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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse & Cley NWT!

I spent yesterday doing jobs all day, finding things out for Mother, booking an electrician, trying to find out about LPG gas ovens for her, radiators and all kinds! I also had an estate agent round to value my house, who told me if I put it on the market today I would have a viewing by Monday, because of the massive shortage of houses in the under £150,000 bracket. I'm just waiting for Autumn migration to finish properly and then I'm going to have to take hold of my life seriously. This will mean doing boring tedious things like Boot Sales, unpacking and re-packing boxes and down sizing all my possessions. I need to sell this house for several reasons, the main one being I hate living here and in King's Lynn – it was only purchased, as it was the only place I could afford to buy at the time. Anyway, I could waffle on about this for ages, so will stop now!

Also, apologies to anyone that has emailed me over the last few days/week, I can't send any emails out at the moment – unfortunately I am a TalkTalk customer! I am receiving emails, but can't send any. I have contacted them on Twitter, don't know what's going on – not sure if its widespread because of the hack or I'm being hacked personally!!!

The weather has been dire the last couple of days, so it was lovely to see the sun making an appearance today. I headed straight to Gramborough Hill at Salthouse. Driving along Old Woman's Lane at Cley I saw a Red Admiral in a field on route. Parked up at Beach Road and walked to Gramborough Hill. Bumped into John Furse and Eddie Myers, who were just leaving. As we stood chatting a Short-eared Owl in off the sea, suddenly appeared yards from us and was trying to shake off two Carrion Crows – unsuccessfully! We couldn't take any pictures as it was against the sun. I raced up the hill to get a better view, leaving Eddie and John to walk back to their cars. The owl continued to be harrassed by the crows for ages and in fact until I gave up watching! I didn't see any birds in the scrub apart from a Meadow Pipit.

I walked over the shingle ridge and sat to watch the sea. A raft of Eider including several stunning males were sitting on the sea – I counted 18 – a fabulous sight in the sunshine! Good numbers of Gannets seen too, 26 west and 16 east. I didn't count them seriously, there were probably far more than that. I was cursing that I had not brought my scope, so walked back to the car and returned, so I could try and phone scope/video the Eider, but of course they had disappeared! Julian B. joined me and we watched a Red-throated Diver close in catching fish and also photographed a Gannet that was cruising past close in, also fishing. We stood here for quite a while in hope that another Short-eared Owl or something else equally as exciting dropped in, but it didn't! Chatted with James Mc. briefly in Beach Road and put in a request for a mega – any time over the next few days would do very nicely.

Went to the Cley NWT Visitor Centre briefly – the staff were dressed in halloween attire with devil horns and all kinds! A sawn off arm hung off the counter and there were some goolish green jelly with eyes balls on offer in the cafe, along with some garishly coloured cakes for sale! This worked a 'treat' and put me right off breaking my diet!!!

Re-located to just east of Walsey Hills and had my home-made lentil and vegetable soup with 1 brown roll and some fruit. I then walked to the NEW 'Babcock Hide' which the NWT opened on the 17th October. The hide is east of the East Bank and can be reached via the new Attenborough walk from the East Bank car park. The hide overlooks 'Watling Water'. It was quite exciting walking to somewhere new! From the road it doesn't look very inspiring to be honest. Several local birders have not even walked out here yet – not even Eddie!

The new hide door was a job to open – a very heavy door. There is a notice up inside the hide explaining that there are a few issues which the contractor will be rectifying soon, including the disabled seats that don't lift up for wheelchairs etc. The hide flaps are the same design as the other central hides (Daukes etc). Sitting down was the right height for me to view, but if I had wanted to stand and use my scope I wouldn't have been able to, as the bottom flap was too low which mean't I was hunched and the top one too high. So a hide clamp is a necessity here (which I had left in the car). The view from the hide was spectacular – this is a vast scrape and includes muddy edges and little islands. I ended up spending the rest of the day here! I had an excellent selection of birds including a massive count of 50 Gadwall, Teal x 5+, Little Grebes x 2, Little Egrets x 2, 1 Snipe, Lapwings x 70, pair of Mallard, Black-headed Gulls x 31, Carrion Crows x 2, Starlings+++, Pied Wagtails x 11 landed on the muddy edge at dusk, a Ringed Plover landed on central island, Egyptian Geese x 2, Pochard x 1, Heron and a Wren. I left the hide and stood just outside by the 5 bar gate (no entry sign on gate, with path running north beyond). A pair of stunning Stonechats were perched on the reeds and I got some cracking phone-scoped video of them both. At dusk I had fabulous views of a male Hen Harrier, a Ringtail and 4 Marsh Harriers! Also equally fabulous was thousands upon thousands of Starlings flying west over the marshes with that wonderful whooshing sound as they flew over my head.

The midges were evil little S**'s and attacked me like the devil possessed! As I walked back to my car, thousands of Pink-footed Geese flew north west across the pink skies in v formations – a beautiful end to the day. Made a hot chocolate to warm up before heading home.


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