Monday, 20 April 2015

April 20th Choseley Barns, Thornham and RSPB Titchwell

Pigeons and fog
As I opened my curtains at 6:30 this morning, as I got myself ready for a big day of birdwatching, there was a surprise in store for me sitting on the rooftop across the street. That heron from last week is back! Now I'm sure there is something that interests it nearby. Someone's pond perhaps? I still don't know what is beyond the house it is sitting on, but whatever it is has caught it's eye as it is the second time I have seen it now. I also notice it was quite foggy at this time of morning and looked too pretty not to take a few photos. Even the local pigeons were eager to get into the shot.

The Heron on the roof is back!!
Grey Partridge
Today, I was heading to Titchwell with Mum. But before we got to the reserve, there was a bird I wanted to see that's not too far away. Ring ouzels have arrived across Norfolk with many sightings throughout the county in the past week and I have never seen one before. As it was on the way, we popped over to Choseley Barns as it had some reported there on and off this week. I was hoping that they were there, but no. There was a couple of birdwatchers on the scene though and they gave us two nice things to show and tell. The first was directions to a place nearby that had ring ouzels in the last quarter of an hour. Secondly, they kindly showed me a couple of grey partridges in a field opposite us. Always nice to see grey partridges as they are on a massive decline in recent years and a bird we could lose forever if we are not careful.

Ring Ouzel
We thanked the couple for the partridges and set off once again to check out these ouzels they told us about. They sent us to the village of Thornham just beyond Titchwell's entrance. We got to the cricket pitch we were told to go to and we noticed that three people with scopes were already here, meaning that the birds were here too. I scanned the far side of the pitch and a blackbird with a bright white crescent-shape on it's breast. This was my first ring ouzel and it was joined by six more. Most of them were males like the first one I saw and a few others were females which are much duller looking. Ring ouzels are basically blackbirds of the mountains. But wait, there are no mountains in Norfolk, I hear you say! Well, they are here on a short stop over as they make their way up to the mountain regions of the UK from Africa. Norfolk is a hotspot for migrating ouzels at this time of year as well as other migrating birds, a reason why this county is popular with birdwatchers worldwide.

Sedge Warbler
Now that I am satisfied with my seven ring ouzels, it was time to visit Titchwell. After lunch at the reserve's cafe, we made our way towards the beach. It was a lovely day despite having a slight cold breeze and we saw quite a few things. Spring migrants were everywhere. You couldn't help yourself from listening to the loud, excitable songs of  many sedge warblers singing in the reedbeds and on top of the bramble bushes. After some searching, we had good views of these streaky brown birds, noticing their whte stripe above the eye and white throats clearly. I also had a glimpse of a Cetti's warbler flying to cover before shouting at me. A few other signs of spring were noticable too, including goslings and ducklings.

Marsh harriers were quite active here today, busy patrolling over the reedbeds and pools now and then throughout the reserve. Avocets, oystercatchers, lapwings, black-headed gulls, shelducks, teal, shovelers and mallard were all seen from the first hide. From the two newer hides, we had redshanks, curlews, black-tailed godwits and a few ruff (including one male beginning to grow his flamboyant plumage which will eventually include his ruff feathers around his head). We also saw a couple of Chinese water deer out on the saltmarsh along the way to the hides, including this moulting individual. We got to the beach and the tide was quite a way out, exposing mud which many oystercatchers and gulls were taking advantage of.
Chinese Water Deer
Black-tailed Godwit
Male Ruff
Curlew feeding deep in the mud
Got something!
Meadow Pipit
A nice shell I found

A surprise to me today (besides the heron from this morning that is), was that there was still a lot of wintering geese. Most of them were brent geese, which were everywhere on the reserve. As we made our way back from the beach, I found a large skein of pink-footed geese flying over us. The point is both these species should be making their way north now towards their breeding grounds, not remaining here in large numbers like this. Perhaps they wanted an extended vacation here? Who would blame them, Norfolk is a great place to be. Also on our walk back, we saw a couple of red-crested pochard, which seem to have colonised Titchwell in recent years despite being a non-native (the male does look stunning though), and there was this ground beetle which toppled itself on to it's back by accident. After a short spell of flailing it's legs in the air, it managed to right itself back onto it's legs once again. Another good day of wildlife watching in North Norfolk.
Brent Geese
Skein of Pink-footed Geese
Pink-footed Geese
Red-crested Pochard
Ground Beetle
Whoops! Tripped onto it's back


  1. Great heron photos and how great if it keeps coming back to the roof!