Sunday, 10 November 2013

Neither autumn or winter

There were some fine photos of the very obliging Grey Phalarope at Salthouse on the web. We arrived in the car park at around 8.30am but the bird had done the dreaded 'Friday night flit' and was nowhere to be seen. Such a pity. It kind of left us at a loose then, the only other bird of note at that stage was a Lapland Bunting at Winterton, but that was a bit far to drive for just a 'Lapper'. We decided to check Well's harbour for sea duck or grebes but apart from a small flock of dark-bellied Brents, it was quiet. We drove on along the north coast heading west. We stopped at Brancaster Staithe but could only see a few Turnstones, Black-headed Gulls and a Common Redshank. These Atlantic systems will need to be replaced by easterlies of some kind in order to push more wintering birds into the UK.
We continued on to RSPB Titchwell. My first visit to this fine reserve. I was expecting it to be really crowded and although it was busy, it certainly wasn't as bad as I expected. We walked first to the beach but were a little disappointed here. The board in reception said Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and Velvet Scoter, but from the beach all we could see were gulls and cormorants. Possibly the retreating high tide had pushed the birds further out. Still, we had decent scope views of four Spotted Redshanks from along the path towards the beach as well as hearing two Cetti's Warblers.
On the way back we joined a small group of people watching a Short-eared Owl hunting out over the grazing meadow. Always a great bird to see and while it never came that close, it was a pleasure to watch it hunting so gracefully and to watch it preen on a distant fence post.

Short-eared Owl, RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk - 9th November 2013
So at last we had a decent bird to show for the day. After spending about an hour watching it, we headed back towards reception. At the feeders there was plenty of action, many Chaffinches and after a short time, I picked out a male and female Brambling. Probably my favourite finch species so I tried for a few shots although the light was poor and the birds just a little distant. Here's one of the female.

Brambling, RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk - 9th November 2013
Coming back out of the Titchwell reserve we turned off the A149 and drove up to a spot known for Corn Bunting. Sadly there were none present but a flock of at least ten Brambling suggests this could be a good winter for them and further photo opportunities may present themselves in the coming months.
All in all not a bad days birding, but it seems more like the end of the autumn rather than the start of the winter. Hopefully a change in the recent westerly weather systems will liven things up soon.

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