Mark Cocker

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Photo of the Month


Photo of the Month

A great new adventure began in 2012 when I acquired a little over five acres of neglected fen woodland on the banks of the River Yare. The intention over the next years is to upraise its wildlife community through practical work and with the support of others. Blackwater Blog is a way of recording these slow-won achievements and celebrating this glorious patch of wild Norfolk. It is also a place where I can dilate on something that engages me.


Yes, honestly, it was this colour. I was with nine others, including the wonderful ranger staff Ben Jones and Pete Short of the Aigas Field Centre. We were out at dawn by the side of Loch Strathbeg, the RSPB reserve in Grampian right at the north-eastern tip of Scotland. The pink-footed geese were already present in huge numbers and we were there to see them depart the roost. The clamour of those 30,000 anserine voices was oceanic; the sight of that 60 tonnes of goose fletch and flesh was magnificent. And all in a fierce orange sky.


There are only six birds here but I can give you a sense of the full spectacle with a little YouTube film that I shot throughout the week - here. These masses often seem chaotic and maelstrom-like, yet they all resolve into small families doing familiar things.


Wonderful though this sighting was, it took second place to an event we witnessed the day before at Cullen, the fishing port famous for its 'Cullen skink' (a delicious smoked-fish chowder). There, against a cloud-blackened sky and darkened water, we watched about 500 gannets rain into the North Sea in pursuit of some big fish shoal. From above these two-metre winged birds speared down. From below, rising over and over, among the mass of mackerel perhaps, were some of the Moray Firth's famous bottle-nosed dolphins. Several times a dolphin jumped clear of the water. It was a scene of plenty, a place of abundant wildness and it gladdened the hearts of us all, to be blessed there, among it.

© Mark Cocker 2018