Thursday 1 November 2012

First day of Wader Quest, in Norfolk, UK.

Well we’re off, even if it wasn't a particularly auspicious start. I really thought we’d have seen a Northern Lapwing or two on the way up to Norfolk this morning, but it wasn't to be. Once we arrived at Titchwell the day looked as if it was going to go from bad to worse as the water levels were high and the glowering sky kept light levels to a minimum so rubbish for photography. We managed Common Snipe as our first species, then Common Redshank and single Northern Lapwing and a couple of Black-tailed Godwits, things were not looking good. However when we got to the beach we had a wader-lover’s bonanza!
Black-tailed Godwit
The predominant species was Eurasian Oystercatcher, all along the beach were large collections of them which would occasionally rise in noisy confusion, also in small loose bands were Ruddy Turnstones and dotted among them Eurasian Curlews.

Titchwell beach alive with waders

Along the beach one way we came across a single Grey Plover in among the other species, but when we turned and looked the other way there were loads of them dashing about the beach. There was a positive profusion of Sanderlings, these fantastic, busy, little birds seemed to be everywhere whizzing along chasing back the retreating tide. Among this throng were scattered mini packs of Red Knot, a few Dunlin and the odd Bar-tailed Godwit.
Mixed flock of waders
Returning to the centre, after a warming cuppa and a visit to the shop to buy a copy of Birdwatching Magazine and a copy of Alan and Ruth’s entertaining book, The Biggest Twitch (second copy, first copy got lost in the move from Brazil) we had a chance to stop and talk to the warden Paul Eele. We did a short, filmed interview with him as he talked about why Titchwell was so good for waders, and my amateur status as a presenter was not in danger of being upgraded any time soon when I forgot to introduce him! We did a remedial piece to camera that I hope will allow for some not very subtle editing later on to cover my blushes. We left Titchwell with 12 species on the list.

Sanderling flock in flight over the sand
From there we whizzed up to Cley and the famous Norfolk Naturalist’s Trust reserve, on discovering that we were not members (we thought we joined in the summer) we joined straight away. From there we went to the Bishop's Hide overlooking Pat’s Pool to look for the 2 White-rumped Sandpipers reported there.
Pat's pool from Bishop's Hide. there's a White-rumped Sand or two out there, honest!
As we entered the hide we were confronted by an unusual question from the occupants,
                “Do you know what you are looking for?”
                It turns out this was not someone taking the Micky, but a genuine plea for help, there were three people in the hide asking for assistance to locate the White-rumps. I assured them that I did indeed know what I was looking for (you can fool some of the people… etc.) and set about looking for said sandpipers. After five minutes I was beginning to think that perhaps I didn't know what I was looking for after suspect after suspect revealed itself to be a Dunlin, when suddenly, there was a White-rumped Sandpiper conveniently preening itself and showing its white upper tail coverts, I then triumphantly told the swelling crowd in the hide of my find. We watched it for some time and noted a few other waders; a pair of Pied Avocets, several Ruff and then in flew around 50 Golden Plovers bringing our total after the first day to 16 species.

At Salthouse, we came across a group of Ruddy Turnstones feeding on the shingle near the car park.
Ruddy Turnstone

Small group of Ruddy Turnstones with a European Starling or two.


  1. Excellent start Elis & Rick! Keep it up and keep us posted. :)
    Wish you all the best for the rest of the year.

    Best, Szimi

    1. Thanks for your support as ever Szimi, we're off to Thailand tomorrow when the excitement really starts as we search for the elusive jewel in the crown of Wader Quest, the Spoon-billed sandpiper.

      Thanks again for all your support.

      Rick and Elis.