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Saturday, 10 March 2018

SNOWY OWL AT TITCHWELL RSPB!!!

SNOWY OWL
Thornham Point, Titchwell RSPB
Phone-scoped Video with Swarovski ATS 65mm HD Telescope with 25-50x w eye-piece &
Apple iphone 6 with Kowa TSN-IP6 Photo Adapter.



The alarm went off at some insane time and I managed to get out of the house pre dawn and headed to Burnham Deepdale. The weather was atrocious and heavy rain and mud made things pretty miserable. There were a few birders here before me, but by the time I left and put the 'no sign of' message out to RBA at 7.35am, there was no more than a dozen people if that. As several birders remarked, the Snowy Owl wasn't going to be cruising round in these dire weather conditions.

So, west or east? I headed west and checked Brancaster Staithe Harbour and sat here for a while in the rain, scanning the marshes. The weather seemed to get a little better thank goodness. Left here and continued west, planning to check Choseley Drying Barns, when the pager went off with SNOWY OWL at Thornham Point at 8.03am! Panic set in as needed to quickly decide to walk to the point via Titchwell RSPB or view from Thornham Harbour for quicker views? I opted for Titchwell. Parked my car into the path just left of the staff car park for speed and headed north along the main path. Ashley Saunders had also sent me messages about this sighting, thank you.

At the end of the main path several of us enjoyed wonderful views through our scopes of the Snowy Owl perched on a dead tree stump in the midst of the sea-buckthorn at Thornham Point! The Snowy Owl dwarfed a very small Wood Pigeon, who was perched close by! I took some video via the scope but it was pretty poor footage. Eventually a few people headed along the beach to get closer views. The Snowy Owl then flew behind the sea-buckthorn bushes and disappeared from view. I phoned Sophie, Warden at HBO to tip her off about a big owl potentially coming her way for the Holme list! Birders were watching from Thornham Harbour too and with several birders phoning back and forth, it helped to pin down where the owl was. Two photographers appeared to the left of the bushes and seemed to be photographing the owl, but it remained out of sight for the masses at the end of the main path at Titchwell. Sophie saw the Snowy Owl sitting on a post on the beach from where she was standing at Holme – result!

As expected, people started to walk to Thornham Point along the beach – I decided to watch from where I was. The Snowy Owl ended up on the beach, where it remained for the rest of day, much to the delight of hundreds of birders, some who had come from a few counties away to see this majestic bird. I was now desperate for the loo, to the point where I was in agony and because of the volume of people around, there was nowhere to sneakily go – so frustratingly I had no choice but to return to the toilets in the car park. It was now 11.30am and I was very hungry, so sat in my car to have an early lunch. The warmth of sitting in the car and my early start with almost no sleep, sent me into a very long and much needed snooze!

Mid afternoon, I returned to the beach and headed to Thornham Point, passing some birders watching Snow Buntings feeding in the dune slack. I joined the main crowd and even after this long 30 minute walk from the end of the boardwalk, the Snowy Owl was still a dot in the distance – it was hunkered down on the beach and this is where it stayed for several hours! The most chilled owl I have seen! Every so often it would turn its head towards the sea and the gulls and then slowly turn back to view us. What a bird! It preened every now and again, which gave fabulous views of the wings and general size of this massive owl. I still couldn't believe I was watching a Snowy Owl sitting on the beach at Titchwell!!!

I moved back a few yards to the dune ridge in case the Snowy Owl decided to flew over us to roost in the sea buckthorn area where it was this morning, but it didn't exactly work out how I had hoped! At approximately 6.05pm, the Snowy Owl took off from the beach, landing further west briefly and upsetting lots of gulls in the process – then headed further west and circled round the Thornham channel (which may have given birders I could see watching from Holme, a Holme tick) and then headed south inland and over the marshes. The light was poor now, but most of us managed to keep with it until at 6.15pm when it disappeared from view near a barn, inland side of Titchwell.

The walk back in the dark was exhausting – got back to my car at 7pm and headed straight home to King's Lynn. It took so long to sort out all my wet gear from this morning. Will I have the energy to go out early morning before I do a family get together for Mother's Day? We'll see! Good luck to those going tomorrow.

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