Monday, 18 June 2012

Weather - grey, place - Titchwell

The worst weather day of our week away was the Monday, and we opted to go to RSPB Titchwell so we could take refuge in the hides if necessary. By the time we arrived, though, it had stopped raining, though it remained gloomy and windy the rest of the day.

We started off in the Fen hide, looking out over a small pool and miles of reedbed beyond. From here we could hear a tantalisingly close Cuckoo, and see at least three different Marsh Harriers getting whipped around by the wind. None really came close enough for photos. Then another big brown thing lifted off miles away and I do include a photo of it because it's the one and only Bittern we saw this week.

And onwards, towards the Island hide which overlooks the fresh marsh. Out on the water were plenty of Avocets, including good numbers of part-grown chicks, plus Shelducks and other wildfowl. Numerous Swifts were hawking low over the water, accompanied by a few hirundines.

We'd forgotten to check the sightings board on the way through. If we had, I guess we'd have known there was a Spoonbill around, and wouldn't have been so surprised when it flew quite low overhead while we were on the trail watching House Martins over the fresh marsh.

Rob and I spent a while standing here, trying to get shots of the House Martins. They were being relatively predictable here, flying low over the water into the wind in the direction of the sea, then flipping around and getting blown back landwards before turning and repeating the process. So getting the camera on them as they battled into the wind wasn't all that difficult, but persuading the lens to focus on the small bird rather than the water was more of a challenge.

On the salt lagoon, another unexpected treat, a rather scruffy first-summer Little Gull which was being pushed around by the Black-headed Gulls, not allowed to rest very long in any one spot.

We reached the wonderful beach, where it was low tide, and walked towards the shore, carefully choosing a path that didn't take us anywhere near the groups of feeding waders.

I was busy explaining to Rob why we had to give the waders a very wide berth when four of them flew over and landed almost at our feet - three Turnstones (two in fantastic summer plumage) and a Sanderling. They started pottering about nearby - here's one of the Turnstones...

 ... and here's the Sanderling.

We stayed well back from the other waders but had a couple of flybys, including this Bar-tailed Godwit and a few small groups of Knots.

It was really dark and grey by now. We walked back, noting the Little Gull again, Shovelers and Tufties on the fresh marsh, and the odd Reed Warbler. Rob also saw a Weasel skitter across the path - I missed it, and it didn't respond to my mouse impressions.

At the feeding station by the visitor centre, we witnessed a fierce battle between two Woodpigeons - my attempts to capture this on camera consist of a series of frantic grey blurs (shutter speeds were down to 1/30th sec because of no light). I did manage to steady the lens enough for a sort-of clear photo of this Jay on a feeder.


Phil said...

Shame about the weather Marianne, but you got some decent shots despite it.
It is indeed a nice beach, a bit chilly when I last went a few Octobers back.
Very nice Spoonbill picture and I did a double take on the Little Gull which looked like it had got a layer of snow on it!
You'll have to brush up on your mouse impressions by the sound of it.
I didn't get chance to comment on your first Norfolk post but well done with the two dragons.

Phil said...

Oops! I forgot to mention the Bittern. You can't not mention a picture of a Bittern can you. Nice one, consider it mentioned!

Warren Baker said...

Well, despite the weather, you got some fantastic wildlife sightings. Good effort with the House Martin in flight, not got any of these myself!

ShySongbird said...

You obviously had a great time despite the weather. Well done with the Spoonbill photo. Well done with the House Martin photo too...not easy to capture by any means.

Like Phil, I missed commenting on the first part but congrats on the two dragons and the lovely photos. Are you sure that Norfolk Hawker didn't hitch a ride back with was seen in Kent a few days ago!

Rohrerbot said...

The weather may not have been the greatest but your pics of bird sightings are incredible!!! The avocet, house martin, wow wow! I know exactly what you mean about the House Martin. You can predict their flight patterns as they go around and around and around....but it's being quick on target. I did the same thing last week on vacation with our tree did an amazing job:) Thanks for sharing your pictures.

Alan Pavey said...

Great post Marianne, I was there on the 9th, it is a great place and always plenty to see, glad you enjoyed it and got such great photos too :-)