Monday, 12 September 2016

Sep 12th Titchwell

Titchwell's hides from the Autumn Trail
It is always worth searching the same place more than once during autumn and though its only been a matter of weeks since I was last at Titchwell, you never know what might have turned up since my last visit. So I am back at the reserve with Mum in the hope of seeing the autumn migration in action and hopefully some migratory birds that are passing through Norfolk on their epic journeys south. These birds can come from any where from across the world to be here either by chance or as part of a traditional route used by many of their kind for generations. This is why I love birdwatching in Norfolk at this time of year, you never know what you will see.

Long-tailed Tits
We began today's visit with a walk along the Autumn Trail, which takes you by the opposite side of the main coastal path. There wasn't much about here, though we did see a couple of snipe and a few ruff, lapwings and assortment of common duck species. Dragonflies were everywhere around the reserve today and many of them perched on the benches, signs and fencing to sun themselves. Back at the visitor centre, we watched the feeders for a while before buying lunch at the café. Chaffinches, goldfinches and blue tits were the most regular of visitors, but my favourites were the long-tailed tits.

Common Snipe
Little Grebe
Common Darter
Speckled Wood

After lunch, we made our way down towards the beach, stopping at Island Hide along the way. The first pool that it overlooks was full of waders and the mud in front of the hide lured them closer to us. Avocets, dunlin, godwits, golden plovers, lapwings, ruffs and curlews were all as expected, but there were a few of gems out there amongst them, too. There were two curlew sandpipers and several little stints feeding from the mud, both arriving from their breeding grounds from across the Arctic Circle, some as far as Arctic Russia. Most of these birds that make their way to our shores are more than likely to be juvenile birds. This is because they are learning the migration route for the first time and often stray into the wrong direction.
Grey Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Golden Plovers

Curlew Sandpiper
Curlew sandpipers are very similar looking to dunlin, but are bigger with a long, slightly down curved bill. Little stints, on the other hand, are tiny. They are half the size of a dunlin and they were dwarfed by the other waders they were feeding alongside. They are so tiny that its amazing to think that such a bird could make it here from half way across the world and surviving the many dangers along the way. I expect through it's eyes it is like living in a world of giants!

Little Stint

As well as the curlew sandpipers and little stints, there were a few other surprises out on the reserve today. First there was a clouded yellow, which is a beautiful yellowy orange migratory butterfly with black tips, flying over the reed beds so fast that I was unable to photograph it. Then there was a single white starling amongst a flock of ordinary starlings. It stood out like a sore thumb and Mum was the one who spotted it first. Again, it was such a brief fly over, I was just not quick enough to reach for my camera in time. We also saw a kingfisher at the final pool before the beach, landing for a split second before disappearing over the salt marshes. At the beach, we could see a stream of terns, gulls and other seabirds flying over the calm sea out in the horizon, but they were so distant that we really needed a scope to identify them better. I did not bring mine today as it just adds to the weight to carry. In the end, I was satisfied with what we saw today, especially the white starling!

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