Trip reports

Bexley Local Group Trip to Titchwell RSPB Reserve - 22nd November 2015

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bexley Local Group Trip to Titchwell RSPB Reserve

Sunday 22 November 2015

Weather - Bright, showers and cold N/E wind.

My first ever visit to Titchwell with the Bexley Group was over twenty years ago and although many things have changed over time what doesn't change is the unpredictability of our birdwatching days. As usual during the preceding week I was keeping an eye on the weather and as the unusually high November temperatures tumbled, memories of a previous visit, when heavy rain was accompanied by strong and extremely cold winds, came to mind. On this occasion when the coach negotiated the right angled turn in the entrance lane it was dry and bright. Many enjoyed a quick and refreshing hot drink from the servery while watching the busy feeders that attracted marsh and coal tits along with the blues and greats. A number of the group were unfamiliar with the layout of the reserve so we popped along to the Fen hide and the adjacent viewing screen which are a little way away from the most popular areas. From here we "scoped" a distant marsh harrier perched on a convenient dead tree as well as the gadwall, wigeon etc. on the scrape by Patsy's reed bed. Hoods went up then as a light shower followed us along the Fen and Meadow Trails and onto the West Bank path where we stopped for just a few moments to check out a small flock of Brent geese, off the reserve to our left. The Island hide offered shelter and we were soon scanning the large numbers of birds on the Freshwater Marsh. Apart from the host of very obvious gulls we were able to identify, among others, blacked-tailed godwit, ringed plover, dunlin, avocet, ruff, lapwing, shelduck and a small and very busy wader that I took to be a sanderling. From my point of view it had a bill shorter than those sported by the group of dunlin nearby that it wasn't associating with. Once the rain had ceased to dimple the surface of the water we got back to the West Bank path and headed past the Parrinder Hides towards the beach. On the way the group were able to compare black-tailed godwits with a single bar-tailed godwit, while two flocks of bar-tails flew in unison above us but refused to land anywhere in sight. This was also where we were treated to views of a kingfisher that posed on a nearby post. I think all our group members managed to see it as it turned up at both ends of Volunteer Marsh. On the wide sandy beach we were exposed to the cold wind blowing from the North West that was whipping up the surf, but it wasn't deterring the birds on the shoreline. Turnstones, oystercatchers, dunlin, godwits and sanderling fed in front of us and one of the many gulls (a cheeky black-headed) begged for food at our feet. Having surveyed the birds on the sand our attention moved to the sea and some dark duck-shaped blobs turned out to be common scoter that were only just beyond the breaking waves. Surprisingly, rather than going away they actually came a little nearer and while watching them Sandra (of 200 club fame) spotted a different black and white bird. This turned out to be a guillemot that was actually fishing in the surf only a few yards from the beach, in water that must have been very shallow indeed, in my experience quite extraordinary. The bird gradually worked its way to the left and attracted the attention of some gulls that started to mob it. Having made the most of a good dry spell those of us who hadn't already been driven back by the chill retraced our steps and then turned onto the track to the Parinder Hides. Here many group members had already been eating their packed lunches, entertained by the birds standing on the small islands and the grassy bank, especially the snipe and water pipit. I must say I was disappointed by the pipit, not a bird I have seen often. I recall the first was a smart, light coloured bird but this one was rather dowdy and dull - sorry! The rain returned, light at first, but those of us who didn't take the hint to make a quick departure had a wetting before settling in the visitor centre with a hot coffee.
Red-throated diver, little grebe, great crested grebe, slavonian grebe, gannet, cormorant, shag, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, pink-footed geese, greylag goose, brent goose, shelduck, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, tufted duck, common scoter, marsh harrier, peregrine falcon, pheasant, water rail, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, grey plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling, dunlin, ruff, snipe, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, spotted redshank, redshank, greenshank, turnstone, black-headed gull, common gull, herring gull, great black-backed gull, guillemot, woodpigeon, collared dove, kingfisher, skylark, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, water pipit, blackbird, Cetti's warbler, long-tailed tit, marsh tit, coal tit, blue tit, great tit, magpie, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, linnet, redpoll, snow bunting. Total -75