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Spring tides and barn owls – Norfolk

©Craig Jones

As summer makes way for autumn, Craig Jones (wildlife photographer), depicts a moving encounter with some of North Norfolk’s wildlife, through his stunning images and descriptions (click on a photograph to zoom in)...

There are few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring Tides that start in earnest from August onwards. Heralding the onset of the Autumn and Winter months, with the seasons changing from the Spring/Summer into the Autumn and Winter.

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

During a Spring Tide, most if not all of the Estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater. Out on the mudflats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide; as the tide rises, the mudflats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea. They then take off, and fly in vast flocks towards you on the beach that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats.

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

I visited this amazing place in August, where I had several clients booked onto my “Springtides and Barn Owls” days during the week, whilst also spending some time photographing my own work on the days that I wasn’t with clients. The weather was really kind, with beautiful sunrises and sunsets. With its moon-like landscape, vast open spaces, where thousands of birds fly past you, feet away, it’s just an amazing place to be during these Spring Tides, on this beautiful stretch of the North Norfolk coastline.

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

The sheer size of the flocks is unbelievable as you witness one of nature’s most amazing spectacles. Gathering in great, dense packs and lines, twisting and turning all in perfect, rhythmic sweeps and stalls, before pouring into the roost site like falling hailstones. They then settle back down into these pools, sleeping and waiting until the tide retreats before heading back out to sea. One of nature’s most amazing spectacles, that if you are lucky enough to see the experience, will stay with you forever.

©Craig Jones

During the coming months, the whole area also becomes a haven for thousands of wintering Geese that spend the Winter months here. Greylag, Brent, Canada and others seek safety offshore before venturing inland at dawn to feed, before returning back to their overnight roost sites at dusk.

Also on these day we spend quite a bit of time looking for Barn Owls. I know and visit several sites in Norfolk and the adult owls were showing well.

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

Gliding effortlessly over the farmland, always scanning the ground below. Amazing birds that have captivated me from childhood with their sudden appearance, gaining eye contact with you for a split second, then disappearing as quickly as they arrived. They truly are the masters of this habitat, never failing to get your heart rate racing once they appear and go about the job they were so well equipped to do.

©Craig Jones

©Craig Jones

Header Image: ©Craig Jones

About the Author: Craig Jones’ love of wildlife started from a young age; learning to respect and care for wildlife was instilled into him by his late mother.  Those early encounters with nature put into place the platform for Craig’s journey to becoming a wildlife photographer. Craig’s creative and emotional attachment to nature is at the very heart of each image, creating a unique and artistic refection of his time in the field. It is Craig’s intention to use these reflections of the natural world to bring people’s awareness to what beautiful wildlife we have on our doorstep and all around us and the importance of conservation and the need to preserve our national heritage.

You can find out more about Craig and his stunning photographs HERE.
Craig runs a number of photo tours and workshops, further information can be found HERE.