Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nipped to Norfolk Sunday

Sunday promised a humid but dry start followed by torrential rain. Classic British Summer then, after a single sunny day :)

We started at Cley NWT, parking up and heading for the hide from which we'd watched so many waders the previous evening. En-route we heard this tremendous 'pinging' noise. A flock of Bearded Reedlings (Bearded Tits) flew across the path - there must have been between 30 to 40 birds. They were making a fantastic racket though not hanging around. Despite many attempts, this snap of a juvenile was the best I managed:


















It's out of focus but you get the general idea.

We tried the hide but the birds were on the other side of the scrape, so headed back out and around and down the East Bank towards the beach. Again lots of 'pinging' but the Bearded Reedlings were bashful, unlike this adult Reed Warbler:














Along the shore line we flushed a small group of Rock Pipits:














Even at ten in the morning it was very hot and very 'close' with the humidity building, We stopped off at the far head before heading on to complete the circuit.

Helen heard it first (I was jabbering) a double 'bang' - 'bang'. Then I heard it too, so did all the waders, the sounds of collective fear as they all took to the air is quite a traumatising experience. Then the ducks followed (that's how they get to kill so many whilst the birds figure out what the disturbance is) then the geese. Within ten shots all of the birds on the whole nature reserve were airborne. We hoped it was just a farmer shooting rabbits but the building noise of continuous gunfire reminded me that for some reason, when birds are still breeding and raising young it's suddenly legal to shoot them again, en masse. So we had to trudge back to the car whilst listening to a massacre.

We'd already planned to stop at Welney for lunch, and headed off expecting to find ourselves under a major thunderstorm (they do good tea and grub there!) so were very pleased on arrival to find the odd heavy cloud passing but not a drop of rain. We were even more pleased by the bird reports, including both a Common Crane and a pair of Spoonbill on the reserve. Having left the long lens in the car I had to beat a hasty retreat to collect it before settling down in the hide alongside the main observatory (and I'm pleased to report no gunfire!).

Visible from the hide again were large numbers of waders, including this Spotted Redshank:














A Wood Sandpiper (one of four there):
















And an adult Ruff, again present in large numbers on the reserve:


















There had bee reports of a Common Crane, which we spotted in a distant field (funny as we'd not been looking for one and had spent fruitless hours on our last two trips up to East Anglia and there was one mooching around in a field, just like that!), and Spoonbills, but it became apparent they had flown in the hour before we arrived.

One surprise though was a Yellow Wagtail, feeding a juvenile on the rook of the observatory hide:



















The juvenile then flew in front of the hide and spent time looking at itself in the water and searching for food:














The visitor centre at Welney is literally teeming with life with hundreds of House Martins and Barn Swallows buzzing around, and zooming over the pond. A couple of Swallows made it into the cafe and were helped out having slammed into a few of the windows, dazed but alive.

We stopped on our way down into the cafe to snap a juvenile House Martin stopped on the roof:














And finally this pair of House Martins:
















The visit to Welney really lifted our spirits after the distressing experience at Cley and helped to ensure the weekend was memorable. The highlight for me being that flock of Bearded Reedlings pinging away to each other as we walked into Cley NWT on Sunday morning.

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