That day was boiling sunshine and the issue was the mist rising from the pools it was so hot. Today the issue was the fog not allowing you to see more than 100 meters. However, there were some advantages to this, as the fog was keeping migrating birds pinned down in Norfolk. The first night I had stayed in Norfolk there had been the most incredible landfall of migrating birds. So when I arrived at Cley that morning I was immediately surrounded by Fieldfares, Redwings and Song Thrushes. Even driving there, birds were being flushed from almost every roadside hedgerow.
I made my way to the main hides, and in the fields alongside the path there were hundreds of thrushes all over the place.
Walking to the hide there was not much besides the thrushes, though I spotted a large group of wigeon feeding on one of the fields next to the path. In the hide, the extent of the fog really became apparent when I couldn't see to the other side of the pools. Even the area in front of the hide was very clouded. Even so, I could tell through the scope what the wildfowl there was, as well as Black-Tailed Godwits. The main birds were shoveler, mallard, wigeon and teal, the most regular of the winter wildfowl.
As I waited in the hide, a Lone marsh harrier flew across the pond. If it had been any further back then I would have probably missed it, obscured by the fog.
My mum and dad then joined me in the Hide after they had a coffee in the visitor center. They said that just outside the hide there were a pair of goldcrests outside the hide. I went outside to have a look, and indeed there were two goldcrests. As I watched them they began to come closer, until they were less than 1 meter away. They were clearly exhausted by their trek over the north sea, and couldn't care less that I was there.
Being outside the hide I spotted more thrushes, including more redwings and fieldfares.
Back in the hide I continued scanning, but this time I began to scan edges and islands, where I would hopefully find some waders. There were quite a few waders once you got your eye in. Black-Tailed Godwits were certainly the most prominent, but there were also three dunlin, a couple of snipe and a ruff, which was certainly the pick of the bunch. Sadly when it came to taking a photo it didn't work due to the fog, but it did encompass most of the birds. Also, one other birder in the hide was also watching the dunlin and he was going on about how small it was and he thought it was a little stint. Its like, mate, why are you trying to make this bird something its not, its obviously a dunlin. Why do birders seem to want to try and upgrade birds into something that they are not.
-L to R: Black-Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Snipe, Ruff
My mum and dad left at this point and they were taking my brother to a tank museum up the road. Just after they left a snipe flew in front of the hide and landed in front of the other hide to the right. I wandered into that hide and found plenty more birders here. There was indeed a snipe sat on the bank directly in front of the hide, so I settled down to take some photos.
The snipe was then joined by a lapwing, which had been resting on the main island and came over to chase away a redshank. The bar was also well endowed with redwing that had just flown in.
My dad had given me a leaflet map of the reserve, saying that there was supposed to be a ring ouzel and black redstart up by Cley Eye area, near the beach. So once I finished at the hides I headed up the beach path to see what I could find up at Cley eye On the way up there continued to be hundreds of thrushes, mainly redwing, fieldfare and song thrush, but there were also a handful of mistle thrush. Walking up on the West Bank. The telegraph wires alongside the west bank had good numbers of birds on them, mainly starlings, but there was one obscure thrush. I had the scope with me so set it up to have a look at this bird. Through the scope I saw the white chest mark and immediately knew that I had my first ever ring ouzel right in front of me.
I got a few photos from where I was and then tried to get a bit closer. That did not work as the bird then moved into a field on the opposite side if the beach road. I climbed down the bank and crossed the beach road to see if I could find it in the field. I couldn't, but there continued to be loads of other thrushes.
After failing to re-find the Ouzel I climbed back up the bank so that I had a view over the saltmarsh and the reserve. There was a white shape i the fog, and since there are spoonbills around I decided to take a moment to have a look. It was a little egret, huddled up in the saltmarsh.
just up from the little egret there was a new sluice gate that regulates the water in the reserve. I had a look over the tidal side to see if there was anything about. There was a cormorant fishing quite close to the gate, so I watched it for a bit, but it spotted me and began to move up the river.
I moved back over to the other side of the sluice gate to see what was on that side. there was nothing on the sluice gate, but net to the gate was a cattle pen of some description. Around this I spotted a warbler of some description, which after some intense watching turned out to be a chiff chaff.
Just up from the cattle pen was a gate into the field before the beach. It was on this gate that I spotted my first, of what would be many this holiday, Black Redstart. I followed this lovely bird back to the cattle pen as it began hunting insects. It was a smashing bird to see and another unusual migrant that had blown in with the thrushes.
There were other birds in the pen, Blackbird and a stunning male blackcap
Up at the beach car park I found some birders who were watching another black redstart on the fence. I did not get good views of this bird, and it quickly left and flew to the other side of the car park.
I saw my mum and dad again, and I mentioned to them that I had seen Black Redstart and the Ouzel. As I was chatting to them my dad pointed out a gull that was flying unusually above us. I reached for the camera and grabbed a few quick photos before it dissapeared into the fog. Looking at the photo I thought that the bird must have been a little gull, but I had to ask a couple of other birders around to clarify it for me before I got home to have a look in the book. Its only my second ever little gull, which is exciting.
I then set off along the shingle bar. Just before the North Hide I was told that there were bramblings associated with a goldfinch flock. I spent around 15mins inspecting the goldfinch flock for brambling, but did eventually find one, only my second ever, which was nice. There supposed to be good numbers around so I was hopeful that I would find some more that were easier to photograph.
I headed into the North Hide, to see what was about in there. You could barely see the water it was so foggy, but you could see the thrushes in the bushes near the hide, and among the thrushes were a number of Ring Ouzels. One flew right over the hide and I got smashing views of its white chest.
Everyone went out the back of the hide to watch the ouzels round the back of the hide, but they began to drift away into the fog after a bit, drifting onto the shingle bar. After I had finished at the North hide I wandered up the shingle bar. There was an incredible number of migrants, Mainly robins, but thrushes too. There were also the one or two other odd species, such as this Chiff chaff.
At the top of the East Bank there were more migrants, but also three little egrets on the pond at the top of the Bank.
I headed continued up the shingle rather than going for the bus, due to the fact that there was still plenty of time worth birding with. Along the bar there were robins, thrushes, Ring Ouzels in the distance. But the highlights were without doubt the goldcrests. They were so tame, you could easily touch them. It was sad to see these lovely birds in such a state, completely exhausted by their exploits. At one point, I opened up the tripod of the scope and a goldcrest came and landed on it, right in front of me as I was looking through it at some ring ouzels. They were so beautiful, but it was rather tragic.
The goldcrests were the highlights, but the most unusual bird, especially for me, were the good numbers of bramblings that were on the shingle. There were good numbers associated with chaffinches, easily identified by their white rumps. They took some tracking down, though, as once they landed they were very difficult to find. When I did eventually re-find them, they often scarpered pretty sharpish. However, on one occasion I managed to find them on the floor, so I managed to get some record shots of these lovely birds.
I realised that I would have to turn back in order to get the bus. On the way back I found a more unusual bird among the ranks of migrants, a redpoll. Its only the second time that I have ever seen a redpoll, and to have found it myself was one of the best bits of finding this bird. I asked the guy in the shop later when I mentioned it, to see if it was worth reporting, and he said that it was a Lesser redpoll, which is the commoner species. Either way, its a great bird and I was very excited to have found it.
I headed back down the East Bank to the road and to get back to the road, and on the way down I spotted this curlew where the little egrets had been earlier.
There was a sluice half way down the East Bank, and it was here that I found my fourth black redstart of the day. It was looking very lovely on the fence there, and allowed me to get my best shots of the day. The black redstarts were defiantly the best birds of the day.
It was in that moment that I decided not to get this bus and to get a later bus. So I headed back up to the shingle. to see what was about. I stumbled across this chiff chaff in the shrubbery. The chiff chaffs were not as tame as the goldcrests, and they were much harder to get photos of.
The next hour passed with more of the same, but less of it really due to time passing by and the fact that many birds had probably found somewhere to roost for the moment.
However, just as I was headed down the East Bank I spotted some more bramblings that seem less bothered by me. I managed to get some better photos, but they were still flighty even though they were bolder than the earlier group.
The only other bird I saw was a lovely male blackcap in the hedge that runs alongside the East Bank. I got a smashing view as it checked me out before deciding I was bad news and that it should leave.
In the end I had to run for the bus, not easy with this amount of equipment, but still made it. So this smashing first full day did not have a bad ending.
Heres today's species list:
Cley Marshes NWT: Lapwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Mallard, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Wigeon, Shelduck, Teal, Black-Tailed Godwit, Graylag Goose, Shoveler, Redwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Marsh Harrier, Goldcrest, Curlew, Common Snipe, Ruff, Knot, Skylark, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Blue Tit, Black-Headed Gull, Knot, Ringed Plover, Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Little Egret, Little Gull, Common Gull, Goldfinch, Brambling, Turnstone, Mealy Redpoll, Blackcap, Kestrel, Starling, Rock Pipits, Dunnock, Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler, Mute Swan.