September 19th – North Norfolk
We kicked off this exclusive tour with a visit to Stiffkey Fen. On the approach walk we started off with Bullfinch and Chiff-chaff calling from the hedgerow, brief views of both. As we continued a Kingfisher called flying along the river, heard but not seen! A Cetti’s was also vocal, but inevitably shy.
Once up on the seawall there was a great selection of birds, the fen was jammed with wildfowl, plus some waders and also a stunning flock of 35 Spoonbill. We then set about sorting through the 250+ wildfowl, there was plenty of Wigeon and Teal and mixed in amongst these were about a 12 Pintail, several Shoveler and Gadwall.
There was a few waders along the muddy edges, with 6+ Ruff, a few Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe plus quite a few Lapwing. We then walked further to a vantage point to look out across Blakeney harbour, there was a good number of birds on the dropping tide. A lovely flock of c400 Golden Plover were swirling in the air, and around 60 Grey Plover were out roosting on the mud, also 150 Oystercatcher, 20 Curlew, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Turnstone, and numerous Redshank. The first large group of Dark-bellied Brent Geese with c60 feeding out in the channel.
The masses were disturbed several times as 2 Marsh Harriers quartered along the saltmarsh edges, flushing hundreds of birds to the skies. As we stood I picked up Yellow Wagtail on call, and two passed high overhead no doubt heading South on their autumn migration.
We then headed to Cley, we had lunch and then headed out to the hides. Scanning the hedgerows paid dividends with a Whinchat sitting atop the hedgerow just to the East of the Visitor centre.
A good selection of wildfowl and a few waders, the weather closed in with heavy showers around 3pm but managed to see a good selection of birds, highlights being 6 Pintail, 15 Golden Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ruff, a juvenile Little Stint, 3 Greenshank & the Pectoral Sandpiper.
September 20th – North West Norfolk
An early start today at 6am as we headed to Snettisham for a High tide Spectacular!
On arrival clouds and clouds of Red Knot were already whirling around in the skies and then along the shore line there was Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Redshank. There was a mass of Red Knot on the shore, all crammed together totalling over 30,000 Knot! Also nice flocks of several hundred Dunlin & Redshank, good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit. Sat alone were also 4 Spotted Redshank, amongst the Cormorants.
As the tide retreated scanning the nearby waders proved fruitful with 5 Curlew Sandpipers, juveniles landed briefly before heading off East.
We stopped off for coffees and breakfast in Hunstanton, then took a quick look on the sea and were rewarded with a dark juvenile Arctic Skua chasing Sandwich terns. Also nice, a small group of 15 Pink-footed Geese flew overhead. Also a Common Whitethroat flicked along the cliff top hedge.
We then headed to Titchwell, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit were stunningly close to the hide, but the real stars for my group today were prolonged views of 2 Water Rail and good views of 10+ Bearded Tit.
Wader highlights were Little Stint & Greenshank, with a supporting cast of Bar & Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, Curlew, Dunlin, Snipe & Redshank.