Thursday, 30 December 2010

A foggy day at Titchwell

Ruth and I had planned a visit to Titchwell on Wednesday and as we woke we realised that the weather was not going to be nice to us with visibility of about 80m, after delaying for a while we thought sod it and were on the road, it might be quieter people-wise if there is fog. Ruth and I both worked at Titchwell in the past so it was nice to have a catch up with the staff that we knew and to see how things have changed in the offices etc, so after a chat and some food we headed out. The new Fen hide was our first destination, an improvement on the previous hide especially with those windy windows, didn't see much here apart from a few flocks of pinks over. The fresh marsh was still frozen and it was so foggy that anything that was there was impossible to see, the hope of seeing the Northern Harrier seemed a distant hope! Having said that we did see a ringtail Hen Harrier cross the path in front of us and disappear toward Thornham, a definite Hen though. Also a Water pipit came shreiking over us as we got to the (ex) hump.
We carried on to Thornham point where we found a flock of 9 Snow Buntings a small number of Bar tailed godwits and lots of fog between the point and Thornham harbour- the harriers favoured hunting ground. On walking back to the platform we noticed that we could start to see the sea and a few smart drake Goldeneyes, Common Scoter and the other normal birds.

We then went to check out the main event- the new Parrinder Hide, wow, its an amazing bit of architecture and with windows you can position where you want the gap, ideal for those rainy windy days, another feature I really like is the fact that there are stools and not benches and better than that they can be moved up or down so your elbows fit on the shelf nicely. A lot of thought and time has gone into the making of the hide, so congrats to Rob for a great result.
The thick fog was still present apart from a miraculous hole around the fresh and brackish marsh, with the sun lighting up everything beautifully, result! There were fairly good numbers of Teal and Wigeon evident as well as a small flock of Skylarks feeding on the vegetation and 11 Ruff, the gull roost was building steadily too but I couldn't see anything interesting amongst the usuals. Whilst talking to Dave the ducks started scattering and the waders alarming only for a Hen Harrier to come over the Brackish Marsh with the sunlight lighting it up fantastically, you could see all the feather detail brilliantly (through Daves scope...Thanks!) it was of course the Northern Harrier/Marsh Hawk complete with dark mantle, apricot unstreaked underparts, the rump appeared to be broader and more of a wrap around than hen, it did just look slightly different although seeing the leg hanging down was the personal peace of mind just to make absolutely sure it was the bird in question (I know how bad that sounds). So after that bit of luck we headed back for a look in the shop and a cup of tea.
The drive home to Brundall was tricky to say the least, the fog mixed in with the Norfolk B roads, particularly on the Lenwade cut through were awful. I couldn't see more than 5m in front of the car at times so it was a slow drive home.

All in all a very pleasant day, good to catch up with some old friends and amazingly jammy luck to see the fog part and the sun come out just as the Northern Harrier gave a fly by, some say you make your own luck and staying on in the hide was definitely the right decision!

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