Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Off to the coast.

I’ve got a couple of days off work this week, so for yesterday I planned to go to the Norfolk coast; call it a one day holiday. I’ve not been to that part of the country in ages, or the seaside, come to think of it.
After much deliberation I decided on Titchwell Marsh, near Hunstanton. Home of waders and other delights. Hmmmm, waders. My ID skills of these are on a par with seagulls. In a word, crap.

Not to worry, I thought, as I headed off bright and early. Five in the morning is pretty early, but not so bright; but I wanted to miss any rush hour traffic through the towns. It paid off; a clear journey and I arrived in just over two hours, quicker than I thought.
And the sun was shining!

One of the star attractions here is the Avocet, and never having seen one before, I was hoping there would be some about.
I made my way past the gift shop, closed, and caught a brief glimpse of a Reed Warbler amongst the grasses.

I carried along the path that leads to the coast. One side is Saltmarsh, and famed for the Marsh Harrier that hunt here, and the other side, reed beds, Freshwater marsh, Brackish marsh and Tidal marsh. In other words, it’s wet, with lots of water; and waders.

The first hide is being renovated, so views were from the path only. Plenty of waders off in the distance, too far even for my binoculars. I turned my attention to the other side of the path, the Saltmarsh.
Plenty of Black-headed Gulls flying about, and a few Little Egret flying along, and then dropping suddenly to the little pools searching for food. The sound of Curlew off in the distance, and then an Oystercatcher, foraging amongst the Sea Lavender.

I scanned the area with the bins, but couldn’t see very much else. Then, way off in the distance, Marsh Harrier. Two, soaring and swooping in the sky. A first for me. Happy with that I carried on to the next hide, hoping that wasn’t being renovated.

In luck. I stepped into a large hide overlooking the water and islands; and waders everywhere. But what were they? My eyes were racing all over the place, and brain doing overtime trying to figure out what they were.
I fired off loads of shots; I had a cunning plan. Load them onto the computer when I get home, and check with my books. The only problem was, I was shooting into the sun, and it wasn’t easy to get a decent look at markings and plumage colour.

This, part of a large group in front, I think were Black-tailed Godwit, ID helped by one that conveniently took off, and flew by.

I suspect some of the others in the multitude of pictures I took, are Bar-tailed Godwit, since they are known to be here. The quality of the pictures though, is such that even the ‘recycle bin’ is reluctant to take them. Oh well.
Dunlin were about in large numbers too;

again, lousy pictures, but almost record shots.

At this point, two old blokes came into the hide, armed with bins and scopes.
Hmmm’, I thought, ‘I’ll pick their brains for ID’s in a minute.’
They settled down, eventually, and one enquired the famous birders phrase, ‘Anything about?
Before I could answer, he added, ‘only interested in little stuff.

Little stuff? ‘Don’t think so’. I said.

I’ll ask later, I thought, as they carried on their conversation.
‘I think I’ve got a Curlew Sandpiper.’ said one.
His mate looked through the scope, ‘No, it’s a Dunlin…….. I think.
A similar conversation ensued for a while, around various ‘I think’ birds, and ‘no, I think’ birds.
I decided not to seek their expertise, deciding my ‘cunning plan’ was the better idea.
Bill and Ted left shortly after, to continue their Excellent Adventure.
I stayed a while; racking my brains.
Eventually I made my way back to the coast path. More ‘gulls’ flying overhead; well, I was near the sea, and then I saw………
An Avocet. I recognised this one. Another first. And a youngster too.
My spirits began to lift a bit, and then went higher as a Marsh Harrier flew almost near enough for a picture.

I did say ‘almost.’ A record shot, the ‘bin’ isn’t having.

Back over on the Saltmarsh a Wren was singing for all he was worth,

but stopped when I started to take his picture. And back on the other side, the adult Avocet made a spectacular landing,

and promptly chased off a Lapwing,

who must have been too close for comfort.

Up ahead, Bill and Ted were searching for Sea Eagles.

I expect they saw some eventually.

A Painted Lady dropped down on the path ahead of me,

just long enough for a quick picture, as I made my way to the beach.

Swallows were flying overhead, and as I neared a small footbridge, one settled just in front.

He sat patiently as I inched my way nearer. A young one, being urged on by the rest of the crowd overhead; but he fancied a brief rest for now. I managed a few more shots as I got closer,

and then he decided to join his family.

I carried on to the beach, and the bracing sea air and breeze.

There were birds. Miles away. I turned back, and retraced my steps, planning my next stop along the coast.


  1. A lovely post Keith and a most enjoyable outing. I loved the Avocet and the Swallow photos. I have only just caught up with your previous Goldfinch post, I thought the photos were exquisite and the words you put to them very funny.

  2. very beautiful and a pleasure to follow your hike at the seaside.

  3. The Avocet lookes so funny, does he stand just on one leg? And it's quite unusual that its beak is turned up instead of down, isn't it? It seems to me that it cann't help him by foraging...
    I really like the photos of the swallow and its interrogative look. :-)

  4. The avocets were certainly worth your travels and early start to the day.

  5. some nice pics.

    i recognise that type of birder ! yeah Black T Godwit.

    the new hide should be renovated soon.

    I really must get back to Titch soon!

  6. A great post, Keith. Excellent Reed Warbler spotted through the vegetation, and the young Avocet is a real charmer.

  7. Thanks for sharing what I'm missing at one of my favourite Norfolk reserves. Pity it wasn't closer to high tide then everything at the beach would have been in camera range.
    By the way 'Bill & Ted' sound familiar!

    P.S. Hope you get the PC sorted without too much more hassle. Cheers FAB

  8. nice post with beautiful shots- http://ctexpressionsofphotography.blogspot.com/

  9. Great pics Keith - and I like the Avocet and the Swallow's a beauty. Titchwell's one of the best and the view of the beach is so familiar. Must think about going again.

  10. Thanks ShySongbird. It was a great day; even the sun shone lol

    Ginger, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Thanks Petra. I think the Avocet is the only bird here, with that shape beak. They sweep it through the water, to catch their food. The one legged bit; I think I caught him resting. lol

    Thanks Wilma. Yea, it was worth it to see the Avocet. First time I’ve seen one, so was very pleased.

    Thanks Pete. Those type of ‘birders’ are quite common lol
    It was my first visit to Titchwell, and one I’d love to do again.

    Thanks Rob. The Reed Warbler took me by surprise a bit. He just appeared out of nowhere. That young Avocet certainly was a charmer, and looked quite fluffy.

    Frank, thanks. Could have done with your knowledge of waders there mate. Recognised a few, but probably a lot more I didn’t know. Was a good day though.
    Even ‘Bill and Ted’ were quite amusing in their own way lol

    Catherine, thanks for stopping by and commenting, appreciate it. When I get my other pc sorted, I’ll stop by yours; this laptop I’m using at the moment is a bit slow. :(

    Thanks Tricia. It is a great place, with such a wide range of birds there.
    Maybe we should all get together one day and have a ‘bloggers’ day out there.

  11. Sounds a good idea to me Keith :)

  12. Magnificent shots Keith! It looks like a good bird count to me, so many and the Harrier WOW! Wonderful shot of the Advocet youngster too! I would say thats a great spot to hit often!

  13. Tricia, sometimes I have flashes of brilliance lol
    Maybe organise something later in the year? The waders are calling me ;)

    Dixxe, thanks. I had a really good time there; love to go back armed with a bit more knowledge.