bird watching birds nature reserves Norfolk the sea the seaside wildlife

A Wader Spectacular

This was a special day. A spectacular day full of waders, which could only be billed as “A Wader Spectacular”. The action takes place at the RSPB reserve, Snettisham in Norfolk. The RSPB keep members informed of when the spectacular is at its best so we knew we could expect something special.

We made an early start as the success of our day was reliant on firstly the tides and secondly the weather. Tide tables told us we had the day right where the behaviour of the sea was concerned and as the darkness of night gave way to day we realised we were going to be in luck with the weather. But we were well prepared with flasks of hot coffee, for the coast of north Norfolk is always a cold place.

We walked along the shoreline past this old landing stage and found a comfortable place to settle down to wait with fold away chairs and flasks of warm coffee. As we waited for the tide to start to come in and the sandbanks to become engulfed in salty water we readied our binoculars and fixed the telescopes on their tripods. We didn’t have long to wait before the first flocks of waders surged over our heads making for the lagoons behind the sand dunes.

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The vast flocks mostly continued to feed greedily on the bugs and invertebrates hiding in the sand. Every second counts when your feeding is controlled by the turning of the tides. The waders were mainly Knots and Oyster Catchers but surprises appeared amongst them such as small groups of Avocet and the lone flock of just half a dozen Common Scoter which passed low over our heads like black overweight ducks.

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As each minute ticked away, the flocks fleeing the tides flew more frequently over our heads and each flock appeared to be larger than the last. We could feel and hear the air moving above us, stirred by the combined power of thousands of beating wings.

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As the flocks flew behind us they settled quickly into the reeds surrounding the lagoons, dropping from the sky as one. As the tide sped in covering their feeding grounds the sand banks at sea become emptied as the lagoons filled up.

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Enjoy the spectacle by following the photos in the gallery and watch the drama unfold.

When the flocks had moved from sea to lagoon, everything felt and sounded calm around us and we were engulfed by a strangely hollow feeling. We had been surrounded by hundreds of thousands of waders in flight and then suddenly it stopped as the last stragglers made their move.

We then found time to appreciate the beauty of nature on the beach. When finding our spot to watch the wader show the light was still too poor to see what was at our feet. Wild flowers, butterflies, moths and small birds were all there for us to enjoy.

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After enjoying the life of the shoreline we returned to the car via a hide that overlooked one end of one of the lagoons to see if we could spot any of the birds who had entertained us with their spectacular fly past. As you can see from the two photos they were pretty well hidden. I suppose once away from the safety of the sand banks and the surrounding sea they are more vulnerable to predator attack.

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As we left the hide my camera was attracted to this old landing stage once again.

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If you ever get a chance to experience a wader spectacular take it – it is an amazing natural phenomenon. To see more of my wader spectacular photos just click on the first photo and then follow the arrows.

By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

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