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Saturday, 3 December 2011


1 Western Sandpiper, 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Green-winged Teal, 40 Barnacle Geese and a Ginger & Pear Cake slice for me!!!

Wow – What a Day!!!


There was an unusual amount of traffic on the road this morning as I made my way to Cley in the dark - arrived in the NWT carpark just after 8am. Good to see someone checking membership cards! I could have parked on the 'triangle' at the bottom of 'Old Woman's Lane' but changed my mind after phoning Eddie, who saw the bird fly from Dauke's Hide towards Bishop's Hide. Also the sun was about to come out, so Bishop's Hide most definately looked the best bet as the sun would be behind the bird. Power walked to Bishop's Hide and Eddie walked in the hide with G. Etherington shortly after me. Annoyingly the Western Sandpiper had flown back to 'Simmond's Scrape' - typical! As I sat in the hide I could see loads of birders in 'Teal', 'Dauke's' and 'Avocet' hide with scopes and bins all looking in the same direction, almost jostling for space - this scene reminded me of Steve Gantlett's picture (might have been Sue's actually?) of the all the birders packed into the hides like sardines in a can, when watching the Great Snipe in May this year!!! The Western Sandpiper was most definately somewhere on 'Simmond's Scrape', but I couldn't see it from Bishop's! A Water Rail was seen fairly close to the hide and also a Sparrowhawk flew across. Quite a few Avocets, loads of Golden Plover, a pair of Pintail, teal, wigeon etc. I stubbornly stayed in the hide, hoping the Western Sandpiper would return as there were only a few people here - I just didn't fancy being jam packed into a hide. But as time went on and Connor kindly informed me a couple of times, that it was still showing from Dauke's, I gave in and power walked round to Dauke's hide with Eddie! Had fabulous views through Eddie's scope of my first WESTERN SANDPIPER at 9.30am!!! Not long after this, the bird was flushed with dunlin by a marsh harrier and flew off to the other side of 'Teal Hide' on 'Pat's Pool'! It was rubbish for photography - I only ever saw the bird distantly - well, cracking views through the scope, but a smudgy dot through my 300mm lens and there was no point in even bothering putting the teleconverter on at that distance. Went back to 'Bishop's Hide' again and had fabulous views of the Green-winged Teal in the sunshine! Eddie left before me for his VC cup of tea! I waited for a while longer in case the sandpiper appeared - it didn't! A Cetti's Warbler burst into a few melodious notes as I left the hide and walked back along the path to the visitor centre. It was nice and warm in the visitor centre. I ate my cheese scone alone - it was scrumptious!

One of the most boring lunches ever - a cheese and cranberry roll and cup of semi hot soup standing outside my car.

Cley Coastguards
Not too bad a seawatch really - the best bird being a juv. Sandwich Tern which I photographed flying west, as I stood at the water's edge photographing a juv. gannet on the sea and a guillemot! Other birds seen: A Shag on the sea, 1 Little Gull going west, a few Goldeneyes flying west, a couple of Red-throated Divers, several Gannets, a few Guillemots and auk sp's, and several flocks of Common Scoter. Note: the Sandwich Tern was seen by several people over the course of the day.

Sandwich Tern, Coastguards, Cley.

Dauke's Hide NWT

Spent the rest of the afternoon here, in hope that I might actually got a half decent photo of the Western Sandpiper - no chance!!! Watched the Western Sandpiper on and off up to 3.45pm – it was nearly always distant, feeding along with dunlin. It tended to feed in a hurried manner and nearly always with beak down, probing for food as it moved. It moved around in a scampering fashion in half circles and was quite flighty at times. It was easy to pick out, as much smaller than the dunlins. It was quite fiesty too - almost butting a dunlin out of the way when it barged in too close! It tended to favour the far left hand corner of 'Simmond's Scrape'. I managed a very poor record shot only. A Merlin appeared on the island in front of 'North Hide' which looked beautiful in the orangy glow, as the sun started to set at 3.30pm. A Water Rail was seen and heard right in front of the hide along with all the usual waders on the scrape: teal, wigeon, shelduck, avocets, godwits, black headed gulls, huge numbers of golden plover etc etc. A fantastic surprise of 40 Barnacle Geese flew over 'Pat's Pool' and landed on 'North Scrape' at dusk!!! Fantastic end to the day. Stopped at the Picnic Fayre in Cley and bought a scrummy piece of Ginger and Pear Cake! Consumed lots of healthy food today!!!!!

Bought vege burger and chips from my favourite Holt fish 'n' chip shop, drove home and ate them watching the X-Factor Semi Final.

Note: Some of the best pictures I have seen so far of the Western Sandpiper are here


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