Monday 29 January 2018

Bob in North Norfolk, UK

Sunday 28 January

Up early and off in the dark at 7 o’clock so that I could be at RSPB Titchwell soon after daybreak; should have left thirty minutes earlier!  As the light improved once past Kings Lynn and into Norfolk proper first sightings of Magpie, Crow and Rook along with regular Wood Pigeon appearances.  Approaching the village of Flitcham a Barn Owl crossed in front of me and driving through the village itself a small flock of Starlings and then, just the other side, a circling Red Kite.  Continuing on I can only describe one long stretch of the narrow road as driving down a "Wood Pigeon avenue!"  Finally, almost at the junction with the coast road, a flock of a score or more Egyptian Geese grazing on a field to my right as a couple of Kestrels moved overhead.  Indeed, it was good to see so many Kestrels during the day.

You don't often, or want, to illustrate a Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus!
Once parked up at Titchwell Marsh RSPB Reserve I was to see more Magpies and Crows and especially Wood Pigeons.  The feeders provided Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tit and just the very early, solitary BramblingRobins and Blackbirds were also about and quite entertaining to see this pair trying their hands (Beaks) at trying to access the food hoppers! So, leaving the above with both Moorhens and Pheasants seeking out the spillages below, I set off for the Fen Hide and viewing screen overlooking Patsy's Reedbed.  The former had nothing on view but i did view both Robin and Wren as I moved along the boardwalk.  At the latter a couple of Mute Swans on the water and a quartering Marsh Harrier just beyond.  In addition to a few Coot there was a range of ducks including Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shelduck.

Robin Erithicus rubecula
Then it was off along the shore path with a first stop at the Island Hide having already noted the first of many Wigeon and the hundreds of Lapwings that seemed to be drifting around the site as if not knowing where to land and feed/ settle.  From the hide, in addition to more Teal and Tufted Duck I added my first Shovelers of the day and a little further away a flock of about fifty plus Brent Geese resting on the water.  A little further away a couple of Canada and a single Greylag Goose.  Then it was time to utilise the scope to search the back of the freshwater marsh and I was delighted to find upwards of an hundred Avocet gathered in a tight group with a few Pintail drifting by behind them and a pair of Goldeneye.

Just a few of the Brent Goose Branta bernicla flock
Ever onwards to the beckoning shore.  A couple of Black-tailed Godwits in the muddy stream and a few foraging Redshanks. But with virtually no water and not a lot of activity I missed out visiting the large Parrinder hides but I did note a couple of Curlew working the mud.

Record shot of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
At first sight lots of birders with scopes checking out the sea and even one photographer on the distant water's edge hoping for a closer shot of something or other.  Definitely a case for using the scope.  First the beach near the water which yielded very many Oystercatchers along with Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone and Ringed Plover.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

A more concentrated approach then revealed a couple of Grey Plover and even a Spotted Redshank.  At the same time, the waders were joined by a single Little Egret.  My first birds on the sea were a pair of Great Crested Grebe.  Somewhat surprised, I double-checked with the birder not three metres away and it turned out to be a fellow member of the Andalucia Bird Society, Peter Ashley from Bournemouth on a birding tour of the British coast it would appear having just left Suffolk and making his way home via Newcastle and the West Midlands, etc.  Anyway, Peter confirmed the sighting and then proceeded to find me the resting Common Scoters and Guillemot.  Next we found the single Red-breasted Merganser and then a Razorbill flew past.  Peter had already seen the passing Long-tailed Duck was to be unsuccessful in his search for the reported Velvet Scoter and I had a couple of Cormorant.  A call of nature had me hurrying back the three-quarters of a mile to the Visitors Centre but I did manage to add both Long-tailed Tit and Goldfinch before moving on to my next stop at Holkham where, in addition to yet more Wigeon, I found a small flock of Pink-footed Geese and a lone Heron.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Morston added a single Greenshank in addition to more Redshanks and Cley was most disappointing; more of the same and nothing from the beach which was full of fishermen and walkers.  Lots of Wigeon and Teal plus many Lapwing and a couple of Great Black-backed in with the Black-headed Gulls.  But the drive back from the shore did reveal a small flock of Meadow Pipits.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Rather than waste time here I headed back to call in at Brancaster Staithe where the tide was now almost at its peak.  Close views of both Redshank and Turnstone.  No sooner had the Herring Gull landed on the post top than it was moved on by the arrival of a Great Black-backed Gull who obviously favoured this particular spot.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

With some light still left I made a final call back at Titchwell as I had realised I had missed three very obvious birds all day.  I soon picked up a couple of Dunnock under the feeders but eventually had one of those days when I saw neither House Sparrow nor Collared Dove.  Now, surely, that has to be some kind of record for Britain? 

Dunnock Prunella modularis caught in the fading light

On the other hand, apart from more acrobatic Long-tailed Tits I had a tame Robin that remained within a couple of feet of me at eye level and simply refused to fly away.  I swear this little chappy even tried to out-sing me as I made the appropriate whistling/ticking sounds to its face!

One of the acrobatic Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus

In all a rather splendid day, although I would have liked more time on the beach for the sea-watch, with almost 65 species recorded.

Birds seen:
Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Grenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Razorbill, Guillemot, Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

How many rings can a Turnstone Arenaria interpres wear; is there room for a seventh?

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