July 2018 Tour reports
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July 4th & 5th Exclusive 2 day tour

July 4th afternoon and evening

This tour was organized for a U3A group from Ely.
We started birding on July 4th around 2pm after the group had got themselves organized in the accommodation. It was a warm, bright sunny day and with returning waders starting to appear I decided that Titchwell would be a good option. This proved to be a good decision with an excellent selection of birds.

The car park area got things underway with regulars at the feeders, plus a singing Chiff-chaff and a tacking Blackcap. We headed out towards Patsy’s pool and from here we had great vies of several Marsh Harriers, including a food pass to one of several freshly fledged Marsh Harriers. Also from here Gadwall, Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler.

We then headed out to the main scrape and fortunately had nice views of 2-3 juvenile Bearded Tit. Close by from the first hide was a lovely spread of waders, with c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 2-3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a stunning group of 11 Spotted Redshank most being summer plumaged birds. Several male Ruff, sporting “ruffs”! Also c20 Red Knot, 10 Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Redshank. The other reedbed pool held several Red-crested Pochard, a Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little & Great Crested Grebe.

Out on the beach there was Common and Sandwich Terns, plus small numbers of Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Redshank along the shoreline.

On the way back to the visitor centre, we very lucky to see a juvenile Tawny Owl sitting alongside the trunk of a willow tree, showing very well.

We then headed off for an evening meal and then headed out for an evening session. My two usual Barn Owls failed to put in appearance, but this was more than made up for with great views of 4-5 churring Nightjars, both perched and close flight views. We also had a Woodcock flying over.

July 5th
We were up at 6.15am and left at 6.30am for a pre-breakfast wander at Holme.
This was a great couple of hours, as we arrived a Barn Owl was hunting nearby and then a second bird joined it and eventually there was 3 Barn Owls hunting with two behind us and one perched on the fenceline in front of us. Then whilst enjoying these, 2 Cuckoos flew along the saltmarsh, one perching up and we enjoyed great scope views. A few minutes later we could hear the beautiful purring of a Turtle Dove, after a bit of searching I located a slightly distant Turtle Dove. A little more searching and a second Turtle Dove was found, this one perched in the top of a willow and showing very well, we enjoyed great views! What a great shame this has become such a target bird, it was a very simple bird to see! We saw several Whitethroats, and several beautiful male Linnets.

Very satisfied we headed back for breakfast. We then headed back out and took a look at the saltmarsh areas at the southern end of Holme. We had nice views of Sandwich and Little Terns, right overhead, looking out offshore several  Gannets and several flocks of Common Scoter flew past. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were much in evidence singing and displaying.

We then headed up to the centre, enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and cake, plus nearby a Sedge Warbler was singing and showed well.

We rounded off at Thornham, where there was quite a few Curlew, Shelduck, Common Redshank and the definite highlights were 6 Golden Plover, returning migrants still sporting summer plumage. As we scanned a raptor appeared on the horizon, out over the sea, it kept coming towards us and as it closed in it was clearly a Hobby. It was in hunting mode traveling rapidly, it twisted after a couple of waders, but missed and screamed off inland, a great bird to finish off a great 24 hours of birding. 94 species recorded, who says July is dull for birding!

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