Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Norfolk Holiday Day 4-return to tichwell

I woke up to fog, again. Since so far I had been to Cley everyday so far this holiday, today I decided to go to Tichwell. It was an hour and a half bus journey, but I made it for 11. The fog did mean that the reserve was not as busy as it has been previously, which was nice, but it also meant that seawatching would be difficult  and birds further than a few hundred meters would be out of sight.
  The day obviously started with a long bus journey, but it was a pretty bird filled bus journey as far as bus journeys go. Just outside wells, I noticed that there were hundreds, possibly thousands of geese going overhead through the fog. They were probably Brent geese but I couldn't tell for certain. either way it was interesting to see. Then it got better, as we were entering Burnham I casually glanced out of the window over a farm, and though I only got a brief view I immediately new that the bird flying around the farm was a swallow. I couldn't believe it. I didn't see it again to fully appreciate it, but either way, its the latest swallow I have ever had.
  Upon arrival I first headed to fen hide, which was a waste of time, as usual. I didn't see a single bird. So I didn't spend long there, and after around 10mins I headed back out to the main walkway. The first pool I came to on the saltmarsh had a few birds on it so I got out the scope and had a look. In the fog it was difficult to tell what they were, but after a bit I came to the conclusion that I had four little grebes, a new bird for the holiday.
  Through the fog everything seemed very atmospheric. A lone marsh harrier flew across the saltmarsh. It was difficult to tell anything other than its I.d but I think that its a male. Sadly it dissapeared into the fog before coming closer.

-Marsh Harrier 
The first hide I came to that I stopped off in was the Island Hide. Here there were quite a few teals showing very well indeed. The fog though meant that all the birds in front of Parrinder hide, which I could just make out were not really visible to identify, so After 10mins I left Island hide and wandered up to Parrinder hide.

-Male Teal
The fog was probably to blame for the lack of migrating geese at the site. However a few brent geese were around, and they flew over the saltmarsh and west bank.

-Brent Geese 
There were less migrants here than at Cley, but there continued to be plenty of thrushes and especially robins. I have never seen as many robins as I have on this holiday. There were no records of ring ouzel at Tichwell today, probably because the all landed at Cley, but upon arriving in Parrinder hide and setting up, a stunning male black redstart flew across the front of the hide, chased by a robin. I couldn't track down where it went, but in flight it was absolutely unmistakable. There were also a handful of goldcrests in the shrubbery next to the hide.
  In front of the hide there were mainly ducks, teal and shoveler. There were a couple of pipits flying around the hide too though, and I was hopeful of water pipit. when they eventually landed they turned out to be rock pipits, but they landed quite near the hide, so I was able to get some photos.

-Rock Pipit 
Out on the water there were a good number of gulls, though none were white winged. There was also a huge number of golden plover. Species that were not in abundance were black-Tailed godwits, of which only a couple were around, hiding within the golden plover flock. There was also a couple of snipe looking rather lovely. In front of one of the gulls was another plover that didn't seem quite golden, and through the scope I could tell that it was in fact a grey plover. The first time I came to Tichwell was the first time I saw grey plover, or so I thought, as I never look at one and though, "Oh, that's a grey plover", so I assumed that because they were about, I must have seen one. On that logic, this was probably the first Grey plover I have seen, and certainly the first I have seen and identified. However, when it came to record shots it was less straightforward because of the fog, and the bird was at some distance for my camera. You can make out the bird in the photos below, the furthest bird right in front of the gulls.

-Grey Plover
the fog also made photographing more obvious targets harder too, so it appeared when it came to taking a photo of the golden plover. Don't mind the pink strip on the bottom, that's due to uploading issues it would seem.

-Golden Plover 
Other notable birds on the freshwater side included wigeon, pintail, lapwing and shelduck.
  Next I headed across the Parrinder hide complex to the hide that overlooked the saline pools. The new hides had an interesting arrangement for opening the windows. They new were windows were clear plastic divided into 2 sections. The bottom section wound down by handle, but the top section opened outwards. I don't know who designed that, why on earth would a hide window open outwards? the rules are don't stick anything out of the hide as it may startle the birds.
  Anyway, rant over. There was much less going on in the side side of the hide, but there were more unusual species, mainly waders. The main waders were redshank and knot. But directly in front of the hide there was one Godwit and one curlew. The curlew was straightforward, but the Godwit was heavily streaked and this led me to the impression that it must be a bar-tailed godwit, only my second ever, and I was actually able to get some better photos as it was directly in front of the hide.


-Bar-Tailed Godwit 
I stayed in the hide for some time, allowing birds to move should there be any. There were a few more birds towards the back of the marsh. Including sanderling, also probably a first by the same logic of the grey plover, but it was way too distant for a record shot. However, the sense of pride you get from being able to tell a knot, sanderling and dunlin apart without the use of a book was immense. It is one of the hardest test for British birds.
  As I waited, the movement of birds had brought a lovely knot in front of the hide in range of my camera, so I took a few blurred photos of it.

As time went on, the number of birds seemed to increase somewhat, and the Grey plover from the other side came over, to a much more convenient position from where it had been. I only noticed it because I was asked to identify a bird for one of the newer birdwatchers, the bird was a godwit. Then they grey plover appeared, which was nice for the obviously newer birders.
  It was interesting to watch it feed, alongside the teals who had very different feeding mechanisms. They bird was now much closer so I managed to get a few respectable record shots.

-Grey Plover 
Somehow I had built up something of a reputation among the birders in the hide, so when another guy asked what his bird was, the guy who I had helped out originally said, "I don't know,but that man will be able to". Talk about putting the pressure on.
  The bird in question had just disappeared into the taller grass and it took us a while to find it again. I was at an advantage as I had a scope. When the bird did appear, It was not as difficult as I had thought, it was a dunlin, but it still had the relic of its black stomach from the breeding season, which was a massive help when identifying it. Its another new bird for the holiday, adding to the incredible list of birds seen this holiday.
  While I was checking out the dunlin, another knot came and joined the one already in front of the hide, and they had begun feeding in the nearest channel, which allowed me to get a few more quick shots.

before I left Parrinder I had a quick look back over the side where the fresh water was. Not much had changed, but there were a few wildfowl in front of the hide, so I was able to get some photos of shoveler and teal.


While I was walking up to the beach at around half one, high tide being at 3.00,  I walked alongside the saline marsh where I had been a few moments ago. There I spotted a Black-Tailed Godwit within photo range just. It also caught some of the more regular species that I had not bothered to take a photo of.

-L to R; Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Shelduck 
The sea was very foggy, and the beach was cold and windy. That meant that seawatching would be pretty pointless, and indeed it was. I diddnt see a single bird on the sea.
  The beach on the other hand was far more interesting. Scanning the waters edge provided great view through the scope of Sanderling, Godwits and oystercatchers. Up on the stand line, where I had set up the scope there were good numbers of Oystercatchers and Turnstones, as well as a couple of sanderlings. As I waited the sanderlings came much closer as did the turnstones, so I was able to get some reasonable photos of them both, especially the turnstones.


I gave up Seawatching about half an hour before high tide, because it was beginning to get really pointless, looking at fog. On the way up I asked the only other birder looking out to sea if he had anything, which he had not. I then asked him if anything else had turned up, to which he said that there was an Arctic warbler at Burnham Statite. Since it was on the way home, and would leave me more time than an hour at Cley I decided it might be a bird to go for.
  On the way back to the visitor center I passed the saline pool again, and this time the black-tailed godwit had been joined by an avocet, which is always a lovely bird to see.

-L to R; Black-Tailed Godwit, Avocet 
I was just about to leave the marsh when a flash of blue shot in front of me, and I realised that I had just seen a brief kingfisher, which was pretty lovely, though like I say, brief. Its still another great species to add to my holiday list.
  Back at the shop, I asked for directions on how to get the arctic warbler. Apparently it was not showing very well, which would not be helpful to me. I went and waited for the bus, as I had worked it out so that I was at the bus stop just in time for the bus.
  Upon arriving in Burnham Staithe it took me a few moments to work out where I was, and then i found some birders who directed me to the site. As I approached the sight I was able to see the crowd that had developed for the bird.

-Arctic Warbler Twitch 
I set up at the side of the group and then began looking where everyone else was. I caught the dark form of the bird moving quickly through the trees. I raised my binoculars to try and get a view, but it had already gone. This was the pattern for the next five minuets before the bird dissapeared. And that guys is how to dip on Arctic Warbler.
  I spent the next hour looking for the bird, but it failed to show and I eventually had to leave for my bus. It was disappointing, and a bit of a let down after such a good day. Never mind.
  On the way home I spotted a massive flock of Geese, probably brent, probably around 5000 birds, there were so many. It was a nice sight, and a good ending to what had been a mixed day.
Anyway, Today's species list;
Tichwell Marsh RSPB: Fieldfare, Robin, Blackbird, Little Grebe, Teal, Marsh Harrier, Black-Headed Gull, Mallard, Moorhen, Shelduck, Wigeon, Pintail, Brent Geese, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Black-Tailed Godwit, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Avocet, Curlew, Knot, Snipe, Dunlin, Sanderling, Shoveler, Black Redstart, Song Thrush, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Rock Pipit, Little Egret, Goldcrest, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Kingfisher, Dunnock, Woodpigeon, Skylark, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Pheasant, Goldfinch.
Brancaster Staithe Harbour: Goldcrest, Brent Geese, Curlew, Redshank, Robin, Fieldfare, Black-Headed Gull
Bus Journey: Swallow, Brent Geese (~5000)

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