Thursday, 12 April 2007

Norfolk Trip Part Two: Snettisham

So onwards from Rutland, we spent the second day dotting up the north Norfolk coast to the RSPB reserves at Snettisham and Titchwell. Always heard big things about both places, had not yet been though. The truth? They're up to their billing.

Although the tide was a long way out the mudflats at Snettisham still proved fruitful, sitting on the sea wall we could see among others, crowds of Curlew, Grey and Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet and Brent Geese stretching into the haze beyond the horizon.

The walk from the car park is pretty long compared to some reserves and that is no bad thing. Along the way we saw Skylark, Linnet, various Geese flying overhead. All of the hides look out onto a lagoon where Black-headed Gull and Avocet were preparing to breed. Geese were plentiful, Greylag, Brent, Canada, a couple of late Pink-feet, Barnacle and two Snow Geese with them. Lots of duck too though nothing special, the regular, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, etc.
With all those screeching Black-headed Gull around it seemed a good idea to check for Mediterranean Gull and it was worth it. There were at least two, with one bird showing very well. Initially I was a bit confused by the black dots on the wing-tips and eventually settled for calling it s a '2nd summer' bird.

That's him on the left there.
You can see how it stands out against the slightly smaller and ironically browner-headed Black-headed Gull there. It was #189 for my life list.

Bird of the day, Shore Lark, two pairs foraging along the strand line and up to the sea wall, just along from where we sat. That's #190 for me. Marvellous views too, all the detail on the facial mask and true yellow too.

Back toward the car park and a couple more species, Red-legged Partridge showing particularly well. And across the path scuttled a Sand Lizard, it was brilliantly green, like something out of a pet shop.

The only drawback we found were the lack of facilities at Snettisham, no visitor centre, no reception hide, no toilets, nothing really, except the car park and hides. I was quite surprised to find this at such a famous reserve. The only other word of warning is that during our time there Snettisham appeared popular with group visitors, the sort that stick together and occupy an entire hide instead of splitting up to allow space for others, so there wasn't much room to move in some of the hides.
Still, a top visit, and we must return one day for that high tide winter spectacular. It was pretty gratifying to loop the reserve closely behind a man and his young son. The kid looked genuinely enthused.

Then it was onwards for an evening at Titchwell, just ten miles along the A149, leaving behind the famed Black-eared Kite that hangs around the area. It's been a long stayer since November and throughout that time probably the 'best' bird in Britain, a real 'mega'. They apparently belong in China and this juvenile is still the only individual ever to be seen in Western Europe. Damned elusive too though, even for those on all the best rarities paging services.
Not imagining we would find it, I couldn't count myself disappointed when we didn't.

No comments: