Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Norfolk Holiday Day 3; Part 2-Return to Cley

I got off the bus at Cley visitor center to see what had been seen. It was the same as yesterday, except without my additions of little gull and mealy red poll. I headed up the beach road to the shingle bar so that I could watch the migrants. I stopped off at a bench overlooking a field for lunch, but there was not much going on there, a handful of graylag geese feeding and a few mallards too.
  After lunch I headed up the coast road to see what there was. On the base of the road I heard a bearded reedling from the reeds, but was unable to track it down. There continued to be ample thrushes, all varieties with the exception of ring ouzel, as the wire where I got it yesterday was empty today. The fog had lifted slightly, so I could at least see my hand in front of my face. I also meant I could see into the ponds in the saltmarsh on the not reserve side of the road. In one of the nearest pools I spotted this little egret, fishing seeming unbothered by my presence.

-Little Egret
I continued to wander up the path, and arrived at the sluice gate where yesterday I had black redstart. I was just thinking that, when one flew down and landed on the path in front of me. I got out the scope and was able to get great views of it. It then flew down to the cattle pens, and so I followed it and found another. Today's were much less flighty than yesterdays and so I was able to get great views and photos of them, especially the second bird which was a very photogenic bird. I followed it for a bit, finally getting some great photos of these really lovely birds.

-Black Redstart 
I sadly lost the black redstart into the field next to the pen, where there were again plenty of thrushes, including more redwings and fieldfares. You got smashing views of them, as the incredible landfall continued.

I reached the car park and met the birder that gave me directions to the bluetail earlier. he was part of a group who were watching maybe 4 black redstarts on the car park fence. They were not as easy to see as the others at the sluice gate, but still cracking birds.
  We started  chatting about twitching, and how different bird watching on the coast was to bird watching inland. While we were chatting, he pointed out a thrush and said that it was a ring ouzel. I mentioned that I had only had my first ring ouzel yesterday and he said that he had never seen a passage like it for ouzel.

-Black Redstarts 
I moved on, around the car park to a shrubby area where there were some goldcrests feeding. A guy told me that there was a yellow-browed warbler in among st them, so I spent around an hour looking for that. While I waited, a flock of maybe 100 brambling landed in the field behind the shrubby patch. They were difficult to make out when landed, but when they flew off you got to really appreciate the numbers.

While we waited the fog lifted and the sun actually came out. I was able to see out to sea and look upon blue sky, for the first time this holiday. It did mean though that when a flock of brent geese flew over I was able to get some photos of them, sort of flying in formation, but it was difficult with only five geese.

-Brent Geese
you could still see the fog inland, and as I looked across the field, I noticed a huge number of Golden plover that had been resting on the ridge, but just looked like tufts of grass. There were probably about 150, but it was the first group I had seen this holiday, so I was pretty impressed.

-Golden Plover
Brent geese continued to fly overhead. This time there were some bigger skeins, though they were still not huge numbers. It is likely that the fog was holding large numbers up in other areas of the country

-Brent Geese
Then the yellow Browed Warbler chase got more exciting as a small warbler appeared on the fence on the other side of the pool. A few of us began to watch it, but nobody got a clear view. The guy who had seen it originally managed to get a handful of photos. The guy he was speaking to had a look, and his verdict was that it was in fact a chiff-chaff. I had a look at the photos too, after the bird had gone...It was almost certainly a Chiff Chaff.
  I set of along the shingle bar to try and get some more migrants. I managed to find plenty more robins, a species seemingly not in short supply this passage. There were also a few brambling  I saw their white rumps disappear ahead of me. There was however, much less than yesterday, perhaps testament to the fact that the fog had lifted slightly.
  There were very few birds on the pools over the shingle. The Water pipit that had been reported earlier seemed to have disappeared. I did however watch as a brown bird landed next to one of the pools. Immediately my hopes raised that it may be an obscure wader, or some other obscure bird. However, when it came to it, it was a skylark, which was lovely to see, especially since they had been singing all day for some bizarre reason.

I had descended from the path to try and get a good view of the skylark, and on my way back up I noticed something moving above it on the shingle ridge. It took me a few moments to work out what was going on, but when I got it it was a stoat carrying a vole off to its lair, so I rushed for the camera. sadly, the only photos worth putting up were those from the when the animal had stopped moving, so I didn't have to move the camera to catch up with it.

The rest of the walk along the shingle passed with only ample robins to report, though at the turn off down to the road I had brambling and chaffinch, which were nice birds to see. Walking down the path to the road I spotted an obscure bird flying towards me. Only when it flew overhead did I realise that I had just seen the resident sacred ibis which was apparently about. It was curious to see, and weather or not it counts on my list of species or not. either way, I only managed one quick photo of it.

-Sacred Ibis
I made it to the bus stop for half four, but decided not to catch that bus, even though it drove past me as I decided two seconds before not to catch it. I decided instead that time could be better spent birding, so I headed towards the hides to try and boost my species list for the day with some wildfowl and waders. I settled down in the middle hide and waited to see what would appear. The first bird to catch my attention away from the gulls and ducks was a chiff-chaff that settled just in front of the hide happily hunting for insects and other things.

-Chiff Chaff
It was while I was watching the chiff chaff that I noticed a hare appear on the grass ridge in front of me, which sat rather obligingly all things considered, but only for a few shots, as the camera click seemed to disturb it, as it had done rather too many things in its time.

-Brown Hare
Out on "Pat's Pool" I began to check the edges of the mud through the scope. This way I managed to find the ruff from yesterday (or probably the same one). Its a long way away from the hide for my camera so I was difficult to get a photo. It was however much better than yesterdays effort since there was less fog today. Other unusual birds on the pool included a lone avocet near the back and a lone pochard near the front.

It was approaching 5 o'clock, and the birds were starting to settle down and disappear. I was watching "Simmond's Scrape" casually, killing time really as I had seen pretty much everything that was still around, when a cream colored bird began to appear over the reeds at the back. Lines to remember; "that's a scruffy little egret!". It took me a moment to realise that I was actually looking at a barn own, and immediately reached for the camera to take some record shots of only my second ever Barn Owl. I was able to watch it hunt and fly loopingly over the reeds through the camera.
  Perhaps it was the fact I was not expecting it, or perhaps it was the fact I was the one that had seen it, I felt more amazed at seeing this barn owl than the Bluetail this morning. I felt a sense of pride at being able to watch this unusual bird that had just appeared in front of me.

-Barn Owl
So it was another exceptionally rewarding day, especially with smashing views of Black Redstarts, a Barn Owl and of course the Blue tail. Here comes today's species list anyway:
Stiffkey Woods: -Red-Flanked Bluetail, -Long-Tailed Tit, -Goldcrest, -Fieldfare, -Redshank, -Little Egret, -Great Tit, -Blue Tit, -Robin, -Blackbird, -Song Thrush
Cley Marshes NWT: -Black Redstart (7), -Brent Geese, -Ring Ouzel, -Golden Plover, -Sacred Ibis (escape), -Goldcrest, -Little Egret, -Gannet, -Skylark, -Chaffinch, -Brambling, -Goldfinch, -Blackbird, -Song Thrush, -Mistle Thrush, -Redwing, -Fieldfare, -Cormorant, -Starling, -Avocet, -Herring Gull, -Lesser Black-Backed Gull, -Greater Black Backed Gull, -Black-Headed Gull, -Common Gull, -Mute Swan, -Shoveler, -Teal, -Wigeon, -Shelduck, -Mallard, -Graylag Goose, -Coot, -Moorhen, -Lapwing, -Ruff, -Redshank, -Curlew, -Marsh Harrier, -Black-Tailed Godwit, -Pochard, -Willow Warbler, -Chiff Chaff, -Pied Wagtail, -Blue Tit, -Great Tit, -Dunnock, -Woodpigeon, -Robin, -Barn Owl, -Pheasant,

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