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Biggest Twitch
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Biggest Twitch

Friday 18 June
We left North Wales at 8am and headed east for Norfolk. As we made good time the huge sun-roof of the vehicle was put to good use as first Hobby and then Red Kite were added to the quickly growing trip list.Our first stop was in Cambridgeshire at Berry Fen. A new site for us, it took a few minutes to find, but no one minded as we picked up Turtle Dove and Green Woodpecker before we found the right path. The shallow fen was alive with birds and we soon found our target bird, a handsome drake Blue-winged Teal. This vagrant from North America had been in the area a few days but very mobile so we were very glad that this lovely duck was still here. Only yards from the teal was a drake Garganey loafing on the bank with Eurasian Teal. A Little Egret flapped past, then a Hobby hawked for insects above us, what a start to our weekend! As we headed back to the road we found two breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebes, what a bonus. These gorgeous birds showed really well as they fished in a channel through the flooded grassland.
A short drive had us at Welney WWT reserve on the Ouse Washes. A small flash visible from the car-park gave us our first of many, many Avocets of the trip, as always wonderful birds, with Little-ringed Plover also here. We walked down to the Lyle hide where a Bluethroat had very unexpectedly taken up residence. As we arrived it did not look good, the bird had not been seen for some time and the wind was picking up. A reed filled ditch near the hide was the Bluethroat’s home, and we stood and scanned in the hope of seeing this beautiful bird. After only a few minutes a short burst of song came from the reeds, the bird was close. Then there it was! A stunning male white-spotted Bluethroat was sitting in full view only yards away! We were very lucky indeed that the bird had chosen to pop up right next to us and showed really well. We gasped at the colour of its vivid blue throat with a tiny white spot in the centre. Over the next fifteen minutes or so we had great views on and off, and we all agreed this was a top-notch bird.
Welney had a lot more to offer and we soon found ourselves watching a breeding plumaged Ruff feeding on a muddy lagoon with Avocets and Lapwing. A small duck emerged from the reeds followed by eight ducklings and we were amazed to see it was a female Garganey, very rare to see Garganey young in the UK. A stunning male Yellow Wagtail fed on the side of pool where another Little-ringed Plover sat on a nest.Weeting Heath was our next destination and we were surprised at the very cool wind but we headed for hides. In the pines and scrub here we found Spotted Flycatcher and a gang of Marsh Tits. In the hide we scanned the grassland and it was not long before we had a fine Stone Curlew in the scope.
With the day drawing to an end and the wind increasing and becoming very cold we reached the north Norfolk coast and our hotel. As it was so cold and windy we opted to watch the England v Algeria football match but the 0 -0 draw was very dull. Saturday 19 June
We were up and out very early and the cold wind had increased. It was hard to believe that it was June, it felt more like January. Undeterred, we headed for Titchwell RSPB reserve and were soon enjoying great birds. Avocets were all over the lagoons and Marsh Harriers floated over the reed beds. Black-tailed Godwits fed just yards from the hide and Bearded Tits pinged from the reeds and whirred across at high speed making them very difficult to get a good look at. A large flock of both Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot were roosting in the lagoon and several of both species were in their handsome brick red breeding plumage. Then it was back to the hotel for a huge breakfast, much needed after our early start and the cold wind.A little way inland we enjoyed close views of singing Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers along with comical Red-legged Partridges dashing along the lanes.
On again to another area of rolling fields where a very special bird can be seen. With cold wind and heavy showers we didn’t rate our chances very high. But we kept at it and eventually a male Montagu’s Harrier showed above a distant ridge, not a great view but given the conditions we were happy just to see one. The weather had improved when we reached Holkham Hall and we watched Egyptian Geese in the sunshine, while herds of Fallow Deer kept a watchful look from under the trees, but the wind was still so cold.We went for a very welcome hot drink at Cley NWT reserve, as the visitor centre here over-looks the marshes and we could bird watch while we warmed up. Two Chilean Flamingos were very out of place amongst the Avocets, but we could not count these escapes on our list. Two Marsh Harriers hunted over the reeds.
Thawed out, we braved the winds again and headed for the hides and enjoyed some great birds. The North-Scrape proved the most rewarding where we were able to enjoy up to three Spoonbills feeding in the pools, sweeping their bizarre bills back and forth. A tiny wader in the binoculars was transformed in the scope to a cracking Little Stint! At least five breeding plumaged Spotted Redshanks fed amongst Avocets, Redshanks, Dunlin, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and Ringed Plover. Wildfowl included our first Wigeon of the trip. Little Tern whizzed over the lagoons with both Common and Sandwich Terns. Over the mountainous seas Gannets battled past but it was just too rough to pick out anything else over the waves. We enjoyed great views of Bearded Tits buzzing around near Dawkes Hide where Swifts skimmed the reed heads.With the rain gone and more sunshine around, we returned to try for better views of the Montagu’s Harriers. This proved a very good idea and after a short wait the male Montagu’s Harrier came floating low over a field of waving grass and wowed us with fantastic views of this amazing dainty raptor. But better was to come, we could see the male was carrying prey and as we watched a female rose below him. We held our breath in the hope we might see something very special. The male climbed higher followed by the female and he dropped the prey he had held in his talons while the female caught the falling prey in hers! Wow! Back at Titchwell RSPB, the wind had blown in a gang of six first-summer Little Gulls that sought shelter behind an island in the lagoon. A fine drake Red-crested Pochard was resting amongst a gang of Gadwall.After a hearty meal of fish and chips in Hunstanton we watched a Fulmar battle the gale at the nearby cliff tops.Sunday 20 June
Early morning and we were again at Titchwell RSPB where the cold northerly wind was still keeping the temperatures more like November than June! Despite the wind the birds were wonderful. A Barn Owl drifted slowly over the saltmarsh allowing plenty of time to enjoy this wonderful bird. We battled out onto the beach and were thoroughly sand-blasted but we still picked up a new bird in the shape of a Grey Plover. As we headed back for breakfast, we enjoyed more views of Little Gulls, Red-crested Pochard, Little Egrets and found a pair of Ruddy Duck, rare birds these days. A Muntjac deer gave us great looks as it fed close to the path. Two juvenile Bearded Tits popped up and even stayed long enough to be photographed.With another huge Norfolk breakfast inside us, we headed west for Lakenheath RSPB reserve. Here at last the northerly wind had finally dropped and the sun was out. We walked the trails alongside the poplar plantations and were incredibly lucky when a Golden Oriole swept past and vanished into the trees, too quick for everyone to see but those that did were very happy indeed! Lakenheath is a wonderful reserve and huge new reed beds are home to an amazing population of both Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits and we enjoyed both. But it was a Bittern that we really wanted to see here. We took up position over-looking a vast reed bed and settled in to wait. The sun beat down and for the first time on the trip we were hot. Marsh Harriers were constantly in view and we had two sightings of Hobby overhead. Then just as we were thinking about leaving, a Bittern lumbered into the air and took a long flight over the reeds allowing everyone to see this elusive bird. As we turned to head back, a second Bittern dropped into a reed bed close to the path. While walking back to the visitor centre, we watched two Hobby feeding over the fen and we marvelled at how they fed on the wing.
Sadly our time was up and we headed back to North Wales after a wonderful few days of birding, we can’t wait for the next trip!If you’d like to join us on a Biggest Twitch birding adventure, simple email us at for details of forthcoming trips.  We look forward to hearing from you.


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