Birding London

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Birding London trip report, 18 August

Titchwell RSPB reserve, Holkham Park and Wells Woods, Norfolk with Ann and Tom Campbell — led by Jack Fearnside

Itinerary and weather

lIt was mainly hot and sunny all day with a little cooling breeze near the sea and some gathering cloud on our return journey.

Jack picked up Ann and Tom from the beautiful Hambleton Hall Hotel at Rutland Water where they had spent the previous day visiting the British Bird Fair. We travelled east past Peterborough and King's Lynn to north Norfolk where we spent the day. We made a short detour to Choseley Farm before visiting Titchwell, a reserve of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Here we looked for birds in the scrub around the visitors' centre before walking down to the sea, stopping to look over the fresh, brackish and salt marshes on the way. There were little movement of birds on the sea and some passing Sanderling and offshore Common Eiders and Common Scoters were all birds that could also have been found in the US.

Returning to the car, we went eastwards along the coast road (through Burnham, birthplace of English hero Admiral Horatio Nelson) to Holkham Hall, seat of the Earl of Leicester. There were few birds to be found in the dry parkland and the brown grass with distant feeding herds of Fallow Deer resembled more the African plains. We did walk down to the lake near the hall to look at the curious Egyptian Geese, a Norfolk speciality.

Our final stop of the day was at Wells-next-the-Sea where we walked along the back of the pinewoods and looked for ducks on the boating lake.

Jack returned Ann and Tom to their hotel at about 7pm, where the trip concluded.

80 species were seen or heard during the day.

Species list

Little Grebe — Two were on the salt marsh lagoon near the sea at Titchwell and one rested in front of the Fen Hide for Jack and Tom.

Great Cormorant — Several birds rested on the muddy island in the fresh marsh at Titchwell with others seen in flight over the sea.

Grey Heron — Some good views of a number of birds at Titchwell.

Little Egret — One flew over the salt marsh soon after our arrival at Titchwell.

Mute Swan — Small parties were on the fresh marsh at Titchwell.

Greylag Goose — Our first were two in flight over the salt marshes with large numbers seen subsequently at both Titchwell and in Holkham Park.

Canada Goose — Common at Titchwell and Holkham.

Egyptian Goose — Good numbers of these African introductions added to the hot plains landscape at Holkham Park.

Common Shelduck — A couple of scruffy juveniles were present at Titchwell while all the adults are away at their moulting site in the Heligoland Bight off Germany.

Eurasian Wigeon — A couple of early winter visitors were in front of the hide at Titchwell. But like most of the ducks they were in eclipse plumage.

Gadwall — Small numbers were on the fresh marsh at Titchwell and on the lake at Holkham Park.

Common Teal — Two eclipse birds were on the salt marsh at Titchwell. Split from the Green-winged Teal of North America.

Mallard — Very common at all open water sites.

Northern Shoveler — Small numbers of birds in eclipse plumage were on the fresh marsh at Titchwell.

Common Eider — Two small flocks of immature birds rested on the sea at Titchwell.

Common Scoter — Two distant males were offshore at Titchwell.

Western Marsh Harrier — A single soaring bird was seen over the reedbed at Titchwell.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk — Two noisy juveniles were circling above the pines in Wells Woods.

Common Kestrel — One gave good views on a post near Choseley Farm while another hovered over the fields behind Wells Woods.

Red-legged Partridge — A single bird played hard to get in a stubble field behind Wells Woods.

Common Pheasant — Commonly seen on our journeys and at Wells Woods.

Water Rail — Surprise of the trip was some excellent views at Titchwell of this normally skulking bird as it preened unconcernedly in the open.

Common Moorhen — Common.

Eurasian Coot — Common at Titchwell and Holkham Park lake.

Eurasian Oystercatcher — Good numbers were roosting on the brackish lagoon at Titchwell.

Pied Avocet — Small numbers showed well at Titchwell.

Ringed Plover — This semi-p look-alike were feeding in small numbers on the fresh marsh lagoon at Titchwell.

Grey (Black-bellied) Plover — A good-sized flock of birds, most still in handsome summer plumage, rested on the brackish lagoon at Titchwell.

Northern Lapwing — A common and attractive bird at Titchwell.

Red Knot — Small numbers, in their grey winter plumage, were with roosting Grey Plovers on the brackish marsh at Titchwell.

Sanderling — Two birds in white winter plumage flew close over the surf down the beach at Titchwell.

Dunlin — Small flocks fed on the fresh marsh at Titchwell.

Ruff — We had good views of adult and juvenile birds at Titchwell.

Common Snipe — There were a number on show in the salt marsh near the reserve entrance. Now split from the North American Wilson's Snipe.

Black-tailed Godwit — A sizeable flock roosted at a distance on the fresh marsh at Titchwell with one bird (with a deformed bill) see well at close quarters.

Bar-tailed Godwit — Small numbers rested on the salt marsh lagoon with one still showing the orange-brown summer plumage.

Whimbrel — A calling bird was heard as we walked the track behind Wells Woods.

Eurasian Curlew — A single bird was difficult to spot in the salt marsh vegetation near the sea at Titchwell.

Common Redshank — Good numbers on the brackish lagoon gave close views at Titchwell.

Greenshank — One of these lanky shorebirds fed in the salt marsh lagoon at Titchwell.

Green Sandpiper — Three or four birds were on the salt marsh near the reserve entrance at Titchwell.

Common Sandpiper — One showed well with the Green Sandpipers at Titchwell.

Black-headed Gull — Common throughout the day.

Common (Mew) Gull — Small numbers were at Titchwell and Holkham Park. A potential split from Mew Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull — Numbers of adults and immatures were on and beside the lake in Holkham Park.

Herring Gull — Present in small numbers at most sites through the day.

Great Black-backed Gull — An adult rested on the brackish lagoon at Titchwell.

Woodpigeon — Very common.

Collared Dove — Seen on wires in villages on our journeys.

Common Swift — A single bird came to drink from the lake at Holkham Park.

Green Woodpecker — A noisy juvenile flew up from beneath the pines at Wells but only gave a fleeting glimpse as it flew off.

Barn Swallow — Fairly common.

House Martin — Common, especially at Holkham Park Lake.

Meadow Pipit — A few birds gave good views from the hides at Titchwell.

Pied Wagtail — Birds fed on the muddy edges of the lagoons at Titchwell.

Eurasian Wren — One moused round the hedge bottom at Choseley Farm and other sang occasionally from wooded areas.

European Robin — Showed well at Titchwell car park and visitors' centre.

Common Blackbird — The only one was a female seen from the car.

Sedge Warbler — One was seen in flight near the first hide at Titchwell.

Reed Warbler — A number showed well in the reeds at Titchwell.

Common Whitethroat — A single bird was seen in the hedgerows at Choseley Farm at the start of our day.

Blackcap — A single bird was singing in the scrub near the visitors' centre at Titchwell.

Chiffchaff — A number were heard singing at various sites such as Titchwell car park, and one was seen from the track behind Wells Woods.

Long-tailed Tit — At least two were in the hedge at Choseley Farm at the start of our trip.

Blue Tit — Showed well on the feeders at Titchwell.

Great Tit — Also seen on the feeders at Titchwell.

Eurasian Nuthatch — First bird of the day, one called from the top of a Cedar at the from entrance to Hambleton Hall Hotel.

Common Treecreeper — One was heard calling inside the park entrance at Holkham Hall.

Eurasian Jay — Only the typical call of this elusive bird was heard in Wells Woods.

Common Magpie — One or two seen on our journeys. Now split from Black-billed (American) Magpie of North America.

Western Jackdaw — A flock of these small crows fed amongst the resting gulls near Holkham Park Lake.

Rook — At least one flock of these colonial crows was noted on our journey to Norfolk.

Carrion Crow — Present in small numbers at most sites.

Common Starling — Seen in small numbers throughout the day.

House Sparrow — Specifically noted as we passed through Thornham on our journey.

Chaffinch — Common. We had good views of this attractive finch on the feeders at Titchwell.

European Greenfinch — A small number fed from the feeders at Titchwell.

European Goldfinch — One sat up on the top of a willow and allowed us to scope it at Titchwell.

Common Linnet — Flocks of these brown finches were seen in the air and feeding in the dock plants at Titchwell.

Reed Bunting — A couple of birds sat on reed tops and showed quite well at Titchwell.

Other species

Fallow Deer — Drifts of these spotted deer grazed the somewhat arid grasslands at Holkham Park.

Butterflies noted included Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.