Monday, 14 April 2014

Norfolk Holiday Day 2

The first full day in Norfolk commences. Given the lack of recent sightings on birdguides recently around Norfolk I decided to head to RSPB Titchwell today to see what was about, since there had been reports of a few things about in that region more than Cley. For some reason the bus had been broken up into 3 services rather than just the one, and as a result it took me short of 2 hours to get to Titchwell. On the journey I picked up Marsh Harrier, my first of the year, though doubtless it would not be the last.
I arrived at Titchwell just before 11 in the morning. I checked the sightings but they were limited already it seemed, but even as I stood looking at the list there came in a report of a Spotted Redshank on the Freshwater Marsh. Since I have a score to settle with this species I decided to head straight up there, just to finally see it. 
For some reason I called off at the Island Hide first, but it was quite quiet there, a few Teal, Shoveler and Avocets milling around but not much else. I did not stay long and progressed to the south Parrinder Hide. As I walked along the bank towards the hides I glanced over at the Volunteer Marsh and was rewarded with my first tick of the day, and only my second time ever with a stunning Grey Plover. It was sat quite close to the wall, so I was able to get some reasonable shots to record what was a very smart bird. 

-Grey Plover
I had a scout of the Volunteer Marsh but only picked up a few other bits, but year ticks all around; Bar and Black-Tailed Godwits were both year-ticks for me, and there continued to be plenty of Avocets around.
I decided I could wait no longer, and entered the South Parrinder Hide...
There were a few birders inside the hide, so I threw it out there 'is anything about'. The reply was something of a shock, since I had expected 'oh yes spotted redshank over there' but it actually came back, 'there is a little gull on the island'. Well there we go then, a little gull, another great bird and one that I had not really expected to see. It took a little while to find it though, because it was asleep. And it continued to be asleep for some time, so that were it not told to me and the colour of its legs I would have never have been able to tell.
Since the little gull was not doing a great deal I asked about the redshank and was duly directed to where it was, also asleep among a group of Black-Tailed Godwits. I took some photos of it asleep as given my history anything could happen with this species and I wanted something to remember it by should it do a runner again.
-Spotted Redshank, 3rd bird on the left, with Common Teal and Black-Tailed Godwit
I stuck around waiting for one of the two bird to awake. During my wait I managed to pick up plenty of other great species, including Little Ringed Plover, Ruff and Brent Geese, the latter of which had been grazing the salt marsh on the Western side of the West Bank walk, but a few had remained on the marsh. 
While I was scouting the marsh the Little Gull awoke. I grabbed a few record shots of it finally awake before setting about to have a good old look at one of my favourite gulls. It stuck around for a while, drifting in and out of sleep before after about 15 mins from it arousal it took off and left. I managed no photos of its flight, since I had been looking elsewhere at the time of it departure, but I still had a few decent ones from when it was resting.

-Little Gull
After a little while longer, the Redshank showing no signs of life, I decided to take a trip to the coast to see if any Scoters of either species were still about, either would be my second lifer of the holiday. On  the way I passed more Brent Geese as well as Little Egret on the saltmarsh.
The wind continued to be an issue and so it proved on the beach, where the sea was quite choppy. As a result, even when I finally found a flock of scoters on the sea I could only see them as black blobs dipping up and down on the surf. Most of them I could see were Common Scoters, and I could pick up no white on any individuals, though I could also pick up no other feature. 
That all changed when they decided to take off and do a loop-de-loop around the sea. Then I could clearly see through the scope that the first 3 birds to take off had very distinct white wings and as a result were Velvet Scoters, meaning I had just picked up 2 Lifers in a matter of minuets. As I watched them I decided to grab some record shots, and that really is all they are, black blobs in which some have white wings, but it is enough to show both species. 

-Common and Velvet Scoters
After a while watching the dark blobs I decided to go back for the redshank and come back later to see if they had come closer in shore. During my sea watch I had also watched the shoreline, where I had been delighted to find another year-tick in the form of Sanderling, as well as there being many other waders, such as Dunlin, Turnstone, Bar-Tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher
I wandered back down the Western Bank to the Parrinder Hides. Along the edge of the Volunteer Marsh there is a channel where waders often come and get very close to the path so you can get great views of them. Today's delight was a Black-Tailed Godwit which had wandered very close to the path feeding away and allowing me to get some pretty decent shots of it, to add to my library for the species.
-Black-Tailed Godwit
I first checked North Parrinder Hide as I had not been there yet, but it offered very little, only Curlew to add to the day's list. There continued to be good numbers of Grey Plover, but they had drifted further away from the hide and could only really be told now with the scope.
I moved on to South Parrinder Hide. I checked where the Redshank had been but it had moved on. I figured that it could not have gone far, and would still be with the godwits. I found the Godwits and on the edge of their group was a redshank. However I did not have the guts to call it whether it was spotted or not, and as it was asleep I struggled to get a really good view. 
After a while, the flock of 5 Godwits was joined by another 20 birds, and during their arrival the Redshank decided to up-sticks and move, resulting in me loosing it. I tried to find it again but failed, only after a while when another birder came in and found it did I spot it again. The other birder also identified it as the spotted, which is what I thought it was but now it was confirmed. 
I spent a while watching it, and it drifted closer and closer to the hide, until I was able to get some really good record shots. The only downside was that the sun was strong and it was behind the bird, meaning all my photos were very dark. I have tried to lighten them using photoshop but it has worked better on some that others. Either way its clear enough what it is, and that I have finally settled that score.

-Spotted Redshank
After a while I decided to go to Patsy's Reedbed pool where there were apparently red-crested pochards. On the way down I passed a small group staring intently into the saltmarsh so casually asked what was about. They directed my gaze to a bush, less than 5 meters from the path, and from that bush protruded the fanged face of a Chinese Water Deer, only my second ever.
It being so close I got great views of it, or at least its head, as it stared me down as I watched it. I was well pleased with this, spotting this unusual mammal in such an unexpected fashion.
-Chinese Water Deer
Continuing down the Western Bank, large numbers of Brent geese flew in, and quite close to the path, so I was able to get some more photos of these really rather stunning birds. I was quite pleased with my photo of these, as it appreciates their subtle beauty.
-Brent Geese
 I arrived at the pool to find no such birds, but while I was there a Bittern ascended from the reedbed, flew a few meters before returning to the reeds. The suddenness and unexpectedness made it one of the days highlights, and it is always lovely to see bitterns, no matter how fleeting the view.
And if I considered dipping the pochards a year tick missed, the fact that I was surrounded by at least 4 singing cettis warblers without seeing a single one would be adding more insult to the injury. But I moved on from it.
On the way back out I passed the visitor center and decided to call in and see what species were about that I could call in for. I found that the pochards had been reported from the western bank, but apart from that there was little else that I had missed. Since it was my intention to pass that area on my way to the coast I would have to keep and eye open for said pochards.
I checked the first pool on my left and there at the back I spotted a pair of Red-Crested Pochards, but they were so distant it was hardly a good view. No matter, as a little further on down the right hand side at the reedbed pool there was another pair slightly closer. Here I decided I would get my record shots of this species. They showed well, if not a little distant, and the male looked stunning in his adult plumage.
-Red-Crested Pochard
Also on the Reedbed Pool was a dabchick and a small group of standard Pochards. I continued along my way to the beach. Along the way I passed the deer again. It had moved out from the bush but was keeping a low profile among the taller plants, meaning I could not get a great photo.
I made it to the beach where I found that there were no scoters at all. I waited a short while, as that was all I could spare before my bus arrived, but there was no joy. The only thing of note out to sea was a Fulmar that flew past, my first of the year. However, along the shoreline there continued to be good numbers of waders, including Sanderling, which I have included a photo of simply because it is a species that I really do not see that often
I decided that my last moments on the reserve could probably be spent better elsewhere, and so moved off. Along the edge of Volunteer Marsh where the waders show well there remained a Black-Tailed Godwit, but it had been joined by a Ruff that was almost in summer plumage, it was only lacking is mane. It was really close too, so that I could even see the scaled plumage on its back, a feature I have never seen before. So that was a lovely ending to the day.

-Black-Tailed Godwit

And that was that from titchwell. I also should mention that I had 3 species of butterfly today, Comma, Peacock and Large white, summer is obviously truly here now. I made it to my bus and made an earlier connection, and as a result decided to call off at Cley for an hour.
Cley was very quiet by its own high standards, possibly as a result of it being late in the day, but there was not much about. The highlight was a small group of Little Ringed Plover on the islands a small group of almost summer plumaged Ruff on the far island, but ultimately it was very quiet.
And so passed the first full day in Norfolk, 3 lifers for me, as well as a host of other smashing bird species. The tone has now been set, and the rest of the week has a lot to live up to.

Species List: 
Driving: Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Shelduck, Graylag Goose, Starling, Lapwing, Kestrel, Song Thrush, Collard Dove, House Sparrow
RSPB Titchwell Marsh: Ruff, Brent Geese, Shelduck, Shoveler, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Little Gull, Spotted Redshank, Wren, Linnet, Redshank, Black-Tailed Godwit, Teal, Black-Headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Graylag Goose, Mallard, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Coot, Marsh Harrier, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Sanderling, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Dunlin, Curlew, Gadwall, Swallow, Chaffinch, Pheasant, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Tufted Duck, Bittern, Chiff-Chaff, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Red-Crested Pochard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Fulmar, Skylark, Chinese Water Deer, Cinnabar Moth, Comma, Peacock, Large White,
NWT Cley Marshes: Avocet, Shelduck, Ruff, Pied Wagtail, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Graylag Goose, Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Lapwing, Little-Ringed Plover, Coot, Moorhen, Curlew, Marsh Harrier, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Mallard, Turnstone, Redshank, Canada Goose,

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