Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brandon Team Day Out

Temp - 10C/13C - Cloud with Rain Shower Later - Wind NW @ 12 mph -  High-Tide 04:24hrs (6.10mtrs) - 17:05hrs (6.20mtrs)

I'd organised another Away-Day on Monday and took fourteen of the Brandon Marsh team across to visit the north Norfolk coast, once again many thanks to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for the use of their minibus.

We arrived at RSPB Titchwell shortly before 10am, Red Kite on route, and our first target was a reported Yellow-browed Warbler, which had been located along the Meadow Trail. After a half hour search, where a couple of the guys may have heard the bird, we eventually dipped but managed Goldcrest, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, several Redwing overhead and a small group of Long-tailed Tits for our efforts.

♀Pintail - close in at RSPB Titchwell
Making our way along the public footpath a Bittern flew to the rear of the fresh marsh, seen a couple of times later when the bird eventually flew west across the path and down onto the meadow. Despite the breeze at least two pairs of Bearded Tits were showing quite well, albeit briefly but these birds are difficult to find here during a calm day, so a real bonus for the guys. Looking west across the wet meadow a distant harrier turned out to be a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier, a second bird was also seen coming in off the sea a short time later.

Stonechat by John Osbourne
The reserve was remarkably busy for a Monday, possibly boosted by a Penduline Tit sighted the day before and indeed a group of vigilant 'twitchers' were located in the area it had been seen, not today though but a Stonechat was showing well! By the time we reached the beach the usual selection of wildfowl and waders had been recorded both on the fresh and tidal marshes including: Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Avocet, Ruff, Grey Plover, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Dunlin.

Shore Lark by Trevor Griffiths - More patient than me!!
Shore Lark by Trevor Griffiths
Down at the beach a sea-watch produced several racks of Common Scoter off shore, along with Eider, Great-crested Grebe and a single Red-breasted Merganser. However, our best 'twitch' of the day took us about a 0.5km west along the sand dunes in search of a Shore Lark. Said bird found after two attempts, don't you just hate having to drudge back to an area seconds after returning to your starting point! During our time along the shore a Peregrine made a welcome appearance and a single Snow Bunting flew east low over the shingle. Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Great Blacked-backed Gull other notables but our watch failed to produce any decent sea birds, a reported Pomarine Skua not seen by any of the team.

A very obliging Snow Bunting by John Osbourne
Cley Marshes next and a long spell of unexpected rain (well done met office) fell during the drive over and for around a half hour after our arrival. Parking at the beach car park the majority bolted to see the Grey Phalarope (ingrates) which was showing quite well on the north scrape by the time I arrived. A Grebe Sp. a little way offshore was almost certainly a Slavonian Grebe for me: clean white cheeks, crisp black cap and dagger-like bill all ticked the boxes, but I only managed to get a couple of the guys on it. (ingrates missed out!) Everyone managed the Snow Bunting, brace of Wheatears and Grey Phalarope, plus at least four Red-throated Divers and Razorbill on the water, there were also at least four juvenile Gannets but specks on the horizon.

Grey Phalarope in the rain by me!
A brief vigil to look for a Pallas's Warbler (needle in a haystack) at Walsey Hills and with light fading on to our final stop, a look at Salthouse and Grandborough Hill. Here as with most of the day Meadow Pipit and Skylark were abundant, but a single Rock Pipit was located. A large flock of Goldfinch along with Snipe, Stonechat, Wheatear, and two covey's of Red-legged Partridge, some debate as to whether the most distant were Grey Partridge or not. A real surprise was a group of ten European White-fronted Geese feeding on the wet marsh adjacent to the hill. During an excellent day several distant skeins of geese may well have been Pink-footed and also of note Egyptian Goose, Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. The fish and chips at Eye on route home are also worth a mention!!