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Monday, 2 May 2016

Black-headed Wagtail At Titchwell RSPB!

My plans changed several times today! As yesterday, I slept through the alarm – surprise surprise! I was going to spend the day at Cley and was thinking about doing Blakeney Point – note I said 'thinking'. Then I had a lovely phone call from a dear family friend who lives in Heacham, who asked me the exact location of the Wryneck on Saturday  – he also very kindly emailed me a cracking picture of a male blackcap in his garden that was eating mistletoe berries!
Blackcap enjoying a Mistletoe Berry
© Malcolm White

The time was flying by and I changed my mind about Cley and decided to search Garden Drove at Warham and then Wells Woods this afternoon. A message came up on the pager at 1.02pm about a 'probable' Black-headed Wagtail at Titchwell RSPB, which I didn't take seriously at this point. Another message later at 2.09pm to say it WAS a Black-headed Wagtail and had been seen again, but flew west and no further sign. Shortly after this message, another popped up at 2.20pm to say it was in the cut reeds again, before Island Hide. Ok, so now I need to go sharpish!

Off I sped (I mean drive sensibly – must remember that at least two policemen read my blog!) to Titchwell RSPB. When I arrived by the cut reeds just before Island Hide, there were only a few people standing there and the Black-headed Wagtail was not on show at this moment. Quote from another birder 'most people have been and gone' – obviously birders were either close by or went on the first message. I wished I had gone on the first message too now! Not too long after I arrived here, Eddie M and Mark G. also joined me and then shortly after that, a birder I know called Mat turned up to say he had heard someone in the Visitor Centre say he had just been watching it from the Parrinder Hide! Now, I'm presuming that person must have walked past all of us, so it was jolly nice of him to stop and tell us all, not!!! We promptly all legged it up to the Parrinder hide to find that birders in there had indeed been watching it and it had also been fairly close to the hide! But of course it wasn't there when we arrived. Feeling frustrated at not seeing this exciting bird, I was muttering and cursing etc etc!

We were standing in the left hand side of the hide and eventually we had a few seconds view of the wagtail in flight over the fence line, at the end of the spit on the far left side and then not long after that it appeared on the edge of the spit, as if it was going to continue working its way towards us. I only saw this cracking bird for seconds – jet black head, contrasting with vivid yellow. At this point I phoned Eddie and Mark who had left the hide (don't quite know where they were) to say it was here. A second after that the wagtail had took off and bounded across momentarily to an island in the middle of the scrape and then back to the cut reed area by Island Hide. I didn't even get a chance to get a picture, not even a blob on the camera! Heavy showers of rain on and off until early evening when the sun came out for a short while.

By the time I got back to Island Hide, it had disappeared again. Eddie had obtained some phone-scoped pictures. I can't remember what time this was, but I never saw it again. Determined not to give up, I stayed at Titchwell searching for this bird until dusk. I headed back to Parrinder Hide and sat in there with Jill Wilson for what must have been a good hour and a half, then Rob came and joined us (Jill's husband). No sign at all. Snipe, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Avocets, Shelducks, Teal, Shovelers, Redshanks, Grey Plover, gulls and a good number of Swifts around the reserve. We walked back to the cut reed area by Island Hide, still no sign. Richard M. was also here and a couple of other birders.

I headed to the East Trail and to the small pool next to Patsy's Pool, in hope that it had favoured this muddy edged area, which looks excellent habitat for any wagtails, but no joy there either. I had stunning views of a Short-eared Owl in perfect light at 7.23pm, which flew straight over my head, but camera was in bag and wasn't quick enough. Cetti's Warbler singing and Greylag Geese with fluffy youngsters and Pied Wagtails on the horse meadow just south of here. I returned to the cut reed area near Island Hide to find Richard M still there – I headed back to Parrinder Hide, just in case! Pied Wagtails here, but no yellow and back one. Took some sunset pictures and returned to Island Hide and walked back to the car park with Richard and heard a Cuckoo at 8.30pm. I'm glad I saw the Black-headed Wagtail, but it would have been much nicer to see it for a bit longer and an added bonus would have been to get it on the camera!

Last day of my holiday tomorrow and on Father/nurse duties to give Mother a break.  Cooking a vegetarian meal (Father doesn't know that yet) and an apple crumble, plus jobs to do whilst there.

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