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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Salthouse & Cley – A Spectacular Day!

Catching flies at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

A spectacular day with glorious sunshine and light SE winds – perfect for migrants. My plan was to start at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse and work my way west along the coast. I wasn't planning any long walks today, as my body ached badly from the Blakeney Point walk yesterday!

I arrived in Cley and stopped briefly in Old Woman's Lane to witness 4 Common Buzzards spiralling in the thermals at 9.45am. A hare ran through the field. Chaffinches and also a couple of Swallows were on the telegraph wires along the road. Had a nice birdy catch up with R.M before I continued down the road.
Dunlin and Redshank at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Redshank at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Whinchat at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

I parked up at Beach Road, Salthouse and walked to Gramborough Hill. On arrival I bumped into Carl Chapman and two other birders, who had seen a good selection of birds including 2 Whinchats, a Redstart, the Richard's Pipit, Yellow Wagtails, 9 Common Buzzards, Wheatears etc. There were at least 10+ smart Wheatears in the field alongside the fence, that runs towards Gramborough Hill. I had incredibly close views of one of the very smart Whinchats sitting on the fence wire and luckily got some decent pictures. The Whinchat seemed to have a favoured area, so I sat in the grass and waited patiently – this certainly paid off and got lots more pictures! It felt like a summer's day and felt magical to be here. There was a Dunlin and Redshank in the shallow pool and 2 Avocets also flew over my head. With much searching, I couldn't find the Redstart anywhere (bit like yesterday). There were also several Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Hedge Sparrows and more Wheatears. I climbed to the top of the hill as several birders were turning up to see the Whinchats and Redstart. The scene before me, when I stood by the sandy cliff edge overlooking the sea was something else! There was a huge hirundine movement going on, I can't recall the last time I saw such numbers as I witnessed today! There were simply hundreds of Sand Martins skimming past – I just stood there in wonderment and smiled – it was magical. The Sand Martins were flying past me at eye level, twisting up into the sky, out to sea and back again – this was the highlight of my day. I also spent a long time photographing these beautiful birds. Hopefully I will have one or two decent shots, when I go through the pictures. I sat here soaking up the sun and the scenery for a long time. Nice to bump into Pete from Norwich today and also met several blog readers – nice to meet you all. I eventually tore myself away and walked back to my car for lunch.
Wheatear at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Kestrel over Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Linnet at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.


Sand Martins skimming over Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Went to Walsey Hills NOA and had a lovely surprise – not only was an adult Common Lizard on show at the top of the steps, there were also some very tiny baby lizards sunbathing too – so cute! Willow Warbler singing, Chiffchaff, but little else found. Met Terry, a volunteer who told me he has been volunteering at Walsey Hills every Wednesday for the past four years – which I didn't know!
Common Lizard at Walsey Hills NOA.

Went to Coastguards carpark for a long snooze. I couldn't keep awake any longer! My plan of going west along the coast also failed miserably! I don't know where the day disappeared to, but it seemed to vanish very quickly! Woke myself up and had some tea and a coffee. I decided to return to Gramborough in an attempt to see the Redstart. Also I was too tired to go anywhere else. John F. very kindly gave me an easter present – a chocolate bunny – thanks John! (the only easter present I had, so much appreciated)

Walked to Gramborough Hill again. The Whinchat was still on the fence wire and there were still good numbers of Wheatears in the field. Several other birders here this evening including R.M., M.A.G., Pete S., Julian B. and another local birder Steve. I got a couple of glimpses of the Redstart with Richard and Mark and then later on with Julian and Pete, where I watched and photographed it distantly perched on a fence wire before disappearing (below). The sun had gone in and it was pretty cold now. Walked back to my car and left.
Common Redstart at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

Wheatear at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse this evening.

I drove to a particular spot to listen out for Nightingale singing, but no luck. I was then going to go home as it was getting late, but I decided to go to the Sewage Works Road in Cley, just to see if I could hear Nightingale here. Bumped into Andy J. and a couple of other birders. I am so glad I did, as I had a whole list of birds here: Cuckoo calling, Grasshopper Warbler reeling, Cetti's Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat and a Nightingale all singing! Barn Owl hunting over the meadow and 2 Noctule Bats were seen! I also heard a bird burbling/trilling in two bursts, close to the sewage work gates – I searched very hard to find the owner of the trilling until dark – can someone please check this out in the morning!!! Could be a Bee-eater! Left Cley at 8.45pm! Back to work tomorrow, but the good news is, the weekend will be here soon!

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