When the opportunity for a short break presented itself a week or so back we quickly decided a trip to the North Norfolk coast was the best option. Overnight accommodation secured at The Linksway Hotel near Hunstanton, we headed north in the August sunshine. Three hours at the mercy of the SATNAV provided a relaxed meander through the changing landscape of northern East Anglia, the device finally depositing us at the RSPB's Titchwell Marsh Reserve by mid-afternoon.
The car park was near to full, as one would expect at one of the UK's premier bird-watching sites, visitors boosted in number by holidaymakers attending one of the reserves regular family activity days or using it as a base for the hike to the beach. Once through the visitor centre we set off through the mixed woodland that dappled us in shade and sunbeams before bursting out onto a huge skyscape and the vast reed-beds of the reserve proper.
Entering the Island hide, we were immediately up close and personal with feeding waders who picked their way through the silt of the shallow lagoon in front of us.
|Curlew Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit|
After a thrilling hour with terrific views we moved on, watching a little egret in the burnt red coloured marginal grasses before arriving at the Parrinder Hide. Looking out onto the same freshwater lagoon our different perspective uncovered a special site for the UK as a pair of Spoonbills, unaware of their celebrity status, dozed in the afternoon sun. Too distant for a half decent photograph, they were none the less significant and represent a breeding foothold in this country that one hope's will swell in number significantly in future years. We returned to civilisation via the reedbed walk, a sparrowhawk passing by at head height as we looked for dragonflies dancing across the water surface or hawking across the swaying beds.
|The Parrinder Hide - Titchwell's magnificent salt and fresh water lagoon watching complex|
|Black tailed Godwits scapping|
After refreshing ourselves at the hotel we popped down to Hunstanton beach to see the sunset - a little disconcerting to do so on the east coast - and then went to order dinner at a pub in Holme-on-Sea.
|Kite surfing off Hunstanton Beach|
|Sunset across the Wash|
|Seahenge in 1999, photograph by John Sayer|
The next morning, the rare treat of a cooked breakfast awaited. Slightly heavier, weheaded east along the coast road, navigating our way through the throngs of visitors to Wells-next-the-Sea, then pressing on to Cley Marshes. Parking in the beach car park we walked along between the gravel beach and the edge of the marsh with the sea to our backs, adult swallows swooping and calling as they fed juveniles still showing a vsible gape on a wire fence. Further on a little ringed plover distracted us in a small pool until we dragged ourselves away and pressed on, eventually reaching the busy Swarovski Optik Hide to catch another glimpse of a pair of Spoonbills, this time surrounded by cormorants and myriad other waders.
|Spoonbill pair with cormorants|
It was now time to head home and during a rest stop at theGrimes Graves neolithic flint mine near Thetford we reflected on an event filled 24 hours that saw us discover a little more about the north Norfolk coast, take in two new nature reserves and add a few valuable 'ticks' to our life and year lists.
RSPB Titchwell Marsh
RSPB Titchwell Marsh
firstname.lastname@example.orgReserve website - click here
Downloadable map of reserve - click here