Sunday, 20 January 2013

Blown Away on the Beach

When we arrived on Titchwell beach, the tide was out revealing acres of sand and mud and even the hundred or so visitors were spread out very thinly. Unfortunately, cloud was now starting to appear, but as there was a strong wind there were still plenty of sunny spells. I headed off for an area of beach where there were no people at all and just waited for the birds to come to me, having been disturbed further along the beach. Gulls are always the first to appear and this Common Gull and Herring Gull showed well in the sunshine.

Sanderling, Knot and Dunlin also soon appeared and, provided there were no sudden movements, seemed unconcerned by my presence and were more interested in feeding up after their long journey.

But my favourite bird on the beach at this time of the year is the Bar-tailed Godwit. Although lacking their rusty summer plumage, they are such elegant birds and, provided that you are patient, will allow you to approach quite closely as can be seen here.

Although not always the case, godwits on the beach ie salty water are more likely to be Bar-tails. Other more reliable indicators are the short length of the leg above the knee-joint, the slightly up-curved bill and the lack of a wing-bar as can be seen from this flight shot.

It was now time to leave Titchwell and head for home so we left the beach and started to walk back to the visitors centre. The cafe was very busy with many birders sitting around the picnic tables having a coffee before the journey home. If you took a step back and reviewed the array of top quality telescopes and binoculars on display, the majority being Swarovski, I would estimate that we were talking about £50,000+ of kit. However, it was a pity that none of them had bothered to pick them up and use them to view the feeders just 10 yards away where two Bramblings were feeding on the floor, picking up dropped seed.

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