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BIRDING NORTHWEST NORFOLK –
Sunday 9th March 2014

Our day started well with a few COMMON BUZZARDS seen during our journey to Norfolk. We arrived at Titchwell RSPB reserve to fine, sunny conditions with a light southerly breeze making it ideal for migration. We saw yet another COMMON BUZZARD perched on a bush out to the west with small numbers of CURLEW in the rough field and in the ditch close to the path, we had reasonable views of a WATER RAIL.

The freshmarsh was alive with birds and with water levels optimum there were plenty of waders including AVOCET, BAR & BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, RUFF, DUNLIN and REDSHANKS. A CHINESE WATER DEER fed unconcerned on the saltmarsh with a few LITTLE EGRETS around for good measure. A SPARROWHAWK flew over and we felt that something good might turn up!

We then walked out to the sea to catch high tide which proved a good move as 2000 COMMON SCOTER could be seen just offshore. It was a great spectacle to see so many at close range and it didn’t take long before we picked up our first VELVET SCOTER in flight. Other birds that took centre stage were RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, SANDERLING, GREAT CRESTED GREBES and a distant GANNET.

With our stomachs rumbling, we ambled along the path towards the centre but got slightly waylaid when we spotted a couple of distant raptors. In the bins their flight looked very languid and on scoping them we could see they were RED KITES! We then scanned and could see 4 birds together, along with a couple of COMMON BUZZARDS and a SPARROWHAWK.

They flew westwards along the ridge behind the visitor centre before disappearing into the sun. Just when things couldn’t get any better, Steve spotted a distant COMMON CRANE over the woods to the east which we watched until it headed off. It was then great to see another bird low over the reserve which flew off towards Holme.

We then had lunch in the warm sunshine which was something of a novelty and afterwards took a walk along the fen trail and guess what, we saw yet another RED KITE this time accompanied by another COMMON CRANE! The two birds parted company and went their separate ways. A quick look at Patsy’s Pool yielded a few common duck such as POCHARD, TUFTED DUCK and a female GOLDENEYE.

The warm weather had enticed butterflies out and along the sheltered boardwalk we found COMMA, SMALL TORTOISESHELL and PEACOCK as well as a few SCARLET ELF CUP FUNGI.

We then left Titchwell and made a brief stop at Choseley Barns where up to 30 YELLOWHAMMER, OYSTERCATCHER, RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE and a few BROWN HARE were seen.

The day concluded with a visit to Holkham, where the good weather had certainly brought out the crowds as Lady Anne’s Drive was quite busy indeed. Two more RED KITES could be seen circling the Holkham Estate but they were almost certainly the resident birds that are present there. MARSH HARRIERS and COMMON BUZZARDS were numerous and in the fields we saw the days first EGYPTIAN GEESE.

Some time was spent in the hide where WIGEON, SHOVELER, PINTAIL, MALLARD and TEAL were seen as well as another RED KITE! The highlight here had to be the adult SPOONBILL that flew over the grazing marsh before landing out of sight. Eventually, it came out and gave distant scope views alongside a GREY HERON. A phone call informed us that a BARN OWL had been seen close to the car-park so we returned and luckily it was still there. We then found another BARN OWL and several more MARSH HARRIERS were noted.

After some cake back at the car-park, we headed home after what had been a fantastic day.