Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hi, Cley!

Cley Marshes is one of Britain's top birding spots and not too far from where we were staying. We spent one full afternoon there, and went back for an evening visit (where we just walked to the beach rather than going into the reserve) later in the week. Saw a LOT of stuff, here are edited highlights.

Trip one was on the Tuesday, after our seal trip to Blakeney point in the morning. That had been under grey skies, but by the time we reached Cley the sun was out. From the car park there were swirling Swifts to photograph, which were briefly scattered when this male Kestrel breezed by.

We paid our fiver each, and set off towards the three hides at the centre of the reserve, noting singing Cetti's and Whitethroat on the way. Once ensconsed in the first hide, we got to work scanning the lagoon viewable from here, which held many Avocets and Shelducks, a Little Ringed Plover and various ducks, with Swifts and hirundines skimming over the water.

The Avocets had chicks, so were on high alert, beating up crows, chasing Marsh Harriers, and bombing this poor Shelduck. The following sequence of photos show an Avocet preparing to mug a female Mallard...

... with unexpected consequences. Don't mess with Mrs Mallard! She had ducklings nearby so was feeling just as combative as the Avocet.

Another proud mum - Shoveler with five ducklings. This is not an especially common breeding bird in Britain so I expect the folks in charge here are as pleased to see this family as I was.

The lure of the many Swifts, in nice sunshine for a change, was irresistable and I took more than 100 shots of them, most of which ended up in the bin but I'm happy with this one.

More duckling goodness, these are young Mallards. Past the age of extreme vulnerability, they were left more or less to their own devices while their mum did battle with Avocets (see above).

We looked in at the other hides, with views overlapping that from the first, and then retraced our steps to the main road, from where we followed the side road to the beach. A raised path alongside the road gives great views across the marshes.

Open-country and marshland birds were whizzing about all over the place. This Meadow Pipit paused on the overhead wires for a few photos.

We reached the shingle beach and went down to the shore to see what was going by at sea. Sandwich and Little Terns, various gulls, Cormorants... and a surprise, this Brent Goose which surely should have been somewhere inside the Arctic Circle at this time of year.

I was keen to get photos of the Little Terns but found it rather difficult. They were feeding a little way offshore and they are so small that frame-filling shots were just not available. Still, it was lovely to see them in good numbers. These could be from the Blakeney colony, which we'd visited that very morning.

We walked along the beach, looked in at the new Swarovski hide (a huge brood of Shelducklings visible from here) and eventually reached the path back inland, past Arnold's Marsh.

A nice pair of Gadwalls, still in frisky mating mode by the looks of things although it's getting a bit late in the year to be starting a brood.

By Arnold's Marsh, a couple of Brown Hares were frisking about.

A view acoss the marshes from the south-eastern corner. It was about 6pm by now, still plenty of light but the shadows were beginning to grow. We followed the path back towards the visitor centre, calling in at the last of the hides on the way.

From this hide, another treat - a female Pochard with an impressive brood of eight half-grown ducklings. She led them right up to the hide, over a grassy ridge into the ditch in front of us, and then back onto the grassy ridge where the whole family settled down to preen and doze.

Most of the babies sat down out of view among long vegetation but this one gave us a good look. Cute little thing.

Last pic of the day - a pleasingly sunlit Avocet, looking for someone or something to attack.

Our second Cley visit was on the Thursday evening - we'd spent most of the daytime in Norwich. We just walked to the sea and back. Weather was hazy sunshine and windyness, and most of the photos were too dark/noisy to be any good, but here are a few.

A Common Tern. We didn't see loads of these, the Sandwich Terns and Littles totally outnumbered them.

While Rob was photographing terns on the beach, I sat on the bench overlooking Arnold's Marsh, watching Avocets, Redshanks, two distant Brent Geese and an equally distant Spoonbill, and passing gulls and terns. I was really hoping for a Barn Owl but it was not to be - every white or whitish bird that hoved into view was a gull, a tern, an Avocet or one of these.

Biggest surprise of the day, and perhaps the week, were these two male Goldeneyes, flying in off the sea. Of course, not being a local I don't know how unusual this is for June, maybe it's not unusual at all...

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Must of been some day if this was only the highlights!

Great Swift Marianne, keep that with the house martin :-)