What better way to spend my 70th birthday than in North Norfolk. Stopping at one of our favourite places, Briarfields, right next to the reserve at RSPB Titchwell, and meeting up with a long lost friend, who I’d not seen for some 50 odd years. I was also lucky to drop on a some good birds during the weekend, and notching up a few good year ticks.
We called in at RSPB Frampton on-route, picking up a Buff-breasted Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs, as well as a few other species of wader. Unfortunately I never did see the Semi-palmated Sandpiper. Several Grey Partridge in the fields adjacent to Titchwell in the late afternoon.
On my birthday I managed to see the Wilson’s Phalarope at Stiffkey Fen and the Long-billed Dowitcher at Cley, also there I picked-up Little Stint, and Green Sandpiper, and then had 2 Black-necked Grebes on the sea at Titchwell during the afternoon.
Our final full day before heading home, and Titchwell produced several Bearded Tit, including a dark eyed male, which turned out to be something rather special, a Wood Sandpiper and a Sandwich Tern.
Then heading home on the 9th, we stopped off at RSPB Frampton and I found a Pectoral Sandpiper, also there 2 Great White Egret and difficult and distant views of what I was sure was the White-rumped Sandpiper, that had been lingering for a few days. An excellent long weekend.
The black eyed male Bearded Tit, that I photographed at RSPB Titchwell, was brought to my attention by Steve Bain. He discovered an article published in British Birds, showing a male Bearded Tit with a black eye, photographed at RSPB Minsmere in October 2011. The article explained that this was a rare variant, and that this polymorphism had been recorded in Bearded Tit only at Minsmere and nearby Walberswick (Pearson & Greenhaigh 1966)and it appears that the proportion of birds with a dark iris has declined in recent years. So my bird is either from the remnant Suffolk population, or could it be a victim of Bird Flu? It is now known that at least in Gannet, birds that have survived Bird Flu seem to show a black iris. What ever it may be, this was a fascinating discovery, and my thanks go to Steve for bringing this to my attention.