OK, so it's not 18 October any more, but what the hell, I'm feeling nostalgic for two-and-a-bit weeks ago. Things seemed so much brighter and full of hope then. And Rob and I were enjoying a day out at Cley Marshes, birding Mecca, on day 1 of a week's holiday in north Norfolk.
The day kicked off with terrible views of a Cetti's Warbler lurking in a bush and (as is their wont) refusing to be photographed. Marsh Harriers cruised over the Phragmites and little gangs of Black-tailed Godwits swept purposefully overhead.
Views from the three thatched hides that form the centrepiece of the reserve were typically great. Wigeons, Teals, Shovelers, Blackwits and Ruffs held sway, all doing their respective things in or on or next to the water. Some great halfway-out-of-eclipse plumages were on show among the wildfowl. Look at the state of this Wigeon.
A 50-strong flock of Pinkfeet whiffled in, joining a few Greylags on the muddy bits at the back of the middle lagoon. Among then was a grotty Canada x Anser something hybrid. Normal Canada x Pinkfoot, or 'small' Canada x Greylag? It seemed to prefer the company of the Greylags, not that that counts for anything in the tarty world of geese.
We followed the West Bank to the beach, and headed east in search of the 'highly mobile' Snow Bunting flock. Just beyond the East Bank about eight flitted past in a flurry of pretty white wings and jingling noises. They did some coy to-ing and fro-ing then dropped down around the bank and got busy among the scrubby, shingly vegetated bits. Rob lay down and commando-crawled over to take a few hundred photos.
A passing birder very kindly told us there was a Purple Sandpiper down at the water's edge. And indeed there was. Rob lay down (I've just worked out why Rob likes bird photography - it's all the lying down) ahead of its trajectory and the obliging little wader trundled right past him at almost point blank range, pausing to look at interesting stones and bits of flotsam on the way.
The walk back along East Bank brought close views of a Little Egret having a bad plumes day. From the hides, we added Snipe to the day's list - several out mixing it with the Blackwits in deep water and one settling down for a snooze at the water's edge. By now it was nearly 4pm which is near enough dinnertime so we went to Sheringham and ate fish and chips on the beach.
(nothing to do with what's above - I'm putting this photo of a Keeled Skimmer here because I want to upload it to another website...)