Exploring Norfolk's Wildlife, Landscapes and Natural History
WHY WOULD YOU DO IT, set yourself the task of tracking down and documenting 6 habitats and 30 animals, some of which are seen so rarely that even the hardened field naturalist gets goose bumps at the thought of a close encounter with them? The habitats themselves don't move; they don't go anywhere; they simply change their appearance and ambiance as the seasons change and reveal fresh nuances at every return visit; not too tough of a task you might think? The animals, however, are a different story. They're not prone to being in the same place year upon year, they do move about, often, and even if you do see them, getting worthwhile pictures or observations of their behaviour is immensely time-consuming, nay frustrating on occasions.


 

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time, sitting amongst the heather and gorse of a pristine Norfolk heath, Lasius ants infiltrating my clothing and camera bags via any available opening, the sun beating down as the sweat oozed from my pores, making a bad day with the camera feel significantly worse than it really had been. After moving into a shaded spot, I was contemplating how to make hauling multiple-kilos of camera equipment across the county a more rewarding experience when an oddity occurred: I felt something light in weight, yet fast and agile move up my left flank, under my armpit and onto my shoulder.

Slowly twisting my neck to learn what unwitting creature had taken a wrong turn, I found myself eye-to-eye with a common lizard (Lacerta vivipara), staring back at me as lizards do, with that mildly supercilious, quizzical disposition they effortlessly command. Our stare-off lasted some minutes, the reptile obviously quite at ease amongst the sweat and polyamide that covered my upper-torso, when for no apparent reason it bolted, next to be seen a few feet up a birch trunk, once again staring at me in that lizard fashion.

It was shortly after our encounter that the seeding of a worthwhile project came into my mind, which has subsequently become what you are looking at right now. I can't say that being eyeballed by a 6-inch long reptile suddenly spawned the notion of a multi-year endeavour, but this unexpected meeting with such an ancient life form seemingly reminded me of why I'm desirous of being outdoors at every given opportunity. I confess that the whole project has been a long time in its evolution, a case of biting off more than I could chew, but it's slowly forming enough of a recognisable shape that I can finally see a worthwhile direction for it. Over the next few months a portfolio will be added with the option of purchasing favoured prints, information about single and multi-day safari tours will become apparent and ultimately, a blog will be conceived and delivered. In the meantime, I hope there's enough interesting content on these pages to keep most Norfolk nature lovers happy, and should you feel motivated to get in touch, please do, feedback is always welcome.  

Portrait of James Williamson.
Common lizard on a birch tree.
This is me, in my preferred habitat and about as far away from a desk and computer as I can get nowadays: just mix fresh air with open countryside and I'm good to go.



After completing a successful ascent followed by a rapid decent of my upper torso, a newly acquainted common lizard takes up a fresh vantage point several feet up a birch tree.

So Nature feeds its children, the Swallow destroys the insect, and is in its turn destroyed by the Hawk, and yet they flourish.
Percy Edwards, "Call me at Dawn", 1948

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