Titchwell Marsh – 29 April 2016

Day 2 of our Birding Adventure took Helen and I to Titchwell Marsh RSPB in Norfolk. We’ve been here a few times before, and it’s definitely one of the best RSPB reserves there is – we love it!

The weather was sunny on arrival but there was a stiff breeze blowing. The forecast was for poorer weather later in the day, so we went prepared with our big coats, scarves and gloves.

We decided to walk along to the Fen Hide and Patsy’s Reedbed first off. Last time we were here we photographed a fabulous Sedge Warbler in the reeds in front of the Fen Hide and we were hoping for a similar experience today. However, a quick stop at the bird feeders behind the Visitor Centre gave us a great view of a Jay as our first bit of excitement for the day.

Jay

As we walked along the new boardwalk leading to the Fen Hide, we met and had a brief discussion with another birder who was returning in the direction of the Visitor Centre. He informed us that there were some Red Crested Pochard on Patsy’s Reedbed so we decided to go up to the viewing screen there to start.

Right as we had been told, a group of three male and one female Red Crested Pochard were on the water not far from us. Whilst we were watching the Pochards we suddenly realised a Red Kite was flying overhead. A new bird for Helen and an improvement in my Bird List for me! A couple of Marsh Harriers were also patrolling the reedbed. Today was shaping up really well so far!

When we walked into Fen Hide we were immediately, slightly disappointed because the reeds in front of the hide had been cut down and the new ones coming through weren’t yet tall enough for any birds to perch on, as we had hoped. However, as we sat looking out we began to see small birds darting in and out of the mature reeds about 80-100 metres in front of us. Imagine our surprise when Helen managed to capture one on camera and we discovered they were Bearded Tits! Over the next 45 minutes or so, Helen and I both managed to capture some images of the Beardies. All our images are a bit distant and probably won’t  win any prizes, but they are good enough to show without any doubt that at least one male/female pair of Bearded Tits were bringing back food to hungry chicks in a nest somewhere in the reeds. Our only other Bearded Tit photos were from Minsmere last year, so we were very glad to see these ones today.

After a drink and quick snack back at the Visitor Centre we headed down the path which leads eventually to the beach. We could hear various warblers in the reeds adjacent to the path, but the stiff breeze today was keeping them low down and out of sight, unfortunately.

In the Island Hide we could see a huge group of Black Tailed Godwits on an island out on the Fresh Marsh. They were all in full, orange-breasted breeding plumage and looked great. A single Dunlin was weaving in and out of the group, dwarfed by the much larger Godwits. A few Avocet were wading in deep-ish water sifting away through the mud at their feet.

Next we went into Parinder Hide where we continued to watch the Godwits and Avocets out on the muddy marsh. A Water Pipit landed briefly to one side of the hide but didn’t stay long.

It had become very windy by this time, and rain was trying to fall, so we decided not to go all the way up to the beach on this occasion. We were both really beginning  to feel the cold, so we decided to return to the Visitor-Centre end of the reserve again and the comparative shelter of the Meadow Trail.

We soon found ourselves back in the Fen Hide again, once more trying to take shots of the Bearded Tits!

By 5pm we felt we’d had enough adventure for one day, so we headed back to the car. As usual, Titchwell Marsh had proved to be a fabulous and exciting reserve, even on a cold and blustery day like today!

Our species total for the trip so far had risen to 59 different birds.

Roll-on tomorrow!

About Alan Gordon

I am a retired teacher and former RAF Musician. I live near Sheffield and enjoy taking photographs of wild birds throughout the UK.
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