Saturday, 20 August 2016

Aug 20th RSPB Titchwell Marshes

I was hoping to be at the bird fair at Rutland today. Unfortunately, I was unable to go. Instead, I went to Titchwell with Mum to see if anything interesting was about. The weather was windy with some showers but was mostly sunny. August this year has felt rather autumnal and the migration of birds has already begun. There has been an influx of migrants such as curlew sandpipers, pied flycatchers and whinchats arriving into Norfolk this week as they make their way south to Africa and elsewhere. Finding a bird like a curlew sandpiper would definitely make up for not meeting celebrities in Rutland.

Walking along the path towards the beach at Titchwell today was rather silent. At first, it felt like I wasn't going to see or hear a bird. Only the wind was more audible. But then, we reached the first pool and our luck changed. From the hides, waders were busy feeding from the mud. Though the pools weren't exactly awash with large flocks like a mosaic carpet of feathers and the number of species were more limited than I expected, but there were enough to keep us occupied.

Ringed Plover
Juvenile Shelduck

I was scanning the mud and islands that made up the landscape of these pools and could see black-tailed godwits, avocets, dunlin, redshanks, lapwings, golden plovers and a ringed plover. The most numerous of the waders out on the pools, though, were the one species that caused the most confusion: the ruff. Ruff come in many sizes and plumage colour at this time of year. Juvenile ruffs can cause the most headaches as they are smaller and can range from orange to light brown with plenty of spotted markings all over their backs. You can easily mistake them for other species such as curlew sandpipers, which I thought they were at times today. There were plenty of ducks here too, but they also caused some confusion as they were mostly in their shabby eclipse phased plumages. You need to really look at some subtle coloured clues in their plumage to really tell what species you are looking at. At this time of year, you have to be Sherlock Holmes to identify the birds.

Juvenile Ruff

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank
Golden Plovers

Bar-tailed Godwit?
At the beach, the tide was completely out, a long way out. The walk down to the shoreline would have been better without the wind whipping up the fine grains of sand at my bare legs. We reached a large piled area of shells where more waders seen feeding on them. They were mostly oystercatchers and the odd curlew as well as plenty of gulls, but there were also a few godwits which had me wondering if they were bar-tailed or black-tailed. It certainly appears to be more streakier than a black-tailed godwit and I think there is a slight upturn in the bill, which makes me lean towards bar-tailed godwits. It is hard to be sure exactly, unless you are a Sherlock Holmes of the birdwatching world, but I think this is a juvenile bar-tailed godwit. What do you think?

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