Monday, March 09, 2020

Norfolk Weekend March 2020

An enjoyable long weekend on the Norfolk coast with Dazza, staying at an Airbnb accommodation at Brancaster Staithe. The weather was very kind during our stay with some long spells of sunshine and little rain.

Water Pipit from the Parrinder Hide at RSPB Titchwell on Friday morning
After arriving late afternoon on Thursday I made an early start at RSPB Titchwell on Friday morning while Dazza had a well-deserved lay in. As chance would have it another Brandon regular John Raven was staying locally too and so we met up at 7am in the Titchwell car park. We spent a few hours on-site before heading off back to our respective accommodations for breakfast.

Red Knot having a wash down
The water levels on the 'Fresh Marsh' remain particularly high and so not a great deal of wader activity here, apart from a group of eighteen Avocet asleep in the shallows.  It was a bright but bitterly cold visit and all the regular wader species appeared to be on the 'Tidal Marsh' with Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, DunlinRed Knot, Grey Plover, Avocet, Redshank and Curlew all noted. Our tide timings couldn't have been any worse with low tide coinciding with our visit and predictably the sea was very quiet with just a small raft of around 30 or so Common Scoter and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser. The highlight for me though was a Water Pipit, regular here but often elusive during my visits. However, this time it was showing quite well from the Parrinder Hide as we made our way back.

Numbers of Mediterranean Gulls are starting to build up at Titchwell, now regularly breeding here
Sanderling along the tideline at Titchwell.
After breakfast my second visit of the day to RSPBTitchwell in glorious sunshine, this time with Dazza. Further highlights were some brief views of a pair of Bearded Reedling near the Island Hide, a flyby of one of eight Meditteranean Gulls noted during our visit and for Dazza's benefit some close views of her favourite Sanderlings along the tideline.

Around thirty or so Frogs along the boardwalk at Titchwell.
We also enjoyed a stop along the boardwalk where a large group of Common Frogs were noisily getting down to business, a Water Rail also noted while here. After Titchwell a brief stop at Cholsey drying barns and surrounding areas for Dazza to get a look at several Hare's, which seemed to be everywhere today. Both Red-legged and Grey Partridge also noted during our stops, plus Yellowhammer and at least four Muntjac.

From Titchwell we drove across to Holkham and stopped for a while just off the A149, where some good views of the 'freshmarsh' can be obtained. We knew that Spoonbill's had been reported and after a short while managed some decent scoped views of two individuals perched in some trees. While here two Great White Egrets and around 100+ Russian White-fronted Geese were seen grazing, along with 26 Egyptian Geese. During a low Marsh Harrier pass (one of many today), which lifted even the Geese a Chinese Water Deer could be seen scurrying for cover, with reasonably close views. Before heading back to the accommodation I took Dazza for a look at the long-staying Rough-legged Buzzard at Wells, which we eventually found huddled in among Hawthorn, not the most inspiring of views but still!

A single Brambling below the feeders at Lynford Arboretum

One of three Hawfinch feeding below the Hornbeam
Saturday a drive across to Lynford Arboretum in search of Hawfinch. Although they did take some finding we eventually connected with three birds feeding at the base of the Hornbeam trees in whats known as the Paddock. We also managed to find a single Brambling in the feeder area and despite being quite distant and difficult to photograph I've included a couple of record shots above.

Also of note... We did try on three separate occasions for Twite at Thornham Harbour but incredibly dipped, although to be honest, we didn't give it our best effort with breakfast calling on each attempt!  However, a couple of highlights were a Spotted Redshank and Rock Pipit while here. Sunday after a late breakfast we headed off to Sherringham, stopping for a walk along the East Bank of Cley Marshes past the Serpentine and Arnold's Marsh to the beach. Nothing new on the bird species count but our first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year. We spent a while at Sherringham for a coffee and some train spotting and before heading home managed a single Purple Sandpiper on rocks below the car park.