Bird watching in Norfolk

(I’ve recently started a second blog on the Wild About Britain web site,¬†where I record more about the wildlife I see on my walks. This post is a straight copy of my entry on that blog).¬†

I’ve just got back from a short break in North Norfolk, only the second time this year that I’ve really been bird watching.

On Wednesday afternoon I visited the RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh reserve. I saw several types of duck (Shoveller, Shellduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail) and wader (Ruff, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Avocet) but the highlights were Med Gull and Barn Owl.

On Thursday morning I started at Salthouse (next village east from Cley) as the kind gentleman who’d shown me the Med Gull at Titchwell had told me about Buntings there. I soon managed to see a small flock of Snow Buntings near the car park, where some photographers had been putting down food to attract them (apparently the locals have been feeding them about 200 yards away). I then managed to identify a Lapland Bunting amongst the Snow Buntings, a first for me!

I then went to Cley. There was a nice new visitor centre, where I stopped for a capucino. I saw a Marsh Harrier here, but nothing else that I’d not seen at Titchwell.

Next I walked round a bit of Holkham Park, where I saw Long-Tailed Tit, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Dabchick and Egyptian Goose. Just as I was about to leave, I saw a small group of Chaffinch, and checking them closely I spotted a Brambling amongst them (I remembered seeing a mixed flock of chaffinch and bramblings here a few years ago).

I finished the day at a couple of hides behind the coastal pine belt at Holkham, overlooking the marshy fields where thousands of pink-footed geese roost. I saw a Hen Harrier and some white-fronted geese. By the time the pink-footed geese came in to roost, it was almost dark. I saw a few small groups come in, but by the time the main body came in it was really too dark to see them – but the noise alone was worth going for! It started very faintly then gradually grew louder and louder, like an approaching wave, then reached a crescendo as the geese arrived over the fields and squabbled over where each individual would land. Think of the noise one goose can make, then multiply it by 40,000! A truly remarkable wildlife experience.

This morning I went to Titchwell Marsh again. I had a nice view of a Snipe from the Fen Hide, then saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Bullfinch as I made my way out to the reed bed. I saw a Little Egret on the grazing marsh next to the reserve, and when I got to the coast I saw some Eider and Goldeneye on the sea.

I had a cornish pastie for lunch at the visitor centre. There was a very friendly robin and blackbird there, keen on eating up my crumbs!

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