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Saturday, 16 November 2019

Isabelline Wheatear & Otter At Cley – Late Autumn Birding!

East of north end of the East Bank at Cley NWT
A first for Cley – found by Mark Golley on Sunday 10th November

Mark Golley found this fabulous bird last Sunday when I was working, I never thought for one minute that it would still be there today! After six straight days at work, setting the alarm and getting up early was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did! I also managed to bag the last car space in the East Bank car park. It was a chilly morning, but I was wrapped up well with thermals and two coats. Vivien and Ray are still basking in 29ºc today in Cyprus – they will get a shock when they return home this evening!

I passed three birders along the East Bank who had seen the Isabelline Wheatear and eventually reached the area where it had been seen, east of the north end of the East Bank. I joined one other birder, who had not yet seen the bird. I searched hard and could not find the Wheatear anywhere. More people turned up and it could not be relocated for quite a while. Eventually a birder distantly signalled that it was just below him on the shingle ridge. Myself and others walked to the bottom of the slope and there it was, a wonderful Isabelline Wheatear sitting on the highest point of the ridge! A while later it flew across to the south side of a fenced area and that is where it remained for most of the day I believe. It was feeding, but it appeared to be making a massive effort. Later it sat for long periods, closing and opening its eyes. Every so often it would then move and feed for a bit again and then sit again. It was very sad to think that this beautiful bird may not make it, very sad indeed. There was also a 50+ flock of Snow Buntings flying around the shingle bank. While I was here, it was especially nice to bump into Sue Gantlett (along with Steve) as I hadn't seen her for a while – I always enjoy chatting with Sue and we discussed our love of Shetland amongst other things.

I was frozen when I started to walk back at around 12.15pm. Along the East Bank I bumped into Eddie and Andy J., who pointed out an Otter to me distantly in the sluice channel west of the path – at last! It wasn't anywhere close enough for a picture, but had some lovely views as it made its way west along the channel. Also saw the Long-tailed Duck on the pool west of the path (where it has been for a few days) and also heard a Cetti's Warbler and saw a couple of Reed Buntings. Several flocks of Starlings flying through and a Turnstone was notable on The Serpentine, along with good numbers of Lapwings, Wigeon, Teal and Mute Swans.

I had missed the 10am NWT VC cheese scone slot, it was lunchtime! Went to The Dun Cow at Salthouse for a change and walked straight out again – it was ram packed full of people and very noisy – I couldn't understand where all these people had come from at this time of year! Headed to Kelling Tea Rooms – wonderfully peaceful and only half full. Had a lovely table for two window seat as well! I had a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw with salad. A generous pot of tea with *TWO teabags in and a little jug of hot water to top up – I love strong tea, so other venues please *note! Followed by their last piece of Black Forest Gateaux – very pleased I popped in here!
Lunch at Kelling Tea Rooms!

With the long lists of birds I'm typing up daily for Norfolk over the last few days, it feels like it should be October, not November! Anyway, rejuvenated I headed west along the coast road to Garden Drove at Warham. The track was extremely water logged and not really suitable for my little Skoda – a tractor or a 4x4 would have been more appropriate! Within seconds of parking up on the concrete pad a Great Spotted Woodpecker bounded along the hedge line and a Barn Owl sat on a post distantly by the barn. Walking along the very muddy track I saw more birds than expected: Robins x 2, a Song Thrush, Blackbirds x 2 and Pied Wagtails feeding in the pig field along with Rooks and Starlings. The copse at the end held a Great Tit and 3 Chaffinches.

North Point Pools at Wells – the light was fading fast now – nobody else here but me. 100+ Lapwings, 14 Brent Geese, 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Egyptian Geese, 5 Curlews, lots of Wigeon and Teal, a few Pied Wagtails and 2 Little Egrets.

Stopped just west of Wells Quay in a pull in area by a farm gate, to join two cars of birders to try and see the Rough-legged Buzzard that has been showing all day. If I hadn't have stopped at North Point Pools I would more than probably have seen it, but I was too late! It had just been mobbed by a Common Buzzard in the very far distance before I turned up and it wasn't seen again. A Short-eared Owl was a nice consolation though. Headed home via Holkham and Burnham Market and saw my second Barn Owl of the day between Bircham and Flitcham.

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