Sunday 29 July 2012

Escape to Norfolk - Day One

I had planned to go to the Cairngorms for a week in July. The idea was to live rough in the mountains whilst photographing juvenile Dotterel, as they gather into flocks before migrating. However, that plan was wrecked by the weather etc. 

Instead I settled for a couple of days in Norfolk. I had purchased a new lightweight backpacking tent for the  trip to Scotland, but instead of a night high in the mountains it was sea level at Burnham Deeping instead. Hopefully it will get more use later in the year, as my son and I intend to do another epic backpacking adventure.

Anyway, I decided to go to Great Yarmouth for Mediterranean Gulls first. On arrival the town was deserted apart from the scavengers clearing up the mess from the night before. Large gulls were gathered around most of the rubbish bins along the promenade. On the beach, between the pier and the Sealife centre, I located nine Med Gulls: eight adults and a 2nd calendar year bird. One of them was colour ringed - a green ring with the inscription AJEH.

Adult Mediterranean Gull
2CY Mediterranean Gull

Unfortunately the Med Gulls didn't have much of an appetite, as they ignored the bread I threw for them. Maybe they can read and decided that the Asda Smart Price loaf was too cheap for their Mediterranean taste.

Moving on I made my way slowly along the coast road heading towards Cley Next The Sea. I decided to check out if anything was on the sea at Weybourne and the first bird I saw was a Little Gull. The car park was pay and display, so I rushed over to the machine and fed it with the relevant change to get my ticket. Luckily the bird was still there just out from the surf. Though the light was poor due to a bank of grotty weather that was clinging to the coast, I still managed to get some quite acceptable photos. The gull was finding plenty of tiny fish to feed on.

Little Gull

The final stop before Cley was Kelling Quags, but to be honest this site did not live up to my expectations. A pair of Reed Warblers feeding their energetic family kept me entertained for a while.

The first thing I did on arrival at Cley Marshes was to walk along the East Bank. Over the marshes I counted five Marsh Harriers including immatures. On Arnold's Marsh there was a good gathering of waders including many Black-tailed Godwits and at least two Spottted Redshanks. However it was a showy Little Egret that took my attention.

 Little Egret

The car park at the reserve was almost full, though most of the visitors seemed to be in the visitor centre drinking tea. Cley was popular back in the late 1970's when I first visited, but back then the only tea on offer was poured from a flask. My first visit produced many lifers, but I had to be content with just enjoying seeing some of the birds I first saw when I was a school boy on this day.

Amongst the large group of adult Dunlins were a few juveniles and also a single adult Curlew Sandpiper. Other waders seen included Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff. There was also a juvenile Mediterranean Gull on Pat's Pool plus an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

 Eventually I had to leave Cley, as I had to find the campsite at Burnham Deeping. On the way I noticed a Marsh Harrier close to road, so as there was a safe parking spot I decided to stop. At least five Marsh Harriers were present in the rough field and some of them were wing-tagged.

Heavily Cropped Image of the Wing-tagged Marsh Harriers

I easily located the campsite at Burnham Deeping and it took me less than ten minutes to pitch my tent for the first time (luckily everything was in the tent bag) and even less time to fall asleep.

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