Summer Birding #1- Knot a Problem (Twitcher Diaries #3)

So, first piece of big news, SCHOOL’S OUT!! Well, for me at least. That meant one thing: BIRDING. And, having recovered on the Sunday from the great stress of the End of Term, Dad & I elected to go and see the Great Knot which was frequenting the freshmarsh at Titchwell. Despite warnings from my dad that the views wouldn’t be great, I persisted having already seen the Breydon Water bird from a fair distance away & said ‘At least it’s not a Dot anymore’!!

So, in the car we leapt, and off we went, reaching Titchwell in about 45 minutes. I was excited: I hadn’t been to Titchwell for a while & was eager to go around it again, despite me being a Cley patcher. We got out of the car to some of the notoriously tame Robins resident in the area singing their heads off, and we went into the visitor centre to check the sightings book, which read as follows:

  • Buzzard (??)
  • Little Gull on Freshmarsh
  • 10 Spotted Redshanks
  • 5+ Red-crested Pochards on Patsy’s Reedbed
  • Bittern
  • Marsh Harrier

And NO mention of the Great Knot! Slightly bewildered, we moved on. The sun was shining for once & Wrens were singing all around us. I was also pleased to hear several Cetti’s Warblers over the course of the visit, something which I hadn’t seen at Cley for some time surprisingly.

As we came to the freshmarsh, my dad pointed out with a slightly alarmed voice that he couldn’t see the knot flock. Well, it was there, he just thought it was an island. Not to be outdone, we made our way to the bank & successfully scoped the Great Knot out on the water. I also started my photography rampage with a nice Avocet chick from the bank.


We made our way to Parrinder Hide where better views were afforded of said knot.

Great Knot Titchwell
Copyright of Marcus Nash/The Bird ID Company

One of the birders next to us also managed to spot a Curlew Sandpiper on the mud next to two Dunlin! Unfortunately, it was too far away for photographs, and Dad forgot to digiscope it.

I walked into the hide… only to be greeted by none other than Paul Stancliffe!! We had last met on the Bird Camp roughly a month ago, and he explained that he was out with a friend. He pointed out a first summer Common Tern which was out there (quite a rare sight I understand), before we parted ways. It was great to see Paul again after the Bird Camp, which you can read about here. Pretty soon after he had left though, Dad had picked up the first-summer Little Gull and six of the Spotted Redshanks which had been reported this morning!! The gull was fast asleep on one of the islands, then disappeared altogether! Not to be outdone, we went into the hide, only to find two Mediterranean Gulls feeding in the water. This was especially good, as Andy Stoddart (a good friend of ours) was taking people on a tour and one of them had wanted to see these, despite us telling them it was very difficult!! Emphatic over our good fortune, we elected to slowly make our way back, having seen everything we had needed to see! But the freshmarsh hadn’t finished yet…

We had seen a small gull in front of Island Hide, and we thought it may just be the Little Gull. Well, it wasn’t just in front of the hide, it was nothing short of stonkingly close to the hide. Exhibits A-D…


The views were nothing short of ASTOUNDING & words were well & truly beyond us at this point.

We left the hide, it having disappeared into thin air again, and made our way round to Patsy’s Reedbed, the new favoured hotspot of our target bird, Red-crested Pochard. The book had quoted five plus, and for once the numbers were remotely correct: SIX were present (three drakes asleep on the island, one eclipse drake & two females swimming around).


We made our way back to the car park, only stopping to see the resident Southern Marsh Orchids & updating the sightings book in the visitor centre.

Several thank yous must now go out for this trip:

  • My dad for taking me there
  • The birds of Siberia for providing one of their own
  • The weather
  • The RSPB for creating the reserve



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