Wednesday 22 September 2021

Long Day in North Norfolk 21.09.21

 Setting off at 5am, arrived in Wells Next The Sea for a coffee at 7.15. Slow journey due to fog in places. After the coffee I headed to North Point Pools where it was apparent is was going to be a bright day. Great for photos but meant that I was unlikely to come across any rarer migrants that may have been pushed inland off the North Sea due to the very calm conditions.

Usual fare at NPP, a ruff flew in, several snipe and herds of greylag and Pink footed geese. I checked the dense hawthorn but just a few chiffchaffs. A reed warbler scratched a call, unseen before I headed back to the car. The sun was still low so viewing to the east was not good whereas looking west was superbly lit. However, far to the east, a Spoonbill was noted.


3 of 100's of greylag geese

Upbeat and noisy Black headed gull

Still noisy on the downbeat

I now headed to Cley beach where I first checked the sea. A sandwich tern went by with a food item, 3 Guillemots dived relatively close in and a Red throated diver headed west. From here, I wandered east along the shingle. I checked the wire fence and posts for the inevitable Wheatear, at least 3. Also, a solitary Whinchat and plenty of Meadow pipits. Back at the sea, I noted another 2 Guillemot close in and a Common seal popped up to check me out.

Typical Wheatear pose

Another distant Wheatear


Guillemot, showing small wings that are used as flippers underwater.

Gone again

Back up

Common seal, youngster, I suspect

Common seal.

Back to the car and parked at Snipe's Marsh to check Walsey Hills before a wander along the East Bank. Not too much around, finches at Walsey Hills and plenty of butterflies and Colletes hederae (Ivy bee) on flowering ivy. Plenty of Black tailed godwit around the Serpentine but the sun meant views over Arnold's Marsh were silhouettes and heat hazed. I headed back to the car and off to Gramborough Hill.

Here, a large flock of Goldfinch along with more Meadow pipits, Wheatears and very territorial Pied wagtails. I sea watched from the top of Gramborough Hill. A very distant Great Skua headed into the sun towards Sheringham whilst an Arctic skua chased a Sandwich tern, too fast for the camera.

Red admiral



Juvenile Little grebe

Battling with a shellfish

Pied wagtail on Salthouse beach

Meadow pipit, Salthouse beach

Time to head west, so off to Brancaster Staithe for a check on the mud as by now the tide was out. Black tailed godwits, Turnstones and a Little egret all present, plus a selection of gulls. Chatted to a photographer, Sheila who was busy getting great images of a confiding Turnstone. By now the temperatures were approaching 20C and the sun was at its highest, a little too sharp for photos but all was enjoyable.

Adult Turnstone

Herring gull

Black tailed godwit

Common gull

Turnstone, another adult showing the last few summer plumage feathers

Little egret

Off to the final destination: Titchwell RSPB Reserve. If you have not been here for a while, plenty of changes with diggers putting in new channels in the reedbeds and plenty of new islands upon the Freshmarsh. This area was full of birds: 100's Golden plover, Lapwing, Ruff, several Dunlin and Avocets. In one corner of the Freshmarsh near the path to the Parrinder Hide, Meadow pipits, Pied wagtails and a flock of linnets sat on the mud whilst a skulking Reed warbler was noted in the reeds.

From the Parrinder hide more of the same along with Ruff and Teal. A Little stint busied itself in the newly turned mud, distant and tiny.

Off to the beach. A Grey plover on the Tidal Marsh before a trek out to the mussel beds which are uncovered at very low tides. These were covered in waders and gulls but nothing on the sea apart from a small raft of Common scoter. A wonderful place to be and by now the light was just beginning to fade as the sun began to set over towards Holme. Another check from the hides to see if the Stint had moved closer, it hadn't, before I finished the day with a few photos showing pleasing reflections in the calm conditions and low sun.

Back to the car and home by 9.30 after a coffee stop on the way. Super day out. I shall be returning on Saturday with a birding friend. I would like the weather to be a little more damp and stormy on Friday but presently, that does not look likely, so more of the same species, I suspect.

Incoming Golden plover

Another ruff

Moulting drake Teal



Juvenile Herring gull at the beach

Group of Knot


Curlew on Thornham Marsh

Spot the Little stint, about the size of a greylag's webbed foot!

Meadow pipit

Reed warbler

Yet another ruff.

Species List for the day

  1. Red throated diver
  2. Little grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. Grey heron
  6. Great egret
  7. Spoonbill
  8. Mute swan
  9. Pink footed goose
  10. Greylag goose
  11. Canada goose
  12. Brent goose
  13. Shelduck
  14. Egyptian goose
  15. Mallard
  16. Gadwall
  17. Shoveler
  18. Wigeon
  19. Teal
  20. Tufted duck
  21. Common scoter
  22. Red Kite
  23. Marsh Harrier
  24. Common buzzard
  25. Kestrel
  26. Peregrine falcon
  27. Pheasant
  28. Moorhen
  29. Coot
  30. Oystercatcher
  31. Avocet
  32. Grey plover
  33. Golden plover
  34. Lapwing
  35. Knot
  36. Sanderling
  37. Turnstone
  38. Dunlin
  39. Little stint
  40. Redshank
  41. Black tailed godwit
  42. Bar tailed godwit
  43. Curlew
  44. Snipe
  45. Ruff
  46. Great skua
  47. Arctic skua
  48. Black headed gull
  49. Common gull
  50. Herring gull
  51. Lesser black backed gull
  52. Greater black backed gull
  53. Kittiwake
  54. Sandwich tern
  55. Guillemot
  56. Wood pigeon
  57. Collared dove
  58. Green woodpecker
  59. Great spotted woodpecker (heard)
  60. Skylark
  61. Swallow
  62. Meadow pipit
  63. Pied wagtail
  64. Wren
  65. Robin
  66. Wheatear
  67. Whinchat
  68. Blackbird
  69. Cettis warbler (heard)
  70. Reed warbler
  71. Willow warbler
  72. Chiffchaff
  73. Great tit
  74. Blue tit
  75. Coal tit (heard)
  76. Long tailed tit
  77. Bearded reedling (heard)
  78. Magpie
  79. Jackdaw
  80. Rook
  81. Carrion crow
  82. Starling
  83. House sparrow
  84. Chaffinch
  85. Greenfinch
  86. Goldfinch
  87. Linnet
  88. Reed bunting

Black tailed godwit with a single Lapwing


Final ruff.

Friday 3 September 2021

Busy Times in North Norfolk

 Arising at 5am and picking up Rick at 5.30 in Stortford we arrived for the obligatory coffee in Wells Next The Sea at 7.30am and then headed off to North Point Pools just east of the town.

Chat with a local birder. Few waders were present and a flyover Spoonbill was a good start to the day. Light was a major issue for photos and remained poor throughout the day. Forever changing shutter speed and/or ISO settings. Many photos didn't make it and after downloading 300+, I ended up with 40 that were OK. 

Dunlin: North Point Pools

Spoonbill over North Point Pools

Off to Walsey Hills and Snipe's Marsh. A Spotted flycatcher here and although a Pied Flycatcher had been seen, we didn't connect with it. Coal tit and Marsh tit here, along with Little grebe and plenty of Greenfinches. Chatted with Steve before he went off to volunteer at the Visitors' Centre. Very helpfully, he gave us a list of what had been reported locally that morning.

juvenile Little Grebe: Snipe's Marsh

Cormorant: Snipe's Marsh

We then headed east to Kelling Heath where we saw next to nothing, a few chiffchaffs called but little else so down for a wander along to Kelling Water Meadows and The Quags. A juvenile kittiwake here that I tried to turn into a Sabine's gull but no stonechats or whinchats present. A quick check on the sea from the shingle ridge proved we were right not to spend time at Cley Beach doing a sea watch. Very little movement so wandered back to the car, checking the water meadows again where 2 Black tailed godwit came in. 3 Common buzzards overhead.

Chaffinch, Kelling Water Meadows track

Reed bunting: Kelling Water Meadows track

Black tailed godwit coming into Kelling Water Meadows.

Black tailed godwit: Kelling Water Meadows

Red Admiral: Kelling track

The lack of migrants in bushes or on the ground meant we gave Gramborough Hill at Salthouse a miss and headed for a coffee at Cley Visitors' Centre. Very good Bakewell Tart, too!

Parked and wandered along the East Bank to Arnold's Marsh. Snipe, dunlin, a ruff, avocets and loads of curlew and Sandwich terns present but no Bearded reedlings. 

Snipe: The Serpentine from East Bank

Back to the car and off west. Bought lunch in Blakeney, parked at Stiffkey Greens by the campsite, enjoyed the sandwiches and then took the footpath west to the Gibbert roundabout. Very little here. A warbler scratched and clicked but remained unseen. Suspect Lesser whitethroat, but one of several possibles for the day. Little egrets on the marsh at Warham Greens before returning to the car.

We headed west, stopping to check Brancaster harbour but a high tide meant no mud, therefore no waders and arrived at Titchwell around 3.30pm. Once past the rather brusque meet and greet chaps who asked if we were members and then demanded to see our membership cards. I enjoyed another coffee and yet another bakewell. Sugar and caffeine being the order of the day.

Plenty of birds from the island hide before a trek all the way to the beach. Here, waders in their 1000's and we spent the next couple of hours photographing these. Great fun and plenty of decent shots of the everyday waders that frequent this brilliant beach. We had a few minutes of sun before heading back. Over Thornham Marsh I got a very brief (2 seconds) distant glimpse of a very large grey bird that I immediately thought Common crane. Showed dark and light grey on the wing. Not seen again as it went down behind a large reedbed, but in reality, couldn't have been anything else really.

Curlew: Titchwell

Teal: Titchwell

Avocet feeding from the Island Hide, Titchwell

Juvenile Turnstone out of its depth: Titchwell

Redshank: Titchwell

Pintail; Titchwell

Pint of Wherry at the Gin Trap Inn at Ringstead and home by 9.45pm Brilliant day.

Species List:

  1. Little grebe
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. Great egret
  6. Spoonbill (North Point Pools)
  7. Mute swan
  8. Greylag goose
  9. Canada goose
  10. Shelduck
  11. Mallard
  12. Gadwall
  13. Pintail (Titchwell)
  14. Shoveller
  15. Wigeon
  16. Teal
  17. Tufted duck
  18. Marsh harrier
  19. Common buzzard
  20. Kestrel
  21. Red legged partridge
  22. Pheasant
  23. Moorhen
  24. Coot
  25. Common crane (probable) (Thornham Marsh)
  26. Oystercatcher
  27. Avocet
  28. Ringed plover
  29. Grey plover
  30. Lapwing
  31. Knot
  32. Sanderling
  33. Turnstone
  34. Dunlin
  35. Curlew sandpiper (Titchwell)
  36. Green sandpiper (North Point Pools)
  37. Redshank
  38. Spotted redshank
  39. Greenshank (Arnold's Marsh)
  40. Black tailed godwit
  41. Bar tailed godwit
  42. Curlew
  43. Snipe
  44. Ruff
  45. Black headed gull
  46. Common gull
  47. Herring gull
  48. Lesser black backed gull
  49. Great black backed gull
  50. Kittiwake (Kelling Quags)
  51. Sandwich tern
  52. Common tern
  53. Wood pigeon
  54. Sand martin
  55. House martin
  56. Swallow
  57. Meadow pipit
  58. Pied wagtail
  59. Wren
  60. Robin
  61. Garden warbler (Heard)
  62. Lesser whitethroat (probable)
  63. Whitethroat
  64. Blackcap
  65. Sedge warbler
  66. Reed warbler (heard)
  67. Cetti's warbler (heard)
  68. Chiffchaff (heard)
  69. Spotted flycatcher (Walsey Hills)
  70. Great tit
  71. Blue tit
  72. Marsh tit (heard)
  73. Coal tit (heard)
  74. Magpie
  75. Jackdaw
  76. Carrion crow
  77. Starling
  78. Chaffinch
  79. Linnet
  80. Goldfinch
  81. Greenfinch
  82. Reed bunting
Footnote. Many Pied flycatchers were reported from all over North Norfolk. we just kept missing them! 11 were reported from Holkham Pines which we didn't visit. Photos below all from Titchwell beach. 

Juvenile/1st year Turnstone


Probing Sanderling

Sanderling has its eye on something


Smart plumaged Knot

Sanderling with moule.....

.....but no mariniere!

Knot flyby

Adult Herring gull

2nd winter Herring gull

More Knot

Westbound Oystercatcher

 Turnstone, adult with just a few flecks of orange breeding plumage feathers remaining.

Adult turnstone moulting from breeding plumage


Looking west

Bar tailed godwit

Looking North East.

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)


daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups. An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc. A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander