At the Turn of the Tide

I stood on Hunstanton beach bathed in the warm glow of the late afternoon, surrounded by oystercatchers roosting and preening on the seaweed strewn rocks, the bubbling cries of curlew carrying far through the still air, and thought I don't need to be anywhere else; it is all here on my doorstep.

The whole Norfolk coastline is shaped by the tides, the twice daily ebb and flow that firstly washes our perimeter clean then deposits myriad flotsam and jetsam along our desolately haunting shores. No two visits are the same and every turn of the tide reveals new bounty for the waders to plunder.

Earlier in the day with the blaze of a March sun behind me illuminating the gently curving bay between Titchwell and Brancaster, I watched bar-tailed godwits, grey plovers, sanderlings and turnstones probing the newly exposed muds for food, perhaps lugworms, maybe small crabs or other invertebrates that would sustain them through another day. It is a constant struggle for survival, but this season has been kind to our wildlife and they have not had to cope with prolonged periods of frost or inclement weather and are presumably all the fitter and healthier for it.

Certainly these most welcome warming rays had encouraged other waders, redshank and lapwings, to engage in their courtship rituals with the redshanks in particular showing real intent. I watched a pair engage in dramatic close combat beside the public footpath forming the western border of the reserve where it is possible to obtain very close views of various species including black-tailed godwits and avocets. These normally shy birds seem quite blasé here with regard to the the close proximity of humans and go about their business oblivious to our admiring observations.

It was a day to savour with the sense and smell of spring oozing from every pore of the earth. I feel these subtle changes as the season turns and soak up the sense of transition. The passage between winter and spring can sometimes seem interminably slow, but then you have a day such as this when the vibrancy of change is profound. It is long overdue.
So, I eventually found myself on the beach at Hunstanton, listening to the grunting greeting calls of fulmars reverberating from ledges on the unique tricoloured cliffs. Some of these stiff-winged petrels were gathering on the glassy sea to further indulge in their wooing, most were already paired and canoodling each other on their chosen niche. And all around me were the oystercatchers, pied pipers, and most willing to tolerate my clumsy attempts at stealth.  Their mood was in keeping with the soporific nature of the day, they were taking time to rest and recharge in the warm glow of that afternoon sun and await the turn of the tide.

Black-tailed Godwit. These birds are nearly always to be found
 feeding in the shallow lagoons by the public footpath

Oystercatcher. Many of these fine birds gather along the Wash
 to feed on cockles which are abundant hereabouts.

Grey Plover and Knot

Bar-tailed Godwit

Fulmars. The bird on the left had just landed and is greeting
his/her mate with a braying grunt. Not overly romantic.

Fulmar in Flight

The Pied Piper

Curlew. Look at the wonderful intricate plumage patterning.

Fighting Redshank

Oystercatchers awaiting the turn of the tide



  1. Hi Bushchat,
    Nice flight shots.
    Grey plover and Knot, Sanderling. Deliberate ploy to generate comment on ones blog...

  2. Bugger, you're right! I was uploading lots of other shots but ended up only selecting a few as I thought the blog would be too long. The other shots were of a knot feeding and a sanderling in flight, I got confused....honestly I can tell the difference!

  3. Can't help a big grin.
    Are you attending the training on 17th at HQ? Then again it may all be old hat for you.
    Just found BazArt, very nice!

  4. Thanks Tom, and wipe that grin off your face. I've booked a last minute holiday to Lanzarote and will have to miss the training. Looks like you'll have Rachael all to yourself!


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