Sunday, 28 October 2012

25th October Senior Clayheads day out to Norfolk (or Birding with the Greyheads!)

Purpose of this report is to dispel any malicious rumours that we were in Yorkshire auditioning for “Last of the Summer Wine”

DK, JJ, GAS & COL left Newcastle at a leisurely pace at 7.45 in DK’s big white Cadillac. The route took us through Melton Mowbray and the thought of all those pies had JJ salivating and had to be restrained whilst passing all the pie outlets with a promise of one on the way back, which we knew would not happen as they would hopefully be shut.

When 32 miles out from Kings Lynn, we had a change of driver, JJ taking the wheel. Unfortunately this coincided with the appearance of roundabouts that caused JJ to have “Senior Moments”, which caused him to choose randomly which exit to take from said roundabout! This meant we had a pleasant ride through the countryside before returning to our original route. As the Sat Nav was switched off we resorted to a “paper map” reader in the back seat (GAS) whilst DK became road sign spotter! Col slept through all this dreaming of Pintails and Avocets.
As the target bird had not been relocated this day, it meant the pressure was off the group and we made our way to the Cley Reserve car park passing on the way the site of the now famous White-crowned sparrow.

Not having a Sat Nav to guide us across the Marsh! we set off in the wrong direction! However the rear gunner again magically produces a “Paper map” and with this in hand DK safely guided us to the hide overlooking Pat’s Pool. Strangely all the birds seem to congregate on Pat’s Pool to the exclusion of all other pools so we knew we had the right one.

We soon observed five small waders, which eventually proved to be 3 Dunlin, a White-rumped Sandpiper and a Curlew Sandpiper. They were provided with a backdrop of Wigeon, Pintails, Avocets, Gadwalls, and Godwits etc. so COL.s dream came true as he gleefully spotted the real birds! On the way back across the Marsh we were entertained by a family of Bearded Tits flying around us to round off trip to Cley Marsh.

Distant shot of the Cley White-rumped Sandpiper by DK

A quick drive towards the East Bank to the car park had nothing to view so a quick lunch break was had.

DK took over the driving as we moved along the coast. We found the road called Greenway and found ourselves at Stiffkey Salt Marsh. Although we knew the Red-flanked Bluetail had not been located today we called as it was on our way. There were less than half a dozen birders about, but immediately on arrival some saw momentarily a Yellow-browed Warbler and a couple of Bramblings. As we waited for DK to return from a trek in the wood, a passing birder casually mentioned that a Black Redstart was to be found in the adjacent caravan field. This was soon located and photographed by DK

Black Redstart taken by DK
Unfortunately the coast road ahead was closed so a diversion inland was necessary passing through Burnham Overy, Burnham Market and Burnham Deepdale. This meant that the best Mussel trading posts were bypassed which meant that the Junior Clayheads had no Mussels for tea. Better luck next time.

We eventually arrived at Brancaster Staithe, parked up on the harbour approaches and proceeded along an excellent boardwalk. After about seven hundred yards a little group of birders was found looking into trees on the landside of the boardwalk. We soon had good views of the Arctic Warbler, which provided an excellent finale for the day.

Arctic Warbler by DK

Col woke up and took over the steering wheel as we set off back home, he could not be prised out of the seat so DK just sat there dreaming of Red-flanked Bluetails. Ah well there’ll be another bird another day.

All characters mentioned in the above narrative are fictional and any resemblance to living persons or those with similar initials is purely coincidental.

Some of the birds seen are listed below.

Swallow, Marsh Harrier, Carion Crow, Brent Goose, Little Egret, Wigeon, Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Shelduck, Teal, White-rumped Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Black-headed Gull, Ruff, Avocet, Pintail, Redshank, Shoveler, Mallard, Lapwing, Gadwall, Coot, Fieldfare, Bearded Tit, Egyptian Goose, Pied Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Goldfinch, Redwing, Song Thrush, Black Redstart, Yellow-browed Warbler, Brambling, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Kestrel, Ring Ouzel, and Arctic Warbler.