In honour of our miserable British weather here's a post dedicated to the birdwatcher's refuge in times like these - the hide. Usually a little wooden shed with a slit window through which you can point your binoculars of telescope and sit watching the birdlife in the company of like-minded souls.
Some, like the new building at Titchwell, are very grand....
....while others, like the beautiful little Kingfisher Hide at Paxton Pits, are simplicity itself..
Despite its modest proportions it gives good views out over two neighbouring lakes and the narrow stretch of water connecting them and therefore being perfectly placed to reveal any birds flying between the two.
It's often an advantage to be in an elevated position to give a clear view across a wide area like the Jordan Hide at Holkham Freshmarsh (above).
But what could fit into the landscape more perfectly than the hides at Cley with their thatched roofs?
If anyone reading this is a little, shall we say, "shy" about going into hides you really shouldn't be. Just go in very quietly (in case there's anything posing just in front of the hide) and take a seat. You'll see more than you'll ever see just wandering the paths around a reserve and if you listen to the experienced birders you'll learn a lot - including that they get things wrong too!
Nice as it is to take in the scene from the hide it's always been my preference to walk miles and find places to sit out in the open - and if we're talking about the North norfolk coast then it can be very cold if you sit for too long! A rare, if not very beautiful, photo of the author, by the way. There are those however who say that the ideal perch for me is the bench photographed below: