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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Norfolk and an early start

I was up in Norfolk to carryout some prep before decorating one of the bedrooms. I really liked the idea of popping over to Titchwell to see the Great Knot that has been present for sometime. It has been frequenting the beach just after day break before moving to Scolt Head Island and then either returning to the beach or roosting on the freshmarsh. If I was going to try for it I needed to be back home by 9.30am (time I told my wife I would be back) or I would be accused of not caring enough about the house. Friends that had seen it had been on site by 4.30am, this meant setting my alarm for 2.10am. I had been checking RBA for news on the bird and on Friday it changed it's behaviour and was with a couple of thousand Knot on the beach a few miles to the west. I would stick to my plan and go to Titchwell.

I was awake before the alarm and out of the house by 2.25am, the drive was uneventful and only 5 other cars/vans were out but not one going in my direction. I pulled into the car park, which already had 3 cars parked up, one of which had a guy sleeping on the ground beside it. The light was beginning to improve as I made my way to the beach, glancing at the freshmarsh to see if the flock of Knot were there, no such luck. Mind you the views if they were there would have been distant one's and not what I really wanted. I carried on down to the beach where there were 2 guys scanning the nearby mussel beds and another further east where the bird also goes. I positioned myself between them and scanned the area looking for waders. In fact there were hardly any, the one's that were present were Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher and Redshank. The sun began to break the horizon and soon the beach was bathed in sunlight but being early morning it had little warmth and I and by now the dozen or so people needed something to warm us as we were all starting to chill. We finally saw our first 4 Knot but they didn't stop carrying on westwards. At 6.30 I'd had enough and was off to view the birds on the freshmarsh and hopefully take some photos. I couldn't believe my luck cloud drifted in front of the sun and looked as if it would take a while to pass. I looked back in the direction of the beach and a few other birders were heading back. I then bumped into 2 other birders that I know that were heading towards the beach, we chatted and I said that there wasn't a sniff of the Great Knot and I was thinking of heading to where it was seen on the beach at Holme. Just as I said that the birders from the beach got to us, I said " your in a hurry" to which he replied "the Great Knot is at Gore Point, Holme". That was it a route march back to the cars and off to Holme.

Where to park, not knowing if the reserve was open we parked up by the golf course. Then an even quicker march (my knee's wont allow me to run) people began to flagging, will it still be there, has it flown to Titchwell, God I hope not. Then in the distance but rapidly getting closer a line of birders on the beach. It must still be there, yes it is still here but where in the flock of 1,000 plus Knot. Chris (my freind) said "have a look in here", kindly moving away from his scope and allowing me to see a different coloured head a Turnstone coloured mantle wader hiding at the back of the flock. Phew now I can relax and enjoy a "lifer". The flock at first were quite calm, though occasionally they would shuffle around. The views through the scope were fantastic, the light was almost perfect, the distance just a bit to far for the perfect photo but who cares the birds was a cracker, but a shy cracker, seeming to deliberately move to the back if the flock moved. It was a rising tide so the birds were slowly being pushed towards us but how close before the voices of excited birders would be to much for them to take. We soon found out when half the flock took to the air, "Keep your voices down" some were saying or it will go. Suddenly with all the constant shuffling and jostling he became detached from the flock and we were able to enjoy great views, a wing stretch would have been the icing on the cake, never mind you cant have everything. The flock the thought enough is enough and off east they went.

I remarkably walked through the front door bang on 9.30am, I hate being late. 

Below are some of the photos that I took and a brief video clip

 Why not see if you can spot the odd one out in this photo


Reuben Braddock said...

Great photos Tony, glad you bagged it!

Tony Duckett said...

Cheers Reuben, I was getting a bit worried when it wasn't at Titchwell as I only had a few spare hours.