5th December 2013
After a stunning morning on The Wild Goose Chase at Docking, Wells and Lady Anne's Drive, it was now time to move on to Titchwell calling at that little-known site at Brancaster Staithe. The word staithe is an old English word for dock or wharf, and there were plenty of them sprinkled around the North Norfolk coast. These days, of course, the dockland infrastructure has long disappeared and all that remains is a shallow berth for leisure yachts and dinghys.
Brancaster Staithe has always been one of my favourites as it is just off the coast road, is very quiet during the week and you can drive right down to the mud where the waders are feeding. Having said that, you have to be careful to keep on the mud with gravel showing through as this is hard standing, but you must avoid going near the pure mud at all costs.
So now to unpack the mobile hide. The mobile hide is of course my car and, although the car seats five, it is only a two-man hide with one photographing out of the driver's window and the other out of the back window on the same side. Unlike other hides, it has the advantage of being manoeuvrable, so that you can recede, get closer or change the angle of the light. What a superb invention and, if you already have a car, it is ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!
So how well did we do? Well, as we drove on to the hard standing, a Turnstone came running off the mud expecting food to be thrown out of the window. At times it was just 2 feet outside the car window, far to close with a 400mm lens. Eventually I did manage to "discourage" it and was able to get these two shots.
Also standing around close by were a couple of gulls, a Black-headed and a Common Gull, both seemingly expecting food.
There was also the compulsory Little Egret. You come across these everywhere now, although just 25 years ago they were a mega rare bird. It is always a pleasure to photograph these snowy-white birds against a dark background.
One of the benefits of photographing from the car is that the birds come to you. As soon as one moves away another comes into view, and over the next 20 minutes a procession of Ringed Plover, Redshank and Oystercatcher performed their auditions in front of the two judges.
But the star of the show was the Bar-tailed Godwit which performed and posed just 15 yards away, quite unconcerned about the ton of metal sitting on his mudflat. So, wherever you go, take a mobile hide.
.....and now on to Titchwell for an hour in the afternoon sun.
Don't forget that for better reproduction of my photos, see my photo gallery at flickr.com/photos/seymourbirdies