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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Cley, Warham & Blakeney Point!

Snow Bunting at Coastguards, Cley

I messed up big time this morning. Went to bed far too late last night and crawled into bed without setting my alarms, which was pretty stupid considering I have never seen a Blyth's Pipit before!!! I woke up at 6.30am and crossly got myself ready. Luckily for me, I needn't have bothered anyway as the Blyth's Pipit had been flushed pre dawn I heard later! Unlucky for the 20+ birders that had trudged out across the marsh at Stiffkey to see it though!

I started off at Cley – a good as place as any, plus I just had a feeling that something rare was going to turn up there or Blakeney Point. Messages came up about yesterday's Marsh Sandpiper, which resulted in a large crowd of birders standing east of Coastguards hoping for a glimpse of this bird, but several birders had said they had only seen a Greenshank. Best bird on offer was the most confiding Snow Bunting EVER which was only feeding yards away from birders, on the shingle just west of the pill box. I spent quite a bit of time at Walsey Hills, which produced a Yellow-browed Warbler calling in the bottom willows, but I didn't see it. Having heard that Gramborough Hill had already been blitzed, I re-located to Warham Greens to walk Garden Drove.
Snow Bunting at Coastguards, Cley

The concrete pad is getting increasingly more difficult to park on with round straw bales dumped on the verge where people normally park – strong hints that 'they' don't want anyone parking here at all! Bumped into Kayn F. along the track, who told me there was an elusive YBW at the end of the track – we discussed the quick sand at East Hills and Kayn said he had gone down knee deep recently! I was thinking about walking out there before this conversation, but with a very high tide this was not a good idea anyway, as the water levels out there would be awful, making the quick sand even more treacherous than normal!
Yellow-browed Warbler at Garden Drove, Warham

I got really lucky with the Yellow-browed Warbler which showed very nicely indeed, in the large sycamore at the eastern end of the copse at the end of the track. I also saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker half way along the track and a Kestrel over the fields. A Basking Shark going east at Cley bleeped up on the pager! Knowing I wouldn't get there in time, I phoned Eddie to alert him. A short while later Eddie phoned me with urgency in his voice..... he had just seen a Leach's Petrel, flying close in at Salthouse, whilst waiting for the Basking Shark (which he didn't see). The Leach's Petrel was flying very slowly west he said. Shot back to my car and attempted to get to Cley quickly.

I almost wheel spinned into the car park at Cley, 10 minutes after the next pager message which said that it had been seen flying west from the East Bank. I must have missed it surely? Ran from my car to join Eddie M., Andy J. and others and unbelievably I hadn't missed it. Eddie couldn't understand why it hadn't flown past yet. We searched and waited – 45 minutes later, my heart sunk. Either it was sitting on the sea or had flown back east. The sea was like a mill pond and a large number of birders were waiting for it, so there is no way any of us missed it, or had we? Will I ever see a Leach's Petrel I wonder?!!! Saw a couple of Red-throated Divers whilst here, along with a few Gannets and good numbers of Brent Geese flying past.

Sat in my car sulking and had a very late lunch. Thoughts ran through my head of James and Ashley finding a mega at dusk and I wanted to be there when they did! So at an insanely late hour – can't remember exactly what time now, I set off for Blakeney Point walking straight along the beach to The Plantation. I had a dog incident with a very rude lady which I can't be bothered to go into now. I decided this was a good place to take my selfie video for the casting agency – the first one I did was rubbish, but the second attempt was not too bad. I chatted briefly with four UEA birders who had seen a Pomarine Skua earlier when at Coastguards, but not much else. Bumped into another birder who said there wasn't any birds at all in the plantation and then a bit later bumped into Rob Holmes who had seen a few Goldcrests, a Song Thrush and a Redwing in the plantation – he also said that he and James had spent a long time trying to re-find the Little Bunting, but didn't see it again. Rob had left James and Ashley searching for birds on Far Point.
Goldcrest at dusk, The Plantation, Blakeney Point

When I finally reached The Plantation, I had a very exciting time. The sycamores were alive with Goldcrests, at least 20 were flicking around in a feeding frenzy before darkness fell – it was magical to watch. There was also at least 3 Chiffchaffs in here. I didn't see Rob's song thrush or redwing though. I kept scanning every movement for something different, that one bird that could be it! But alas, nothing more spectacular. I headed back in the dark. It wasn't funny walking back at all – it was cloudy and there was no moon showing which made it extra dark. I didn't expect to bump into anyone on the way back, but could see two people standing by the sea in the gloom, which a bit later, I realised they were staying at Halfway House, when they made their way hand in hand across the shingle to the house. A bit later on I saw another two people up ahead of me who I think were James and Ashley. I got back to my car at 8.20pm – crazy!



  1. Hello Penny
    I am one half of the two people late on the beach who were staying at Halfway House last weekend. I always check out sightings when we return home to see what we missed! Sorry we didn't shout a hello but we were a bit spooked by
    the utter darkness on Saturday night and totally taken aback by seeing another person on the
    Beautiful snow bunting photos. Our phenomenal sighting was incredible levels of phosphorescence as the tide turned in the marshes that night. We were on the beach trying to see if it was visible in the surf too but no luck. We only saw you!

    1. Hello!!!!! That's incredible, that I saw two people in the darkness at BP and those two people read my blog and have responded!! Thank you so much! I was spooked too, by seeing other people out here at that time. There are only a few crazy people around, I thought I was the only one, which I supposed I was as you were only staying yards from where I saw you! It was extremely dark that night, which did make it rather spooky! Hope you enjoyed your stay at Halfway House – what a fabulous place to be! Thanks for posting!