Friday 20th September – A good two day tour culminating in 25 species of wader starting on the Friday at Snettisham, we stopped off en-route for a nice group of Grey Partridge, not a wader but great to see!
At Snettisham there was again another great selection of shorebirds, with 30,000 Knot, 2000 Redshank, 3000 Bar-tailed Godwit, c1000 Curlew, 300 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, 200 Shelduck smaller numbers of Sanderling, Turnstone, Grey Plover, some of these were in very smart breeding plumage. Several Meditteranean Gulls were present and we had flight and perched views.
All these birds attract plenty of raptors and we actually witnessed a Peregrine, arrive storm through the masses, isolate a Red Knot, and on it’s fourth attempt it caught the Knot and flew off to enjoy it’s breakfast!
There was some steady migration overhead as Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, Swallows & House martins moved through in small numbers, also a Grey wagtail moved through as well.
After the spectacle of the shorebirds we headed to the eyes and we found a migrant Whinchat perching on the sueda.
There was other aerial activity as well with several Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrels and Sparrowhawk all seen in minutes of each other.
Out on the pits there was Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Little Grebe and the gravel shore also held 12 Little Egrets & 2 Spoonbills. We also had 2 roosting Greenshank, these were also joined by a Common Sandpiper.
As we left Snettisham I stopped off to checkout a perched bird on the wires, over farmland it looked most likely to be a Skylark, but it looked very short tailed! I dropped the window and heard the tell tale call of Woodlark! The bird dropped on to the field, but after a bit of searching we located it feeding, I was really surprised when it was joined by at least three more Woodlarks!
In the afternoon we headed to Titchwell, there was as earlier in the week a good scattering of birds, 20 Common Pochard, 120 Lapwing, 25 Ruff, 40 Dunlin, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 300 Golden Plover in the distance but a dozen roosting in front of us, Redshank, a juvenile Spotted Redshank plus several Snipe, a juv Little Stint. We also managed nice views of several Bearded Tits.
There was also 12 Spoonbill roosting, with several eventually feeding and a Great White Egret flew over. We also spied some passerine migrants with 3 Yellow Wagtails out on the scrape and a single Wheatear on the bund wall. A Sand Martin added to the list and we finished the day with a good total of 95 species and 23 species of wader.
Saturday 21st September – we started the day with a seawatch as we had seen very few seabirds the day before. We were fortunate as early on we scored with 2 Arctic Skuas, the second a nice pale phase adult, 20+ Red-throated Divers passed by and there was a steady passage of Gannets. A nice single drake Common Scoter flew past, though later a nice group of 30 Common Scoter also flew west.
We then headed to Bishops Hide, the light was great from here and there was a fair selection of wildfowl and waders, c200 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, 20 Dunlin, 3 Snipe, 12 Ruff and 25 Black-tailed Godwit. We had been scanning through them for a while when suddenly a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper appeared, this was one of the birds we had been hoping for and we eventually had great views as it fed with the Dunlin close in front of the hide.
We next headed to the East bank, where we walked to Arnolds Marsh. It was relatively quiet along here, but we did find 2 Wheatears, a single Yellow Wagtail, nice views of Sandwich tern here as well. Curlew, Ringed Plover, Redshank were also around in small numbers.
We had lunch in lovely weather, a Red Kite drifted over and then headed out to the central hides. From Daukes there was another small group of Dunlin, and 2 juvenile Spotted Redshank were seen. The searching and scanning eventually paying off with 2 Green Sandpipers being located and these were our 25th species of wader of the tour! There was still 2 Greenshank roosting on Pats pool but the Curlew Sandpiper seemed to have disappeared.
We rounded off the day with another hour looking at the sea, this was educational as a steady passage of Red-throated Diver including a summer plumage bird not far out on the sea. Gannets were still passing, Sandwich terns were passing, Black-headed Gulls were arriving in off the sea, plus we had a small group of 3 juvenile Common terns and 2 Guillemots sat on the sea. A few Teal and Wigeon, a Brent Goose, a small group of Pink-footed geese, kept us entertained.
A lovely couple of days with 110 species and 25 species of wader/shorebirds.