A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Saturday, 2 January 2016


The group I help with was visiting Titchwell today so I planned to head up and join them.  With the events of yesterday evening whirring round in my head I'd not slept well last night so an early start wasn't on the cards for me.  I arrived late, hearing Siskin over the car park but missing the Redpoll they'd seen on the feeders.  The group had already covered the Fen trail and Patsy's Pool and were heading up to the main part of the reserve when I caught them up.

The pool nearest the sea held 2 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank, as well as opportunity for the group to study Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits side-by-side and enjoy the Pintails.  A Peregrine flew over the saltmarsh behind us.  The sea was even quieter than yesterday and only common waders were seen on the beach.

From the central hide we had better views of the 34 Avocets we'd seen on our way up. A lone Pochard was on the fresh marsh but we didn't see the Common Scoter that was to appear just after we left.  I saw a strikingly white-headed immature gull which interested me - thought it looked a bit Caspian-like at first, took some photos and then talked myself out of it, deciding it was probably just an odd Herring Gull.  More on that later...

As we walked back down the track a chap drew our attention to a Merlin that was perched up.  None of the group had had views like that of Merlin before so I think this was one of the highlights of the day for them.  Coming to think of it, it was for me too!

Merlin, Titchwell, 2nd January

Further down the 2 Water Pipits remained where I saw them yesterday and a Sparrowhawk sped through the saltmarsh.  Then we were treated to fantastic views of 2 Barn Owls.  At least one of the group had never seen Barn Owls this well so this ended the day on a high for her.

Barn Owl, Titchwell, 2nd January

While this was going on I bumped into Dawn and Pete, and am now kicking myself for forgetting about that gull.  I should have mentioned it to them and got their advice, but it completely slipped my mind.  I had thought the pattern of the greater coverts was wrong for Caspian Gull (and also for Yellow-legged Gull).  Well I'm now a bit confused as the literature seems to describe a pattern that I can't see in several photos of similar-aged Caspian Gull.  For example the third calendar-year bird shown here looks disturbingly similar to the bird I photographed today.  The bill looks better in the photos than I thought it did in the field, and the dark eye and pattern on the neck seem compatible with Caspian Gull, I think - not that that means they're wrong for other taxa.  But I'm struggling to work it out - the more I read about gull identification and the more I look at photos, the more confused I get!  I really lack confidence with these and need help!  Hopefully this year I'll be able to spend some quality time with gulls, preferably with gull experts alongside to guide my learning as I can't seem to figure them out on my own!

 Gull, Titchwell, 2nd January

(update: big thanks for the feedback on the gull along the lines of showing some Caspian Gull features but others suggesting some Herring Gull influence.  Also I forgot to mention Marsh Tit at the feeders, my first ever at Titchwell).

We saw (or heard) quite a few species I'd missed yesterday, including Gannet, Pochard, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Cetti's Warbler, Marsh Tit and Siskin but surprisingly still no Ruff or Snipe.

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