Friday, 20 December 2013

No Social Commitments

Thursday December 19

A free day, time for some birding. We hadn't visited Titchwell reserve at all  this month, that was our sole destination. Such a beautiful day again, cloudless sky and very little wind. Where is the storm promised, which seems to have hit the north and west hard? I'm not complaining, I wish that the forecast was a little more accurate with regard to location. The whole country is included in a storm warning and checking the local forecast isn't much different. Better safe I suppose....
Neither of us felt like walking, having done very little in the last month, aches and pains take over. I girded my loins and insisted that we walk as far as Island hide at least. Scanning the ditches as we walked out, Pam spotted a Water Rail, only obvious by the ripples in the water. The ditches are heavily vegetated but we had good views.
Views from Island hide are restrictive, we settled on the first walkway seat beyond. The car park held fewer vehicles than we'd ever seen before, hence the sparse number of birders around and the empty seats.
The freshmarsh held hundreds of birds of very few species, mainly ducks, Golden Plover, Lapwing and Brent Geese. The ducks were mostly Teal with a few Wigeon, Shoveller and Pintail. Careful scanning added two Gadwall, eight Avocets, six Ruff, a lone Dunlin and a scattering of Black-tailed Godwit. A blob flying through my scope became an elusive Snipe ,landing at the edge of the reeds below Parrinder Hide.
Whoosh... up they all went. Why? One little Merlin had caused all the havoc. Hundreds of Golden Plover flew over our heads, the sussuration of their wings obvious. lovely.
I decided to try some digiscoping. Hard to resist on such a  golden, winter-sun lit scene. Difficult to get the depth of field necessary using my little basic Canon point and shoot, held to the 'scope lens. It did a sterling job nevertheless.

Teal nicely arranged so that I couldn't get them all in focus! Mohican crests.

Sleeping Pintail near right


Swimming Shoveler. My first attempt at tracking a bird , moving my scope using my left hand whilst holding the camera to the lens with my right.

Pam walked on to the Parrinder entry bank, seeing where the sea had lapped the very top of the new sea protection wall on which the hide stands. Apparently it had trickled over, just. They must have been pleased that it wasn't breached. The coastal dune profile has changed dramatically. boardwalk washed away in its entirety leaving entry to the beach from here forbidden. That's the dreaded, but necessary, elf and safety again.
We lunched on a very good sausage and onion baguette (mini) in the Food Station. Warm and comfortable whilst watching a Titchwell DVD playing on the TV.
The light was fading so coastal visits were short. Brancaster Staithe showed little results of the storm surge, apart from a damp tideline at least a metre up the walls of the Activity Centre. there was a 'drying services' van outside and all doors were open, furnishings outside.
At last, a Barn Owl flying along the A149, our first for months.
Great to be out birding again, it feeds my soul.

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