Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Lapland Buntings and an elusive Red-breasted Flycatcher

With the weather due to turn more autumnal now and with talk of further lockdown measures I thought I'd take a trip to the Norfolk coast yesterday in the hope of finding  something to point the camera at for a while.

I started my day at Titchwell, my first visit since March and the start of lockdown, The car park has reduced parking to limit people on site at any one time. The centre is closed as is the reception hut in the car park. I was greeted by a volunteer outside the centre and filled in a slip of paper for track and trace records then followed the one way system to the beach. On route I saw lots of Bearded Tits and at the beach I started the long walk along to Thornham point as the tide was in most waders were now roosting on the floods.

At Thornham point I found a small flock of Sanderling and sat down to enjoy them for a while grabbing a few images. Great little birds that happily approach you if you sit still (theme of the day).

Sanderling at Titchwell

Whilst watching I noticed a couple of small birds flush from the salt marsh by a Kestrel which dropped onto the beach and as I approached the area I could see they were Lapland Buntings. Again I sat myself down and in time the two birds wandered along the tide line and just happily walked past me giving me the opportunity to take the below images.

Lapland Bunting

I managed to help a few other birders find the buntings before setting off on the walk back. The tide was retreating and the waders and Cormorants were now starting to gather at the point which in itself is a spectacle. Sandwich Terns dived in the shallows, Great Crested Grebe were noted on the sea a couple of Great Skua flew past as did Gannets and it was great to be out to witness all of this.

 As I approached the path back to the reserve I found a couple of birders pointing there cameras at the dunes and then noticed a single Snow Bunting huddled up in the shadowy ridge between the beach and the dunes. The guys were pointing their cameras directly into the sun which is not ideal so I walked back up the beach a bit and sat down on the tide line hoping the bird might come out and feed. I waited quite a while but it did eventually come out and walk towards me but as it got to an area in full sun it ran fast towards me stopped to look at me then carried on feeding as though I wasn't there. By now it was far too close for my 400 prime lens so I sat and just enjoyed it feeding a couple of feet away. 

I didn't want to get up in case I flushed it as now there were five other people watching it and by default watching me. The gathering moved on and left me alone with the bird and at one point it actually walked over me and it just shows if you just sit still the birds will come to you.

Snow Bunting 

The walk back to the car presented me with the usual mass of waders and Geese but also three Great White Egrets at least fifteen Spoonbill and a couple of Marsh Harriers made up the highlights. I also bumped into Geoff K. for a quick year listing catch up which was nice then I set off for Wells Woods.

As I passed Holkham I was concerned to the see the car park full and an overflow being used too. At Wells the Quay was buzzing with people and the car park at the woods had a full sign up. I pulled in and the attendant said I could try but he didn't think there were any spaces however I quickly found a space, paid for a couple of hours and walked down to the woods avoiding the crowds making their way to the beach.

I walked through to the area of Birch trees that the Red-breasted Flycatcher has been reported from over the last few days and flushed a Tree Pipit on the way. Again I sat and waited and after an hour had superb views of the Flycatcher as it moved through the trees feeding. I think this is the best views I have had and unlike others that moved into the trees with their cameras I just sat and enjoyed watching it.

Tree Pipit

The one eyed Shrike was still present and I saw Siskins and heard Redpoll to make it a really enjoyable day. I managed to stay away from the crowds and you would have been hard pressed to know we had any pandemic concerns looking at the Costa del Wells yesterday. Bring on the colder quieter months.

Year list now 258


Lapland Bunting

Snow Bunting with no reason as yet to fear man


  1. An excellent day's birding. I've been to Titchwell so many times but have never managed to see Lapland Bunting there. In fact many years since I last saw some- good shots of them & the other birds.

    Hope to be up there late January depending on the awful Covid situation!

  2. Thanks mate, they are quite tricky to find hope you have better luck in January