Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cley Marshes, Norfolk (with Richard Farrow and Mick Colman) Friday 27th May 2016

I was up at 0330 this morning to take Toby for his walk down to the village of Merton, and back, before preparing for a visit to Cley Marshes, where I planned to meet my very good friend Richard Farrow.  Packed and ready to go, I left my home in Watton at about 0400, arriving at Cley at 0450. The outbound journey was foggy for the first twenty miles or so before entering clear conditions.
I was first to arrive at the NWT car park at Cley.  What a lovely sound it was to hear cattle lowing on the marsh, in a couple of hours this would be drowned out by the sound of passing traffic.  Whilst waiting for Richard I did a little exploring of the immediate area and was entertained by a lovely male Whitethroat, he had chosen the topmost part of a Hawthorn to sing from.    Also noted was both Reed and Sedge Warblers singing from the nearby marsh.
Whitethroat (male) at Cley 27/05/16

Richard arrived at about 0530, and after a nice chat we opted to do an anti-clockwise walk around the marshes.  Setting off along the path adjacent to the road we encountered typical species including Sedge Warblers and a single calling Cetti's Warbler.  A pair of Marsh Harriers were seen to perform a food pass, a sure sign of successful breeding.  We decided to visit a hide where we had close views of Avocet, few other waders were seen.  A pair of Shelduck were accompanied by 5 small fluffy young ducklings.  It was whilst in the hide that we were joined by Mick Colman, a friend of Richards.  Mick remained with us for the day, what a lovely man he is.
Walking along East Bank we encountered Reed Warblers which often showed well clinging onto reeds.  Probably the greatest numbers of Sedge Warblers were seen from East Bank with males often performing their conspicuous song-flight.  On the east side of East Bank, a Redshank was accompanied by 3 chicks, the parent bird often calling the young to join her.  She was also seen to brood her young on one occasion.  Lapwing also seen here.  As we continued n north along East Bank a number of Meadow Pipits collected food from the path and nearby grasses and weeds and eventually flew off to feed young birds.  At the north end of East Bank, an interesting observation of a single female Whitethroat in an out-of-breeding habitat, given the distance from breeding habitat, was this lovely Whitethroat a very late migrant brought here by the moderate north-easterly wind?
A check of the dykes and pools alongside East bank produced 2 Pochard (pair), 4 Tufted Duck, Gadwall, and Mallard.
Sedge Warbler at Cley - many singing and displaying birds seen
We now walked west along the northern boundary of the marsh where a single Curlew and a Ringed Plover was noted.  Reaching the hide we had a good views over the North scrape where further Avocets and Redshanks were seen.  Also very close was Meadow Pipits which were dropping down into long grass with food for young.  Whilst overviewing the scrape a single Hobby passed over east to west in a somewhat leisurely flight.
Continuing along the boundary fence we reached the Eye field where 2 superb summer plumaged Golden Plovers dropped in.  Skylarks and Meadow Pipits continued to be seen.
A short break for a bite to eat then we continued south along the West bank.  Once again, Meadow Pipits dominated with birds carrying food for young.  Reed Buntings were seen.  At the southern end of West bank Reed Warblers were seen in a traditional area of reeds near the turret.
The path adjacent to the coast road attracted many House Sparrows to the umbellifer species where I assumed they were collected food for young birds.  Blue Tits and several House Martins were seen here.
Kestrel at Cley 27/05/16

Richard and Mick decided to visit the hides whilst I put my feet up for a while.  They saw a Spoonbill and a couple of Ruff from the hide.  The reeds in this area held a fine, and close singing Reed Bunting, also Reed Warblers sang in tall reeds out of view.  A single Wren entertained by singing for some while on a post by the hide.  Overhead, a gathering of 30+ Swifts were probably attracted to a food source.
We finally arrived back at the NWT car park some 7 hours after setting off and to greet our return was the beautiful male Whitethroat singing from various bushes around his territory where we had left him on the start of our walk at 0530.
Also seen/heard around the car park was Blackbirds, Blackcap, and a fine looking Kestrel hovering overhead.
I will finish this account by thanking my good friend Richard Farrow and Mick Colman for joining me on this fantastic days birding.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely Whitethroat picture... he posed 'bootifully' for you...
    Apart from it being terrible wet here...two days continuous rain and more for today... there is little to say!
    The Hobbies are back this year...I think that they've clocked that the mixed flock of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins passes twice daily... west to east in the morning and back in the afternoon.
    We were treated to what looked like display flight from, presumably, the male... continually rising to a height...quick hover and into a Perigrine-like stoop and back up again...
    as it was doing this behind some trees at the far end of the property, we couldn't see the pull out... I tried for pix, but the light was too poor for anything worthwhile.
    On the Barn Owl front, things look to be proceeding apace...
    the hits on the camera trap are getting more frequent...
    and he is now coming into the barn overnight, some it might be getting a bit full in the box...I hope so as they've had some pretty lean years recently.
    Warblers are few this year... Blackcap pair... ChiffChaffs.... only one or two sightings of Nettlecreepers....and a Melodious heard....
    However, we have at least five...probably six singing Nightingales... including one almost on top of the house who hasn't learnt a decent repertoire yet.... he sounds as though he's playing a war game on a computer...very samey, very repetitive!!
    With this continuous rain, though, I am worried about the health of all the newly fledged juveniles...wrens, blue and great tits and Black Redstarts...just hope they are getting enough food and staying dry enough.
    As for the Kingfisher, I hope they haven't a brood as yet...the millstream and river are in spate, well up and the colour of milky chance of catching any small fish!!