With my year list languishing down in the near pathetic, I bit the financial bullet and fuelled the car up for a trip to Cley in Norfolk. On paper, the plan was sensible as Cley Marshes usually produces a good number of birds to fatten any weedy year list. With a blustery north-ish wind, my hopes of a bag full of seabirds was high, as well as a previous day list of sightings including red-backed shrike, wryneck and Balearic shearwater to whet the appetite.
My routine is always the same at Cley. Park at the East Bank and do an anti-clockwise sweep around the reserve. The strong winds prevented any bearded tits showing but their presence was noted by the ting-ting calls coming somewhere deep in the vast reedbeds that swayed heavily in the gusts.
In the pools, east of the East Bank, around 20 spoonbills were feeding. Cley regularly attracts these amazing waders with a small colony recently becoming established a few miles up the coast. At the end of the track, a little egret showed well and even allowed me to take a few shots. Usually these blighters are a bit flighty but this one clearly couldn’t be asked to piss me off.
At this point, the huge wall of shingle rises up in front of you and beyond that, the sea could be heard crashing down on the pebbled beach. Now for all these great seabirds I thought. Er, not quite. Two hours of scanning the sea produced very little apart from a steady stream of common and sandwich terns, a few gannets and the odd common scoter. (This is a sea duck and not a moped by the way.)
|Walking over this is better than any gym workout (and it’s free)|
Some lucky bugger did spy a Yelkouan shearwater that was a poke in the eye for me. Anyhow, a couple of yellow wagtails attempted to cross the North Sea and then changed their minds – a bit rough today boys – so that was another one for my list.
Next I popped into the North Hide. From here, my list grew by two with curlew sandpiper and little stint. The West Bank had a greenshank sneaking about and I nearly missed the monkey but another one to the list. More spoonbills from the Daukes Hide or rather the same ones as before but they had moved.
|Rubbish Curlew Sandpiper shot|
Following a rather nasty, battered jumbo sausage and soggy chips, I did the circuit again. Bar-tailed godwit and spotted redshanks were noted and by now, the sea had calmed down to reveal a whole lot of nothing again.
I should have then decided to head for the red-backed shrike at Walsey or the wryneck at Wells but that lunch was doing funny things to me, and for the benefit of other birdwatchers, I opted for home instead. Overall, I had increased my list by 10 and although I was a bit lazy, I was happy to settle for that even if my stomach didn’t.