Norfolk and Devon
Mike and I decided to have a day trip to Norfolk today and after the journey from Cheshire we started the day at Titchwell RSPB reserve. As we arrived at the visitor centre the RSPB staff were just starting to check the moth trap they had set the previous night, a number of species were caught including 9 Poplar Hawk Moths and 3 Elephant Hawk Moths, pictured above.
The walk to the freshmarsh produced a number of species including; Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, 3 Marsh Harrier and 3 Bearded Tit. From the freshmarsh hide I soon located the Buff-breasted Sandpiper which had been on the reserve for the last few days. The water level on the marsh is superb for waders at the moment and other species recorded were, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Knot, 19 Dunlin, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Spotted Redshank, 50+ Ruff (below), 1 Spoonbill, Lapwing and Oystercatcher.
Our next stop was the raptor watchpoint at Swonton Novers where we hoped to see one of the Honey Buzzard which breed nearby. After an hour of scanning over the large plantation and seeing only Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, our luck changed. A Honey Buzzard was picked up high over the plantation performing a full display including large free falls and wing clapping. We watched this superb display for 15 minutes until the bird slowly drifted out of view, for anybody who has never had the privileged of witnessing this display, I highly recommend it!
The final stop of the day was to see the River Warbler which is holding territory near Thorpe on private land. Access had been arranged from 19.00 and we arrived soon after, it was lucky we arrived early as by 19.20 there were at least 100 cars in the makeshift car park. Arriving early also gave us an excellent viewing position at the front of the crowd. The large crowd waited until 19.40 when the River Warbler broke the silence with its distinctive song. Although the bird sang on and off all evening, it wasn't until 21.30 in fading light that I managed to locate the bird, much to the delight of the frustrated crowd. We watched the bird for as long as the light allowed and managed to get as many other people on to the warbler as possible. Seeing the bird (albeit in low light) made the 4 hour journey back to Cheshire much more endurable and ended a fantastic day birding perfectly.
10th July - Return to Devon
After a great week with my family in Cheshire, I was looking forward to going back to Devon and seeing my partner Lucy. However, en route I couldn't resist calling in at Exton to see the adult Gull-billed Tern which had been lingering in the area for about a week. After a short wait I found the bird feeding over the back of the estuary and watched it for 15 minutes. It was nice to see this species in Devon after seeing so many in Spain.