Patrolling the shoreline

I had an enjoyable few hours at Titchwell RSPB today: It’s one of those reserves that always has something to offer in terms of wildlife, and even when you drive into the car park and it seems to be busy, somehow there’s enough space that it never seems that crowded.

I didn’t try to count the golden plover currently on the reserve, but it must be easily 500 or more, with perhaps slightly fewer lapwing, and a couple of hundred brent geese. When the lapwings and plovers were put up by a peregrine, which then circled around trying to find a target, it was a pretty impressive sight.

the sight and sound of lapwings at Titchwell

There were also plenty of shovelers around: Wonderful ducks, named for their spatulate bills. I had never consciously seen them feeding by swimming around in fairly tight circles before, but I guess it’s a standard feeding routine – probably helps to stir up the shallow water when trying to find food.

a male shoveler

Possibly the most productive part of my walk was the beach. The tide was going out, exposing lots of potential feeding areas for waders and gulls, and so I headed out toward the shoreline where there were good concentrations of oystercatchers, turnstones, sanderling and dunlin. The turnstones were flicking over small piles of weed with their beaks in search of food.


Dunlin in particular are so different in their winter plumage – none of the striking markings of summer – but I always enjoy seeing them; particularly at close quarters. When I was perusing my bird guide later in the day I discovered that the small back “toe” which you can see on the dunlin below is something that sanderling (see Jan 21st blog here) don ‘t have!

a dunlin in winter plumage

I watched one oystercatcher prising open a shellfish. You could see it putting all its weight into wedging the tip of its bill into the shell, and then it finally managed to prise it open.

an oystercatcher putting all its weight into breaking into a shell
well wedged!
using the strong bill to prise the shell open

No new species for February 5th:

Birds = 116
Moths = 3
Wildflowers = 14