Sunday, March 08, 2009

A surprise weekend in Norfolk

A surprise weekend in Norfolk saw us starting at Cley, where although the sun didn't shine as often as we hoped, it wasn't as cold as of late either. The weather was no consolation however as the reserve proved to be very quiet. It's a 50-minute drive from Hunstanton to Cley - time possibly better spent elsewhere this weekend. A Lapwing showed well outside of one of the hides:














We did get a flypast from a Bearded Tit and got to see a good number of Black-tailed Godwits on the reserve but it prove surprisingly quiet. As did Titchwell, out next stop. We took tea on the way in and an early lunch on the way out. The highlight was this Muntjac fawn being cleaned by it's mother, which had lots of people on the reserve interested:














Bird-wise we didn't see the Black Brant, despite trying pretty hard and the beach off the reserve was the quietest we've ever seen it. From Titchwell we headed to Snettisham, timed to be there before the high tide, though it turned out the tide wasn't high enough to push the waders into the inland roosts. We did enjoy watching a pair of Redshank have an intermittent scrap, it being just about that time of year again:















They were both very noisy and scrapped on and off for a while, keeping us entertained while the wind howled around us:

















The tide turned out to be a 6.6 instead of a 7+, which is what is needed to wash over all the exposed tidal areas, so another lesson learned. From the hides we watched a pair of Mediterranean Gulls displaying, then walked back to the car blown about by the increasing strong winds and in fading light. The waders however were gathering in large flocks on the water's edge, which remained some 100 yards or so away:














So back to our cupboard of a room at the B&B in Hunstanton and for dinner. We set on an early start to catch the brief window of sun before the forecast storms. The beach at 7am is a lovely spot - we saw Sanderling and Knot, loads of Gulls, Oystercatchers, Black-tailed Godwits and Turnstones, including this one eating what looks like the remains of a squashed chip:















We walked up and down the coast, again the wind was really very strong, so much so that we lasted 45 minutes before retreating to the safety of our heated cupboard before breakfast. A large group of Brent Geese flew past, you can see from this pic it was a much brighter morning:












Heading back inland we stopped off at a woodland with a 50% chance of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but despite much patient scanning of tree-tops and intent listening, it wasn't to be.
Our last stop of the weekend was Lakenheath, dicing with the leading edge of the incoming weather system. We did get to see a pair of Common Cranes huddled behind a wall of reeds sheltering from the winds but dipped out on the local Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Great Grey Shrike, not to mention the Penduline Tits... we scuttled back to the car as the rain start and the winds picked up even further to retreat home for tea and cake!

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