Wednesday, 12 September 2012

WINTER WARMERS part three

GREY PLOVER (PLUVIALIS SQUATAROLA), TAKING A BATH!
Ok the final winter warmer post...I promise. My final favourite North Norfolk spot is Brancaster Staithe. It's a very small yet deceptively busy harbour. When most people think of harbours they dream up images of quays and harbour walls etc. But not Brancaster. It's only harbour walls are the man made sea defences. When the tides out it's big mud flat with small creeks forming little lagoons and host an amazing amount of bird life all year round. Though when you first pull into the tiny little car park you could be forgiven to thinking, really? The car park is the centre of where I do most of the photography from this spot, though there is other habitats worth having a look around, but to be honest, and not lazy, there is no reason to stray further than the carpark. It's worth remembering this is a working harbour, mostly fishermen bringing in and sorting out their catches so it's worth staying out of their way. If you're lucky they might bring over their catch that's damaged (oysters/muscles etc) and can't be sold, this in turn can be used for bringing in the brids a bit closer etc. When you pull into the harbour you'll see a group of small boats on trailers parked up, normally I park here but if you plan to go for a walk around it's advised not to block these boats in as they are used by owners who's main boats are moored out in the water also if the tide is out it's worth making a note of how high the tide does come in here..as a general rule if the ground is muddy under foot the tide came to that point. So far I've witnessed three unwary car owners park up leave their cars only to come back to find the tide half way up their car tyres, though I'm yet to see one floating down the coast!!


GREY PLOVER (PLUVIALIS SQUATAROLA), IN FLIGHT.
 
So what's there? It's an all seasons spot so it depends when you visit but the following species I've seen and photograph are: Black Tern (spring),Artic Tern (spring),Common Tern (spring/summer),Sandwich Tern (spring/summer),Little Tern (spring/summer),Marsh Harrier (all year round),Kestrel(all year round),Barn Owl (winter/spring),Meadow Pipit (winter/spring),Skylark(spring/summer),Grey Plover (winter/spring),Golden Plover (winter/spring),Redshank(all year round),Ringed Plover(winter/spring),Oystercatcher(all year round),Turnstone(winter/spring),Sanderling(winter/spring),Dunlin(winter/spring),Knot(winter/spring),Brent Geese(winter/spring) and Red Breasted Merganser (winter/spring) there are other species like Herring Gull and Common Gull etc and I'm sure some of the species listed can be see all year round, but it's when I've seen/photographed them etc.

If you pull in and the tide is out you'll see lot's of thick mud, seriously it will grab hold of you and not let go, ask Ben's shoe that is probably still there now. Now if it's late spring/summer go to the lovely lady selling fresh seafood rolls and baguettes, prepared right in front of you, she'll let you know when the tide is due and may I personally recomend the Crayfish rolls...Subway has nothing on these rolls. When the tide comes in all the waders come into  the car park area. Really close enabling great chances to get a variety of wader images were you can get down to eye level...as long as you don't mind a bit of mud. If it's winter the sandwich bar won't be there, the petrol station opposite the entrance to the harbour has a really good Cafe.

PINK FOOTED GEESE (ANSER BRACHYRHYNCHUS)



 
I would suggest the best time to visit is early to late afternoon if your aim is to photograph the birds as the sun is behind your back giving the best light for exposure etc. On the way to Brancaster (if you're coming from Cley) it's worth having a look aound the Burnham area, there is a mill called Burnham Mill on the coast road (A149) in the fields before the mill I got the image of the flock of Pink Footed Geese coming into land. And just after the mill is a small field with Marsh Harriers and a Barn Owl too. The rest of the images used came from Brancaster with the Knot below (see how muddy) and a grateful Turnstone which grabbed some shellfish we fed it. The very last image is of a Dunlin the image taken from the driver seat of my car...LAZY BIRDING! Though to be fair I did open the car door and lean out to get a better angle, so not that lazy.....

Here is two links the first one is of Spoonbills taken from the single hide at Cley Marshes SPOONBILLS and a Barn Owl taken at Wiveton Marshes BARN OWL  they should open in a seperate window and will take you to my website.

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