Sunday, 3 September 2017

10. RSPB Snettisham

Bright and hazy early morning sunshine warming the still lazy dragonflies and glinting off the electric blue dash of a Kingfisher’s back is how our morning at RSPB Snettisham started. I hadn’t been up this early since the start of the summer and hearing bird song from those oh-so-silent day time summer songsters was wonderful.

The access trail leading from the car park to the beach was full of blackberries. A migrant hawker dragonfly, just warm enough to fly, but not so much that it escaped us, alighted on a bramble to soak up the strengthening rays. Beautiful wildflowers littered the edges, with the dainty harebells showing off the most. Flashes off colour darted before our eyes; speckled wood, tortoiseshell and small white butterflies painted the scene. Wrens and other small birds were calling from the vegetation, but few wanted to be seen.

Eventually reaching the beach trail, we were met with views of the mudflats that stretched almost to the horizon. At first glance, they appeared to just contain huge flocks of black headed gulls, but on closer examination, were also full of small brown blobs with legs and beaks. Dunlin were foraging in a large group, while the odd curlew, redshank and little egret danced around the small pools.

The beach trail was full of small birds; they clearly favoured a branch that great tits, long tailed tits and whitethroats were squabbling over in a small hawthorn. This led us to the loop trail and the rotary hide, looking out onto one of the pits. Here, were huge aggregations of greylag geese, cormorants and black tailed godwits, all on their own little islands. Common terns preened on posts and brought fish across from the wash. The occasional carrion crow, unlucky enough to pester them, was mobbed by terns and gulls.

Back out on the loop, flocks of starlings descended into the pits and terns flew overhead, noisily bringing in their silver catches. Something caused a stir among the gulls out on the mudflats, causing them all to take flight, circle and land. House martins and swallows swooped and dived, feasting off the abundant insect life above the water. Common darters, showing off in their red-orange garb, teased us by landing in front of our feet, taking to the air at the last second.

A beautiful morning for a beautiful walk, but next time, we’ll get our dates right for the Snettisham spectacular!

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