Friday, 31 May 2013

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Titchwell RSPB Reserve, Norfolk

Titchwell RSPB reserve is similar to nearby Cley reserve. Freshwater lagoons give way to brackish and salt lagoons closer to the sea but unlike Cley it also has a woodland area.

A male blackbird in the woodland area

The rarer birds were represented by three little gull on the brackish lagoon and single eider duck and common scoter a short distance offshore. The eider was a (very) belated addition to my world list.

A Cetti's warbler was singing from the reed bed but refused to show and the sun brought out a wall brown butterfly behind one of the hides.

Avocet also breed at Titchwell in reasonable numbers and generally the species present on the marshes were similar to those at Cley apart from a red knot and a pair of red-crested pochard.

Nesting avocets
A red knot with a mallard on the brackish lagoon

The shore at Titchwell is rockier than the beach at Cley and held a few more waders feeding on the abundant shellfish and molluscs. A couple of bar-tailed godwit, several turnstone, oystercatcher and sanderling were present.

Bar-tailed godwit


Here's the full list of birds seen and heard.

  1. Greylag Goose
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Common Shelduck
  5. Gadwall
  6. Mallard
  7. Northern Shoveler
  8. Red-crested Pochard
  9. Common Pochard
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Common Eider
  12. Common Scoter
  13. Common Pheasant
  14. Little Grebe
  15. Great Crested Grebe
  16. Great Cormorant
  17. Grey Heron
  18. Little Egret
  19. Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
  20. Common Moorhen
  21. Eurasian Coot
  22. Northern Lapwing
  23. Grey Plover
  24. European Golden-Plover
  25. Common Ringed Plover
  26. Eurasian Oystercatcher
  27. Pied Avocet
  28. Common Redshank
  29. Bar-tailed Godwit
  30. Ruddy Turnstone
  31. Red Knot
  32. Sanderling
  33. Black-headed Gull
  34. Little Gull
  35. Herring Gull
  36. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  37. Little Tern
  38. Sandwich Tern
  39. Common Wood-Pigeon
  40. Common Swift 
  41. Common Kestrel
  42. Common Magpie
  43. Eurasian Jackdaw
  44. Barn Swallow
  45. Cetti's Warbler (Heard)
  46. Common Chiffchaff (Heard)
  47. Sedge Warbler
  48. European Robin
  49. Eurasian Blackbird
  50. Song Thrush
  51. European Starling
  52. Pied Wagtail
  53. Meadow Pipit
  54. Reed Bunting
  55. Common Chaffinch
  56. European Goldfinch
  57. House Sparrow

Species a day

Some more photos for my Species A Day challenge.

Northern lapwing, Norfolk, England

Oystercatcher, Norfolk, England

Red knot, Norfolk, England

Ruddy turnstone, Norfolk, England

Barn swallow, Norfolk, England

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


One of the key birds on the north Norfolk coast are the breeding avocets at Cley and Titchwell. Elegant, photogenic and extremely territorial.

European hare

One species I hoped to photograph on my recent trip to Norfolk was the European hare.

We spent most of our time at the coastal reserves but I was lucky enough to come across a couple of hare in roadside fields. The wind was a bit too blustery for my 800mm lens on a monopod but I did get a couple of passable photos.

Other mammals we saw over the weekend were rabbit and stoat at Cley and a muntjac deer at Kelling.

Species a day

Some more photos from a weekend in Norfolk.

Bar-tailed godwit, Norfolk, England

Woodpigeon, Norfolk, England

Sedge warbler, Norfolk, England

Little egret, Norfolk, England

Black-headed gull, Norfolk, England

Cley NNT Reserve, Norfolk

Cley Marshes in Norfolk is possibly the best bird reserve in England. It's home to many uncommon breeding birds and (because it is watched so intensively) it often turns up rarities. I spent the weekend with friends at nearby Blakeney and walked the marshes several times.

One bird that Cley is most famous for (and is the symbol of the RSPB) is the pied avocet, with 60+ breeding pairs every year. They are elegant and photogenic, but extremely territorial. After building their simple nests on the lagoon islands they spend most of their time chasing away every duck that's foolish enough to land in the water.

Pied avocet, a breeding bird at Cley

The weather was breezy but sunny so there were plenty of photo opportunities of the commoner residents. Sedge warbler, goldfinch and common whitethroat were present in good numbers and often singing from the bramble bushes dotted amongst the reeds. Somewhat more elusive were the resident bearded tit, they didn't sit up for photos but I did manage to glimpse a couple as they flew amongst the reeds with their long tails and characteristic pink calls. Another Norfolk speciality is marsh harrier and up to three birds were regularly seen quartering the reed beds.

Common whitethroat

Sedge warbler

Colourful goldfinch were common at Cley

As usual the reserve held a few rarities, we dipped on pectoral sandpiper and red-backed shrike but did manage to catch up with a wood sandpiper in nice breeding plumage on Arnold's Marsh and a female northern wheatear was a good find near the beach.

Northern wheatear

Among the more obvious breeding birds were greylag goose and northern lapwing. The latter nesting in the pastures and at one point disturbed by a stoat that was seen working it's way along the bank of the roadside stream.

Greylag goose

Northern lapwing

Duck numbers are fairly low this time of year but shelduck breed on the reserve and tufted duck, gadwall and pochard were still present.

Common shelduck, this one is a male

A male tufted duck

A drake pochard

The beach and sea were fairly quiet with a few birds moving far offshore but oystercatcher were preparing to nest amongst the dunes.

Oystercatchers nest in the beachside dunes area

Here's the list of birds we saw at Cley over the weekend. The wood sandpiper is an addition to my UK list.

  1. Greylag goose
  2. Canada goose
  3. Mute swan
  4. Egyptian goose
  5. Common shelduck
  6. Gadwall
  7. Mallard
  8. Northern shoveler
  9. Common pochard
  10. Tufted duck
  11. Red-legged partridge
  12. Common pheasant
  13. Great crested grebe
  14. Great cormorant
  15. Grey heron
  16. Little egret
  17. Eurasian marsh harrier
  18. Common moorhen
  19. Eurasian coot
  20. Northern lapwing
  21. European golden plover
  22. Common ringed plover
  23. Little ringed plover
  24. Eurasian oystercatcher
  25. Pied avocet
  26. Wood sandpiper
  27. Common redshank
  28. Bar-tailed godwit
  29. Red knot
  30. Dunlin
  31. Black-headed gull
  32. Herring gull
  33. Lesser black-backed gull
  34. Little tern
  35. Common tern
  36. Sandwich tern
  37. Feral pigeon
  38. Common woodpigeon
  39. Common cuckoo
  40. Common swift
  41. Common kestrel
  42. Common magpie
  43. Eurasian jackdaw
  44. Rook
  45. Bearded tit
  46. Skylark
  47. Sand martin
  48. Barn swallow
  49. Common house martin
  50. Great tit
  51. Common chiffchaff
  52. Sedge warbler
  53. Common whitethroat
  54. Northern wheatear
  55. European robin
  56. Eurasian blackbird
  57. European starling
  58. Dunnock
  59. Pied wagtail
  60. Meadow pipit
  61. Reed bunting
  62. European goldfinch
  63. Common linnet
  64. House sparrow

Meadow pipits in Norfolk

I spent the bank holiday weekend on the north Norfolk coast and visited Cley and Titchwell reserves. The coastal reserves are famous for wind blown rarities but more common birds such as meadow pipit were very active feeding their chicks.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Species a day

Five more bird species for the Species a Day list.

Pochard, Norfolk, England

Shelduck, Norfolk, England

Blackbird, Norfolk, England

Northern wheatear, Norfolk, England

Meadow pipit, Norfolk, England