Time and tide wait for no man and they certainly didn’t wait for me. To experience RSPB Snettisham at its best a visit should focus around high tide, when the great mudflats that separate Norfolk from Lincolnshire are covered by water, forcing the multitude of waders that rely on its bounty close to land. On the highest of tides, huge flocks of wading birds congregate in huge flocks and are forced at Snettisham onto the gravel banks of the inland lagoons, making for one of the UK’s most renowned natural spectaculars.
My opportunity to visit was snatched and at short notice and in reality coincided with low not high tide. No matter though as it honed my spotting skills, peering across they grey mud, broken by creeks and puddles, trying to differentiate by waders in their grey winter plummage. Dunlins were in high numbers and flitted from place to place. Between them I spied grey plover with their chunky short bill, the occasional Curlew and Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits. I learned the key differentiator between the two is whether their long beak is straight (black-tailed) or slightly curved upwards (bar-tailed).
On the gravel pools behind, ducks and geese dotted the water. Wigeon, Pochard and Mallards were joined by Goldeneye, groups of males approaching females and displaying in their own spectacular way.
Large vocal flocks of Greylag Geese mingled a few yards in from shore, groups circling the skies.
An enjoyable day despite the unfortunate timing of the tide, an opportunity missed that ensures that I will be returning again soon.
Day list: Goldeneye, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Grey Plover, Pochard, Wigeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Greylag Geese