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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Cley NWT and The Northern Lights!

 Guillemot at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse.

I arrived at Cley NWT Visitor Centre to join Eddie and Andy for a cheese scone (I have accounted for this within my diet – honest!) – scrumptious! 50+ Avocets could be seen on Pat's Pool from here.

Eddie joined me to go to Edgefield to look for Parrot Crossbills. It was now raining, which spoilt things a little. Several Common Crossbills were seen, but no parrots whilst we were there. Went to Edgefield Tip and watched several Skylarks, Chaffinches and a Brambling feeding in a field near a manure heap. Also saw 2 Common Buzzards cruising round and 3 Long-tailed Tits.

Returned to Cley to look for a Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff which another birder had seen at the Sewage Works, but no luck. Back at the Cley Visitor Centre for lunch and then on to Salthouse.

Turnstones at Beach Road, Salthouse – can't quite read this ring.

Pied Wagtails at Beach Road, Salthouse.

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse to watch a Spoonbill and a Little Egret together. Nothing around Gramborough Hill itself, but did have wonderful close views of a Guillemot on the sea which I photographed. Back at the end of Beach Road we sat on the shingle photographing Pied Wagtails and several Turnstones which dropped in briefly, before being flushed by a light aircraft. There is still no carpark and remains as it was since the storm surge – full of shingle. Several House Sparrows in the bushes next to the ditch, just west of the end of Beach Road (by the main road).

Walsey Hills NOA – several fallen trees along the bottom path, a few Robins, Blue Tits and Chaffinches. Lots of Brent Geese on Arnold's Marsh. Dropped Eddie off at the Visitor Centre and I then went on to Coastguards.

Cley Coastguards – set my 100mm Macro Lens up with remote switch cable and took some sunset pictures. The sea-watching shelter has now been cleared of shingle, which is good news for tall people, but not for us shorter people, as the shingle in front of the shelter is now much higher than it was before, so I can only see about six inches of sea! Need to get an even higher step to stand on now! What would be REALLY fabulous, is for someone to build an concrete/metal (storm proof [ish]) two tiered sea-watching hide. This could be a locked hide (key purchased for £5) so that only NWT members could access it – brilliant idea! This would be a fitting replacement for the North Hide, don't you think?!

Re-parked my car in the East Bank carpark and had my tea and coffee. A Grey Heron flew over to roost. No Marsh Harriers were seen which surprised me.
Cley Coastguards.

Returned to Coastguards and waited for night to fall. Had a snooze and then watched and hoped for glimmers of green lights on the horizon. I was really hoping that the Northern lights would show this evening. There were lots of glittery stars, but the sky was nowhere near as inky black as it was on Thursday evening/Friday morning. There were about three cars in the carpark. Went to pick Eddie up at 7.20pm, so he could join me to watch. When we returned, more cars turned up. There were as many cars in that carpark as the evening progressed, as there is on a Bank Holiday! The fact that the EDP had a huge piece on their website last night and in today's paper, enticed people down here. It was also in several national newspapers. Two photographers who set up their tripods and cameras had travelled down from Cambridge. I couldn't see the point of getting out of the car until I needed to, plus it was freezing cold! Pete Snook turned up too and we waited. Loads more people turned up, it was like Blackpool Illuminations! People with torches, leaving car head lights on – turning them off, turning them on. Don't people realise that you need to look with no artificial lights!!! Whilst car lights were on, it was difficult to see. The few moments of blackness that we had, took time to re-adjust yours eyes again. Every few minutes we were dazzled by a continuous stream of cars approaching along Beach Road. Just before 10pm the fog rolled in and we saw no point in staying any longer.

Dropped Eddie back home and I returned to King's Lynn. Very foggy on route back. I will be surprised if anyone sees anything tonight.


  1. We didn't see anything at all on either nights, just a VERY feint green glow on the first night, neither did Richard M. I suspect these brilliant photos are taken by time-lapse photography!

  2. "This could be a locked hide (key purchased for £5) so that only NWT members could access it – brilliant idea! This would be a fitting replacement for the North Hide, don't you think?!" ....yes, a brill idea, but the NWT would never allow it, too sensible, too much work for them, risk assessment etc etc, need I go on?

  3. ....didn't see the aurora last night either!

  4. Penny there is an iPhone app called Auroral Forecast that shows the likely extent of activity, although does not account for cloud cover. Good news about Cley hides. We will be in North Norfolk next weekend so here's hoping. Thanks
    Ian Robinson

  5. Hi Ian, thanks for your tip about the iphone App. Enjoy your trip to Norfolk next weekend!

  6. Sue – don't take this the wrong way, but if you, Steve and Richard only saw a feint green line, that makes me feel much better! I was wondering about 'time lapse photography' - interesting! Brian certainly got a fantastic image with Cley Windmill as the focus point.

  7. Sue – Yes, pity my hide idea wouldn't ever be considered! Oh well, will just have to resort to a higher step. Steve will need one too now!!! (smiley face)