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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Titchwell RSPB & The Storm Damage!

Sanderling at Titchwell RSPB

There was a severe frost this morning and it was a job to crawl out of bed to be honest – woke up early, but bashed down the 'sleep' button several times, as you do. I normally have all kinds of pains in my legs after walking Blakeney Point, but unusually there were none today! It was a hairy drive out of my estate – the roads were so frosty, it looked like snow! The sun was out and it was another beautiful day and I now regretted not getting up earlier.

Arranged to meet up with Andy Wilkinson to go birding at Titchwell RSPB. If you remember on my post on the 5th December I visited Titchwell reserve as the storm surge was happening! But I have not visited since that dramatic night and was intrigued to see how much damage the storm surge had created. It was considerably worse than I had imagined.

On route to Titchwell I saw a Common Buzzard soaring in blue skies over the fields at Choseley – a beautiful sight. I stopped at Choseley Barns for a few moments and was absolutely shocked to see that the farmer (or someone) has removed the hedgerow next to the concrete pad where all the Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers perch and congregate – I just looked in disbelief!!! It is now simply a low bank of earth. I could not see the reason for this at all – anyone know why please?

Anyway, I met up with Andy in the RSPB carpark and we walked around the Fen Trail and onto the East Trail to Patsy's Pool. Several good species of bird seen here including 2 Song Thrushes that flew over and landed in a bramble, several Goldfinches, Blue Tits, a Wren, a female Bullfinch on the Fen Trail, lots of Tufted Duck, 20+ Pochard and Shoveler on the pool, a Heron and a Marsh Harrier. It was quite shocking to see all the tidal debris on the far bank where the wooden screen was (and isn't any more) at the furthest point of the East Trail. Walked back via the Fen Trail and onto the main path back to the 'Feeding Station' at 12.15pm to have lunch. Along the main path I said to Andy 'you look in the right ditch and I will look in the left for Water Rail' – as I finished my sentence I said 'here's one' – right on cue, there was a Water Rail in MY ditch!!!
Andy W. posing again!

Me and Andy enjoying the sunshine.

Got the best table in the house! Enjoyed Cheese & Onion Potato Skins and Salad and a cup of tea – Andy had a bacon butty something or other! I'm normally hard core and sit outside, but it was much too cold for that today. There is now a bookcase full of second-hand books for sale in here now which makes the room look nice and homely I think, but does mean there is a little less leg room between the tables I noticed.

Along the main path to the beach we saw the usual waders etc: large flock of Golden Plover, Lapwings, good numbers of Dunlin, Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Ducks, Shelducks, 3 Pintails, 4 Avocets, Little Egret, Bar-tailed Godwit, 20+ Ruff, Snipe x 2, Redshanks, Pied Wagtails and 4 Marsh Harriers.
The wrecked boardwalk with Andy W. posing!
Tidal rubbish on the salt marsh, by the boardwalk.


The first pool on the left (west side) had lots of tidal debris and was transformed! Had I known how close the sea had been to me, I don't think I would have walked up to the first seat on that night!!! At the end of the main path the boardwalk had been tossed and twisted and it was quite shocking to see how much dune had been whisked away from underneath it. There was also tons of surge debris and plastic rubbish and bottles on the west side of the path. The biggest shock was the transformation and disappearance of the dunes!!!! My goodness it looked so different! The dunes both West and East of the boardwalk were almost flat – well what was left of them! The strands of marram left on the sand told you how much dune had been stripped away that night. It was dramatic scenery indeed!
 Dunes stripped back – looking west towards Brancaster.
 
 Dunes flattened – looking west towards Brancaster.
 
Looking east towards Brancaster.

 Looking east towards Brancaster.

Looking west towards Thornham Point.

Looking west towards Thornham Point and Andy W!

Sanderling at Titchwell RSPB

On the sea we counted at least 10+ Golden Eye, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Velvet Scoters (I only saw one though). I spent a long time kneeling in the wet sand by the tideline, photographing Sanderlings and Turnstones feeding – the light was perfect. This perfect moment was only spoilt by incredibly inconsiderate dog owners who seemed to think it was fine to allow their wet, shaggy dog run up to me and stay with me – I held my camera in the air to save it getting wet and waited for them to call the dog away – they didn't bother and then they proceeded to walk in front of me! The dog came back to join me for a second time – my temper escalated and I shouted that people 'should keep their dogs under control' – either they didn't hear me or didn't bother replying. I waited patiently and the sanderlings and turnstones did return again. We were going to walk to Thornham Point, but then changed our minds and walked back along the main bank to Parrinder Hide.

The same birds were seen from here, as we saw along the main bank. A snipe was feeding on the grassy bank very close to the hide (see pics). Big gull roost, but light fading fast. 4 Marsh Harriers in the roost. Whilst at Titchwell today we bumped into Ray Kimber, Ray and David Roche and also Mark Bradbury and also a nice couple I met yesterday at Cley.
Snipe from the Parrinder Hide.

We were going to end the day in the 'Feeding Station' with a coffee, but it was closed by the time we got there so had a coffee from my flask and then left.

I then went to the farm at Ringstead to get two bags of sticks for my parents's fire and visited them for a short while, before returning home. Back to work tomorrow, but looking forward to my usual New Year's Day Bird Race!! See last year's post. I saw 101 species last year, will I be able to beat this? – well not too long to find out!

Watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides tonight – I never tire of watching Johnny Depp!!!
Sanderling and Turnstones

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