When I arrive at the reserve I always walk up to the gate at the eastern end of the car park and then stroll round the overflow car park before going on to the reserve. This morning I found a female chaffinch
quietly sunning herself out of the wind near to the coach park. A very colourful cock bird landed very close to her, his pink chest was puffed right out and his wings were drooping in such a way it made his white
wing bars look twice their normal size. He then went into a little sideways dance, several time he went backwards and forwards, all the while swaying his body as though he was keeping time to some lilting melody. He was putting on a fine show, enough to turn the head of any female. At that point another male flew down, gave him a quick peck on
the head and chased him off into the apple trees. The new bird came straight back no doubt to give his mate a good telling off for making eyes at a stranger.
I have often heard people say they'd had a good morning by seeing 45 or so species, I'm fairly disgusted if I haven't noted sixty. Where are they missing out? I repeatedly see visitors get out of their cars and
rush straight down to the hides or beach. They haven't looked in the car park, the grazing meadow west of the visitor centre or lavender pool which on the saltmarsh west of island hide. I find these areas very
rewarding, especially during migration times. This morning I missed out on migrants, but the Chaffinch dance was well worth seeing.
Having had a zero month in February, I was pleased to add two new species to my Ray's Rambles list in March, even if I feel as though I've cheated to do it. The list total now stands at 1245 species. The first newcomer was the quite common micro-moth Diurnea fagella. This I found next to the security light on the corner of the feeding station. The other was a garden flower and I'm almost too embarrassed to count it, but only almost. A small group of Crocus chrysanthus, cream beauty appeared along the east trail near to one of the seats, now where did they come from?They were very pretty, ranging from white to bright yellow and quite a surprise.On the birding front, the most spectacular sight over the last month has been the huge scoter flock on the sea. Up to 8000 common scoter, which I have seen recorded as skodas and scooters, have been seen each day. Finding the small numbers of velvet scoters amongst them has at times been very trying partly due to the haze that has persisted over the water but mainly due to the birds' bad habit of diving .I was very pleased to see that four pairs of red-crested pochards had been reported from Patsy's reedbed and the reedbed pool. The drakes with their basically black and white bodies, orange heads and red eyes and bills are so striking and the ducks plumage, although much more subdued, is very smart. Actually seeing them properly has been the problem for a lot of people. Apart from the fact they dive a lot while feeding, much of the time they've been hidden in the reeds or out in the open but fast asleep. When you do get a good view it is well worth it.We are now heading into one of the most exciting wildlife times of the year so get out there and don't miss a thing! Ray
After such a mild winter, I had been looking forward to my first Spring Ramble walk. So what greeted the six people who had booked in? Yes you guessed it, a cloudy morning with occasional showers and a really cold north-east wind. I was hoping to show them some early spring butterflies and other insects, help them identify some bird songs and do lots of spring flowers. Plans had to be changed in a hurry. My group were brilliant, they were quite happy to look at anything I showed them.
We started off with a few fungi which included scarlet elf cup, jelly ear, southern bracket and orange peel fungus and then went on to some mosses along the fen trail, such as common feather moss and the very distinctive wavy-edged hart's tongue thyme moss. We managed a few flowers, the most common being coltsfoot, before we reached the Parrinder hide path. On a day like this the south-facing bank at the side of this path is one of the warmest spots on the reserve and we spent several minutes going through the flora growing there. Saltmarsh species such as shrubby seablite and sea beet were found growing next to scentless mayweed, common field speedwell, common mallow and the first of this years fumitory. In the hide we were able to compare several waders including some tricky ones such as ruff with redshank, black-tailed with bar-tailed godwit and knot with grey plover.
The morning flew by and by the time we'd got back for a well-earned hot drink we had noted 45 birds ranging from long-tailed tit to marsh harrier and little egret, plus 45 other species of wildlife. So even if it is a cold, windy damp morning there is always something new to see at Titchwell. Ray