Friday, 29 October 2010

Birding in Norfolk - Cley next the sea

I've just come back from a week birding with friends in the county of Norfolk on the east side of England. The north Norfolk coast is without doubt, one of the best birding areas in the country (click the link for more info). There's also a video by Chris Packham one of our best television naturalists talking about birding in Norfolk here. I hope my blogging friends abroad are able to watch this!
The first of my posts is about birding at Cley next the Sea. Cley NWT is the oldest wildlife trust reserve in the country that, as well as hosting exciting resident species of birds, tends to draw in rarer species too. It's also a great place for a spot of seawatching if the winds are right. You want a north or north-easterly ideally. On this occasion below, the winds had moved round to north-westerlies, not ideal but we still managed to see flocks of male and female Common Scoter (Black Scoter US), juv Northern Gannets, Brent Geese and beautiful male Common Eiders. The jewel in the crown though was a close Little Auk sitting on the sea. Absolutely gorgeous!
Whilst seawatching from Cley beach (pronounced Cleye) I was eyed up by this opportunistic Black-headed Gull (in winter plumage). It was obviously after an easy meal.....
....and when it hopped off its rocky perch to the shingle beach to approach me, the NW wind got its feathers in a twist. Unfortunately I didn't have any food on me!
After our seawatch we walked back inland along the 'east bank' of Cley reserve. Here I found a Little Egret feeding in the shallows......
....but not for long as it got spooked and flew off to find a quieter place.
Considering the strength of the wind, I was amazed to first hear (a distinctive 'ping' 'ping' like flicking a rubber band) and then see some Bearded Tits in the reeds as we walked the East bank. Beardies are notorious for not showing in windy weather, so I was chuffed to get some shots of this male even though they're not sharp.

I put this photo in because I liked they way these distant Bearded Tits in flight are all together in their flight action. Like mini ginger torpedos!
This next shot was taken with my Canon G10 through my scope. I'm not set up properly for digiscoping, but I sometimes like to give it a go to see what results I can get. These Curlew Sandpipers were way too distant for my Nikon zoom lens, but are passably ok digiscoped. They are similar looking to Dunlin, but have subtle differences, being slightly larger and more 'clean' looking with that more prominent supercilium and slightly longer decurved bill.
Here's another digiscoping effort. We were lucky to see some Shorelarks (Horned Larks) feeding quietly on the sandy bank amongst the weeds. The best chance I ever get to see these birds in Britain is here on the north Norfolk coast and they are by no means a given.

I'll end this post from Cley next the sea with another photo of us seawatching. I love those clouds marching across the sky! (-:
On another day later in the week, the winds turned round to the north again and we had a much better if more uncomfortable seawatch at Cley with 3 species of Skua (Jaegers), Great, Arctic and Pomerine. Also Red-throated and Black-throated Divers (Loons), Slavonian Grebe, Kittiwakes and lots more Common Scoters and Razorbills.
There'll be more from Norfolk shortly.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Odds and Ends at Rodden Reserve

Here's the last of three posts from Rodden Reserve. Sorry it's taken longer to get this one up, but life outside blogging sometimes gets in the way!
I just loved this autumnal tangle.
If you saw someone wearing these colours together, you might think....hmmmm....interesting combo, but there's no such thing as colour clashing in nature I think. A last Buddleia flower with Rosehips behind.
Fly on white flower.
Fragrant wild Honeysuckle still in flower.
A view of the Mill House with the usual distant Grey Heron and some Canada Geese.
Lush Rosehips still hard looking and crispy before any hard frosts yet.
Now I paid a high price for this particular shot. It was early morning and the dew was clinging closely to the seedhead in the centre and I wanted to get down low for my shot. So I sat down on the path without looking behind me and promtly stood up again. I'd sat slap bang on the middle of a stinging nettle plant! I was still feeling it that evening! (o:
Of course, I then managed to find another plant very similar without a neighbouring stinging nettle thank goodness!
The startling pink of Euonymous europeas hit me between the eyes as I walked round. In a few days time this will be even more of a dazzling show as the bright orange seeds peep out from their pink pillows!
An autumn post wouldn't be right without a shot of ripening Hazelnuts. I'm sure the squirrels will make short work of these.
In Britian, Privet is so often used as hedging and is generally clipped and sheared to uniform shapes, but on the reserve, we get to see this unassuming plant as it is meant to be with its plump black berries at this time of year. I'm sure these will be snapped up shortly too!
That's all for now from Rodden Reserve.