A successful wild goose chase!

Today the weather was unsettled, with periods of drizzle followed by clearer spells, but I headed out after lunch to Titchwell to see what was there. The reserve was, as usual, full of interest, with a good variety of waders and large numbers of Brent geese. I love the sound of these geese, as I’ve mentioned before.

Brent geese at Titchwell

There were also Canada and greylag geese. Nothing to see on the sea, but as I was heading back from the beach two spoonbills flew over and settled a little way to the west of the main path along with a great egret. I’ll definitely be seeing more of these birds as the year progresses, but these were my first for 2023. They are all part of the colonisation of the UK by many herons and similar birds from southern Europe that were rare here 10 or 15 years ago.

By the side of the main path I managed to get good views of linnet and reed bunting, both of which are beautifully patterned.

reed bunting

Finally I walked around the boardwalk near the visitor centre with the thermal camera scanning for any possible woodcock: These birds are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and can be spending the day in the leaf litter where they are almost completely invisible. I have seen a couple at Titchwell in previous years, which had already been located by others, and it would be great to find one myself, but today it was not to be, though the thermal camera did find me a muntjac skulking in the undergrowth!

I got back to the car and headed out of the reserve where I encountered four or five birdwatchers along the entrance road scanning the adjacent field: So I turned around and parked again in order to go and see what they were looking at. This turned out to be a dozen or so bean geese in among some Canada and greylag geese. The bean geese flew off soon after I had seen them, but it was good to get a chance to observe them reasonably well. It’s tricky to separate bean geese from pink-footed geese at a distance, and even trickier to differentiate between the two species of bean goose, Taiga and Tundra: I was told that the ones I saw today were Taiga bean geese, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell myself!

Brenda writes: “A typical start to the day goes like this: get up, go down to kitchen in my dressing gown and put on the kettle. Then I pick up my moth list, a pen and my bag of moth pots and go out to the trap. First I check the house wall, which is pale yellow painted stucco and acts a bit like a moth trap extension, then open the trap and carefully remove the egg boxes (or equivalent) that are in there for the moths to settle on. I check them, noting down any I know, and how many there are, and putting into moth pots those that need to be checked or identified. Then I bring them back into the house, go to the kitchen and make a pot of tea!

Today there were three moths in total: One was in the trap – a dotted border. This moth is pale brown with two cross lines, the lower of which has a kink in it, and a row of dots along the edge of its wing – hence the name.

There were also two on the wall  – a march moth (now in the correct month!) and an early grey; a grey moth with striking zigzag black lines. Very handsome.

dotted border
early grey

New species for March 1st:
Birds: spoonbill, bean goose
Moths: dotted border, early grey

Birds = 133
Moths = 7
Wildflowers = 23