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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Fabulous Day At Salthouse, Kelling & Cley!

 Easter Sunday 🐥 

Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
I spent the day at one of my favourite places in Norfolk and I felt so happy to be back! Arrived at Beach Road, Salthouse and the first person I saw was John F.! I had a quick coffee and a marmalade sandwich, before setting off to Gramborough Hill. It was so beautiful here – a glorious sunny day! A Reed Bunting and a Pied Wagtail were seen, along with 2 Avocets. At Gramborough Hill I had a very brief view of a Song Thrush flying under a bush, also Meadow Pipits, 2 Little Egrets, Rooks and best of all LOADS of beautiful Sand Martins gracing the blue skies! Such a joy! Suddenly another birder, Louis called out the Iceland Gull that has been here over recent days. We quickly walked across the shingle to the beach, to watch the Iceland Gull making its way east towards Kelling – too far away for any good pictures at this point, but fabulous to see.
The pool just west of Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Salthouse Beach
I sat on the shingle for a while, just watching the waves and soaking up the atmosphere (see video below). Sand Martins skimmed around me, Herring Gulls sailed above me and it felt so magical! I then rejoined John and Louis and we meandered back to Beach Road, where I bumped into Pete S.! It was so good to catch up with people today. Lots of banter, laughter and birding, what more do you need?! My first Spring Wheatears x 3 were seen in the field east of the road and also excitedly my first Spring Swallows x 2 skimmed overhead west! The Iceland Gull then reappeared over the shingle and I managed to get some shots, but again, too far away for my 300mm lens. A very glamorous young lady, a new NT warden arrived to check the signs and fencing at Gramborough – she did not go unnoticed, I noted amusingly!
Herring Gull at Salthouse Beach

Iceland Gull just north of Beach Road, Salthouse
Kelling Water Meadows (Kelling Quags)
Pete and I then decided to walk to Kelling Water Meadows. We parked in the usual spot opposite the tea rooms (which do excellent food, including one of my favourites, ginger cake – but currently closed) and ambled along the track to the pool. It was so beautiful to be out somewhere different. I know I keep saying it, but everywhere I go after this lockdown, seems like I'm seeing everything afresh. We both saw an Orange Tip butterfly by the little stream, next to the school playing field and also Pete sharply spotted a Bee-Fly! A Chiffchaff appeared in the scrub alongside the track. At the pool we saw a Snipe, Redshank, Teal, Mallards, Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls. We then bumped into local birder Ian (who's wife and daughter we passed and chatted to earlier, along the track) and whilst chatting, we heard a Yellow Wagtail flying over and a Red Kite came sailing overhead, giving us incredible views! 2 Stonechats were seen in the bushes along Meadow Lane. Walked back to our cars and Pete headed home east.
Red Kite at Kelling Quags
Coastguards, Cley
I stopped here for lunch and to see if there were any birds on the Eye Pool. The car park was jam packed and with no NWT staff/pay hut to take parking fees, it was a free for all. Also because of this, the overflow field parking area was not open. I saw Chris Mills in the car park and had a quick catch up. I parked my car in front of the closed field parking area, there were no other spaces left. Half the car park was full of camper vans and motor homes. Why oh why and I have said it many times, do the NWT not put a height restriction barrier here?! It would also stop the parking overnight and rubbish situation. After my lunch I walked across the shingle and after encountering several dollops of dog's mess and too many people, I returned to my car and left.
Walsey Hills NOA
There have certainly been some changes here! Emma Buck, who is NOA Warden, has certainly made an impact on the reserve! I still have not met her yet – one day! There is a new and much larger pond by the feeders, which looks absolutely brilliant! Areas of scrub have been removed to let in some sunlight and areas for birds to feed and seats and tables have been painted a subtle light green. You can walk along the bottom public footpath easily, which can be overgrown at times. Due to more regular ringing at this site, you can not walk through the centre of the reserve down the steps as you used to, this is for staff only now. I sat on the seat for a while and enjoyed the views, whilst watching Hedge Sparrows, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Robins, Great Tit and a Chiffchaff and Cetti's Warbler were singing.
Overlooking Snipe's Marsh at Walsey Hills NOA

New pond at Walsey Hills NOA!
Walsey Hills NOA

New steps at Walsey Hills NOA
The lower footpath at Walsey Hills NOA

Blackthorn at Walsey Hills NOA

Blackthorn and Gorse in bloom at the top of Walsey Hills NOA
Arnold's Marsh from Walsey Hills NOA
Walking along the bottom public footpath, I noticed some sycamore trees have been removed in the net rides area, I don't quite know why, as these are the best trees for leaf warblers. I spent a long time at Walsey Hills and walked all around the top end. A Grey Partridge was seen distantly in a field. Along the path to the small pine belt, I spent some time overlooking Arnold's Marsh and the sea beyond – a magnificent view! I watched 2 Spoonbills flying across the marsh! Other birds seen: Marsh Harriers x 2, another Swallow, Sand Martins, Avocets, Teal, Mallards and Greylag Geese. Returned to the building at Walsey Hills via a new gate, very smart! Sat on the seat overlooking the new pond again for a short while and then returned to my car.
Spoonbills flying over Arnold's Marsh at Cley NWT

East Bank, Cley NWT
I joined Eddie M. here for a catch up and beautiful walk along the East Bank. It felt much chillier now! Spent some time photographing the 2 Spoonbills on The Serpentine. On Arnold's Marsh there were lots of waders including a big number of Dunlins, always a joy to watch and some Med Gulls flew over. We sat on the shingle for a short while (too cold). Eddie spotted a Grey Heron flying east, distantly over the sea! No sign of the Iceland Gull here. Returned back along the bank and were delighted to see two newly arrived Little Ringed Plovers at The Serpentine – I took some pictures, although a little distant for my lens. A Snipe was also seen and another Grey Heron.
The Serpentine east of East Bank, Cley NWT
Eddie on The East Bank at Cley NWT
East Bank, Cley NWT with Walsey Hills NOA on the horizon
Spoonbills on The Serpentine, off East Bank at Cley NWT

Med Gull off the north end of East Bank at Cley NWT

Little Ringed Plover on The Serpentine, off East Bank at Cley NWT
Sunset from the East Bank at Cley NWT
Visitor Centre, Cley NWT
We relocated here for a short while and saw a Great White Egret distantly and a Bittern boomed twice at 7pm! As I left the car park, 2 Red-legged Partridges were in the bottom car park. A huge Motorhome was parked across all the front parking spaces here, obviously intending to stay for the night!

Beach Road, Salthouse and Friary Hills at Blakeney
I returned to see if any of the Wheatears were any closer to the fence for photos – I couldn't see them anywhere, so they had obviously retired for the night! I left here and went to Friary Hills at Blakeney to stop and have a coffee and something to eat before returning home. I sat with the window of the car open, in hope of hearing a Sedge Warbler singing, but no luck with that. There was a Common Buzzard sitting on a tree along the track out to the marsh and a ginger cat prowled along the path by the 'No Dogs' sign to Friary Hills!

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