East Bank, Cley NWT
It just about killed me to get up this morning after so little sleep, but I really wanted to see this White-spotted Bluethroat in early morning light and attempt to photograph it. The sun would be behind the bird, the best chance of seeing it well and also for photography. It's amazing how quickly you can get to Cley with no cars, lorries or caravans in front of you!
I arrived at the East Bank carpark, Cley at just before 6am, much later than I had hoped to arrive. I got the last place in the tiny carpark. It was a gloriously sunny morning, just perfect. As a photographer I rarely use my tripod, but I had to use it this morning, to get even the hope of a record shot, as this bird was so far out in the reed bed. I initially stacked a 2x and 1.4x converter together, but the view was so crap and grainy, I immedately took the 2x off. So all pictures I took were with the 1.4x Canon converter attached to the 300mm lens. I first saw the White-spotted Bluethroat at 6am and put the news out to RBA, sent a few texts to friends, blogged it and put a message on Birdforum to let other birders know it was still there. I felt very pleased now that I had dragged myself here this morning. I got a few record shots, you can see what it is – best I could get! Had 22 Jays flying out to sea, picked up by a birder/photographer standing next to me. Another birder was telling us all that he had arrived at 4am this morning and seen the bluethroat in the nearest bushes to the path – that's close – like really close! He went on to say that a wood pigeon had then flushed it. The same birder also told us he had had seen a male Red-backed Shrike in a small hawthorn, near the big willow tree west of the East Bank, which he showed me a picture of later back in the carpark, but the bird was not re-located this morning for others to enjoy. It was nice to see Julian B., David N., Keiran, Robert and others here this morning too.
Birders watching the White-spotted Bluethroat on the East Bank, Cley.
The East bank filled up with lots of people including all the regulars. Suddenly I could hear a big commotion of birds and M.A.G (with Eddie next to him) called "Osprey coming' at 8.45am – Wow !!! The excitement of seeing this bird heading towards us was brilliant! It was flying west with the sun behind it with a large entourage of birds mobbing it. I quickly took the converter off the camera and got ready to pan this magnificant bird, that was about to fly over our heads. The Osprey was completely the wrong side of the sun for photography – if it had been coming from the west you would have been talking, potentially cracking pictures from a good number of people. I was disappointed when I looked at my viewfinder afterwards. I can't remember the last time I saw an Osprey this close – it was truly spectacular and to see this in such beautiful light, well it was just magic.
Flying west over East Bank, Cley and later seen at Titchwell.
I left my car where it was and walked along the path to Bishop's Hide NWT briefly. On route I kept a close eye on the swifts which filled the skies, in case there was something more exciting with them! From the hide I saw lots of Avocets and chicks etc and then walked to the NWT Visitor Centre to have a well deserved (well I thought so) hot cheese scone – yummy! It was so hot in the centre that I had to sit outside. I found myself falling asleep at the table, I was now completely exhausted. I sauntered back to the car, passing people hurrying to the see the bluethroat, which shows less and less throughout the middle part of the day 'early bird catches the worm'!!! Removed my coat and layers and dressed more appropriately for the now very hot day. I knew exactly what I was going to do next – a long snooze was required!
Walsey Hills NOA
Bumped into John F. in the carpark, who walked with me to Walsey Hills NOA and we hoped to maybe re-find the RBS. Wall butterflies were showing round the back path. Left John to look for butterflies etc and I walked round the front side of Walsey and settled down for a luxurious snooze. This snooze didn't last long as had a text from M.A.G, who along with John F. had found a Green Hairstreak fluttering about at the extreme top end of Walsey. Went to look at this, took photographs and then returned to my snooze. Oh, just remembered I also got some lovely pictures on the macro setting of a Four-spotted Chaser. I didn't sleep properly, but it did me good to rest. I was here for two hours! The view from here is one of the best in Norfolk, it really is – with the bright yellow gorse flowers on the hill around you and Cley Marshes and the sea beyond it is a spectacular view. Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were fishing in the dyke near to the road. Lots of Swallows and Swifts were zooming past in the bright blue skies. I eventually got up and walked back to my car to have a very late lunch at 3pm! The bluethroat had not shown for several hours, much to the disappointment of many, but whilst sitting in my car a pager message bleeped up that it was showing again. A lady came up to my car window and very kindly told me that the bluethroat was now showing and I explained that I had already seen it at 6am, but thank you. I left to find some birds.
Green Hairstreak, Walsey Hills NOA.
West Track, Warham Greens
At Stiffkey there were policemen on foot walking along the street, a coastguards helicopter overhead and several police cars flying along the road. I found out later they were looking for a missing woman. They were looking for a 'single woman walking alone' - excellent description (not), well I mean that includes me and lots of other women. How are you supposed to assist with that kind of description – I ask you!!!
At the concrete pad I had a nice chat with Geoff and Pat before I set off down the track. Pat and I had a big rant about dogs and we agreed they should all be on a lead in public, for the protection of people, birds and everything else! Pat had seen a Spotted Flycatcher only seconds before I arrived. I spent a long time here, walking along the track, in the copse at the end and very slowly back along the field looking for birds, but only found a male Blackcap in the copse and a few Chaffinches and Hedge Sparrows.
Swifts flying over Walsey Hills NOA.
Skylark singing at Walsey Hills NOA.
Wall Butterfly at Walsey Hills NOA.
Dandelion at Walsey Hills NOA.
Walsey Hills NOA
With lack of other bird news, I decided to concentrate on butterflies. I returned to Walsey Hills NOA with my macro lens (long time since I have bothered to use that) and took photographs of 'Walls' and arty farty pictures of dandelions, but did not see the Green Hairstreak again (too late in the evening). I then spent a long time attempting to photograph low flying Swifts over my head, which didn't help my bad shoulder and wrist (work injury).
I heard from Eddie in the Walsey Hills car park, that the Bluethroat had not been seen this evening, so I parked the car in the NWT carpark and spent the rest of the evening in Bishop's Hide. I should have gone home, but I just didn't want to go home! I love this place, just wish I could afford to live here, keep dreaming Penny – one day, one day!
Magpie, Cley NWT.
Bishops Hide NWT, Cley
On the way to the hide I had fabulous views of a Barn Owl flying past and sitting on a gate post. Also photographed a Magpie flying past me at eye level. I sat alone in the hide and even though the sun was setting directly in front of me the light was absolutely incredible. There was a real hive of activity. The Avocets were silhouetted against orange coloured lit waters in the setting sun – these were my best pictures all day! Avocets can be so unnecessarily aggressive – I know they have to work hard to protect their young, but one particularly avocet deliberately went out of its way to chase all ducks within a 100 yard stretch! There was more bird action here this evening than I have ever seen during the day! Lots of gulls flew in to gather in the far right corner of the pool in the now eery mist developing, making everything look even more beautiful. Sedge Warblers were singing right up to when I left at 9.45pm. I stood on the bridge to watch for Otters (where Eddie last saw one), but was not in luck. I left at 10pm to drive home.
Teal Hide and Dauke's Hide, Cley NWT.
Shelduck at dusk, Cley NWT.
Black-headed Gulls at dusk, Cley NWT.
Avocet Chick, Cley NWT.
Pat's Pool at dusk, Cley NWT