Friday, 11 October 2013


The sun is somewhat against us this morning; low in the sky, its strengthening rays silhouette many of the birds that are feeding or roosting in this large coastal lagoon. Even so, it is a pleasure to be out and to feel the late summer warmth cut through the thinning mist. Over the next couple of hours the sun will continue on its journey and distant waders and gulls should prove less challenging to identify.

Close in, just a few metres from where we are stood, a small party of dunlin feed in the shallows. In with them are a couple of curlew sandpipers, more elegant and refined than their dumpy counterparts probing the mud. A water rail squeals from the reeds and, not long after, puts in the briefest of appearances. This are one of my favourite birds, full of character and bubbling with personality. A few duck are drifting across the deeper parts of the lagoon, a mix of teal, wigeon and shoveler, while many more doze, heads tucked in, on the small islets that poke above the silken surface.

A change of position and we are better placed to tackle the straggling flock of waders and gulls that extends part way across the lagoon. A dozen avocet are easily spotted, among the large number of godwits – both black-tailed and bar-tailed. While some of the godwits snooze, others stretch and preen. Scattered in with these leggy birds are some smaller waders – mostly knot but with a few ringed plover present. Behind these a run of spotted redshanks is revealed; about time, as we had been hearing their calls for much of the morning. A flock of golden plover arrives, providing a nice comparison with the grey plover – many still in breeding plumage – scattered on one of the quieter parts of the lagoon.

Further away, where the forms of feeding birds are still difficult to resolve in the light, three spoonbills stand in the shallows. These fantastic birds provide a taste of the exotic. Newly established as a breeding species, they are now a common sight here on the north Norfolk coast. It is a wonderful scene and one worthy of such an early start to the day.

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