We began at Titchwell (RSPB), moved on to Cley Marshes (Norfolk Wildlife Trust) and later on the way back had a good walk over Blakeney Freshes (National Trust). Each area showed signs of the damage caused by the exceptional storm surge that took place on 5th December last year but it was remarkable to see how well they seem to be recovering.
A fairly relaxed day in this relatively uniform habitat produced a modest 72 species. One of the most numerous of the waders was Ruff and it was the only one that we photographed.
So infrequent are our visits to Titchwell that we hadn’t previously seen the much-maligned Parrinder Hide. We had read about it and seen it described as, amongst other things, “too posh”, “ridiculously expensive” and “a monstrosity” and certainly it does seem a bit over the top. Just the size of it was a surprise! Who would have imagined something like this when Norman Sills first came to Titchwell as the first warden in the early 1970s?
The hides at Cley Marshes are probably more to our liking - Daukes Hide is surely a much more attractive structure. However, the visitor centre here, like the Parrinder Hide at Titchwell, is also a building that divides opinion. The mere fact that it can be found on TripAdvisor is for some people enough to view it as a tourist attraction in its own right and it certainly houses a seriously commercial operation. It was the first time we have been asked to sign for Gift Aid when paying an entrance fee for a reserve - but why not?
Cley Marshes Visitor Centres - the new and the old
It was the first time we have looked out to sea from Cley and seen not just passing seabirds but also about 90 wind turbines! We still can’t bring ourselves to like them at all! We preferred to look east along the shingle bank towards Sheringham.
Several times during the day we met people who have been birding with us either through Avian Adventures or Algarve Birders. They were all first encountered at Titchwell, which has now perhaps replaced the East Bank at Cley as the place to bump into people you know or at least recognise.
The East Bank
Cley-next-the-Sea viewed from Blakeney Freshes
After our walk at Blakeney we drove to Wells-next-the-Sea and as we struggled to negotiate the narrow section of the A149 through Stiffkey we were looking forward to fish and chips. When we arrived, long queues at both shops on the front were another reminder (as if we needed one!) that this was a Bank Holiday weekend. We quickly decided that continuing to Hunstanton might be a better plan and so it proved although we cut it fine, being the last to be served before closing time at the excellent Supafry in Greevegate.
Monday could not have been more different; it was a public holiday and the weather performed accordingly, pouring rain no doubt ruining countless events that had been a long time in the planning. We were not immune and suffered a good soaking during our visit to Deeping Lakes, a Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve, near Stamford. We took a circular route through the reserve and along the bank of the River Welland, sheltering in a couple of hides while looking at various gravel pits where Great Crested Grebes were feeding young and Cormorants also seemed to be finding plenty of food. An artificial Sand Martin nesting bank would have been more interesting to see earlier in the summer and we would love to see one like it in the Algarve. June did at least get to see one of her favourite Green Woodpeckers, so our trip wasn’t all in vain.
This sign at Deeping Lakes appealed to us pedants.