Saturday 2 August 2014

Titchwell's Swamp Chicken

Ten weeks is almost the longest time I've had away from birding but work had quietened down a little and Nina was home from hospital so after a long hiatus I took Friday off and decided to head up to Titchwell for the Spotted Crake. Sadly the Long-tailed Skua seemed to have departed the area a few days previously so I wasn't going to catch up with that but the Crake would be more than enough.
Dog walking duties taken care of, I reached Titchwell at 8.30am. A bit later than I would have liked. I arrived at the spot for Crake and was told that "you should have bin 'ere five minutes ago"......never mind, I had all day, at least it was still present. I need not have worried though, ten minutes later it made a brief appearance, I had enough time to see the short stubby bill and buff / orange undertail coverts. That was Spotted Crake ticked. From then until midday I remained at the spot, the bird often showed well out in the open but spent most of the time at the far corner. From time to time it spread its wings and 'danced' around. I'm not sure if it was chasing away the juvenile Reed and Sedge Warblers or the juvenile Bearded Reedlings or simply fly-catching, whatever it was doing, it looked interesting. Anyway, all I managed were record shots, but clear enough to see the main features of the bird.

Spotted Crake, RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk - 1st August 2014
Figuring I wasn't going to get better shots, I headed along the main path towards the beach. Stopping along the way to watch this handsome Wood Sandpiper.

Wood Sandpiper, RSPB Titchwell, Norfolk - 1st August 2014
The light wasn't great so the background looks a little dull, I'd love to photograph this species well (should probably head to Finland in the spring so). Present in the same area were several juvenile LRPs, a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank (well ok - it was a little tatty), plenty of Ruff (amazing variation in plumages and sizes here - suppose it depends on age, sex, stage of moult etc.). I had three juvenile Spoonbills in flight with the Little Egrets but I believe the count was higher (I heard more than ten). I heard a report of a Curlew Sandpiper, I scanned the Dunlin but saw none (apart from a couple of large Dunlin). At the beach I had a flock of about ten very tatty looking Common Eider, two Bar 'wits and a very distant Skua (Arctic possibly).
I headed back for lunch and decided at the car to try for the Purple Heron at Cley. When I arrived though it had last been seen dropping down into a dyke east of the East Bank. There was nowhere to park other than at Walsey Hills NOA and walk. I hadn't time, so I dropped two other birders at the site for the heron and headed home to Norwich.
I wasn't complaining, Spotted Crake was a lifer and Wood Sand was a UK tick - so a good day all in all and great to get out after such a long break.

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