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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Kelling Water Meadows, Cley & 'The Hills!'

Black-winged Stilt – Pat's Pool, Cley NWT
Phone-scoped from Bishop's Hide on Pat's Pool this evening at 7.15pm. Fabulous wing stretch at end of video, just before take-off! After around 5 minutes, it decided to fly east and was re-located at 7.57pm on Swan Lake off the Iron Road at Salthouse, Norfolk.

Kelling Water Meadows
I had no intention of visiting Cley again today, but a Black-winged Stilt tempted me east! It was a beautiful day and very warm indeed – a complete contrast from yesterday. I arrived at Kelling Water Meadows in time to see this majestic bird, before it flew back west to Cley later on. Nice to bump into James H. and also Chris M. whilst here. There was a Little Egret here too, along with a Coot, Moorhen, Black-headed Gulls, Lapwing and several hirundines skimming over the pool – a wonderful scene in beautiful light. I regretted not bringing my scope, as I could have done a phone-scoped video – it was too far away for my 300mm lens, although I did get a few record shots. Blackcap, Chiffchaff and a couple of Goldfinches were seen along the track. The last time I saw a Black-winged Stilt in Norfolk was almost a year ago – from Daukes' Hide at Cley NWT on 8th May 2016.
Black-winged Stilt at Kelling Water Meadows

Muckleburgh Hill
Back at my car, I decided to go and look for my own birds and walked all around Muckleburgh Hill. It looked so exciting and all the trees looked so fresh and green. Bluebells adorned the slopes and I saw my first Painted Lady of the year, along with Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells. It really was beautiful here and I didn't see a single soul! I climbed to the very top of the hill and sat here for a good while, soaking up the stupendous views and waited for a couple of Bee-eaters to burble overhead, a soaring Black Stork, a Golden Oriole to bound over the tree tops and a Black-browed Albatross to cruise along the sea...... but, in reality I only saw Jackdaws, Crows, a Magpie and heard a Chiffchaff and Blackcap, all exciting stuff! I returned to my car to have a sandwich and cup of coffee.
Muckleburgh Hill

Kelling Tea Rooms
Nipped into the tea rooms at Kelling to use the 'ladies' and was tempted by their scrumptious ginger cake and yes I did succumb! It's first class ginger cake and cheaper than other places around here at £1.70 a slice. The pager bleeped up with news that the Black-winged Stilt was now on Pat's Pool at Cley NWT! Now was my chance to get some phone-scoped video.

Cley NWT
I parked up at the bottom of Old Woman's Lane and knocked my tripod over after getting it out of the boot – it all seemed ok and I made my way to Dauke's Hide. The Black-winged Stilt was very distant indeed and was far closer to Bishop's Hide than here. The heat haze made the video utterly rubbish. Lovely views of two Temminck's Stints on Simmonds' Scrape. I discovered the head of my tripod was loose and was not right at all. I needed to go and see Phil at CleySpy, before they closed!

Phil saved the day at CleySpy and mended my tripod in under 2 minutes! Thanks! He also re-lined my Kowa phone adapter, which has not been fitting very well – excellent service! Left here and headed back to Cley.

Walsey Hills NOA
Arrived at Walsey Hills NOA and bumped into Jake G. and Jonny R. – I let them know that the Black-winged Stilt was sitting on Pat's Pool and off they went to see it. I didn't see or hear the Iberian Chiffchaff and gave up after a short while. I did see a female Bullfinch and Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers were singing.

Gramborough Hill
Parked up at Beach Road, Salthouse and walked to Gramborough Hill. The weather had changed very quickly and was now dull and cold with looming black clouds. I found a family of five Stonechats, a Whitethroat and 2 Meadow Pipits. A Little Egret flew across the marsh and that was about it. The rain started as soon as I returned to my car.
Stonechats at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse

Gramborough Hill

Cley NWT
With no further news on the pager about the Black-winged Stilt, I presumed that it must still be on the NWT pools, so I headed back to Cley and parked up at the visitor centre. Had a 10 minute power nap and then headed off to Bishop's Hide. I was surprised to find no one else in here. I set up my scope and got settled, before opening the hide flap and then lifted it very carefully. Wow! There was the Black-winged Stilt! Still too far away for my 300mm lens, but perfect distant and light for phone-scoping! I attached the phone to scope and fiddled about to get the stilt exactly where I wanted it and started to roll the video. It looked brilliant – no heat haze this time! It was about 7.15pm when I started the video. The stilt stood there, looking pretty chilled. A couple of noisy Greylags flew over which ruffled it a little – moments later, it opened its beak, had a quick preen, did a magnificent wing stretch, then immediately flew off east at 7.20pm!!! Phew! I had been very lucky indeed! 5 minutes later and I would have seen nothing! Walked back in the rain to my car.

East Bank
Parked up at the East Bank car park and walked a short distance along the East Bank to see if the Black-winted Stilt had landed on the marshes here, but no sign of it. I could see a couple of Common Sandpipers on The Serpentine, which was an added bonus.

Walsey Hills NOA
I really don't know why I went back into Walsey Hills, but I did. No sight or sound from the Iberian Chiffchaff. Back at my car, I photographed the tamest Magpie I have ever seen! It sat on the public foopath signpost and wasn't bothered by my presence at all! A Tufted Duck, Pochard, Little Grebe and Mallard were on Snipe's Marsh. Had a coffee and headed home.
Magpie on the Public Footpath sign at Walsey Hills NOA

The winds were forecast to be SE tomorrow, but I noticed the forecast has changed again to NW and rain ALL day! Not good at all for migration.

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