Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
I got lots of jobs done this morning, had early lunch and then headed east. I picked up some shopping for my parents on route and then continued to CleySpy at Glandford. Treated the car and paid for it to be washed on the way. I had shopping requests from Mother – a sack of bird seed which cost £12.99 and to buy an Olight Torch. I purchased an 'Olight i1 EOS SS Key Chain Torch' from CleySpy quite a while ago now – at only 65mm long, its attached to my car keys and yes it did cost serious dosh, but at full beam, its like a car headlight and the best torch I've ever had. Mother was fed up with her rubbish cheap torches and wanted the same one. On arrival at CleySpy I discovered they are now unable to get hold of any more of these torches (shipping/manufacturing issues or something) and only had a handful left in the shop, three miniature ones, which were smaller than mine and one which was larger and even more powerful than mine – so at a bargain price I purchased this one for Mother.
I also asked advice on behalf of a work colleague, who isn't a birder, but wants to purchase a pair of binoculars for a wildlife holiday that she and her husband are going on this year – maximum spend of £100. I was shown a pair of Minox BF 8x42 binoculars at £99.00 (normally £200). For the money, these are extremely good bins and I was pleasantly surprised when I looked through them! Bargain! They weren't especially pretty to look at and were fairly heavy for their size, but looked robust and well made. Fully Waterproof and with a 5 year guarantee, makes them the cheapest and best binoculars I've seen!!! At that price, I'm sure the stock will disappear quickly. Get yourself to CleySpy now for a bargain!
I was also drawn to a very funky pair of Leica bins in 'Apple Green' – they would so match my new car!!! Oh to be rich! For those of you that are, they are also available in 'Cherry Pink'.
As I drove through Cley, I noticed how much the fields had flooded with all the recent rain and the gulls were loving it! Headed for Beach Road at Salthouse. It was so nice to be here with only a handful of cars and people. The coffee man was here with his van, Julian I think his name is. I chatted briefly with a nice lady who reads my blog, before I walked to Gramborough Hill through the flooded paths and shingle – I didn't expect to see anything really, but had a wonderful surprise of a stunning pair of Stonechats on the fence line by the first bramble and got some half decent pictures too. Not another soul here, lovely! Walked to the top of the hill and could see a large number of Common Scoter on the sea. A couple of Little Egrets were on the marsh, along with a Pied Wagtail and a Redshank with a Black-headed Gull, were feeding around the muddy edges of the tidal pool. Later, back at the coffee van, Rob Holmes was talking to Julian – we had a brief chat. He was telling me about his New Year's Eve, which sounded a whole load better than mine,with Northern Lights seen from Cley Beach, along with a tipple or too!!!
I nipped into Cley Visitor Centre NWT and purchased the new Eastern Daily Press WILD & WONDERFUL NORFOLK 1926-2016 Celebrating 90 Years – Norfolk Wildlife Trust book which is £5.95, but only £3.50 for NWT members. The front cover is perfect, quite stunning – a perfect layout and composition – I don't think I've ever said that about any front cover! Having been in the print industry for most of my life, I am extremely pedantic! However, inside the book there are a few pictures that are not particularly exciting or sharp! Also some of the landscape scenes have been portrayed at a massive size on the page, which does seem rather a waste of space! David Tipling has some top draw shots (all sharp I may add!) which adds quality to the publication. There are some fabulous aerial shots from Mike Page and also a good number of quality photographs from other photographers. I would have liked to have seen more bird pictures, maybe some of the rarities that Cley and other reserves have been famed for, which there would have been room for, if some of the large scale landscapes had been sized down. There is an interesting history section at the beginning, including pictures of the founder, past and present warden, also Richard Richardson is standing amongst the 'Cley Bird Observatory Committee', on what looks like the East Bank, also Prince Charles, The Queen, Dick Bagnall-Oakley and Sir David Attenborough feature, amongst others.
Further along in the book, a writer talks about his childhood memories at Holme Dunes reserve and writes '.......As the Firs drew closer, we'd check for a kestrel perched on the telegraph wires.......' I and many others used to scan the telegraph wires for many birds, including shrikes that used to perch on them, swallows, martins, bee-eaters etc etc. Sadly those wires are there no more and its not the same without them. He goes on to say 'We'd run through the thyme-scented dunes....' I don't remember thyme ever growing in the dunes and neither does Mother when I asked her later! He also writes 'I cherish the isolation of Holme and it is still easy today to find both solitude and an intimacy with nature.' I agree with that statement in mid-winter, when its either raining or extremely cold with no sun, but with the sun out in the winter months and most certainly in the Spring, Summer and Autumn, it definitely isn't a place for solitude anymore, far too many loose dogs flying around and far too many people who are not naturalists and don't respect the countryside, which is why I don't visit my beloved Holme anywhere near as much as I used to. Overall its a very nice publication and an interesting read.
I couldn't resist visiting Cley Deli and buying some pear & ginger cake – it would have been wrong not to! I havn't been to the deli since last summer – as soon as I walked to the counter, the lady serving smiled and said 'pear & ginger cake?'!!! I also bought a piece of coffee cake for Father. Cruised along the coast road to Holme. I was surprised that I didn't encounter any barn owls on route, I normally do. I then spent the evening with my parents.
Discussed the above book with Mother – she was trying to ID some of the birders in the old history pictures. Mother was very pleased with her new torch. I also gave her my photo calendar, which I put together last night. Father was in an emotional state and I spent some time talking to him and just simply holding his hand. Its so difficult to make him feel happy, when he can't see or do anything. Helped Father to eat some coffee cake, but he preferred the pear & ginger cake – he only managed a couple of mouthfuls of cake and then had his usual banana and cup of coffee.
A very good friend and lady I used to lodge with in Lavenham (many, many years ago) kindly sent me a photograph today, of a plate in an old book produced by the EDP, of the opening of Holme Bird Observatory in 1969! The picture shows my Father in his tweed jacket with blue warden badge and swept back hair! Next to him in the foreground is Dick Bagnall-Oakeley and in the background I'm sure I can see a back view of Audrey Eccleshall. I'm pretty sure Bill Oddie was at this opening too. I was 4 years old – I do remember being there, but the memory of any detail has faded completely!
Back at home in King's Lynn, I watched the last half an hour of the new series of 'The Voice.' Work tomorrow all day. I noticed on the NARVOS links this evening, that a Great Grey Shrike has been seen near Hilborough on 4th January – no further details about exact location though – maybe its still around!
PICTURES TO BE ADDED