It's been very difficult to even leave my house of late, but I managed to escape today. I headed to Cley to collect a very kind present that had been left for me at the Cley NWT Visitor Centre – it had been there since before Christmas, but because of family stuff going on, I have not been able to collect it. I have not been to Cley for a very long time. Huge thank you to a lovely birder who left me such a lovely present. Also saw John Furse who also gave me a very kind belated (my fault) Christmas present - thank you!
I had my lunch in the visitor centre and whilst queueing to order, I suddenly realised that Julian and Sarah Bhalerao with children and friends were sitting by the window overlooking the marshes! I couldn't believe it! Sarah said it was Julian's first time out since his hospital admission last May. It was so lovely to see them and Julian looked really well I thought. Obviously he has been and remains hugely affected by what has happened, especially physically, but he looked really good – seeing them all out together, really lifted my spirits. I treated him to a piece of scrumptious orange and chocolate cake to take home, but I noticed he tucked into it straight away! Shortly after this (unbeknown to me) a piece of cake with a candle was bought out and everyone sang Happy Birthday (big birthday tomorrow)! I don't know if he managed to down this piece of cake too, as I left a few moments after that!
My first proper birding for ages! Parked by the East Bank and only needed to walk a couple of hundred yards to see the Siberian Chiffchaff, feeding amongst the reed debris from the recent storm surge, along with a Chiffchaff and a Robin and very obliging it was too. I used my SLR camera for the first time in what seemed like months and either I'm out of practice or it was because the light was poor, but I didn't obtain any pleasing or sharp enough shots – I'll put it down to poor light! There was a nice little social gathering here, including John F., the UEA crew and a very nice couple who annoyingly I can't remember their names right now, sorry! I also saw the Smew on The Serpentine, which was nice. It was cold and raining now and the light was rubbish. Everyone departed and I headed off to Coastguards to see the state of the car park after the storm surge.
The 'beach hotel' as its called (the shelter where birders seawatch from) was filled with shingle to half the height and even I couldn't see the sea when I stood in the favoured east section! Someone 6ft wouldn't see a thing, well they would...... shingle! Huge number of Brent Geese by the Eye Puddle along with a few Wigeon.
At Blakeney Harbour there was a good number of approximately 60+ Pied Wagtails gathering to roost, but no sign of the Glaucous Gull or Smew reported on the pager earlier. Stopped at Stiffkey Campsite car park to look for Hen Harriers, but it was too dark, but did bump into Eddie! Had a brief catch up with birds we had seen today and then I headed home via Holkham/Burnham Market.