Titchwell Marsh April 2015

Early morning mist lifted as we drove northwards; by Swaffham clear blue skies held the promise of an enjoyable day. We were not to be disappointed.

On the RSPB Reserve we were surprised at the lack of visitors and the calm conditions, the sea was like a mill pond, - well almost. Although a little early for many of our summer migrants we had no difficulty totalling 52 species seen, (mostly) or heard, (just a few).A chiffchaff sang from a tree overlooking the car park, the first of the year for some.

From the west bank path we saw a bittern in flight, two ruffs, heard Cetti’s warblers and scoped a sizeable flock of brent geese. We were the first birders into the island hide, a novel experience and soon settled down to some good birding. Lovely to see godwits in early summer plumage and our first stunning avocet, too busily feeding to bother about our close attentions. Titchwell sometimes offers confiding birds at close range and this time a black tailed godwit obligingly pulled lugworms from the mud within a few yards of the path providing good photo-opportunities.

The two Pallinder hides gave more close views of avocets and for the first time curlews bubbled as they flew in to roost. A confiding ruff in part-summer plumage came close to the south hide and we spotted a pair of roosting pintail ducks on a mudbank. Information boards told us that the pintail is the UK’s rarest resident duck with only around 30 breeding pairs. More winter migrants boost our numbers, so will our pair stay to breed, or fly north east to their summer home in northern Europe?

A quick walk on the beach showed a few black ducks bobbing out to sea, perhaps common scoter?

Back on the mud, a helpful volunteer took delight in showing us a quite rare little ringed plover resplendent with its neat yellow eye ring, distinguishing it readily from the more common ringed plover.

After 3 hours excellent birding, the group enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the rather sumptuous surrounds of The Briarfields Hotel close to the Reserve in Titchwell village. Marsh Harriers quartered the marsh in front of the dining room as we tucked into our food and drink. And still the sun shone to provide a golden light on this iconic Norfolk coastal scene.

Peter Heath