Leaders: Steve Chapman, David Gibbons and Alan Hughes
Reporters: Jacqui Fenn and Alan Hughes
Bird Lists: David Gibbons and Colin Fenn
On a calm but fresh Saturday morning the members met up at Cley Visitor Centre. As there was such a good turnout we split into two groups; David Gibbons led the 'Clockwise Group' and Alan Hughes 'The Anticlockwise Group'.
We had already enjoyed listing the birds in the car park which included small flocks of
Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Dunnocks before heading off in our different directions.
The 'Anticlockwisers' headed towards the East Bank, first stopping at the hide to look over
the scrape. One very lonely Whooper Swan was among a small number of Shelduck, Teal,
Mallard and Pintail. A few Redshank and Dunlin worked the fringes of the scrape and a flock
of Avocets flew in to boost the numbers. Steve spotted a White-Fronted Goose flying east and
a Merlin was also seen by several people on leaving the hide.
We walked towards the East Bank through what felt like a forest of reeds, for some being too
tall to see over. Marsh Harriers flew low over the tops of the reeds, appearing and
disappearing from view. Smart Reed Buntings fed on the tops of the reed heads as flocks of
Lapwings passed over our heads from inland heading towards the marshes and Pink-footed
Geese made their straggly way seawards calling en route.
Heading along the East Bank towards the sea we saw large flocks of Wigeon, always beautiful
in the bright winter light, along with smart Teal, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew and a small
number of Ringed Plover. Colin had a brief glimpse of a Bearded Tit flying over the reeds but
it seemed odd not to have seen more when it was such a still day. Grey Plover and Turnstones
were also seen but not in any large number. As we got nearer to the sea we saw groups of
people to the west, binoculars in hand, watching a large flock of Snow Bunting in the gravelled
slopes. We hoped to get there in time to get some good views but needless to say as we
neared the beach the flock flew a long way east. The group trudged through the pebbles but
they decided to fly even further away at which point we had to admit defeat! We headed
along the beach towards the 'Clockwisers' to exchange experiences and information. Looking
out to sea was eerily empty. The sea was dead calm but there was a distinct lack of gulls and
seabirds. Steve did manage to spot a Gannet, Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe but
it was otherwise lifeless.
Just before leaving the beach we spotted a female Stonechat perched on the stalk of a
shrubby bush. On our way back up to the main road a Kestrel flew parallel to us and sat on
the top of a telegraph pole looking down at us for a great photo opportunity. Some members
went into the hides on the way back to the Centre before a well-earned lunch break. Thanks
to Alan from the 'Anticlockers'.
After lunch, half of the group decided to stay on for the 2nd part of the field trip. We drove
down to Salthouse beach road, and walked from there along the shingle bank adjacent to
Little Eye, where we were able to enjoy good views of 50-60 Snow buntings before they flew
further Westward, and then back eastwards to Granborough Hill. After a brief sea-watching
session, where we added Guillemot and 3 Great-crested Grebes to our list, we walked along
the Iron Road, then back to Salthouse Village along a path which gave us great views over the
marshes. We didn’t add many new birds, but it was a lovely end to a very enjoyable day –
thank you to everyone who came.
Great Crested Grebe
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly outdoor meetings.