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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

LROS Visit to North Norfolk - on Saturday 18th June, 2011

On Saturday I joined the Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) visit to North Norfolk, led by Andrew Cliff. In fact, This meant a 5.30 a.m. start, and I had the privilege of having Andrew in the car with me on the way there. The weather forecast was not good, but we made good time and stopped about ten miles before Hunstanton for a cup of tea. This stop gave us sighting of a Muntjac, and several birds including a Green Woodpecker and a family of Jays.

Having met up with the rest of the group at Holme-next-the-Sea we set off across the golf course to the beach. I soon realised that I was going to be lost without a telescope - it had been a choice of either a scope or a camera (I can't manage both), and I'd decided on the camera. This meant that the rest of the group saw plenty that I didn't. We started to the east of the access path. I didn't keep notes, but I did see Knot, Grey Plover, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, amongst some of the more usual suspects.

Grey Plover
Whilst we were looking out over the beach, a Muntjac came scampering by in front of us.

With just binoculars and a camera, I was finding it difficult to identify much in the seaward direction, so I went off to try and find some birds in a different environment. I soon spotted a couple of Grey Partridge on the golf course, and these were disturbed by golfers and headed towards me, giving me a somewhat better view. Back with the group I remarked to Andrew that he could add Grey Partridge to the list, and caused sudden interest to the rest of the group. I'm used to seeing Grey Partridge on a fairly regular basis on my home patch, but apparently they're not so common. Soon most people had stopped looking seaward!

Grey Partridge
For the second half of our visit to Holme we set off on a walk to the east, taking an elliptical path which took us past some pools. In one, we found a pair of Avocet.


Further on I stopped to take some photos of a Meadow Pipit that was posing nicely on the vegetation - even if it was a bit distant!

Meadow Pipit
From Holme, we set off for the famous RSPB reserve at Titchwell Marsh. We arrived to find signs announcing that the Caspian Tern (reported earlier from Holme, but had flown east before we arrived) was present on the reserve. However, enquiries informed us that it had not been seen for some time. We therefore settled into our sandwiches before heading off into the reserve.

We'd just set off when it started lashing it down with rain. We hurried to Island Hide (the nearest hide) and arrived to find an Avocet, with its two young, near to the hide, and many more Avocets with young in view. I have to confess that, until this day, I'd only ever had really distant views of Avocet, so I spent most of my time concentrating on photographing these.

Avocet chick

With a somewhat different agenda to the rest of the group (because of my lack of scope) I then went my own way for the rest of the visit. On the way to Parrinder Hide, I realised that I'd not actually got an image of an Avocet with a chick - the adults, although aggressively defending their chicks, did not keep close to the chicks, but kept a watchful eye from a distance. I did find one reasonably close to its chick, but at a rather great distance from me!

Avocet with chick
On the approach to Parrinder Hide I stopped to photograph a Black-tailed Godwit. There were others a bit more distant when I got to the hide but all were 'into the sun' not that there was much sun at that time!

Black-tailed Godwit
From then on I just concentrated on the Avocets, allowing an hour at the end of the visit to try and find a Bearded Tit. The sun started to show a bit more, which made photography on the south-facing side (where the birds were) difficult.

 However, a visit to the smaller north-facing hide revealed some distant resting Avocets, and a solitary bird foraging right in front of the hide. The shallow muddy water meant that it was possible to capture the effect of the sweeping bill, and the bird's footfalls.

My search for Bearded Tit was unsuccessful - not surprising really as it was a windy day (!), but I did stop to photograph yet another Avocet - this time resting on one leg.

I decided to finish the day with some time at Fen Hide, stopping to photograph a male Blackcap on the way - something that I was to regret later!

Blackcap (male)
Arriving at Fen Hide, I was just taking off my rucksack when a Bittern flew up from the reeds in front of the hide. If I hadn't stopped for the Blackcap, I'd have probably been settled in and have stood a chance of a Bittern image!

Nikkor. My biggest disappointment was that not one single dragonfly was seen - I was expecting better from Titchwell!

On the way home we managed a Cuckoo and a Little Owl, plus a probable roadside Turtle Dove, and a probable Ring-necked Parakeet near Oaks in Charnwood! Thank you Andrew for a great day!

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