Titchwell Thrills

Nice day forecast, I felt the RSPB reserve at Titchwell on the North Norfolk coast calling for a re-visit.  Now this is one place I don’t mind spending £5 for a days birding!  The site has many different habitats so there is always something of interest to look for whatever the season.  The only downside is it is a very popular place, the most visited RSPB reserve in the Country, but everyone’s here to enjoy the same experience and it never feels overcrowded once people spread out.

The first spot I stopped at was the feeding station at the back of the visitors centre.  A steady procession of small birds came to the feeders which is great for close up photography but to get them in a natural setting was the source of great frustration, always a twig in the way!

Don’t talk with your beak full! A Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) at one of the many feeders

I continued on the boardwalk past the dragonfly pools where you can imagine the larvae are waiting for the first signs of summer so they can emerge into those flying jewels. Through reedy scrub, quiet now but in a few months will be reverberating to the song of the returning warblers.  Onto the main path to the sea and past the freshwater lagoons and marshes.  There was one particular spot, close to the bank, that was a magnet for a mixture of waders.  I plonked myself down and enjoyed a wonderful hour or so photographing them.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) is the second largest of our waders. Like all shorebirds at this time of the year in it’s greys of winter plumage. It took ages before one posed among these dead plants, they preferred to feed in the open water where their long legs and bill give them an advantage
Our other Godwit is the Bar-tailed (Limosa lapponica). A bit smaller than the Black-tailed, it has more patterned plumage and a slightly up-curved bill. In summer this bird is a striking brick red in colour on the underparts
A different ‘style’ of wader. Chunky body, short bill and legs, feeding on the mudflats in a stop start action. This is a plover a Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) another wader with a lovely summer plumage this time black and white. They breed in the high-arctic

While I was engrossed in act of filming these different species something caused every bird on the reserve to take flight in panic.  It had to be a bird of prey.  I looked for a Peregrine Falcon or Sparrowhawk scything through the flocks but it was when I looked up the culprit became clear, the massive shape of an immature White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).  With a wing-span of 8 feet (2.4m) this is Northern Europe’s largest raptor, it has the nick-name of the ‘flying barn door’.  Now, eagles in Norfolk are not un-heard of but are a very rare occurrence, this is only my third sighting, they breed on Western Isles of Scotland like Mull but some do drift across the North Sea from the Continent.  I would like to say I got some stunning shots to record this event, sadly no, by the time I got my wits together, picked my jaw from the floor and the camera focused it was very distant.

A heavily cropped record shot of the White-tailed Eagle, you can still make out the massive bill and huge wings

There was still one more surprise in store.  As I made my way back to the car a Little Egret flew over the footpath landing on the Thornham Marshes.  Nothing unusual in that, Little Egrets have become quite numerous in recent years, however it landed next to another egret that dwarfed it, a Great White Egret (Egretta alba).  This is only my third ever sighting (my first was on the day my daughter was born, twitchers do the strangest things!) but people passing by didn’t seem that bothered, perhaps they are no longer a very rare visitor.

The statuesque Great White Egret catches the breeze

49 thoughts on “Titchwell Thrills

  1. Hello Brian, I’ve missed you. I haven’t been on my blog for quite a while and I’ve looked at what my readers are still writing. I didn’t find anything about you. I then checked whether you were still among my readers. I wanted to write to you in the next few days what you are doing.
    Well today you are in touch with a very nice post and beautiful bird photos that I have already missed from you.
    Greeting Werner

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Werner.
      Thanks for your comment, it’s nice to know people are thinking of you. I often wonder what has happened to those who regularly posted blogs then suddenly stop. In my case winter is not my favourite season so my posts are fewer. However with the purchase of my new lens I have been able to get out (on good days) to photograph birds. So glad you like this offering.
      Take care and keep well. B.


      1. Yes, I read Klausbernd’s postings on Dina’s blog. They live in a beautiful village along the coast, a great place and famous for it’s birdwatching.
        The lens I purchased was the Sigma 150-600mm contemporary, I’m still getting used to using it but so far so good!


  2. First off, the great perspective on the Plover – either you were far off that made it look that way, but it gives the impression you were at least eye level with it. Never seen or hear of either of those godwits – thanks for introducing them to me. Surprised you do not have the Great Egret over there (at least regularly). I can’t throw a stick at a body of water without hitting one around here. Had to look up that white-tailed variety of the eagle – apparently a species in the sea eagle family. Looks like they have our Bald variety in wingspan by ~1.5′ Those must look intimidating from the ground!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morning B. I love that plover shot. It was actually quite close and up on the highest mud bank, I was down low so almost eye level. This particular marshy lagoon is all controlled by sluices so the water levels can be adjusted to suit whatever needs arise, the levels were very low on this trip which is why the waders were finding some good feeding spots.
      The Great White Egret is numerous over the Channel on the Continent but has only recently starting moving north into the UK (global warming?) I think the odd pair breed in Southern England.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hooray! You not only made it outdoors, you made it all the way to the coast! Well done!

    The Godwits are just so impressive. Such rich plumage.

    An Eagle!! And, a Great White Egret!! A special day indeed.

    It sure looks like after photographing that Gray Plover, someone may have needed to brush away grass and/or mud from his clothing.

    What a great outing, Brian! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My jeans were a bit wet and muddy after photographing the waders, you just don’t care at the time getting way down to get a nicer angle. It’s later when Mrs H clips the ear hole and tells you to put them in the washing machine!
      What a treat the day was, the two special sightings were just the icing on the cake photographing the ‘ordinary’ birds was great fun.
      Thanks for dropping in Wally

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Getting way down to get a nicer angle” is not a problem and certainly makes for a more appealing photo, as you demonstrate.
        Lately, however, I seem to be having an issue with “getting way back up again”.

        Gini says “getting old isn’t for sissies”!


    1. Wonderful day indeed CJ.
      You have a better chance of seeing the eagles in your Country than I have here. I found this info when I did a quick google search ‘Since nature development areas like the Kleine Noordwaard, Zuiderklip and Tongplaat were created, the Biesbosch has become one of them. They can be found year-round in the Noordwaard in particular.’
      Good hunting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right. I have seen them (very far away) in the Biesbosch while paddling. They close down the areas close to where they nest so unless we invest in those long lens of birds we will just have to view from our canoe at a distance.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Brian, for this delightful look at your Norfolk birds. Each one is new to this Californian, and beautiful and slightly different than what we have here. And what a total thrill to have the White-tailed Eagle fly overhead, witness the flurry of the other birds.

    Liked by 1 person

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