It was around -3ºc and dark when I arrived at the Blakeney Point car park. Although bitterly cold and eerily quiet, the blood-red sky and wispy clouds hinted my last day in Norfolk might be a winner.

To say the previous four days had been dull would be an understatement. Having to drive with my headlights on throughout the day should give you an idea of how lousy the lacklustre light was.

I’m sure I could have taken some moody black and white shots, long exposures of groynes etc etc, but frankly, I wasn’t feeling it.

Although I’m painting a bleak picture of my winter trip to north Norfolk, it was actually very enjoyable. Instead of fretting about bagging lots of shots, I found mooching around various wildlife reserves and art galleries just nearly as enjoyable.

The different species I saw at RSPB Titchwell Marsh was as long as my arm, whilst over at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley and Salthouse Marsh reserves I saw an Iceland Gull. These gulls aren’t very common so there was plenty of interest, but if I’m honest, I think I was more excited by the blue flash of a kingfisher I saw moments earlier.

Iceland Gull video – Norfolk

Anyway, back to Blakeney Point. For those who don’t know, Blakeney Point is a shingle spit with a large grey seal colony at its far end. It’s a bit short of 3 miles before you get to the main seal colony. If it’s high tide the walking is harder as you’ll be on soft shingle, low tide means more sand is exposed so it’s firmer underfoot. Although the tide was in when I set out the hard frost had actually stuck the shingle together making it easier to walk on; bonus!

As the red sky slowly turned to orange my optimism grew for the chance to snap the seals in the ‘golden hour’. With sunrise approaching, my pace quickened. The high-level cloud was patchy and I felt sure it wouldn’t cause a problem … but it did. The nice light never materialised. The frosty grass (in the dunes) would have given a different selection of shots to what I’d taken on previous visits and the steam rising from fighting bull seals could have looked really dramatic in the right light; but it wasn’t to be.

For the next two hours I sat in the dunes eating my sandwiches and watching the seals. I won’t be all pretentious and say it was great to just ‘enjoy the moment’. It was great, but I like my cakes with a cherry on top.

The time-lapse video below shows me walking back, it’s not that interesting so imagine it’s like a Benny Hill sketch and there’s a group of appropriately dressed women (this is 2021) chasing me.

Blakeney Point walk video – Norfolk

Although I didn’t bag any ‘proper’ pics I took a few digiscope images that have inspired me to create some wildlife illustrations; so something creative will come from the trip. And the memories of the trip will last at least until someone asks me what I got up to and I can’t remember a blind thing.

If you want to see a few seal pictures from my previous trips click here.

Note: The gull footage was taken with an iPhone attached to a scope and the timelapse video used a GoPro.