13th June 2016
Early Saturday morning, we started the drive down to Norfolk and although bird watching was on the agenda, most of the travellers were too tired to notice the curlew Simon spotted. Our first stop was The Wash Nature Reserve; the location at which last year’s ConSoc trip saw a seal! Sadly, no seals were seen here this year, but instead meadow pipits and plenty of oystercatchers. After a short wander, we went to Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve hoping to see the elusive bearded tit. Having arrived, we had a quick look around the visitor centre and then set off with binoculars in hand and cameras on standby! Straight away we found a nice little pond with reed bunting, reed warblers and long tailed tit.
Carrying on along the path we came across the first star of the day – the spotted fly catcher, which was not sitting photographically on a branch but actually catching fly’s over the water. We then went off in search of the bearded tit and we were not disappointed! Bearded tit, reed warbler, sedge warbler, Cetti’s warbler and reed bunting all seen from one bench. Next up was a hide from which we could see a large number of avocets as well as many other wading birds. To the beach next to see a grey plover and then onto the last hide. After some twitching of the birds and some successful attempts at ID, a friendly birder pointed out a pectoral sandpiper!! A really rare sighting and one that has attracted many bird watchers to the site in the past. In fact, it was only the second sighting this year!
After all this excitement, we thought it was time to call it a day but Titchwell had other ideas with some members of the group spotting a water vole. Off to the youth hostel in Hunstanton to drop off our bags and a quick meeting to decide on what to do the following day. Then pub dinner, football and a nice evening walk on the beach. Ending the day with jenga and congratulations to Chris being jenga champion.
Day 2 began early at 8am to get breakfast and get to Hickling Broad to tick off some species. Bitten, swallowtail and common Crain were just some we were hoping to see but unfortunately the weather was not on our side. Despite it not being the best conditions we arrived with high expectations. First a walk to the raptor viewing point. Not many birds were seen at this point but that was more than made up for by a common lizard basking in the sun. On the walk back to the van, we spotted the UK’s largest butterfly, the swallowtail, as well as the lesser whitethroat and some members had good views of a kingfisher. After lunch, we headed back to the nature reserve for the boat trip. The trip took us across the broad and gave us a unique view of the reserve and the reed beds. We stopped at the tree platform for an amazing view over the whole reserve and it was there we saw the majestic common Crain! Skulking in the reeds and flying across the horizon. As if it wasn’t good enough, a marsh harrier which we had been spotting all week from a distance, flew by close to the platform.
Sadly, the weekend came to an end with a quick pit stop at McDonalds where we saw a jay and another curlew! All in all, an amazing weekend was had with some amazing wildlife action.