I had it all planned out, where to go, what to see and (hopefully) photograph and even how I was going to present my post!  So when I turned into the ‘village’ car park at Holkham, for the first time since this pandemic began, to be greeted by a pay-and-display machine I spat out my dummy!  What has always been free is now £5 for 2+ hours.  Want to park nearer the beach?  That will be £9 thank you very much, kerching!  Ever since Ms G Paltrow graced the golden sands in a scene from the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’ Holkham Bay has been a honeypot for the ‘well-to-do’.  Rocking up from their holiday retreats around the coast with their designer clothes, designer children, designer dogs and highly polished 4×4’s which only ever go ‘off road’ when they mount the pavement to drop aforementioned kiddies off at prep school!  Not one’s to overlook the chance of a bit of spare change the local landowners are rubbing their hands together.  Well they are not getting my money!  Free birding may be getting thin on the ground but there are places if you know where to look, just don’t tell his Lordship, he might stick in another pay machine!

Greylag Geese (Anser anser) The largest of our geese. These are not truly wild birds (they can be found in Scotland) but ancestors of re-introduced stock
Bath time! Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) another non-native (there’s a clue in the name!)
Always a pleasure to be greeted by a Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
The gorgeous Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatas). This tiny bird’s tail is longer than it’s body. They are hyper-active moving around in flocks of a dozen or more looking for insects on bare twigs
Sentinal. A male Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) scans the marshes from atop a lone Spruce
The Wigeon (Anas penelope) form big flocks in winter and graze the marshes. I love their ‘wheeoo’ call
As early as January birds of prey start to display over their territories. This is a Buzzard (Buteo buteo) which circles around emitting a cat like mewing call

All these shots were taken in the last couple of days in places I could go free of charge.  I had a bit of a rant at the start of this post and don’t get me wrong I’m more than willing to pay for conservation work.  What I dislike is what seems to be the never ending ways some use to help lighten your wallet and say the money is used for their projects.  As a born and bred local with little income it seems we are being priced out of the market.  What we once took for granted is no longer so and is it a good idea to have hefty charges when you want to encourage the younger generation?

39 thoughts on “Freebies

  1. I can understand your rant, Brian. It’s amazing how far feudal imperatives still operate in our coutryside. Over the years Wenlock residents’ erstwhile freedom to roam across the former monastic park land (i.e. under the aegis of a past generation of more community minded land owners) has been very much reduced to fenced in trackways.

    But then you went and took some truly stunning bird portraits, including my favourite – the long tailed tit. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A sign of the times Tish? It seems our parts of the Country, which are popular with holiday makers, are the places where everyone is trying to make as much money as they can. Right to roam? I’ve heard of the phrase but not around here, no way!
      Gone are the wonderful days of freedom we seemed to enjoy in the past.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gorgeous photos, Brian! The water droplets from the goose really underscore your quick eye and great camera! And the kestrel, buzzard and two small songbirds–lovely captures all!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel your pain. Several years back Calif. started charging a day fee for places that became popular for seasonal bird spotting. It’s a pain, but I too know some spots that haven’t been found yet or are a lot less popular.

    Those birds are wonderful! I really liked the little Tit, and your Robin is gorgeous!

    Your new lens is amazing in your hands.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brian,

    My Man, I can SO relate and sympathize with your frustration/rant at today’s never-ending marketing-sales schemes! 😠 Here’s a rant you can appreciate that I’ve been screaming since at least 1999.

    Familiar with those small or big bags of chips? Like Ruffles Potato Chips, Doritos, Tostidos, Fritos Scoops, etc, etc? Well, here in the states we used to receive FREE television (analog, for a very short time digital), FREE highways (state or county), FREE drinking water most everywhere, FREE camping sites at county & state parks, and FREE air for tire inflation at gas-petrol stations. No, no, no… not anymore my Canary Friend from Carrow Road! We must PAY, and pay handsomely these days, literally for everything, including the air we breath now!!! Yes, I kid you not Man in the Green-n-Yellow knickers!

    Now, when we open up a bag of those aforementioned chips, HALF (or less) of the bag are actual chips and the other HALF (or more) is effin AIR!!! 🤬 Just like all those Dooms Day, Dystopian films some of us we fear will come true, it won’t be long Brian before all of us disappearing middle-class—and certainly not moving UP the socioeconomic ladder!—will have to purchase our own oxygen tanks to live and breath on this planet!!! 🤦‍♂️😔

    OH! Hey, these photos are fantastic; gorgeous birds! I’m particularly fond of your predators there. They are so… wickedly predatory. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Prof my little Gooner. Times they are a changing. Everyone wants their ££$$. The free and easy days of our past are just that, our past. Yep those chips now look short changed and so do the size of chocolate bars, I know my hands are bigger than when I was a kid but I’m sure those bars have shrunk!
      Glad you like these images my red & white buddy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m completely with you on the parking Brian. I hate paying any more than £2 for at least 4 hours. No wonder people make up parking spaces in terrible places! We have Widgeon’s by the score at the moment. The estuary is (not quite) full of them. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sorry to read about (and sense) your frustration, Brian. Some things don’t make sense and they are definitely not fair.
    But I’m glad you were able to get to some of your favorite birding places and get such lovely portraits of our feathered friends. Robins and tits must be among the most cheering and they certainly made me smile.
    Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tanja. It’s a sign of the times I guess, don’t take things for granted. To be honest I can still reach the ‘pay zone’ area from where I eventually parked, it’s just a much longer hike but on a nice day suits me fine.
      Glad you enjoyed the images, I enjoyed taking them…. for free!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Shocking to find out that you have to pay for something that was once free. I can relate to that feeling and it seems while we were all locked up for months “they” placed those darn pay machines everywhere that was public access.🤬 Sign of times to come? All of us who actually use nature sites as intended (not for cool movie locations that were unknown lovely sites) are being truly pushed out. I feel your pain. Loved your photos as always. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CJ you truly understand me and my anger. The big problem we have in my part of the UK is that it is one of THE places for the rich (mostly from the London area) to buy a second or holiday home. This increases the prices and locals (who have much smaller salaries) can no longer afford to live in their, once rural, backwater, villages. The knock-on effect is the proliferation of pay machines at every beauty spot!
      I have absolutely no problem in paying to go on nature reserves where the money is put to good use, not lining someone’s wallet. All the old reserves always did charge a fee and I used to have yearly membership to most but can no longer afford this so trips out are infrequent but looked forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am sad to hear they have priced you out of your favorite places. This like I said before seems to be happening everywhere. I noticed in the states that prices have jumped to access places that I use to enjoy for a small fee or for free. Here in Holland nature reserves seem to also be charging for access that once was free. If it was put in place to preserve the natural location and clean up some of the trash I seem to find everywhere then I would fully support but I fear also it is just making someone else rich at the cost of us using these locations. Again, sad!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. One of our premier spots up in Chicago (Montrose Beach) was just hit with pay booths to park – like you, if I knew the money was going to good use (vs politician kickbacks) I’d be more accepting. Spot on, with your comment on how this does not encourage the younger generation to get out of the house. On the bird front, were all these taken with the new lens – if so, money well spent. That Long-tailed Tit if amazing especially with how hyper those apparently are. From one of my favorite movies “Damn the Man, save the Empire”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morning Mr B. It seems this problem of cashing in on beauty spots/wildlife areas is widespread and here to stay. In a shrinking Country due to a growing population space is becoming more precious but it’s not nice for greedy landowners to profit. I guess in a huge Country such as yours it’s still possible to get away from it all and enjoy nature.
      Yes, all shots taken with the new lens. Still learning and practicing.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When one heads out for an adventure in nature, our spirits are high with expectations of what we may find today. Encountering a pay station where there was not one previously will most certainly leave a bitter taste the rest of the day. Contemplating on the reason the pay station was erected and determining it was primarily due to greed, well, the bitterness lingers.

    Alas, we have become a greed-oriented society which demands instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. Fast food, constant need to be “entertained”, up-to-the-minute social interaction. Even bird-watching is not immune. Mobile “apps” scream at us with a rare bird alert and small armies of “modern birders” speed to the advertised location, tick off the rarity on their life list and text their achievement to the universe whilst speeding to the next “rarity” location.

    See what you did? You made me start ranting on social media! (Is this social media? I am so ignorant of some things.) You hit a nerve.

    In other news, your outstanding photograph of a Robin caused Gini to enthuse several “oohs” and “aahs”. The Robin was our first “official” European bird spotted when we lived in Germany. I am fond of the Kestrel perched on the tree top. Really nice!

    Here is to our children’s future. May they always be able to find a spot to watch a bird – at no cost other than their time.

    Cheers, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your understanding Wally and if you want to rant, go ahead, be my guest. Things are not as they once were. The pressure on our countryside is NOT a good excuse to profit from it.
      Your last point is so relevant. We must encourage our youngsters to enjoy nature. A lot of parents are not going to be too happy to pay out to explore wild places and will head to amusement parks and the like where they think they get ‘value’ for money.
      Anyway, glad you both enjoyed my images. ‘Till next time. B


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