SUPER SANDERLINGS IN NORFOLK
In the October half term break I headed to Norfolk, staying at the George Hotel in the town of Swaffham from Monday to Friday. On the first day I headed south west to WWT Welney Wetland Centre which is one of ten reserves managed by the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust and is located 26 miles north of Cambridge. From the upper floor of the visitor centre looking south east I spotted a trio of Cattle Egrets in the distance hiding amongst the grazing cows whilst visiting the feeders below me were several Tree Sparrows & Goldfinches.
I now headed up the stairs to the roof level of the building and onto the bridge taking you over the road and the New Bedford River. All of the hides are on this side of the river and the first hide you arrive at is the Main Observatory Hide which has the main glass fronted observatory with wooden hides either side and water level concrete hide below. I first went over to the wooden section to the right hand side and from here I could see Shovelers, Wigeons, Pochards, Mallards, Mute Swans and Black Headed Gulls.
Over to the left were around a hundred Black Tailed Godwits, all huddled together at the edge of the water. In the far distance a Marsh Harrier was flying low over the land hunting for food, sending any nearby birds flying up into the air. I moved down to the concrete hide underneath the main observatory where just in front of me was a male Pochard busy preening. I left the hide and headed along the path towards the next hide and as I walked along there were still several dragonflies about.
The next hide was the Nelson-Lyle Hide where there were several Mallards and Black Headed Gulls whilst the Marsh Harrier was still hunting in the distance. From here I moved onto the Lyle Hide where to the right were half a dozen Teals and around two hundred Starlings flying overhead. In the far distance I could see a Great White Egret whilst a Kestrel hovered above the hide. I now walked onto the furthest hide from the visitor centre which is the Friends Hide where the Great White Egret was closer but still a long way from the hide.
As I walked back towards the Main Observatory Hide there were several cows walking along the embankment to my left and when I reached the hide, the large number of Black Tailed Godwits were still present but had moved over to the right hand side. It was now approaching closing time at the reserve so I headed back over the bridge and through the visitor centre back to the car and as I drove over to the hotel at Swaffham I saw two large groups of Whooper Swans in the fields.
On day two of my trip to Norfolk I visited the RSPB's Titchwell Marsh Reserve which is located between the villages of Titchwell and Thornham just five miles east of Hunstanton. The Reserve's habitats include reedbeds, salt marshes, freshwater lagoon, sandy beach and a small woodland area near to the car park. Titchwell Marsh is part of the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is an important site for scarce breeding birds such as Bitterns, Avocets, Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits.
The reserve is also home to wetland birds such as the Water Rail, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Little Egrets. Geese and Ducks winter at the reserve in large numbers and Titchwell is very important for migrating birds during Spring and Autumn and regularly attracts rarities. On the reserve there are four hides, five trails, cafe and visitor centre and the reserve is free to RSPB members but non-members have to buy a car park ticket for the day. The five trails are the Meadow trail, Fen trail, East trail, West Bank path and Autumn trail, although the Autumn trail is only open from August to October.
During both World War One and World War Two the site was heavily used by the military and remains from both World Wars are still visible. Brickwork from a First World War military hospital and 1940's artillery targets for armoured fighting vehicles and warplanes in the Second World War can be seen. Immediately west of Titchwell Marsh is Thornham Marsh and from 1914 to 1918 it was used as a bombing range by the Royal Flying Corps. There is also some brickwork remaining from a First World War military hospital and a First World War building on the West Bank was used as a holiday let until 1942 when the army returned.
During the Second World War military defences were built at Titchwell Marsh and between 1942 and 1945 it was used by the Royal Tank Regiment. An armoured fighting vehicle gunnery range was established and new banks were constructed for firing practice. Titchwell Marsh was still used for military activities after the war had ended with the RAF using Thornham Marsh again between 1950 and 1959. The remains of two Second World War Covenanter tanks used as targets are sometimes visible at low tides.
The wreck of the SS Vina, a cargo steamship built in 1894, can be seen at low tide and in 1944 it was being used as a target for the RAF when a gale dragged it to its current location and sank it. The remains are reachable at low tide, but visiting them is very dangerous as it can be very quickly cut off by the incoming tide with a warning sign advising anyone that reaches it to return to the beach immediately. Behind the sea wall the marshes were drained after the war and returned to farmland, but during the North Sea flood of 1953 the bank was breached and the whole area was returned to tidal saltmarsh.
Between 1970 and 1972 a pair of Montagu's Harriers which are Britain's rarest breeding birds of prey, nested in the reedbed at Titchwell Marsh and in 1973 the reserve was bought by the RSPB for the sum of £53,000. Sadly the Montagu's Harriers did not return but in 1984 Avocets bred here for the first time and the RSPB has been improving the habitat and facilities, embanking the lagoons and building a visitor centre and car park with the visitor centre facilities being upgraded between 1987 and 1989 to cope with the number of visitors.
In 1991 the sea broke through the dunes at the eastern end of the beach near the former Tern hide and this caused the dunes to start eroding. The remains of the two Second World War tanks first appeared at this time. The following year the boardwalk at the beach end of the West Bank was built to protect the dunes. In 1993 thirty acres of land to the east of the reserve was bought with much of this being the old firing range used by the army. Large amounts of barbed wire caused problems when converting the area to reedbed and wet grazing meadow.
In February of 1996 storms demolished most of the sand dunes east of the boardwalk and eroded those to the west leading to the Tern hide being cut off at high tide and as a result it was dismantled. In 1997 a cafe was added to the visitor centre and the Fen hide was erected alongside a boardwalk that leads to the hide. Titchwell Marsh is one of the RSPB's most visited sites and is right next to the A149 road with buses stopping right outside the reserve. The main track is a public right of way and is the only part of the reserve where dogs are permitted. The visitor centre is open every day except Christmas Day & Boxing Day with most of the reserve and its facilities being wheelchair accessible.
Breeding birds at the reserve include Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers, Water Rails, Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Cetti's Warblers and Little Egrets. During the early part of Summer rare migrants such as the Little Gull, Black Tern, Eurasian Spoonbill and Garganey sometimes pass through to breed at other locations. In the autumn some species arrive from the north such as Black Tailed Godwits, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints either staying for winter or using the reserve as a refuelling stop before carrying on.
From 2010 to 2011 the banks on the east and west of the reserve were reinforced, with the sea wall to the north of the fresh marsh being rebuilt on the line of the old Parrinder bank. The Parrinder hide was replaced by two new hides designed by HaysomWardMiller, with the new designs winning an award from RIBA for the architectural style. The former brackish marsh north of the new wall was changed by creating a breach in the east bank to allow tidal flooding and establishment of saltmarsh. The new saltmarsh will protect the rebuilt Parrinder wall and slow erosion.
It was a mild and partly cloudy day when I arrived and I headed straight onto the West Bank Path which eventually reaches the beach. To the left of the path I could see Little Egrets, Redshanks and small groups of Starlings flying towards me, over the path and dropping into the reeds. After a short distance I arrived at the Island Hide which is set slightly below the path looking eastwards over the Freshwater Marsh. From here I could see Black Tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Teals, Shovelers, Mallards, Gadwalls and Brent Geese.
As I continued along the path towards the sea, there were several Black Tailed Godwits and Dunlins close to the path as groups of Starlings continued to fly back and forth overhead. I had now reached the Parrinder Wall and before continuing on towards the sea I headed along to the two Parrinder Hides with one facing south over the Freshwater Marsh and the other north over the Volunteer Marsh. I first went into the Parrinder North Hide were I could see Curlews, Redshanks and a single Little Egret.
After a few minutes I walked the very short distance to the Parrinder South Hide and the water and mud banks were very busy although the sun was now shining directly at the hide, making it difficult to see too far. I was however able to see large numbers of Teals, Wigeons, Golden Plovers, Shelducks and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers. I left the hide and walked back to the main West Bank Path and continued on towards the beach. As I walked along the side of the Volunteer Marsh I saw more Curlews and Redshanks with Starlings still flying overhead.
The final section of water before the beach is the Tidal Marsh and on here I saw Black Headed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Brent Geese and in the distance Oystercatchers. As I reached the far end of the water I could see a Spotted Redshank and tucked into the top left hand corner asleep in shallow water was a Guillemot. After a while it stood up and gave its self a good stretch and flap of it wings before settling back down.
I made my way along the path through the sand dunes to the beach where the sea had recently reached high tide and was now on its way out. I walked down the beach towards the water's edge and as I walked eastwards there were more than ten Sanderlings scurrying along. Out on the sea were Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Greater Black Backed Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, a Razorbill and a distant Red Throated Diver. It was now just past midday so I headed back along the West Bank Path towards the visitor centre to visit the cafe for lunch.
Black Tailed Godwit
As I walked past the Freshwater Marsh there was a pair of Black Tailed Godwits having an argument, flapping their wings furiously. After lunch I headed out along the Fen Trail to the Fen Hide where flying over the reeds was a Marsh Harrier. This trail leads onto the East Trail where on the water I could see Black Headed Gulls, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Little Grebes and at the far end of the water was a male Pintail. At the far end of the East Trail is the Autumn Trail which is only open between August & October and in previous visits I have seen Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers and Stonechats.
One of the paths leads up the side of the reedbed to the bottom right hand corner of the Freshwater Marsh. Out on the water were Teals, Mallards, Shelducks and a single Avocet whilst overhead the Marsh Harrier was still hunting over the reedbed. I retraced my steps to the Fen Trail, turning off onto the Meadow Trail across to the West Bank Path and began heading out towards the beach again. As I walked past the Freshwater Marsh there where still large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Teals and Golden Plovers.
Near the beach, on the Tidal Marsh, the Guillemot was now swimming along the edge towards me before turning eastwards. The sea was now much further out and as I approached the beach I could still see several Sanderlings. Further along the beach I could see few Turnstones and a little further along, more Turnstones were searching mussel and shell covered rocks which were just emerging from the receding sea. Also on these rocks were Oystercatchers, Black Headed Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls whilst on the sea were Brent Geese.
I now returned to the West Bank Path to head back towards the visitor centre and as I walked alongside the Volunteer Marsh there was a Curlew busy preening itself as a Little Egret flew overhead and landed in a deep mud channel out of sight. Eventually the Curlew began to edge its way along the mud by the receding water before flying off towards the far side of the marsh. Near the edge of the path was a Pied Wagtail flitting along the mud banking before flying off and as it was now past 4pm I headed back to the car and back to the hotel, stopping off in Kings Lynn for tea.
On day three of my visit to Norfolk I visited Cley Marshes nature reserve which is just east of the village of Cley Next To The Sea on the A149 coast road. It has been a reserve since 1926 and it is the oldest reserve owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust which itself is the oldest county Wildlife Trust in Great Britain. Cley Marshes looks after an area of reedbeds, freshwater marsh, pools and wet meadows and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The reserve is important for some scarce breeding birds such as Avocets, Marsh Harriers, Bitterns and Bearded Tits. Like Titchwell Marsh it is also a major stop off for migrating and wintering birds. It has five bird hides and an environmentally friendly visitor centre with a cafe and shop with further expansion of the reserve planned through the acquisition of neighbouring land.
Like Titchwell Marsh, Cley Marshes was used during the Second World War, but this time as a prisoner of war camp. Despite centuries of embankment construction to reclaim land and protect the village of Cley Next To The Sea, the marshes have been flooded on numerous occasions. The southward movement of the coastal shingle bank and encroachment by the sea means it is inevitable that the reserve will eventually be lost. New wetlands are being created further inland to compensate for the loss of the coastal habitats.
In the years preceding the First World War this stretch of coast became famous for its wildfowling; locals were looking for food, but some "Gentleman Gunners" hunted to collect rare birds. One of the best known of the latter was E.C. Arnold, who collected for more than fifty years, and gave his name to the marsh at the north west corner of the reserve.
As I mentioned earlier, Cley Marshes has been a reserve since 1926 and this is when a local birdwatcher called Dr Sydney Long bought the land for the sum of £5,100 and Dr Long then established the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. The reserve was expanded in 1962 through the lease of the adjacent Arnold's Marsh from the National Trust. New pools and hides were created on the reserve from 1964 and the sale of permits for access to the hides became a useful source of income for the NWT. Further pools and hides were established during the 1970's and a visitor centre was built in 1981 on the site of the current building.
Over the long history of the reserve it has only had three wardens with all of them coming from the same family. Robert Bishop was warden from 1926 to 1937, followed by his grandson, Billy, from 1937 to 1978 and Billy's son, Bernard, who was appointed in 1978 and still manages the reserve today.
Royal Artillery military fortifications were established during the Second World War at the beach end of the reserve including guns, five buildings, two pillboxes, a minefield and concrete anti-tank blocks. A spigot mortar emplacement and an Allan Williams Turret machine gun emplacement were sited closer to the village. One of the pillboxes and remains of the beach gun emplacements were still visible as of 2012.
The military camp held one hundred and sixty men and was later used to hold prisoners of war. Italian, but not German, prisoners were allowed to attend dances at the anti-aircraft camp at nearby Stiffkey. Near the end of the war the camp was used to house eastern European refugees and it was finally pulled down in 1948. In 1955 many of the wartime buildings were destroyed by the Royal Engineers, but the generator house was then taken over by the coastguard service as an observation post. The NWT acquired the building in 1983 and the upper part was put into use as a look out while the lower section became a cafe. The building was overwhelmed by shingle in a storm in 2008 and subsequently demolished.
The reserve is on the northern side of the A149 coast road with the visitor centre and car park to the south opposite and can also be reached by public transport. The present visitor centre was opened in June 2007 and is situated on a small hill and as stated earlier provides excellent views of the reserve with footpaths giving you access at three points each leading to one or more bird hides.
The key breeding species at the reserve include Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Bearded Tits and Avocet with other birds such as Lapwings, Redshanks and Sedge / Reed / Cetti's Warblers. Spoonbills, Ruffs and Black Tailed Godwits are seen at the reserve for most of the year with a pair of Little Egrets breeding at the reserve for the first time in 2010. Spring migrants such as Little Gulls, Black Terns, Temmincks Stints and Garganey make brief visits as well as Terns visiting from their colonies at Blakeney Point. Rare migrants can also be found visiting the reserve, such as the following - Western Sandpiper (2012), Great Snipe (2011), Trumpeter Finch (2010) and Collared Pratincole (2009).
The amount of shingle moved by a single storm can be spectacular and the spit has sometimes been breached, becoming an island for a period of time. The spit is moving inland at about one meter a year and in 1817 Blakeney Chapel, to the west of the reserve, was four hundred metres from the sea, but by 2000 it had reduced to just one hundred and ninety five metres. The sea defences at Cley were severely breached in 1742, 1897, 1953 and 1996 with lesser incursions in 1993 and 1998. During the great flood of 1953 the flood reached four miles inland at Cley resulting in destruction or severe damage to the hides.
It was a cloudy day when I arrived just before 10am at Cley Marshes and after checking the sightings board at the visitor centre I headed across the road and turned left following the path westwards. After about a hundred yards the path turns to the right crossing a bridge over a water channel which had two Mute Swans feeding swimming along it with tall reeds either side. The path then continued west following the water channel until I took the path to the right away from the water and the road, through reeds towards three thatch roofed hides.
Off to the left of the path across the other side of a field was a Grey Heron at the edge of the reeds and as I reached the first hide a flock of Starlings flew overhead. The first of the three hides is the Avocet Hide where in the distance I could see large numbers of Brent Geese. Just in front of the hide it was quiet but on a patch of water called Simmonds Scrape just to my right were Shelducks, Golden Plover, Dunlins, Black Tailed Godwits, Shovelers, Teals, Mallards and Greylag Geese. The next hide is the Dauke's Hide which looks out onto Simmonds Scrape which was still very busy and a juvenile Shelduck had now moved a little closer to the hide as a large flock of Pink Footed Geese flew overhead.
The last of the three hides is the Teal Hide which looks back towards the visitor centre over an area of water called Pat's Pool. There were Black Tailed Godwits, Black Headed Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls on the water but they were all in the distance so I decided to head back along the path towards the visitor centre and as I did a pair of Bearded Tits flew overhead and landed in the reeds. As I re-crossed the bridge the Mute Swans had now moved to the other side and before I called at the visitor centre for lunch I walked on to the fourth hide which is called Bishop's Hide and is at the opposite side of Pat's Pool to the Teal Hide.
From here I could see Black Tailed Godwits, Black Headed Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Mallards & Teals. Hiding amongst the edge of some reeds to my left was a Little Grebe which kept diving for food before disappearing behind the reeds. I now headed back to the visitor centre for some lunch before moving my car to the car park at the southern end of the East Bank. I now walked up the steps onto the East Bank and down the other side following the path as it ran alongside a narrow water channel where I could see Coots, Moorhens and Mallards.
In the fields to the left were large numbers of Rooks and as I approached a wooden gate a small bird flew out of a small clump of tall grass and over the wooden gate and out of sight. After I had gone through the wooden gate I was into an area where there was a red brick bridge leading to the road and wooden gates to my left and ahead of me the path continued. In between the wooden gates at the bottom of a fence were two Stonechats and after a few seconds one flew up and landed on the top of a thick wooden fence post, whilst the other flew and landed on the path beyond the right hand wooden gate.
Eventually they both flew off and I headed through the left hand gate to the fifth and final hide, the Babcock Hide. In front of the hide were a large number of Wigeons but as I sat down in the hide ninety percent of them flew off with the remaining few swimming away as a result. I now returned to the main path where one of the Stonechats was perched on a bush and the other on the gate facing westwards. I opened the far gate and continued on the path eastwards where in the field to my left was a pair of Egyptian Geese.
Red Throated Diver (Juvenile)
After a few hundred yards the path reaches a track off to the left called Iron Road and towards the shingle beach. As I walked along this path there where Redshanks, Greenshanks, Meadow Pipits and a lone Green Sandpiper in the water either side of me. Eventually I reached the shingle beach and began the long walk along the beach back towards the East Bank, sadly as I walked along I saw four dead Guillemots and the skeleton of a Razorbill which have been turning up dead along the east coast. Flying over the sea were Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Greater Black Backed Gulls and Cormorants and as I finally reached the northern end of the East Bank path a Curlew flew over head.
As a group of Linnets flew overhead I sat down in an unnamed shelter type hide looking eastwards over an area called Arnolds Marsh where after a few minutes a lone Avocet flew in and landed partially out of sight on the water to my left. I now walked along the East Bank back to the car and westwards along the coast road to Wells-next-the-Sea for an evening meal. In the harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea were Greater Black Backed Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, Mallards, Oystercatchers, Curlews, Redshanks and Brent Geese. The bird I was most surprised to see though, was a juvenile Red Throated Diver swimming along just thirty or forty yards from the harbour wall. After a bite to eat at a fish & chip restaurant I headed back to the hotel and on day four I planned to visit Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Holme Dunes reserve and make a second visit to Titchwell.
On day four of my trip to Norfolk I visited Holme Dunes which is a National Nature Reserve owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust since 1965. The reserve's habitats consist of sand dunes, salt marsh, pasture, grazing marsh and freshwater pools. The reserve has a visitor centre, cafe, three bird hides facing south and a path through a small woodland to the beach.
It was cloudy day with the sun trying to break through when I arrived at Holme Dunes and after a quick drink at the visitor centre I headed down the path to the first hide. In the bushes either side were Blue Tits and Robins whilst in the field at the other side of the road were three Konik ponies. At the first hide it was quiet just in front of me but in the distance I could see large numbers of Curlews and more than two hundred Pink Footed Geese on the grass beyond the water. After a couple of minutes a Little Grebe landed in a narrow water channel that ran across the front of the hide. It began diving for food, slowly moving away from the hide as a Little Egret landed about thirty yards away.
The Little Egret made its way up and down the grassy banks before flying off and I now continued along the path to the second hide. There was very little to see here so I moved on to the final hide and soon after I arrived the Pink Footed Geese began to rise up and fly off in one huge flock eastwards towards Titchwell Marsh. I now made my way back along the path towards the visitor centre and as I neared the first hide there was a Kestrel hovering around twenty feet above the field to my left. As I reached the visitor centre a Brambling flew over the bushes to my left as a group of Long Tailed Tits flitted through bushes to my right.
I walked past the visitor centre and up the hill through the trees to where the path reaches a cross roads with the paths left and right heading through the sand dunes and the path ahead leads onto the beach. I took the path to the right and followed it as it rose up to the top of the dunes where there were spectacular views over the reserve and eastwards towards Titchwell Marsh. I retraced my steps and headed onto the beach to see if I could see any of the Snow Buntings that had been reported, but after a good search I did not find any.
Pink Footed Geese
It was now just after midday so I headed back to the visitor centre and called in at the cafe for lunch. From here I moved the few miles down the coast for a second visit to Titchwell Marsh where it was now very sunny, although quite windy. I headed across to the West Bank Path where I could hear Bearded Tits in the reeds to my right and I visited the Island Hide. Out on the Freshwater Marsh were Teal, Shovelers, Black Tailed Godwits, Black Headed Gulls, Mallards and a pair of Brent Geese. Around a hundred and fifty yards away, at the edge of the water, were two Snipes and hidden between them was a Jack Snipe bobbing up and down as it walked along.
I returned to the main path and continued towards the beach and as I walked alongside the Freshwater Marsh I could see Black Tailed Godwits, Lapwings, Teals, Golden Plovers, Shovelers and large numbers of Dunlin. A little further along, beyond the Parrinder Wall, on the Volunteer Marsh were Redshanks and Curlews with Little Egrets over to the left of the main path. On the Tidal Marsh I could see Black Headed Gulls, Redshanks, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and in the distance a large group of more than thirty Oystercatchers.
I eventually reached the beach where again Snow Buntings had been spotted but despite an extensive search I didn't see any, there was however a lone Bar Tailed Godwit. It was searching for food, just in front of the sand dunes, probing its long beak into the sand and moving back and forth along the beach. Down at the water's edge were Sanderlings, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Greater Black Backed Gulls and out on the sea a trio of Red Throated Divers. After watching the Sanderlings scurry along the water's edge for a while I headed back up the beach to the West Bank Path.
Bar Tailed Godwit
I followed the path back along to the Parrinder Wall, turned onto the path out to the two Parrinder hides, where from the south hide, I could see large numbers of Teal & Golden Plovers. As I continued along the main path back towards the visitor centre there were still large numbers of Dunlins wading through the water just to the left of the path on the Freshwater Marsh. Before I headed back to the hotel I had a drink and a piece of cake from the cafe and whilst I was sat outside I saw flocks of Linnets, Goldfinches and Redwings fly overhead whilst visiting the feeders were Blue Tits, a Chaffinch and Great Tit.
I now headed to King's Lynn for an evening meal before going back to the hotel to pack for the journey home on day five. On my journey home from Norfolk I called in at Frampton Marsh which is a nature reserve managed by both the RSPB and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. It is situated on the western coast of The Wash, four miles south of the town of Boston between the Rivers Welland and Witham near the village of Frampton.
Frampton Marsh has three trails you can follow - Reedbed, Wash & Grassland. The Reedbed trail is 1.2 miles long and takes you round the reserve's reedbeds. The Wash trail is 2.2 miles long and takes you round an area of freshwater scrapes and wet grassland as well as giving you views of The Wash and the very large salt marshes. The Grassland trail is the longest at 2.8 miles and is a circular route round a large area of wet grassland with the view point at the south eastern point being a good place to see birds of prey.
It was a cloudy and very windy day when I arrived at Frampton Marsh where in recent days an American Wigeon had been spotted. I called at the visitor centre to see if it was still there and get a cup of tea, sadly the American Wigeon had last been seen at RSPB FriestonShore a few miles further north. On the feeders to the left of the building were Goldfinches, House Sparrows and a single Robin with a pair of Little Grebes on the water in front of the hide. I now headed out into the high winds and walked along the Wash Trail to where the path splits in two.
Sat on a barbed wire fence was a Stonechat being buffeted by the wind and it soon moved to a thick wooden post next to some reeds. I followed the path to the left for a few hundred yards before turning to the right and going through a big wooden door/gate following the path to the 360 Hide which was very quiet with just a Magpie and grazing cattle in view. I returned to the main trail path and walked the short distance to the Reedbed Hide which was much busier. On the water I could see Black Tailed Godwits, Teals, Shovelers, Wigeons, Mallards and Little Grebes.
In the distance, but gradually getting closer, were a pair of male Pintails, constantly ducking their heads under water with one moving onto a small mud bank amongst some Mallards. I continued on along the Wash Trail to where the path branches off to the East Hide where I saw Redshanks, Shelducks, Black Tailed Godwits, Teals and Shovelers. I now climbed up the steps on to embankment which is fifteen to twenty feet higher than the rest of the reserve. The wind was very strong whilst I walked along the embankment and to my left over the salt marshes I saw Oystercatchers, Little Egrets, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Meadow Pipits whilst a flock of Goldfinches were moving along the grass to my left.
As I neared the point where the trail turned to the right a flock of Brent Geese took off flying over the embankment and out over the salt marshes. The trail now headed in a straight line back towards the visitor centre and in the fields to my left were hundreds of Canada Geese as well as Greylag Geese and more than two thousand Wigeons. As I reached the car park I spotted a pair of Ruffs in the field as a large group of Fieldfares flew over and headed for the trees in the distance. As I got into the car to eat my lunch the heavens opened and it rained for the first time during my trip and once I had finished my lunch I headed home.
I have attached some photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Norfolk with a colour code to show which reserves I saw them at.
NORFOLK & LINCOLNSHIRE - 25th - 29th OCTOBER
WELNEY * TITCHWELL * CLEY *
HOLME DUNES * FRAMPTON MARSH * TRAVELLING *
4 AVOCETS ** 1 BAR TAILED GODWIT *
2 BARNACLE GEESE * 4 BEARDED TITS **
500+ BLACK HEADED GULLS ***** 180+ BLACK TAILED GODWITS ****
2 BLACKBIRDS ** 3 BLUE TITS **
1 BRAMBLING * 250+ BRENT GEESE ****
1 BUZZARD * 330+ CANADA GEESE ***
3 CATTLE EGRETS * 1 CHAFFINCH *
20+ COOTS ***** 50+ CORMORANTS ***
10+ CROWS ** 11 CURLEWS **
100+ DUNLINS *** 4 EGYPTIAN GEESE **
20+ FIELDFARES * 40+ GADWALLS ***
270+ GOLDEN PLOVERS ** 60+ GOLDFINCHES ***
1 GREAT TIT * 1 GREAT WHITE EGRET *
6 GREATER BLACK BACKED GULLS ** 1 GREEN SANDPIPER *
1 GREENFINCH * 2 GREENSHANKS *
1 GREY HERON * 100+ GREYLAG GEESE ****
1 GUILLEMOT * 3 HERRING GULLS **
4 HOUSE SPARROWS * 1 JACK SNIPE *
2 JAYS ** 5 KESTRELS ****
120+ LAPWINGS **** 65+ LESSER BLACK BACKED GULLS ****
10+ LESSER REDPOLLS * 25+ LINNETS **
17 LITTLE EGRETS **** 7 LITTLE GREBES ****
2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS * 4 LONG TAILED TITS *
8 MAGPIES **** 200+ MALLARDS *****
10 MARSH HARRIERS **** 8 MEADOW PIPITS ***
30+ MOORHENS ***** 30+ MUTE SWANS ***
30+ OYSTERCATCHERS *** 25+ PHEASANTS ****
4 PIED WAGTAILS ** 300+ PINK FOOTED GEESE ***
3 PINTAILS ** 4 POCHARDS *
1 RAZORBILL * 1 RED KITE *
20+ RED LEGGED PARTRIDGES * 4 RED THROATED DIVERS **
30+ REDSHANKS *** 10+ REDWINGS *
1 REED BUNTING * 4 ROBINS ****
260+ ROOKS *** 2 RUFFS *
10+ SANDERLINGS * 20+ SHELDUCKS ***
35+ SHOVELERS **** 2 SKYLARKS *
2 SNIPES * 1 SPARROWHAWK *
1 SPOTTED REDSHANK * 350+ STARLINGS ****
8 STOCK DOVES ** 6 STONECHATS ***
240+ TEALS **** 20+ TREE SPARROWS *
2 TUFTED DUCKS * 20+ TURNSTONES *
20+ WHOOPER SWANS * 2000+ WIGEONS *****
20+ WOOD PIGEONS **** 2 WRENS **