Saturday, 3 October 2015

Snettisham Spectacular

Friday October 2

As it was the third day of the year's highest tides, we drove directly to Snettisham, leaving home at 6.40 a.m.  We arrived at the pits having passed a stream of walking birders and two cars parked along the track. To find another nine cars and about 200+ birders spread along the bank.......
Never before have we experienced this crowd, not even at a twitch here.
We set off at 8.30 having found a space to park the car. An hour and a half before high tide, the bay was already covered in absolutely calm, pelucid water, with a distant sandbank containing a mass of birds, the focus of attention. 

We lingered awhile as small groups of birds were leaving the bank, flying overhead to the pit, carefully using the gaps between the groups of admiring birders and photographers. Oystercatchers and Golden Plovers left first.

Instinct and intuition led me to hurry to the Shore Hide instead of watching the flyover. Great. The 'best' seats on the north east side of the hide were taken, best because the sun rises directly towards the hide and the northern end allows one to look away from its glare.I passed the low chairs in the centre and we settled on the bench seat at the southern end. 
A good many of the seven thousand Oystercatchers present were already on 'their' bank, away to our right. 

 We were to find that the waders took up places as though they were allotted, ignoring the island in front of the hide completely. Identical to the last time we attended a high tide roost.

Within twenty minutes, the sky was full of waders, swirling, swooping, landing and taking off again until very gradually, they settled. Only for groups to take off again, before once more taking up limited space - incredibly without landing on another's head. This went on for the next twenty minutes before a - relative - calm descended. The spectacle was awe inspiring, breath-taking and a forever memorable experience. I took so many photographs in the, pretty dark for photography, morning light from an occasionally appearing sun. A hide on the opposite side is needed ! I loved it all. here are a few of the photographs.
By now the hide was full, many of the spaces occupied by a leader and his group who stayed on and on, until we left them an hour and a half later. The numbers quoted come from him.

A Little Grebe seemed unconcerned by the kerfuffle, probably accustomed to it
A perfect reflection of the Pied Wagtail

Black-tailed Godwits on the outside, Knot ebbing and flowing in constant movement, making their own tide, in the centre.
Another laden spit in the background.
Mainly Knot, there were 40 thousand plus present

The old fishing pier looked like a watercolour  pencil sketch

We left before the birds had returned to the Wash, satiated with the spectacle and wanting to do it again. The occupants of the car parked nearest  us had left Essex at 2 a.m and this was their first visit. TV programmes spread the news, the site is  of national importance to waders and the experience one to value and savour.
The few places we visited on the way home were pleasant but a lesser experience.
A pair of Stonechats on the way out to Holme, our second kingfisher in two days (when did that last happen) at Thornham where the water still lying on the road was proof of the extra high tide. We've never seen it as far up.

This Curlew was irresistible.

At Brancaster Staithe, the annual taking the boats out of the water for the winter had begun, a large crane totally blocking the way through. I suggested that we drive via the Yacht Club entrance and approach via the back road, This was successful thank goodness. We were able to view the ebbing tide, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Great Ringed Plover and confiding Turnstones whilst continuing  the lunch started on Hunstanton cliffs. All looked beautiful too in warm sunlight.
With various aching joints, we made for home arriving at 4 ish for a welcome drink. 

(This programme is messing me about to-day, no way can I change the size of the font to the one used above).

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