On Saturday we paid another visit to North Norfolk and spent the morning at Titchwell once again. Although Bedfordshire had been blanketed in sombre, grey cloud with quite heavy rain, by the time we’d reached Norfolk the weather had improved greatly and by late morning the sun even made a welcome appearance.
Notable among the many birds seen were Twite, Water Pipit, Bearded Tit, and Spotted Redshank; with Eider Duck, Common Scoter and Velvet Scoter on the sea. There were, of course, numerous ducks, gulls, and waders on view from the Parrinder Hide, including a large flock of Golden Plovers on the Freshwater Marsh - and they really did seem to glow golden in the sunlight.
Unfortunately, a Northern Harrier which had been around earlier was a no-show while we were there, apparently waiting until ten minutes after we’d left and were on our way to Cley before it made another appearance [!].
But we had plenty to look forward to in the afternoon…
Our target bird for the day was awaiting us at Cley (or so we hoped), and sure enough we found him in a field opposite the NOA Walsey Hills reserve – a drake American Wigeon.
Even at a distance he was easy to spot, partly because of his immaculate plumage but also because he was a real bruiser compared to the European Wigeon around him – noticeably larger and bolder. And he certainly used it to his advantage - constantly bullying and harassing the other males.
Still harbouring faint hopes of seeing the Northern Harrier, after leaving Cley we decided to spend the latter part of the afternoon at Holkham, from where it had been reported earlier. On the way to the hide we came across a pair of Goldeneye on the lake by the track and stopped for a while to watch them. In his smart breeding plumage the male is undoubtedly the more attractive of the two…
But on this occasion I was more interested in the female who frequently adopted this posture when on the surface – not sure if it was related to courtship or aggression.
In the end we didn’t find the Northern Harrier but were more than compensated by some excellent birds from the Joe Jordan [Tower] hide at Holkham – a handsome Peregrine Falcon (eventually chased away by a Marsh Harrier), Common Buzzard, Pink-footed Geese in their hundreds (maybe thousands), White-fronted Geese, and Barn Owls hunting in the fading light.