Sunday 31 December 2017

3rd Expedition to North Norfolk

28th December 2017
For the last few days of the Christmas Holidays, I decided to spend a weekend in the wildlife-rich county of Norfolk. It was a tiring, three hour drive from London to my first reserve, Wolferton Triangle, which is very famous for its Golden Pheasants (the 'Triangle' is a patch of greenery between two roads). Due to my bad planning, and not reading the most important line from the Birds of Norfolk website ('Switch off your engine and wait: they usually graze by the road'), I left immediately, without seeing a single bird.

I went straight to a much better reserve, RSPB Titchwell Marsh, where I saw hundreds of waders and wildfowl:

Two Marsh Harriers in the distance- there were five in total

Migrant Brent Geese settling on the main lake

Pink-footed Geese, (I call them 'Pinkfeet') coming in to roost


More Pinkfeet!

Probably my best photo from this trip: a Black-tailed Godwit

A Curlew in the sunset

A Turnstone on the beach- the next few photos are from what some of the other birders called 'A hell of a spectacle'

Mixed flock of gulls

Sanderlings and a Turnstone

Black Headed Gulls 

Sanderlings up close

These starfish reminded me of Patrick from SpongeBob!

Little Grebe in winter plumage

Shelduck feeding

29th December 2017
This day was a very bad day for birding, as it rained heavily throughout the day. Even the weather forecast was very unpredictable, as it said it would stop raining at 11:00, then 12:00, and eventually stopped at 5:00. Nevertheless, I made an attempted pilgrimage to the great Cley Marshes, a reserve famed for it frequent rarities (sounds ironic, doesn't it?). For half an hour, I gazed out from the Visitor Centre at the vast expanse of reedbeds, saline pools and lakes, where the only birds I saw were Mallards, Gulls and Curlews. 

As soon as I set foot on the reserve, I realised that it was 12:00- and still raining. I picked up my pace and headed towards the sea because I heard of reports of all three species of divers and Snow Buntings, but realised that it was too far to walk in those weather conditions. Instead, I ran hurriedly to a hide which I forgot the name of, where I met a local photographer, who had travelled from RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk to Cley, and not taken a single photo. We chatted for a bit, and I took some shots of the lake in the rain:

A Shelduck, some Avocets and a Black Headed Gull

Male Shoveler

Another terrible photo of Gulls and Wildfowl

Back at the Visitor Centre, I found the photographer again, who showed me his first photo of the week. He told me that as soon as I left the hide, a Water Rail came! I quickly got over my disappointment, bought a signed copy of Bill Oddie's Tales of a Ludicrous Bird Gardener and saw thirteen Marsh Harriers from the Centre's huge windows! I quickly visited Cley Beach, only to find many Black Headed Gulls. Fortunately, as I was heading out of Cley, a Merlin swooped over my head!

Just like last time, I briefly visited Holkham National Nature Reserve, specifically Lady Ann's Road, for a  rarity, the Black Brant. Sadly, I did not see it, nor did I see the vast flocks of Pinkfeet that are usually there.

30th August 2017
This was the day I was to leave for London, but since today was a much better day than yesterday, I set off on a proper pilgrimage back to Cley. This time, I walked all that way to the sea, and visited the Bishop's Hide, where another birder helped me spot a Snipe!


Wigeons grazing


Shelducks grazing in in a saline pool

Greenshank wading in the distance

Assorted Gulls at sea

Mallards and...wait a minute, why is there a domestic duck there???

Snipe at Bishop's Hide

Pied Wagtail

My best Lapwing photo ever

Gulls and Avocets

Little Egret up close


Marsh Harrier

After walking around the reserve, I visited the gallery, where there was a free exhibition called 'Reflections of Birds'. The gallery was inside one of Cley next the Sea's very own chain of optics shops, CleySpy. When I saw a couple of Opticron scopes fixed to a table, onlooking the reserve, one word came to mind: digiscoping. Digiscoping is a modern technique used by birders, where they put the camera of their phone against the eyepiece of their scope, and take a photo through it. With practice, it can be very rewarding, so I decided to try it out:

A painting from the exhibition of a Short-toed Eagle

Painting of a Bittern

Some Lapwings and Teals

A view of most of the reserve

Great Black-backed Gull with Black Headed Gulls

Different wildfowl sharing one island- can't humans do the same with the world?

Although I did not see a rarity, I am extremely happy that I can say I have been to arguably the greatest reserve in Norfolk, if not Britain. I have seen some beautiful birds, seen wonderful landscapes and met brilliant birders.

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