Any break to Norfolk is special to me, but this year was a bit more so as it marked (hopefully) the end of the treatments that Dad has endured since getting back from Mull late last summer, and would help him start his recovery, not only from a physical side, but more importantly psychologically. I had to be sure he was fit enough first, which meant leaving any arrangements to the last moment, but within 24 hours of him agreeing, I had booked a small cottage in Wells-next-the-Sea and we set off on the following Saturday morning. It wasn't the best start though, when I awoke to find it had snowed overnight! I thought this was supposed to be Spring?
Dumping our gear in the cottage, we were both keen to get out exploring, and went straight to a spot we had enjoyed previously for watching marsh harriers. The skies were initally clearing, but each time a harrier strayed close enough for a photo, the light would fail to reach the bird, giving somewhat dark images. And when the clouds gathered once more, we relocated to a pub! The views of the Wherry were much better...
Later in the afternoon I thought I'd seen the first barn owl of the trip until I realised it was actually a short-eared owl. Record pics only, as it was hazy by then and distant.
With a high pressure forecast for the week, my big day was disappointingly gloomy. The fields were mostly devoid of the hares I'd seen the day before, and all I could find were a few partridges. Plus the grey skies meant it was no point looking for the harriers, as the pics would have been too dark.
The morning remained pretty dull too, so I resorted to heading to the pub for my Birthday pint, and as we arrived, the clouds parted and the sun appeared. Perfect timing...
Having heard I was in the area, a Twitter friend (Stephen from Pebbles Photography) had spoken to me and suggested a couple of sites for barn owls, as the usual ones I knew of weren't yielding any action, and I was on my way to one of them the next morning when a barn owl stopped me in my tracks. Only about a mile from the cottage, it flew across a paddock and perched on a post. Fabulous, and it didn't fly off when I parked up.
For me the trip had been very productive, amassing many images to add to my stock library, but for Dad, it had reminded him that there is still a life to be enjoyed away from hospitals, and judging by his recovery over just a week, he can look forward to enjoying his retirement once again.