Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 25 November 2016

Titchwell Marsh 23rd November (with Leigh Gallant)

My good friend Leigh Gallant arrived at my home in Watton at 0630 for a planned trip to Titchwell.  On the whole I had a good drive up to Titchwell with the exception of a diversion at Gayton which meant following the A149 to Hunstanton and onto our destination, arriving at 0800.
This was to be Leigh's first visit to Titchwell and I am very pleased to write that he saw many new species at this superb reserve.
It was quite clear upon arrival, however, dense fog rolled in over the marsh reducing visibility somewhat until the sun eventually burnt the fog away to give a very pleasant day.
Whilst preparing for our walk we set ourselves a target of 70 species, we eventually accrued 68 species, however, had we brought a 'scope I think distant birds on the sea would have lifted our list to beyond 70 species.
The car park area always gets a days birding off to a good start and expected species seen included Robin, Blackbirds, Wren, and Chaffinches, whilst in a Sycamore above us a single Goldcrest foraged amongst leaves.  Overhead, the first waders of the day came in the form of a flock of Lapwings heading west.
Having left the car park area we headed North along the west bank where a mobile flock of Long-tailed Tits were seen along with a single ChiffchaffGoldfinches were seen in the Alders.  Reed Buntings appeared plentiful moving amongst reeds.  It was whilst Leigh and myself were walking along west bank that thick fog appeared over Thornham Marsh to eventually move in and affect visibility considerably.  The loud song of Cetti's Warbler was heard typically from dense cover, several of these resident Warblers would eventually be heard by the end of the day.   Also typically heard only within reed cover was the distinctive call of Water Rail.
Thornham Marsh held a couple of Buzzards, and in total some 3 Marsh Harriers were seen during the day.
Wader species dominated the Freshwater Marsh and Brackish lagoons with largish numbers of Golden Plover, Lapwings, and Dunlin present, with a few fly-over Snipe.  Small numbers of Avocet were seen.  A couple of Black-tailed Godwits were present, this included a close to feeding bird on the Brackish lagoon.  Little Grebes were often seen in channels where they frequently dived for food.
Approaching the dunes, a small flock of Goldfinches and Linnets sat silhouetted in a bush, and only just visible in the fog.
Although we could hear the sea, we couldn't see it due to the thick fog, we concentrated our efforts in the dunes hoping for Snow Buntings.  A small flock of Finches did arrive and settled out of sight in the dunes, careful searching soon saw a small party of Goldfinches feeding within weed debris.
The sun was beginning to burn the fog away, we then decided to walk down to the shore where lots of Oystercatchers were initially out of sight but heard.  Once at the beach, good numbers of Oystercatchers were seen, also a few Sanderling turned the odd piece of weed or small stone in search for food.  Several Turnstones frequented the remains of the concrete and brick control tower on the beach.
Stonechat at Titchwell 23/11/16 (one of a pair on the west bank)
Looking out to sea, a single Red-throated Diver was seen close to some sea-Duck species, one of which at least was an Eider
The walk back along west bank produced two beautiful Stonechats (male and female), these birds typically flew onto prominent perches such as a tall weed or reed, which was used as a look-out for spotting food.  The lovely, quiet, rapidly given clicking call was heard.
Following a nice lunch in the restaurant, Leigh and myself walked a small section of the wonderful Meadow trail where once again Cetti's Warbler made its presence known.  Two Marsh Harriers were seen again low over the marsh whilst overhead a small party of Fieldfares passed over us.
Finally, with light quickly fading we checked the feeding station close to the visitor centre, here we saw a female Brambling, Chaffinches, and Tit species coming to feed.  A few Redwings were seen leaving the taller trees.  The ubiquitous Robin was seen in the wooded area around the car park area, one often came within reach of us, a lovely ending to the day.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I will end by thanking my very good friend Leigh Gallant for his company on this trip.

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