"Penny's Hot Birding Tours"
With my work colleagues and friends:
Annie, Emily and Thomas (age 2), Bev, Keri, Andrea, Emma, Ellie, Scott, Victoria, Deana, Hilary, Helen, Cilla, Lily and Bea (not 1 yet)
I organised this little birding trip at the beginning of the year for all my lovely work colleagues. I last did this in 2017 and organised it last year, but had to cancel due to my mother's death. It was very difficult to organise as some people work part time, some full time and I also wanted to make sure it was a high tide, as some of the girls like to go swimming – it was the only day in August to suit everyone. Not all my colleagues were able to come, but had quite a good turnout of 16 people including Emily's son Thomas who is 2 and the most likely one in the group to become a serious birder!!!
We met up straight after work in the car park at Titchwell RSPB at 5.30pm. We took over all the picnic tables at the visitor centre, where we enjoyed our picnic! Everyone had bought all kinds of scrumptious food, including scones, clotted cream and jam, Victoria sandwich (made by me), Bread and butter, smoked cheese, other cheeses, meats, sausages, fancy salads, couscous, strawberries, tomatoes, crisps, dips, chocolate brownies, drinks, cheese straws etc! It then started to spit with rain, but it quickly stopped thank goodness. Keith Tinworth walked past and we gave him a piece of my Victoria Sandwich! We also saw Trevor G. here. At the bird feeders where we had been sitting we saw a Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch, Moorhen and a rat! No sign of any of the tame robins whilst we were eating, which I found very strange. We cleared everything up and put everything back in our cars. Lily had to take little Bea home at this point, as it was past her bedtime! From the car park there were House Martins and Swallows overhead. After toilet stops etc we set out to walk along the main bank for our guided birding tour!
Along the main bank and from Island Hide we had excellent views of 2 Bearded Tits in the reeds right next to the hide, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 100+ Dunlin, Teal, Mallards, Redshanks, Lapwings and a massive gull roost. Lots of Cormorants were roosting on the dead trees. Several people enjoyed looking through the telescope for the first time, which is exciting when you realise that the bird you can see in all its glory is a meer dot in the distance! I was surprised we didn't see a single Marsh Harrier though. Frustratingly the light was appalling with grey skies, which I was upset about as several of my work colleagues were visiting this reserve for the first time and it makes a huge difference to viewing and general enjoyment if you have bright blue skies and blue water instead of grey dismal water and viewing! Oh well, you can't predict the weather, at least it didn't rain whilst we were there!
From Parrinder Hide we saw a Pied Wagtail and Shelducks, besides all the birds seen above. Young Thomas tried so hard to look through the scope, but his eyeball was almost touching the lens and as is typical at that age, lost concentration to attempt to adjust his viewing, bless him! He also enjoyed squeaking my Audubon Bird Call whistle and seemed fascinated by this. The midges started to appear in force! A Little Egret flew over the path south. We headed to the beach and Cilla and Deana went swimming! Thomas kept us entertained and bird of the evening was a Wheatear I found, as I was scanning through the scope – it was a long way east along the beach and I managed to get several people onto the bird as it kept moving around. We saw Turnstones, Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls and others in huge numbers on the beach. We started to head back along the bank.
Something interesting dived in the sueda bushes just south of the beach, but it didn't reveal itself with several attempts of 'pishing' and squeaking! Cilla and I were trailing behind the others and heard a Cetti's Warbler bursting into tune and we also saw 5 Spoonbills right at the back of the freshmarsh – I really wanted the others to see these earlier and in better light – typical that they were not there earlier!
Apologies to any birders we disturbed in the hides, when we turned up on mass! Emma one the prize for best birding attire with her bright pink flamingo birding umbrella! Thomas one the prize for the keenest new birder! I hope everyone enjoyed it and huge thanks for the excellent food that everyone took great efforts to make and bring for our lovely picnic – our team knows how to do food! I also appreciate very much those colleagues that came, when they have to travel so far back to their homes after being at work all day – several of them live close by to Norwich!
Next year, I will plan it for earlier in the year when its light until 9pm – June I think would be better and we'll start off with fish 'n' chips at Erics in Thornham. Very unusually for me, I didn't get round to taking a single picture this evening, so apologies there are no 'pictures to be added'!!!
Back in the car park a few of us decided to do something a bit mad...... I took Andrea, Hilary, Helen and Bev to our family home in Holme to show them where I grew up. It was almost dark and we walked round the garden with a torch – how crazy was that!!!