Seen but not heard

Another beautiful sunny, clear and cold winter day today, and as Brenda was out working I decided to pop over to RSPB Titchwell in the afternoon.

I started on the boardwalk: It was pretty quiet but I saw a lot of moorhens around the hedges and field areas – presumably trying to find food away from their normal wetter areas as these were all frozen! Whilst quietly at one of the viewpoint areas I saw a small warbler, which spent a few seconds at the bottom of some reeds and then flew off behind me. I thought for a few seconds and came up with Cetti’s warbler as a possible identification, but I wasn’t completely sure.

Cetti’s warblers can be seen all year round at Titchwell, while many of the other warblers there are summer visitors. However you usually hear the loud call of a Cetti’s before you see it; if indeed you see it at all…..Heard but not seen! But when I walked around to where I thought it had headed off to, there it was on a small bush – most definitely a Cetti’s…..Seen but not heard! But before I could get the camera on it, off it went. I played hide and seek with it for about fifteen minutes, getting some of the best views I have ever had of one…but all too brief to get a photo. Occasionally it would do a short call – almost as though it was deciding to sing, but then thinking better of it.

I then headed off down the main path toward the beach. Only a little way along I encountered another Cetti’s warbler – but again wasn’t quick enough with the camera. There were lots of marsh harriers around, and a good selection of waders, including a ringed plover – another new one for 2023. I also caught up with my first pipit of the year, a meadow pipit.

sea and sky merge in the calm weather at Titchwell

The beach was amazing: The tide was well out and the sea was like a mill pond – so still that you could hardly tell sea from sky. There were a lot of waders on the beach as well, and a lot of birds on the sea – the calmness making it easier than usual to see them. I saw at least 15 red-breasted mergansers and 10 or more goldeneye, plus 3 great crested grebes. Some of the birders there were talking about other grebe species, but I didn’t spot these. I find sea-watching very tricky – tough to identify birds that can be a long way off, even through a telescope on a calm day. I don’t think my middle-aged eyesight helps either!

Finally I headed back as dusk was falling and the marsh harriers were coming in to roost. My last species of the day was lovely though: Two water rails in a small ditch by the path. They seemed completely oblivious of me – somewhat unusual for water rails – and again I suspect they were just desperate to feed in one of the only parts of the reserve where there was a little unfrozen water. It was too dark at this stage to get a decent photo, but I did get a little hand-held video footage on my iPhone.

water rail at Titchwell

New species for January 23rd:
Birds: great crested grebe, meadow pipit, ringed plover, Cetti’s warbler

Birds = 104
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 11