Trip reports

Titchwell - Sunday, 16th September 2018

Titchwell - Sunday, 16th September 2018
Brian Smith

Sunday, 16 September 2018

This visit was all about the Year List. I needed three birds to meet my personal target for the year and a quick look at the recent sightings page on the Titchwell website had shown five candidates: grey plover, bar-tailed godwit, sanderling, arctic skua and little tern. Instead of the usual and very pleasant practice of wandering around the reserve with friends compiling a Day List, I'd decided to strike out on my own and head for the beach. On the way Robin Brace kindly pointed out a curlew sandpiper and then I set up my scope and looked for grey plovers where they were usually seen, towards the far side of the last body of water before the sea. And there they were, by a flock of oystercatchers. One down.

Then the beach, where patience was needed. There were no waders at all by the water's edge, just a distant group of terns and gulls. It was a wonderful day: warm, sunny and breezy, too breezy in fact for those wanting to see bearded tits. Other people from the coach joined me. We saw cormorants, sandwich terns and had glimpses of common scoter. Then, suddenly, there was a skua right in front of us, not a huge distance away. I'd seen bonxie just two weeks before, from the Yorkshire Belle, and could see that this was a faster, lighter-looking bird. 'Arctic skua', said Steve Wilkinson to my right and that was good enough for me. Two down.

I had lunch then gave up on little tern and sanderling and wandered back towards the group of godwits I'd hurried by first thing. I tried scoping them from the path as soon as I could but the breeze and the light were against me so I did the sensible thing and trudged back to the hide so that I was out of the wind and had the sun more or less behind me. Would the bar-tailed be with the black-tailed? Foolishly perhaps, I started with outliers then, after drawing a blank, settled down to work through the flock of godwits right in front of me in the middle distance. They were mostly black-tailed, of course, in their smooth grey (to my eyes) winter plumage. Then I began to see that there were a number of other birds mixed in with them - stockier, with patterned backs and, yes, barring on the tail. Bar-tailed godwits! Job done. Time for an ice cream.