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.

16 comments:

Chris said...

Wow the bearded tit!!! I'd love to get a shot of them... I've only seen it once in south of France, but no time to get a picture... Beautiful post Jenny, this place seems remarkable for birding!

Jenny said...

Hi Chris, glad you got to see one in France. They're amazing looking birds and I love their 'pinging' calls. Did you try the video and if so, did it work? Just curious. J

Kelly said...

Wow! Now this looks like a place I'll have to cross the pond for! Some day I'll get there... Love the snowy white on the Black-headed Gull. Great captures... I didn't realize you had Horned Larks. I love those little birds. I get to see them most often in the winter. I love listening to their sweet calls...

Roy said...

Lovely post. It is a great coastal area for birding Jen and you do get some great sky images on the shoreline. Well done for seeing the Bearded Tits and Shorelarks. The trip was worth it just for that.

Rural Rambler said...

Wren, put me in with all the others that admire the Bearded Tit. What a fabulous colored and marked bird. They look like they have been painted in pastels. Love the Black-headed Gull with her skirt all flyin' up! Glad you had a great trip to such a good bird watching place :)

Funny you noticed the dovetails in the coffee table, but it doesn't surprise me ;) I think I bought that table just for the six dovetails! I'd love the coffee table a whole lot more if it had been the art of your hubby :)

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, if/when you do eventually get over here, I'd love to act as chaufeur and birding guide! (-: Norfolk is consistently the best, but Somerset has it's gems too! (-:

Hi Roy, we saw so much on this week. It was a luxury to have so much time. Normally it's a 3day dash! (-:

Hi Pix, Bearded Tits are one of those birds that I could never ever tire of seeing, and not just because I don't see them that often.

Sharon said...

Jenny - love your shots of the Bearded Tits, never seen one but think they're absolutely gorgeous. They look so velvety! I look forward to your next Norfolk post!

Mary said...

What a great place! You seem to have hit the jackpot in seeing great birds. That Bearded Tit is so unusual! Really gorgeous. I'm glad you got some photos of it. Lovely gull shots...I had to look it up to see why it didn't have a black head despite its name :-) Beautiful egret! That shot of it taking off is really pretty. Your digiscope seems to work pretty well. I need something like that. Those are great Horned Lark shots....I've never gotten a decent shot of one yet. They seem to look just like ours. That sea view is beautiful, but looks cold.

TonyC said...

Ah Jen! More memories. I remeber a few uncomfortable sea watches at Cley. Well done with the beardies. Looking forward to the next installment.......

Jenny said...

Hi Sharon, I just looked it up and unfortunately Bearded Tits don't seem to be in Ireland! Shame! Next post should be up shortly!

Hi Mary, our Shorelarks are the same bird as you Horned Larks. Digicoping is just a question of putting a camera (my point and shoot Canon) right up against the lens of the telescope. There are gadgets available to hold the camera firmly in place, but I can't be faffing with that and just try my luck somtimes. You might want to look into getting a small scope. I can guarantee you'd love using one. I not sure which makes you get over there, but I'm sure you could get some recommendations from birders over there. All I would say is, if you do decide to buy one, then try and go for the best one that your budget can afford.

Jenny said...

Hi Tony, your comment only just came into my inbox! I don't think I ever 'did' Norfolk with you, but I think you probably went with Paul and Marcus before I was birding probably. Glad it brought back memories even uncomfortable ones!
(-:

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a wonderful birding experience. Your photos of the birds are wonderful.

Quiet Paths said...

Such a beautiful spot. I am always amazed at the variety of birds on the ocean and near the sea. I guess everyone loves that climate. You got some neat, neat shots, Jenny.

Jenny said...

Hi there Eileen, many thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment. I'm glad you like it! (-:

Hi Christine, I love being by the sea (one of your fav places too I know). We were lucky with the weather on the whole, but in winter that coastline can be bitter! (-:

Eve said...

What a great fun time Jenny!!! I've never heard of the Bearded Tits! They are very smart!! Great photos and I'm off to see more.

Quiet Paths said...

I wanted to mention that each time you post pics of the flora it makes me feel like I am standing right there. They give one a good sense of what the terrain is like.