Snettisham Shorebird Paradise

It’s been a while since I posted anything in my personal blog. This is mainly due to the lots of things I had to do with the getting up of the World Shorebirds’ Day. Another reason of my absence was the lack of birding activity worth to mention.

After a stressful week at work, I finally had to treat myself with some great birdwatching. What could be better than a visit to one of the top shorebird sites in England? The Snettisham RSPB Reserve is my favourite place, where tens of thousands of shorebirds can be seen most of the year.

Birding was rather restricted to the backyard of my workplace in the last two months. I enjoyed watching roosting Redwings, arriving Song Thrushes and singing Dunnocks, but I was hungry for something different.

Brant Geese were flying over the area from the adjacent fields. © Andrea Szimuly

Brant Geese were flying over the area from the adjacent fields. © Andrea Szimuly

Brant Geese were flying just above us. © Andrea Szimuly

Brant Geese were flying just above us. © Andrea Szimuly

I think I’ve got it. The Wash at Snettisham was full of waterbirds, mainly shorebirds. I did nothing than sitting on a bench and watched the incredible aerial dance of tens of thousands of Red Knots and Dunlins. As the high tide pushed them closer to the coastline the murmuration was even more dramatic and spectacular.

Common Redshanks and Ruddy Turnstones landed on the islands of the pit for roosting. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Common Redshanks and Ruddy Turnstones landed on the islands of the pit for roosting. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A flock of Pied Avocets left the roosting site for feeding on the mudflat. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A flock of Pied Avocets left the roosting site for feeding on the mudflat. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Gulls have been flying endlessly to the mudflat at dusk. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Gulls have been flying endlessly to the mudflat at dusk. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Apart from the huge flocks, I’ve seen some new-to-this-year birds as well. A Common Chiffchaff was calling near the cottages. Pied Avocet, Northern Pintail and a Western Marsh Harrier were seen for the first time as well.

Large Red Knot flock was pushed closer to the coastline by the high tide. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Large Red Knot flock was pushed closer to the coastline by the high tide. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A part of the massive roosting flock of shorebirds and Black-headed Gulls on the mudflat. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A part of the massive roosting flock of shorebirds and Black-headed Gulls on the mudflat. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A massive shorebird murmuration over the sea in the nice sunset. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A massive shorebird murmuration over the sea in the nice sunset. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Another image of the incoming Red Knot flock. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Another image of the incoming Red Knot flock. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I wish I had my Swarovski ATX scope with me. I can't wait to get it. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I wish I had my Swarovski ATX scope with me. I can’t wait to get it. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Based on a very rough estimation, a total of 50,000 shorebirds and an additional 10,000 gulls was present in the area. When I left the coast at dusk, Black-headed Gulls, Mew Gulls, European Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls had still been coming to the mudflat from the adjacent fields. It was simply an incredible experience. Andi and I took some pictures with a basic lens, what unfortunately didn’t really reflect the real atmosphere of the area.

Here is the eBird Checklist:

Graylag Goose 300
Brant 480
Canada Goose 4
Egyptian Goose 1
Common Shelduck 78
Mallard 25
Northern Pintail 2
Eurasian Teal 4
Common Goldeneye 1
Little Grebe 2
Great Cormorant 16
Little Egret 4
Western Marsh Harrier 1
Eurasian Moorhen 3
Pied Avocet 79
Eurasian Oystercatcher 52
Black-bellied Plover 9
Northern Lapwing 6
Common Ringed Plover 16
Common Redshank 256
Eurasian Curlew 318
Bar-tailed Godwit 130
Ruddy Turnstone 94
Red Knot 30,000
Dunlin 18,000
Black-headed Gull cc 8,000
Mew Gull 96
European Herring Gull 1,100
Lesser Black-backed Gull 320
Great Black-backed Gull 3
Common Wood Pigeon 2
Eurasian Wren 3
Common Chiffchaff 1
European Robin 1
Eurasian Blackbird 3
Dunnock 2
White Wagtail (British) 6
Meadow Pipit 5
European Greenfinch 2
European Goldfinch 2

On the way back home, a rather white Barn Owl was hunting near Wisbech.

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