directors is happy to read it out which is very nice of him, but it would have been more personal if someone who had known him read it out or another birder with a good speaking voice! Mother also has a sad poem she wants read, but again, no one we dare ask to read it out! I would love to have the strength to do this, but I won't be capable of reading anything tear jerking!


Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Crownthorpe between
Wymondham & Kimberley
Glaucous Gull at Harbour Mouth, Gorleston-on-Sea
Water Pipit, Velvet Scoters x 20, Long-tailed Ducks x 17, Great Northern Diver, Scaup at Titchwell RSPB
Great Grey Shrike at Cockley Cley Wood, NW of Cockley Cley
Glaucous Gull at Burrell Way, Thetford
Water Pipit at Martham Broad
Great White Egrets x 2 at Welney WWT
Snow Buntings x 14 on beach at Winterton
Twite x 10 at Blakeney Freshmarsh
Great Grey Shrike at Nar Valley Fisheries
Hooded Crow from Cadbury Hide, Hickling Broad NWT
Little Gulls x 2 at Colney Gravel Pits
Common Crane over Holkham
Common Crane flew east over Warham Greens
Common Crane flew over, Black Brant in Eye Field, Pale-bellied Brent Goose in field by Beach Road, Russian White-fronted Geese x 5 at
Cley NWT
Common Crane flew east over Gramborough Hill
Short-eared Owl at Burgh Castle
Jack Snipe at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Common Crane flew east over Sheringham
Common Crane flew east over Cromer
Hen Harriers x 4 at Warham Greens
Hooded Crow flew west past Sheringham
Black Redstart at Sewage Works at Wymondham


In garden at Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Wholly unconfirmed report, flew west at midday over Canterbury