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Friday 12 October 2012

East Hills and Blakeney Point!!!

A Spectacular Day!

Arrived on the concrete pad at Warham at 7am. As I walked along the West track down to the marsh, blackbirds and song thrushes scattered from the bushes. Walking across the marshes I saw 6 little egrets, good numbers of meadow pipits, several skylarks flying over and thousands of pink-footed geese. After crossing the big creek I flushed a snipe.

At East Hills there were several goldcrests, one chiffchaff and several wrens. Scattered 4 blackbirds in the sycamore glade. Very strong winds today and little shelter in the sycamores. My newly created pond had filled nicely with rain water. 8 Redwings flew over. It soon become obvious that there was a massive fall of thrushes here – blackbirds, song thrushes and redwings were exploding from the pines, brambles and sycamores, 100+ at least!!! It was very exciting and nice to have a decent fall of birds here. 5 Carrion Crows errupted from the pines at the west end, a kestrel hovered over the marsh, a curlew flew over and a massive flock of brent geese flew across the marsh. Huge flocks of starlings flying west throughout my time spent here. I sat on the fish box at the west end and watched the blackbirds, song thrushes and redwings in the brambles. A few hundred brent geese were feeding in Wells harbour. Back in the sycamore glade it was incredibly windy and also now raining – no new birds were found here. As I started to leave a Great Spotted Woodpecker bounded across me. I decided to walk back early as the tide looked like it was rolling in sooner than I had expected and I also wanted to have a crazy day and walk Blakeney Point aswell!

On the way back I continued seeing blackbirds, thrushes, skylarks and starlings flying over and also saw a couple of reed bunting. As I reached the end of the footpath joining the small copse at the bottom of the West track I bumped into Stuart W. and two other birders who were about to walk to East Hills! I told Stuart he was crazy going out now and also said 'don't you dare find anything out there, now I have come back!!!' He smiled mischievously!

I stood by the copse at the bottom of the West track for a while scanning across the marsh and a Hen Harrier came into view! 16 song thrushes flew west and then another 20!!! Several skylarks also flying west. Back at the concrete pad 3 Jays flew over. In the derelict buildings east of the carpark there were more song thrushes and a couple of wrens. It was a beautifully sunny day now and I felt full of enthusiasm and ready to walk Blakeney Point. Stuart W. sent me a text saying he had seen a ring ouzel at East Hills. After a quick sandwich, I drove to Coastguards carpark at Cley.

I soon discovered that the seawatching had been pretty good this morning with a west wind, including sooty shearwater, bonxies, arctic skuas and loads of brent geese (see list below). The light was beautiful and I could see lots of juv. and a few adult gannets plummeting for fish close in shore. Also saw a goldeneye flying west. After chatting to a couple of people briefly, I started trudging along the shingle and through the sueda.

Did I really want to walk the Point as well as East Hills I found myself asking?!!! Song thrushes and blackbirds scattered all the way along to just before Half Way House, but nothing else was seen. I could see gannets really close, just over the shingle ridge, so diverted across and sat on the shingle for a while, watching and photographing gannets. This was the highlight of the day for me – watching these awesome birds gliding effortlessly in the winds and then plummeting like a a rocket for fish was spectacular! I took tons of pictures and got my best shots ever of gannets at Cley. A seal appeared in the surf and his whiskers glittered in the sunshine as he held his head back in a relaxed pose, as he soaked up the rays of the afternoon sun. Several guillemots were sitting on the sea close in and also a couple of razor bills. A single birder and then another group of three all reported the same information that there was 'nothing on BP', only redwings and a few brambling. This information persuaded me not to continue any further! I stayed where I was to enjoy this amazing spectacle of gannets fishing in glorious sunshine, right in front of me! I also had an incredible view of a juv. Red-throated Diver that was swimming and fishing yards from me! The camera was in overdrive! There were also several little gulls flying west and loads of brent geese flying through and also several flocks of common scoter and good numbers of cormorants.

I sauntered back to coastguards, watching gannets all the way back. Back at my car, the pager went off that a Richard's Pipit had flown over Gramborough Hill towards the Beach Carpark, so off I went! Arrived at the carpark and could see J.B. D.N. D.M. and K.N. who informed that the Richard's Pipit had indeed flown over the carpark. Whilst we stood and chatted about birds and lack of rare's etc a Skua flew west over the shingle ridge – I just had time to photograph it – I might well post it on BF, it will give people something to discuss, argue and bitch about when they are bored!!!

Beautiful sunset as always at Cley as I left for home.


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