Late? Yes. Never? No. Apparently it's better this way.
Day 4 - 03/05
Today was Titchwell day. Titchwell is good. Very good. It's nice when the first thing you see pecking around the main entrance is one of these:
Lets start with the bad points, since they are few.
1) The stupid foam cups for tea (we're spoiled with proper mugs at Rainham).
2) There is no two.
First round was made with just me and the woman, since Parus and HIS woman were off having an adventure. On the way out of the canteen we almost trod on a Chaffinch - the birds here just have no fear. Between us we managed to find and ID a reed warbler (this took about 15 minutes of comparing pictures in bird guides) AND a Blackcap (life tick, awesome :-)). Oh, and some plants. The missus likes plants.
A complete list of stuff I saw would be stupid, so highlights on the reserve proper:
- Bearded Tits flitting between reeds and generally being cool and elusive. Spent quite a while watching these.
- A Greenshank and a Bar Tailed Godwit on the marshes
- A flock of about 40 Knot passing low over our heads. Impressive from a bird generally considered to be the world's most boring wader.
- 4 Grey Plover moulting into summer plumage. Handsome birds.
- A Ruddy Duck. My first ever.
Titchwell isn't just about the marshes though. We also tried our hand at a bit of seawatching (I've still got the sand in my tripod to prove it):
- Sanderlings and Turnstones wandering about on the shoreline.
- Terns with fish. All kinds
- A solitary Fulmar. I don't know why, I just find them cool.
- Some distant white specks which got ID'd as Gannet
Also worthy of mention are a couple of Orange tips that stopped still long enough for some horribly overexposed photos to be taken.
Great reserve. Would recommend to anyone. I'm definitely going back at some point.
Other interesting sights that day (outside Titchwell): Best and reddest Marsh Harrier view I've ever had. Kestrel. Barn Owl. Day of the raptors.
Day 5 - 04/05
On the last day we cast aside the heady thrill of Norfolk birding and piled into our respective vehicles to catch some Suffolk birds at Lakenheath on the way home. The tea and coffee buying facilities were even more appalling here than at Titchwell, and consisted of a machine that was broken. I know, 'turn back now'. Still, we soldiered out onto the reserve on the hunt for Golden Orioles. Parus briefed us well on what to look and listen for. Direct quote:
It's like an awesome Blackbird.
Which is actually a pretty good description.
For your reading pleasure, here is a list of birds on site we utterly failed to see:
- Golden Orioles
- Purple Heron
- Common Crane (though Parus heard one)
Birds that DID put in an appearance included Cuckoos (loads of them), Hobbys (loads of them), GREY Heron (one of them) and some noisy Sedge Warblers. Star of the show? A Bittern. That's right, a fucking bittern. I would have finished the holiday happy with just hearing it boom, which it did, but this Bittern was a showman - it knew how to work its audience. We got a good 30 second view of him flying low above the reeds, and I was in awe. It was much bigger than I expected and quite Heron-like in flight. Frankly, it made my day.
With the birdwatching finished, all that was left was to go for lunch in what turned out to be a pub with a Dagenham-born landlord who started playing white supremacist reggae while we were halfway through our sandwiches. We got out of there a bit sharpish after that. Fair play though, the sandwiches were good. A quick jaunt back down the M11/M25 and we were back in Essex. And so ended the holiday.