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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Norfolk Tides

The August Bank Holiday this year coincided with the first of the 'Autumn/Winter' spring tides, so having checked the timings (and with permission from Jayne), I decided to set off with my tent and spend a couple of days in Norfolk to see if I could catch the wading bird spectaculars that occur there at these times.

From experience, these tides can vary greatly from the published times and a lot depends on wind direction, wind strength and low or high pressure etc.,.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I will make any excuse to get up to Norfolk, so come good weather or bad (which was the forecast on this occasion), I set off anyway and crossed my fingers.

On arrival mid afternoon I knew that the tides wouldn't be quite right for the evening,so I took a drive around some of the lanes and off of the beaten track.

I didn't see much to be honest, and I certainly didn't see any Barn Owls, which was what I was hoping for. Although sunny, it was extremely windy, and they don't tend to hunt in these conditions.

What I did find however was a distant hare, hiding in the stubble;

After a pretty restless night at the campsite (which was due to the worsening forecast meaning a lot of people packed and left for home during the night), I climbed out of my sleeping bag, popped on the head torch and set off for the reserve.

The RSPB reserve at Snettisham is quite isolated, and a pretty long walk from the car park - especially when you're carrying all the gear needed for an afternoon or morning of wader watching and photography. If you set off at first light for the walk in, by the time you get to the beach you will have missed the best light and the best of the action if the tide is very early.

The wind was now very strong and it was overcast as I arrived at the beach, and due to the wind etc., the tide was nearly in - a full hour early.

As the wind was so strong, the birds were streaming off the mud flats, and straight over the banks and into the lagoons. 

The light was poor, but from one of the hides I managed to get some slow shutter arty stuff as flocks of Knot arrived;

After an hour or so, with slightly improved light and a falling tide, I went and positioned myself on on the beach as thousands of these super birds started to return to the mud flats to feed;

Now, if you want those wonderful golden lit sunset shots, morning is not the time to visit this location.

The next tide was an evening one, so I crossed my fingers, and went back later in the day for another go, and it certainly looked promising for a while.

Like the morning, the tide was early again, but as the sun was getting lower in the sky it starting to show all the signs of being a spectacular sunset. 

Unfortunately, with such high winds still blowing, the cloud cover was moving very fast and eventually, some impressive clouds moved in to block the sun as it set.

I'll be back there for the next tides very soon.

Whilst writing this piece, I thought I'd add add something about some poor behaviour I witnessed.

These two chaps decided that they could stand inside of the fence, and that the RSPB rules didn't apply to them;

Right below where they are standing is one of the main lagoon roost sites. 

The birds fly in from the Wash, over the banks and then look to settle on the small sand bank in the lagoon. The bank is there to stop the sea from flooding the lagoon during storms and the fence is there to stop people 'skylining' their silhouette and spooking the resting birds. The chap on the left is actually laying on the bank and photographing. 

They stopped and climbed back when they saw me taking pictures of them.

There is a hide 30 yards to their right that would have got them closer - it's where the second picture above was taken !

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