Field Trip North Norfolk Coast – 28 Oct 2012

 WVBS Field Trip,  North Norfolk Coast, Sunday 28th October    reporter Sue Gale

It certainly felt like the coldest day of the Autumn, and we started with a sea watch! But it was worth it, if only for the wonderful views of a Little Auk and the sight of our leader getting his feet very wet in his efforts to secure a good picture.

Cley beach did in fact provide much more than that. There were groups of Eider, Goldeneye, Teal and Common Scoter flyingpast, plenty of Gannets and Cormorants, and a single Shag showing off its diving technique. There were Red and Black- throated Divers, Long – tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser on the sea, and Skylarks, Pipits and Starlings coming in off it. We were ready for a warm-up in the visitor centre while we got tickets for the hides. Some of us chose to shoot off to Salthouse village at this point to see the Barred Warbler showing in a garden, with varying degrees of success. We all reconvened in the main hides, where the Dunlin all seemed to be dunlin, and didn’t include the White-rumped Sandpiper. Lots of water fowl though, including some of my favourites, the Pintails. A walk to the East Bank yielded many Redshanks, a lovely Grey Plover, a couple of Rnged Plover and more ducks.

Over the lunchbreak we made our way to Salthouse beach, stopping off again to see the Barred Warbler for those who had not yet seen it. It was a very obliging bird and showed well in shrubs very close to the road. Once on the beach we tracked down a Shore Lark (horned lark as we must now call it), losing and re-finding it several times. The only short spell of sunshine of the day came just at the right moment to show off the lovely colouring of this bird’s head. Several Snow Buntings flew over and were seen by many. We located the stray Barnacle goose among the Canadas.
On our way to Stiffkey we detoured to Glandford as a Black Redstart had been seen at Cley Spy. It was in full view on top of a roof for the first arrivals, but flew off before many of us had seen it. It took some time to find it again and get good views of it flicking its lovely red tail, during which time we found Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Bramblings feeding on the ground, and a Sparrowhawk soaring overhead. An excellent diversion.
Our walk down to Stiffkey Fen brought more surprises. There was a pre-roost gathering of 30-40 Little Egrets at one end of the pool, that eventually took off to roost in the nearby trees. Over 50 Black-tailed Godwits were in the water with many Lapwings. Starlings were swirling above us and flying in large numbers to a roost further along the coast. And on our walk back we were entertained by two Swallows and a possible House Martin. A great day and many thanks to Steve for leading it.

Species List = 91

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