short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

short eared owl - Thorpe Marshes

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Titchwell, Thornham & Snettisham!!!

  Well as the month comes to an end me & Yorkie planned to take a trip to Titchwell to get the year list off to a good number of quality bird. We set off in the dark & windy morning at 6 am and get chatting about which target birds we expect to see & also grabbing us both a possible Lifer with the Northern Harrier which has been regularly seen for a while now at Thornham . We arrive at car park and as we get a quick coffee in us and bracing ourselves for wind , we see & hear a friendly  Robin , followed by a large number of  Gulls overhead. We set off and the sun is slowly sharing its light upon us, and as it does we pick up all the common shrub birds along with Shelducks in flight, Gold & Chaff Finches in the tree tops, Little Egrets  and Curlews a plenty , Brent Geese overhead  as well as on the marshes to your left. We head to the Island hide. As we scanned across we started to slowly pick up different species as the sun was coming up. Gadwell, Tufted & Shoveler Ducks, a with a few Ruff too. Also of note was a huge amount of Pochard ducks , which were mixing in with the Tufted Ducks. Pintail were looking ever splendid as the sun showed up there cracking colours.They were on a little bit of an island with a couple of just as cracking birds . . .  the Avocet .Both a real treat to view through the scope. Out towards the East Bank the Marsh Harriers had all woken and were in good hunting numbers, very close together . We counted at least 5, possibly 6 ,which were seen regularly dropping and occasionally coming up with some prey. Nice bird to watch while in the peace and quiet of the hide(and more importantly out of the wind!). 
 After we had spent a while scanning , and waiting for the sun to come up , giving us some much needed light , we made our way to the new  Parrinder Hide. Looking over to the Fresh Water & Island and then overlooking the Brackish Marsh which we choose to go to first.

We immediately caught sight of a huge flock feeding on the ground, made up of Sky Lark x15, Meadow Pipit x12, Water Pipits x3 and a flock of about x30 + Twite!! As we were getting a good Butchers of the flocks in front of us a shout of  `Rock Pipit` and a pointed finger over towards the pathway.We caught up with it as it made its way along the raised bank along the pathway leading away from the Hide. I was made up as it was a first for me & if it wasnt for the fellow birder kindly pointing it out i would have probably not got on it ! So after shaking his hand & thanking him we left to do a spot of Sea watching.
  As we walked along and passing the Tidal Marsh we picked out 6x Little Grebes and some Coots and a Pied Wagtail.
 We set up at the Viewing Platform to scan the Sea.We immediately see 300+ Common Scoter riding out the waves , so we kept an eye out for a Velvet if/when they took to flight. A male Golden Eye was close in & pointed out a Red Necked Grebe also quite close. Along the shoreline was Dunlin, Sanderling, Knot, Oystercatchers, Turnstone, HerringGreater Blacked Back Gull . We noticed some Waders take to the air and Yorkie soon tracked down why.There was a Peregrine Falcon out high above the skyline going east. Not as close as we would like but still a good day tick! Back to the now flying Scoter flock and Yorkie picks out a Velvet, i manage to pick up one too a minute later ,possibly the same one or maybe another ,either way i we got one!A good year tick and a more exciting for me . . . a Lifer!
 As we headed back towards the car we checked over towards the Brackish Marsh in hope of Shore ;ark which had been reported there but no luck but as we got chatting to a birder we caught  the Hooded Crow which had been lingering the past week or so .Worth sticking around for me thinks! As we passed back through the visitor centre we thought it was only right we both treated ourselves to a Hot Sausage Roll and a drink before heading to the car park.
  Thornham-  got ourselves set up behind a large Boat Shed out of the bitter wind and began to wait for the Northern Harrier to appear. While there, we were entertained by watching a couple of Curlews standing tall among the marsh & also a busy little Egret in the muddy water right in front of us.

Then as i nipped to car to get me Collins a Common Buzzard was seen flying over Titchwell. I managed to get on in the scope as it continued on eastwards. Will  after much waiting the Northern Harrier showed , and showed it did! Flying up close right in front. No need for scope or your bins as  it was so close you could see all the beautiful markings and colour with the naked eye. Cracking bird and was even more special as it was both a Lifer for us. Only the second time that has happened since birding with Yorkie over the last 3 years. We were more then happy with this bird. What made it even better was the 3x Barn owls which were hunting in the same area of each other , West of Thornham Harbour. We decided to call it today after a good days birding and with the weather getting rather nasty and dull.-  3 Lifers which took me to 210 on my British bird list. . . .

 Snettisham-  Picked up Greeno at 6am and arrived at Snettisham for 7.20. The car park was rammed full and we had to park up along the road which meant a bit more extra walking time so we  didn't wast any time. Quickly got our gloves and hats on to brace the cold wind &  started the walk to the hides, witnessing hundreds of Pink footed Geese overhead as we go , but not coming inland as we expected but out towards where they roost? We later told that a few days around a Full moon geese well take full advantage and feed all day & through the night, hence why they were only now just coming back in! We passed a couple of huge water pools with huge amount of Tufted and Goldeneye to look at. I`d never seen so many Goldeneye before & would see loads more later on.  We arrived at the main part of land where to one side you have the Wash & its mud flats where the flocks of Waders feed upon and then the other side you have the small pools with high banks surrounding it, where the Waders will roost up ,to keep warm & out of the wind ,while they wait for the tide to going back out so they can resume feeding.When this happens , thousands of Knots & Oystercatchers will fly low over the banks (and your head if your lucky enough to be in the right spot) and back onto the Wash! But before that happens me & Greeno checked out the Spit out to the Wash . We manage to find a bench and watch the Thousands of Waders begin to take to the air, shimmering across the sea & producing a real spectacle to the eye.
Among this was around 100 + Goldeneye,  50 + Shelduck and tons of Tufted Ducks too. As we checked out thousands of Geese out in the distance we caught  sight of 2x  Marsh Harriers going up & down the spit. Nice views of this bird that i take for granted being a regular resident Norfolk speciality, but a bird rarely seen else where. As the Waders start to go over to roost in the banks , we go to view them by getting into one of the many RSPB  Hides .The hides were now all very crammed & full of scopes, bins & very cold birders all trying warm up out of the wind. We choose to take this opportunity to enjoy a nice cuppa and tuck into the cracking rolls my lovely wife had made.Very nice indeed! As we did we were entertained by firstly, a little Grebe & then a few Cormorants dropping in to the Islands. And of course all the time the last few remaining Waders coming into rest up & joining the 18,000+ Knots & 4,000+ Oystercatchers!! It just looked like a sheet of Black and White ,with a carpet of Grey ,layed out on the shingle bank.

As they all started to sense the tide was going out they start to move one way and then the other, in doing so putting on a fantastic event to watch.This really was great to witness and as they started to get restless, we decided to move back to where we were previously, to catch the spectacular sight of them whizzing overhead back to the mud flats on the Wash! Will we timed it just right as about  2,000 went over where we were standing, the noise they made was from pure speed .A fantastic sight  as another and then another flock came over our heads. . . `it don't get much better then this!` i shout to Greeno with a huge grin slapped across me face.We set off back to the van and as we did i caught sight of what i first thought was Snow Buntings landing along the shingle but when on closer inspection were in fact 30+ Twite! What a bonus to end the trip on !

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