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Saturday, 27 May 2017

A 'Little' Surprise! Titchwell RSPB & Cley NWT!

High Tide at Titchwell RSPB

I was up before 5am this morning, which is very early for me! I wanted to avoid the heat of the day and the queues of bank holiday traffic. I had a wonderful surprise on route! By the Knights Hill Hotel roundabout in King's Lynn, I spotted a small dumpy bird sitting on the low fence that runs around the Farm Shop grounds. I slowed down and reversed back to check it out and to my delight discovered it was a gorgeous Little Owl, perched on the fence sunning himself at 6am! Naturally my camera was in the boot! I would have got a cracking picture if the camera had been sitting on the passenger seat. Totally unexpected and a brilliant start to the day. There were also Red-legged and Grey Partridges in the field.

Headed to Titchwell RSPB via Ringstead and arrived in the car park at 6.30am. Choice of parking spaces and warm but not too hot, fabulous! I really must get up earlier more often. Turtle Dove purring in the corner of the car park and Robins were very active. A Jay was balancing on the nut feeder! I had just started walking along the Fen Trail, when Trevor G. joined me and we teamed up to see what we could find. The Turtle Dove flew up from the concrete by the gate near the entrance to the East Trail and quickly disappeared – no hope of any pictures. Mute Swans and 6 cygnets on Patsy's Pool, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Marsh Harrier over the reed beds. Cuckoo, Blackcap and Cetti's Warbler singing and several Long-tailed Tits seen. I thought I heard the burbling call of a Bee-eater, but dismissed it. A Four-Spotted Chaser was also seen and a unusually dull Painted Lady appeared by the far pool. Back on the Fen Trail we found a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Walked along the main path for high tide, which was 8.10am. It was so beautiful here and the sea was almost lapping up to the dunes (what is left of them!). Two other birders were already here with their scopes. Birds seen on the sea: Common Scoters x 7, Gannets x 2, Ringed Plovers x 3, Sanderlings x 19, Turnstones x 6, Little Tern, Common Tern, Common Buzzard, Fulmar  west, Swallows x 2 flying low east over the sea. News came on the pager of a Bee-eater flying east over the East Bank at Cley NWT – somebody was lucky this morning, as was someone else a little later at Sheringham Bird Observatory. We returned along the main path and watched Red-crested Pochards x 3, Little Terns x 2, Little Ringed Plovers x 2, Med. Gulls x 2, a Reed Bunting singing in an elder and a Red Kite soaring west at 9.15am. Trevor headed back along the Meadow Trail and I continued along the main path. Moments later he shouted 'Spot Fly' and I re-traced my steps to join him and saw a lovely Spotted Flycatcher at 9.25am. We sat on the seat in the shade (now, very hot) by the door to the shop overlooking the feeders and watched several Greenfinches. I left Trevor here and headed back to my car. It was 10am when I left.

Went to visit my mother, but she wasn't there! I have a key, so let myself in – as I opened the door, the cat shot out. I presumed that mother must have gone on the bus to Hunstanton, so headed that way to see where she was. As expected, Hunstanton was packed out with tourists in shorts with buckets, spades, children and dogs. Did a couple of errands and then went back to Holme to find that mother had returned home. The skies darkened very quickly and there was a mini thunderstorm for around an hour and then the sun and blue skies re-appeared. I made a big salad for us both and then decided I needed a siesta! I must have gone to sleep properly as when I looked at my watch it was 1.15pm. We had our lunch and I then discovered a pager message that had come up a long time ago, whilst I had been snoozing: GREAT REED WARBLER in reeds, half way along the East Bank at Cley NWT! Tried to persuade mother to come out with me, but failed. I headed east to Cley.
The Serpentine, East Bank, Cley NWT

As I drove through Holkham, I could see that not only was Lady Ann's Drive packed out with cars, the field east of the drive was also packed out – I have never seen it like that before! I popped into CleySpy briefly and then headed to the East Bank car park at Cley. There had been no further messages or sightings of the Great Reed Warbler and with the blustery winds, the chances of seeing or hearing this were slim. Bumped into Jim Lawrence here. Very hot along the East Bank, but wonderful to sit in the hide opposite Arnold's Marsh in the shade. I stayed here for a long time, reluctant to return to the heat! Nice selection of birds here including Ringed Plovers, several Dunlin, a Greenshank, Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot x 4, Little Tern, Sandwich and Common Terns, Grey Plovers x 2, Lapwings, Greylags with young, Canada Geese, Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Swifts, Sand Martins, Swallows etc. Eddie turned up to join several of us in the hide and eventually I left the shade and headed back along the East Bank. There was a Sedge Warbler singing in the reed bed on route back, but nothing else of note. From the car park I saw a Whitethroat, just before I left.

Went to Glandford Ford to have a coffee and snack before I drove home, but this was a bad mistake. Several families were paddling in the Ford and making lots of noise, so there was no chance of seeing any birds whatsoever. Arrived home before the sun set!

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