The North Norfolk Coast: A New Birder’s Guide by Ken Lawson from Tambourine Man Films

Widescreen, 16×9. Running Time, 114 minutes. Commentary (well) spoken by Patrick Allsop. Still photographs of birds on Blakeney Point by Richard Porter. Satellite images by Getmapping.plc. Music by Tom Fahy (Emer’s Song, Summer People) and Kevin MacLeod (Celtic Impulse)

The North Norfolk Coast: A New Birder’s Guide is a film about visting an area of outstanding natural beauty and birding potential. What really is the best time to see the wader spectacular at the R.S.P.B. reserve at Snettisham? How is Titchwell being protected from coastal erosion? What exactly goes on at Holme Bird Observatory? Why is Blakeney Point so famous? Where are the car parks? Can I do without a car? (Yes!). Are there toilets? (Err… not always). Together with some spectacular footage of the birds themselves, this film will reveal why some birders visit this area year after year, as well as giving a great deal of practical information enabling you to do so yourself. Low resolution versions of the opening two minutes, and of the section on the current work at Titchwell, can be seen on You Tube.

The film has been well received and is selling at a number of commercial outllets in Norfolk, including the visitor centres at R.S.P.B. Titchwell Marsh and N.W.T. Cley Marshes. It is available post-free from the distributor, WildSounds of Salthouse.I didn’t find this an easy DVD to stay with – mostly, I guess as I am not a new birder and, for the most part, North Norfolk is well known to me. I’ve birded there, off an on since the early 1970s so, in terms of affording me new knowledge of the area, it was restricted to those places that are now beyond my physical capabilities and that have changes since I was a young man.

I found myself drifting a bit and comparing this to the home country travelogues of TV’s early days.

Back in the early sixties there was a TV programme called, I think I recall clearly, ‘Pin Point‘ that wandered down the by-ways hardly frequented by the Morris Minor or Austen 7, showing one the village quintains or mediaeval stocks still extant, then segueing to wherever else they had some footage whether it was Morris Men grinning to expose their badly maintained dentine outside a thatched pub, or men in demob suits bringing in the harvest replete with a Woodbine hanging from the corner of their mouths. In the 1960s there were whole chunks of the TV schedule completely unoccupied by Highway Patrol or Dragnet, Bonanza and I love Lucy so the pace of the documentary could be as slow as you like and as deeply detailed as the cryptic plumage of a nightjar.

What am I saying? This film moves along at that bygone pace and gives such detail as today’s TV producers can only dream of. Fast-forward it and you just rush down roads like a Keystone Cop, whereas today we are used to that making us miss the plot, 5 commercials and all the credits! This is not a criticism but an observation. The film does two things well, it tells you the where, when, how and why of the North Norfolk coast and introduces the birds that can be seen there, not with the nod of today but with the ceremony of yesterday’s formal introduction.

By doing so it creates a niche and occupies it well. This is not a quick taster for the undecided, nor a reminder for us long-toothed greybearded birders, but instead a proper lesson for those who already know that they want to be a birder and that they want to practice that art in the best-known of the UK’s birding corners.