Trip reports

Norfolk September 2014

Monday, 15 September 2014

York RSPB Local Group trip to Norfolk September 2014

Friday: Sixteen group members met at the RSPB Frampton Marsh reserve near Boston, Lincolnshire. A walk down to the sea bank revealed close views of a glossy ibis, unfortunately looking into the sun, but not a bad bird to start the trip list with. We went all around the seabank, with extensive views on the one side of the very extensive saltmarsh and distant Wash, and the reserve on the other. The East Hide was a little disappointing, and no sign of the red phalarope that had been reported earlier. We then called in at the Reed Bed Hide where there were good numbers of waders including little stint (right), plovers, knot and ruff, and plenty of water birds. The scrapes visible from the usually very productive 360 hide (below) were dry due to an excavator working earlier in the week, but we did have distant views of Brent and pink-footed geese. After lunch, we made our way into Norfolk to have a look at Hunstanton Cliffs. No fulmar or late kittiwakes, but a family of 6 grey partridge wandering across the golf course and then onto the car park was lovely. Part of the group was located at the other end of the car park and saw a few waders on the beach, together with a man wearing only a thong. Time to book into our hotel for a lovely evening meal and rest.
Saturday: We set straight off along the North Norfolk coast for our main venue the NWT Cley reserve. We arrived just as the centre was opening. Coffee, and then straight onto the hides. Lots of waders and water birds to work through to find the little stints and curlew sandpipers. A Cetti's warbler right outside/between the hides enticed us with its startling song and then good views, followed by a party of bearded tits (below) which came closer and closer in front of the hide and obliged by giving the best views ever in the early morning sunlight. We walked out towards the sea; the once maintained high shingle banks now once and for all levelled by the storms last December. Good views of hobby, but little to see on the flat calm sea. Views of golden plover and stonechat on the way to what is now a screen replacing the former North Hide washed away by last year's storm. Little else to report for the remainder of the reserve, so we moved on to Holkham Woods; a change of habitat and birds; thrushes, green and spotted woodpecker, Egyptian geese by the lake, and stags and deer watching us all the time.
Sunday: Straight out to the nearby RSPB Snettisham reserve after breakfast to try and catch the wader roost at high tide. The reserve had been badly affected by last year's storms, with two of the hides totally destroyed and the circular walk link path also washed away making one very long lagoon. It was high tide already but the sea was flat calm, as such the wader roost had stayed out on the Wash rather than onto the reserve banks. We viewed the abundant water birds from the Shore Hide, and there were sightings of marsh harriers across the marsh. Huge flocks of oystercatchers and knot gradually fluttered up and down as the tide receded. One interesting sight was the almost single file procession of oystercatchers walking towards the quickly receding shoreline, occasionally turning back, and then quickly following the fast moving water's edge as the tide went out.
We then moved on to the RSPB Titchwell reserve to find that the boardwalk to the Fen Hide and beyond was closed for repairs, but at least the walk to the sea (right) was open (it had been earlier closed for repair works to the banks). More views of bearded tits, Cetti's warbler heard, curlew sandpiper and many water birds on the freshwater marsh. Down at the beach, many waders to work through and eiders on the sea. On our return, we viewed the feeders just outside the centre to find a brambling, not a bad bird to finish with.
Although there had been significant migratory movements the previous week, we hit a lull in the weather, nice and warm for us but very quiet for the birds, coupled with major works taking place on many reserves. 99 species recorded over the weekend.
Anne Lloyd