A day tour in North Norfolk today, looking for rare breeding birds, Spoonbills and waders. We spent the morning looking for raptors. Our first stop yielded the bonus of at least 3 Turtle Doves, which perched up on the wires and gave us great views all round. At the second site we visited, a juvenile Cuckoo flew ahead of us along the track and perched up just long enough for get the scopes on it. Wherever we went, we were serenaded by the sounds of Norfolk farmland – lots of singing Skylarks and Yellowhammers. Amongst the commoner species of raptor, we saw Red Kite, Common Buzzard, several Marsh Harriers and Kestrels.
We drove on up to Titchwell for lunch. As we walked out onto the reserve early in the afternoon, the grazing marsh pool held a good variety of ducks, including a family of at least 8 Red-crested Pochard. The freshmarsh looked really good for waders, with lots of exposed mud, and we were not to be disappointed – it was teeming with life.
The best of the waders were two Wood Sandpipers which showed really well alongside the main footpath. At least 10 Spotted Redshanks included two still mostly in their smart black summer plumage, with the others in various stages of moult, and a single Greenshank lurked in amongst them and the large number of Redshank. Similarly a good smattering of Ruff included a bewildering variety of males in different colours and states. Several Whimbrel dropped in while we were there and flew off ‘laughing’. Large numbers of Black-tailed and a smaller group of Bar-tailed Godwits gave us a good opportunity to compare and contrast, as did both Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers.
Waders and ducks were not the only birds we saw. A Yellow Wagtail was also out amongst the large number of Pied Wagtails. Surprisingly, we only saw a single Spoonbill (6 were present earlier in the day, but had probably dispersed to feed), which flew off from the freshmarsh, over the footpath and landed out in one of the creeks on Thornham marsh.The biggest surprise was seeing 4 Arctic Skuas fly over the freshmarsh, probably blown in from the sea by the keen N wind.
All-in-all, a very successful and enjoyable day out.