Titchwell birds – the final episode

I’ve posted several times with pictures from my trip June to Titchwell on the north Norfolk coast but I’ve now exhausted my photo collection from that trip so this is the last one. There was a terrific number of bird species present the day I was there including ducks, waders, raptors, passerines and gulls, but the wildlife wasn’t confined to birds, a wall brown butterfly and a chinese water deer also putting in appearances.

Gulls are many and often not-so-varied and can be easy to overlook: “What’s that bird?”, “Oh it’s just a gull”. But I like gulls and and it’s always good to have a new species identified and on this trip it was the little gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus, Dansk: dværgmåge). At first glance the little gull looks like a black headed gull, but it is noticeably smaller:


Little gull in winter colours – the summer plumage includes a completely black head

The other obvious difference between the two species is the colour of the beak which is black on the little gull and red on the black headed. It may also be mistaken for a tern as it swoops down on the water in a similar way to a tern but it’s not fishing it’s picking food from the surface of the water. I haven’t seen other gulls feed in this way.


Black headed gull (Larus ridibundus, Dansk: hættemåge)

The black headed gull is common and I see large flocks of them feeding in the fields around Cambridge in the winter, unlike the little gull which is a rare breeder in the UK and a passage and winter visitor on it’s way to the Mediterranean.

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea, Dansk: fiskehejre)

Stalking the shallows were several grey herons searching for fish and amphibians. The heron is a very effective predator unlike the pied wagtail perched just a few metres away serenading the comings and goings of serried ranks of twitchers passing to and from one of the hides:


Pied wagtail (Motacilla alba, Dansk: hvid vipstjert)

This wagtail is an adult male, his colours are much darker and the black bib more extensive than the more delicately shaded female. The pied wagtail is a resident and migrant breeder and I regularly see them patrolling lawns, meadows and carparks with their characterisitic twitching tail.

The one bird which I knew could be seen at Titchwell, but which I also knew was very elusive, so I didn’t really expect to catch a glimpse of it, was the bearded tit (Panurus biarmicus, Dansk: skægmejse). It’s one of those birds that I’ve seen pictures of and thought it almost looks unreal, like a childs drawing of an imaginary colourful songbird. A notion which seemed to be corroborated when I looked in my Collins field guide and it wasn’t listed! It transpires that it was listed, but as the ‘bearded reedling‘ instead of the ‘bearded tit‘, and it’s actually more closely related to the larks than the tits, to which it’s resemblance is only superficial. Despite the alternative name in my field guide it is listed on the British Trust for Ornithology ‘BirdFacts‘ website as the ‘bearded tit


Bearded tit juvenile

The bearded tit is resident in the UK but confined to the southern and eastern extremities. However, I did see some and even managed to get a photograph, albeit a not very good one(!). This one is a youngster, identified by the black eyestripe which differentiates it from the female, and the black patch on the nape which is absent in both adult genders. Of all the birds I saw on this visit the bearded tit (or reedling) was probably the highlight.

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24 responses to “Titchwell birds – the final episode

  1. That Little Gull is quite cute, as is the bearded tit…wasn’t familiar with either one of these…. Thank you for the intro. 🙂

  2. What a delightful way to round off your Titchwell series, Finn, and how very exciting to see the bearded tit! He is a very winning little fellow, and I like your description of the similarity to a child’s drawing. All of your birds are splendid but that first photo of the little gull is my favourite. The red feet against the white feathers, and the shadow you’ve captured in this photo, make it something really special. This must be one of my favourite photos so far, although admittedly there are far too many excellent options to choose from throughout your marvellous blog.

    • Hello Lorna, I’m glad you like the little gull photograph. I’m very happy with it, it’s a handsome bird and didn’t seem as bolshy and aggressive as other gulls.

      The bearded tit was an added bonus and I’m going to devote more time to getting some higher quality images next time I’m at Titchwell, now that I know where to look.

  3. I love these photos! The little gull is really a pretty bird!

  4. I’ve never seen some of these birds before, and I really like your photos! I’m glad you took these pictures to share… 🙂

  5. I just love the first photo, you captured that really well! And I adore the last one as well, completely hidden, but beautiful!!

    • Thanks Letizia, I was really pleased with the little gull too, it’s challenging to get the exposure right for gulls because of their brilliant white colour, but this one worked out nicely. And that little beardy was a beauty, it was the first time I’d seen one so I was pleased to get some sort of a picture. I’m glad you liked them.

  6. My dear Finn!
    Thank you for this wonderful post! I always pick up another bit of information when I am here. As you know, this is my favourite nature blog and to thank you for one year of learning from this magnificent blog, here is a little surprise for you. I hope you like it 😀
    http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/confessions-of-a-closet-blogger-one-year-on/
    The student, Sharon

    • Hello Sharon, that’s a wonderful surprise, thankyou very much indeed for such nice comments. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that you enjoy reading The Naturephile so much!

  7. It’s been a beautiful collection Finn. ! I love your virtual nature tours!

  8. Hi Finn, Think your photos are really good, it’s good to see all the wild life around. Have you any photo’s of kingfishers? I would like to see one around here, we keep looking so hope to see one one day.

    • Hello Susan, I have some distant shots of kingfishers and I’m in the process of upgrading my equipment so when I have I’ll have a better chance of some good portrait shots. Not many birds are more photogenic than the kingfisher and I’ll oblige as soon as I can!

  9. I am learning a lot from your blog – fantastic and thank you!

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