15 April 2007

The Titchwell trip went off okay, not great but okay. We arrived at the coach pick-up point in Derby at just before 7:00AM and the weather was a little bit iffy. It was a lot cooler than the past few mornings and, more worryingly, there was quiet a lot of fog around but at least it was dry so we couldn’t complain too much.

By the time the coach was ready to set off at 7:30AM the fog had cleared and we had also seen the first “good bird” of the day - one of the Peregrine Falcons that are nesting on Derby Cathedral had put in an appearance. The sunshine that had broken through as we left Derby soon disappeared again as we headed towards Nottingham! The next time we saw clear blue skies would prove to be after we left Titchwell to return home!

We arrived at the reserve at just after 11:00AM with visibility down to around 200 yards. Not the best of weather for birding but at least the fog was now patchy and not so thick that we couldn’t see anything. After a brief look around the visitor centre, we headed out onto the main reserve.

The scrub area around the freshwater marsh gave us our first migrant birds of the day - Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Swallow were all seen along with good views of a male Marsh Harrier, a pair of Ruddy Duck, a single Siskin and two pairs of Bullfinch. Cetti’s Warbler was also heard but even though there were at least two if not three birds calling, we couldn’t manage a sighting of these notoriously skulking birds.

An Avocet - in the fog!

The freshwater marsh itself held good numbers of Avocet, Shoveller, Oystercatcher, and Brent Geese. We also saw Ruff, Turnstone, Common Snipe, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, and both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit amongst the waders. The “star bird” of the day was also located on the freshwater marsh, a single Little Gull. Okay, it wasn’t the best looking of Little Gulls, I would guess at it being a first or maybe second year bird, but on a dull and foggy spring day, it was great to come across this little gem!

The Little Gull - through the fog!

The last part of the reserve, before you walk into the sea, is the tidal marsh. Here the fog became quite thick again as it was blown in off the sea. We did manage to add one or two more birds to our day list though. There was a single Spotted Redshank, a few Grey Plover and two Little Egret.

The return walk back to the coach at the end of the day had one more surprise in store for us, a Cetti’s Warbler showed itself! It was at the side of the path, low down in some dead reeds, collecting what looked like nesting material. As soon as it saw us, it was up and way like a shot! It then had the cheek to start and call again once it was out of sight.

The foggy view over the freshwater marsh.

Once back at the coach the birding continued for a while longer. A superb male Wheatear had been located in a field next to the car park and, whilst watching that, a Barn Owl was seen hunting along the hedgerow! A great finish to a rather good days birding, despite the weather! Including birds seen from the coach during the trip to and from the reserve Lynda and I saw a total of 76 species.

Today, the sun came out all day! The sky was blue, there was little or no wind and the temperature was more like July than early April - what a difference a day makes!

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