"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 11 March 2013

NORFOLK Part 1 - Titchwell Marsh NR

We've just spent a few days away in Norfolk. Originally we planned to go in December around my birthday time but it was difficult to find a time when everyone could have holiday and we were concerned about the weather being too cold. This turned out to be a trifle ironic as I don't think weather in December could have been as cold and wintry as the weather over the weekend!

Although (as usual!!) we ended up leaving home several hours later than planned last Thursday, we were still able, after a 3 hour journey, to spend the afternoon at the RSPB Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve. I've always wanted to visit Norfolk and this reserve was probably top of my list of places to visit and it didn't disappoint.

Wood Pigeon in the car park who tried to share our lunch

First view of the Reserve

Looking over Freshwater marsh towards the fairly recently build Parrinder (sea) Wall and Parrinder Hides.

Titchwell has been under threat in recent years from the effects of coastal change, possible impacts of sea level rise and increasing storm events. A recent Coastal Change Project was carried out to save the reserve from the effect of these changes and to protect the wildlife for at least fifty years. A new northern sea defence in the form of the Parrinder wall was built to protect freshwater habitats to the south. Breaches have been made north of the new Parrinder wall to allow saltwater onto the brackish marsh area which will eventually change into tidal saltmarsh which will protect the new Parrinder sea wall. Improvements have been made to freshwater marsh islands and reedbeds to improve habitat for nesting birds such as avocet and bittern. A new reedbed has been created and two new trails for visitors to explore.

Black-tailed Godwits were one of the highlights

but best of all was the species I had really wanted to see - Avocets!

David walked onto the beach whilst Brian, Emily and I spent about an hour in the two Parrinder Hides

Freshwater marsh from Parrinder Hide (South)

I spent ages trying to photograph Teal - this was the usual view!

Finally, I achieved my objective


Pheasant by one of the feeding stations

Highlights of the visit included the Avocets (believe it or not I have never seen this species before!!), Black-tailed Godwits, Sanderling, Pintail, Curlew, Water Rail and skeins of Brent Geese flying over and alighting in nearby fields.

It was a surreal experience as we drove from Titchwell along the coast road to Blakeney where we were staying. I've read so much over the years in birdwatching books and publications about this part of the country and it was all exactly as I had imagined it would be.

The day ended on a high note with the sounds of a Tawny Owl drifting across the garden of the house where we were staying.


Tricia said...

I love Norfolk.. best birding county :) And to see Avocets is a great bonus.. such wonderfully marked birds!

Pity about the cold for your trip though :(

Em Parkinson said...

Gorgeous and so impressed with your sightings. I've never seen Avocets before!

ShySongbird said...

Hi Caroline :-) I'm sure you will guess how very envious I am. I have never been to Norfolk either. I remember when planning holidays when i was little my parents used to dismiss it as being 'too flat' but of course nowadays, knowing what a wonderful wealth of wildlife there is there I would love to go, particularly to Titchwell but we are so restricted with travel due to our elderly, frail dog who doesn't travel well.

I can see you had a wonderful time and had some lovely sightings. I too would have been desperate to see an Avocet, it would be a life tick for me also, they are such distinctive looking birds and have always fascinated me because of the RSPB connection.

I had to smile about 'leaving home several hours later than planned', oh how that resonates with me!! The 'surreal ' comment did too, I would have felt just the same after wanting to go for so long. A great read Caroline and lovely photos, I will look forward to the next instalment :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Tricia - oh yes Norfolk was wonderful. There were birds (and lots of them) everywhere you looked. Have found another place where I would like to live :)

Em Parkinson - Many thanks :) I've wanted to see Avocets for so long so really it was the highlight of the trip for me :) From memory (although best checking) I think they overwinter on the Exe estuary which is probably the nearest place I can think of near you.

Shy Songbird - Hi Jan :) The holiday took a lot of planning as family overall not keen on the thought - I hit on the cunning ruse :) of making it part of my 0 ending birthday celebrations last December even if we did wait till March! I'm not sure if you can leave your dog for a day but for info it took about 3 hours (just one short stop) to get direct to Titchwell. So its a long way for a day from our area.

As I said to Em above the Avocet was the real highlight. I was hoping for a lot more "life" ticks and more birding but weather deteriorated daily so Titchwell ended up being almost the only birding we did :(

Thursday morning was a nightmare :) Various members of family throwing "toys out of prams" because they couldn't find or hadn't charged things :) By the way sorry for taking so long posting your comment on last post and replying but the house we stayed in had no wifi and mobile reception was almost non-existent!

I do hope you get chance to visit one day Jan - it is well worth the long wait :) Its an unbelievable feeling actually seeing all those places you have spent years reading about !

Ragged Robin said...

ShySongbird Hi again Jan :) Forgot to mention I think some Avocets can be found Spring/Summer most years at Upton Warren NR Worcestershire. Not sure how far that is from you and I've never visited the Reserve myself. But it may be worth looking into as its certainly closer than Titchwell or Minsmere :)

Pete said...

really pleased you finally got to Norfolk :)

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - Thanks Pete:) Shame about the weather but hopefully Brian and I will go again - not sure about David and Emily :)

Rohrerbot said...

I'm so jealous!!! This looks like an amazing place. Thanks for sharing the pheasant!! I know I write it all the time, but I do love this bird. And the Wood Pigeon et al. Congrats on your Avocet finds! They really are beautiful birds.

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot. Its one of the top bird reserves in the country and an amazing place :)

I was really chuffed with the Avocets a "lifer" for me :)

I think of you whenever I see a pheasant and couldn't resist taking the photos :) It was so busy eating it wasn't bothered my by presence - they can be hard birds in the countryside to get close too.

Caroline Gill said...

I grew up in Norfolk (east of Norwich), but had never been to Titchwell Marsh until last summer. What a great place ... though I fear for its future. I so wanted to see a Bearded Tit while we were there. They were around, but not visible. We loved the Spoonbills, though.

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - thank you so much for your comment :) I was really impressed with Titchwell too - just hope their mitigation measures work - but as there is so much doubt about how much sea-level will rise it is difficult to be fully optimistic :( Bearded Tits were one of the species I was hoping to see too but no luck and no sign of Spoonbills either.

Its such a beautiful part of the country and so brilliant for birds I am just hoping I can persuade the family to return.