Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Norfolk Holiday Day 4

And so on the last full day in Norfolk I decided to return to Titchwell since it had given so much more than Cley had yesterday. Once more it took me the best part of the morning to get to the site, but once there the weather was lovely and hopefully there would be plenty of morning reports for me to go for. 
I arrived at the site and checked the list. Both the mornings oddities were at Patsy's Reedbed; Pink Footed Goose and Lesser Whitethroat, the latter would be a lifer for me. I therefore headed straight to there. I wandered up to the view point over the pool and immediately spotted the PFG, which was resting among the graylags on the near side of the pool. I watched it for about 10 mins before deciding it would be time to try and locate the Lesser Whitethroat. 
-Pink-Footed Goose
So having picked up a great tick in the PFG, and got my best ever photos of the species I headed on to where the whitethroat was. It had been reported in the hedge behind the the pool, not showing well but calling frequently. As I had been asking for info about the bird at the center one of the birders wandered by who had seen it. He asked if I knew what one sounded like, and said that it sounded like a yellowhammer but without the 'cheese' when I replied no.
And so I stood next to the hedge listening for a yellowhammer with no cheese. And after about a minuet I heard it. I followed its call for some time before I saw it shadowy figure moving through the hedge. That was the pattern for a good 20 mins, following the skulky bird through the hedge without getting a real good view, but frequently hearing its call. 
After the 20mins it had a quiet spell, before having a very loud spell and then deciding to up-sticks and head away from that hedge and a different one away on the far side of the field. I tried to get a record shot as it flew off, but I struggled and my only effort is shown below, the bird being near the bottom right corner. You can see the dark cap if you blow up the photo enough, but photos are not everything, and my record shot is enough, as it pretty much sums up my view of the bird, skulky and difficult to see.
But see it I did, making it my 4th lifer of the holidays, and that was exciting enough when I had only just started the mornings birding.
-Lesser Whitethroat
Since the whitethroat had left I turned to find that the PFG had left to my disappointment. As a result I decided to head off, and just as I was leaving I turned again and what should drop out of the reeds but a Bittern. I could not believe it, as it landed right on the edge of the reeds on the edge of the pool, allowing me a great view of the bird. 
It stayed at the edge for a little while before merging itself into the back of the reeds. I managed a few photos but struggle to find it through the scope. The bins were enough, though they were not necessarily needed for a great view.
As I waited to see if the bittern would come back out the PFG returned with a small group of Graylag's, and landed on the pool. It took a little while but it returned to the bank soon enough and I was able to pick up a few more photos with the light with me this time. So that's 3 pretty awesome bird species and I had not even been onto the main part of the reserve.
-Pink-Footed Goose
I began my walk up the Western Bank to the Parrinder Hides. On the way up along the edge of the woods where the reeds are I heard a very familiar call that I have been hearing all week. It was the stunning and shocking call of a Cettis Warbler. As I turned to see if I could find the source of the call I spotted a small reddish warbler fly out of the reeds and land lower down. I then got to follow the bird as it skulked through the bottom of the reeds before it flew off into the woodland. So that was my second Cettis Warbler of the Holiday, and only my 4th ever.
The hides were quite quiet by the high standards set last time, though there were still great numbers of wildfowl and waders. There were a few Little-Ringed Plover and Avocets, as well the usual suspects. I decided to head up to the coast and see what was around up that end. 
On the way up to the beach I was able to watch some lovely birds along the edge of Volunteer Marsh and Tidal Marsh. There were good numbers of Grey Plover and Brent Geese, but the highlights was a small group of Avocets over the tidal marsh which did a few Loop-de-Loops over the marsh before coming back down and landing on the island. Because they were in flight you can really appreciate the beauty and elegance of these birds.
Up on the coast I arrived just in time to see a flock of scoters with white wings come and land on the ocean quite near the shore. I had a look through the scope, and possibly because the sea was calm, or perhaps because they were closer I was actually able to fully appreciate the birds and even see the yellow on their bills and the white on the wing.
I still could not really count the number of each species in the flock, but I knew there were a large majority Velvet due to the number of white wings that I had seen when they landed. I grabbed some better record shots, which show that quite a few of the birds do indeed have white wings, but that some don't, a mixture flock.

-Common and Velvet Scoters
I was able to watch them for quite a while, though the started to drift out to sea, and then drift towards the western part of the beach until they ended up some was away. At that point I began to look around, see what else was about. Someone had decided to wander right down to the edge of the water, not a birder, someone on the beach, but in doing so they had sent up all the birds from the shoreline, Sanderlings, Dunlin and Bar-Tailed Godwit. The numbers of them can be difficult to tell if they are on the shoreline feeding, but when they were all in the air you can see the number of Sanderlings, far more than I had thought initially.
-Sanderling, Bar-Tailed Godwit and Dunlin
Also the near the waters edge was a small group of Common Scoter, 2 males and 2 females. The males however drifted off while the waders were up, but the females stuck around very close to the shore. I wanted to get close to the bird, since it was so close to the shore, but I decided against it in case I incurred the wrath of any other sea-watchers, though they would probably be watching the larger but drifting flock of other scoters. So in the end the photos were not what they could have been, but I did manage to get some decent photos of it.
-Female Common Scoter
Since the scoters had drifted away I decided to head down to the South Parrinder Hide to see if anything else had shown up through the day while I had not been there. I went in and began to scout around to see what was about. There was the usual stuff, until I took my eye away from the scope and spotted, on the bank right in front of the hide, the Spotted Redshank.
I'm always dubious in calling birds like this in case I am wrong, but exclaimed it more in surprise since I had been looking all over and here it was right in front of me. I got some great views and took plenty of photos, allowing me to fully appreciate the subtly beauty of the bird, as well as get to grips with all the key features: Spots, dark bill and the slight droop on the end of the bill.
Like I said, I got many photos, and who wouldn't with such an usual bird right in front of me looking so fine in the sunshine. Unlike last time, the sun was with me this time so all the spots on the birds back show up well in the photos, clearly showing the bird in all its glory.
-Spotted Redshank
Between my Spotted Shank watching a small family of Mallards swam across the front of the hide. You could tell the dude birders in that moment, as they became infatuated with the ducklings, while the other birders remained watching the Spotted Shank in front of the hide. I took a few quick photos of the Ducklings simply because its the first family I have seen this year, though of course there was the duckling on fly flatts, sadly though that one was dead. 
-Mallard Ducklings
-Spotted Redshank
After a while I decided to return to see if the scoters had come closer to the shore. They had not, the only birds of note being Sandwich Terns that drifted past the shore. However, on the way up I was able to get great views of a stunning Black-Tailed Godwit in summer plumage, on the small strip of water along the edge of the Volunteer Marsh. 
-Black-Tailed Godwit
After that short trip I called in again at the South Hide to see if the Spot shank was still there, but it had left, probably insulted by the number of 'birders' that seemed more keen on the ducklings that the shank. Time was running out for me so I decided to go and see if the Whitethroat had turned up. On the way there I stopped by to grab a few more photos of the Avocets, who even knows when I will next see one...
On the way I passed the Reedbed Pool, and on there was a pair of Red-Crested Pochard. The male and female were drifted from each other, the male drifted behind the reeds as I approached, but the female was sat quite close to the path. I managed a few photos of the bird, another record shot of this species. 
-Red Crested Pochard Female
I checked where the Whitethroat had been but it was not there, and neither was the PFG. In fact, the only thing that made that bit of the walk interesting was the fact that I stumbled across my first damselfly of the year, a fleeting glimpse of a Large Red Damselfly as it flew across the path. 
All in all, a great day, all four lifers of the holiday in one day, if that there was one addition today. And that will probably be the last birding action of the day. The only thing left to do is to give a full breakdown of all the species seen today...

Species List:
Titchwell Marsh: Pied Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Pink-Footed Goose, Graylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Black-Headed Gull, Willow Warbler, Shelduck, Wren, Gadwall, Oystercatcher, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Woodpigeon, Robin, Cettis Warbler, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Avocet, Grey Plover, Redshank, Brent Goose, Herring Gull, Dunlin, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Canada Goose, Lapwing, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Little Egret, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Turnstone, Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Jackdaw, Common Crow, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Red-Crested Pochard, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Pheasant, Long-Tailed Tit, Swallow, Red-Legged Partridge, Large Red Damselfly, Speckled Wood, Large White, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell,

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