One dip and a tick? No, three ticks!!!

I was beginning to feel a bit pathetic really, moaning about my back and migraine etc so decided it was time to get back to some serious pursuing . A couple of birds that I really like but have rarely seen have flown into Norfolk over the past couple of days. We should have gone out yesterday but it was just too hot for comfort, the trouble is the forecast for today was very similar. The decision was made, we would go out to try and see the two of them but we would go early before the day heated up too much.

So at 5.30 am the alarm sounded and I leapt from my bed, (well any way I got up ) closely followed by Ian. Now if you know Ian you will probably know he is a man that doesn’t start any day unless it is by eating a bowl of cornflakes, Kellog’s cornflakes, 365 days a year, 366 this year! So a quick breakfast, no time for a cuppa and we were out at 6 am, I hoped the odd owl might still be around but no luck with that, we did however see enough Pigeons to feed a small nation for a month! IMG_8535 moon

First bird on our hit list was a Wryneck, a bird I have only ever seen once before, several years ago now. We drove to Weybourne, walked to where it had been seen as recently as last evening and waited and waited. Now I have heard it said of birds, ” Clear night , clear off!” I so hoped this little chap hadn’t cleared off but it seemed it may have done so we left somewhat disappointed but knowing we wouldn’t be so very far off if it was sighted. It seemed like a dip to start the day, not good.IMG_8486 weyborne mill

 

However our time there wasn’t wasted. We watched a  beautiful display by an Arctic skua, as it ambushed gulls in the air to try to steal the fish they had caught. It had a good deal of success and really was a good spectacle and also a year tick. Next came the arrival from over the sea of what I thought was a very large moth with feathered antennae, but it wasn’t a moth, it was a Cock chaffer! It flew around having reached land at last but here comes the sad part, it never got the chance to touch down! A crow flew in and snapped it up, the thought of making such a journey only to end up as a crow’s snack seemed a sorry affair.

Next we were treated to two new butterflies, one elusive the other sat and posed a while. We had a Small heath and also (as seen here) a clouded yellow, both came in off the sea.IMG_8466 clouded yellow

Next stop, West Runton to try for a Red-backed shrike, it had been seen last evening but the good news was it had also been seen this morning, I was optimistic. A Red-backed shrike was the bird that really got me into birding, when I was out with Peter and we watched one sitting on a shrub, flying off, catching a bug and then back again. It carried on like this for ages and I was delighted, thanks to the RBS and Peter I was hooked!

First though the walk back to the car where we saw this Gatekeeper butterfly  feeding close by to a  hoverfly.

Next treat was a seal swimming close to the shore line

Car parked at West Runton and  the shortest walk imaginable and we were where the bird had been seen. We were in luck, just a few minutes later we saw it, hooray! It flew and landed at some distance away, soon though it flew again and landed much closer.IMG_8496 RBS

If it looks like these shots were taken through a dirty window or through a dirty lens, look again. They are little bugs, or as the RBS likes to call them; dinner!

What a little beauty and the memories of my first real birding day with Peter came flooding back. On that day we saw other good things just like today. A little bonus was a visit from a Whinchat, sitting along from the shrike.IMG_8529 whinchat

Whilst there we heard that the Wryneck had been seen again, an easy decision was made…back to Weybourne. Not long and we were again walking down the beach but feeling fairly hopeful although we had heard it was elusive. We arrived and once again waited but this time we were rewarded! Distant but clear view of the Wryneck, brilliant that doubled the number I have seen now and was our third year tick for the day.

Whilst there we also saw a pair of Pied flycatchers which I am fairly sure are the first I have seen in Norfolk. My favourite, the Wheatear was also present, this had been well worth the early start.

We popped to Janice and Chris’ for a coffee and were invited to stay for lunch, well it would have been rude to refuse wouldn’t it?! It was very welcome especially after our rather early and hurried start to the day, thank you both very much.

We didn’t exactly rush off but took our time chatting before going for a stroll in Holt Country Park looking for more butterflies, We weren’t in the best part of the park and only found this Speckled Wood but as we were both feeling weary we decided to head for home. IMG_8569 speckled wood

So after a brief stop for provisions, (got to make sure a fella has enough milk in for his flakes tomorrow) we headed home very satisfied with our three bird and two butterfly ticks a good day and well worth the early alarm call.

Note to self…check I didn’t put the alarm on to repeat tomorrow!

 

 

 

Cley-next-the-sea

Cley-next-the-sea has been a special place for me since we first began visiting Norfolk and we spent two very happy holidays in Cley itself. We stayed in the house next to the old NWT  visitors’ centre and paid lots of visits to the bird reserve and the pebble beach. In those time there was a large bank between the car park and the beach, now the weather has changed it a lot. The bank has gone, it is now flat and this shelter used to be above ground, I remember our children going into it but I wouldn’t like them to try now!

Today we headed for Cley in the hope of seeing Spoonbills, we intended to make a quick stop in Swaffham then go straight over but no such luck, due to an incident which is now known, in my mind at least as fridgegate!!! At the weekend our fridge/freezer broke, typically the next few days were by far the hottest so far this year. After failing to find anyone to fix it we decided to just buy a new one, a simple one but as long as it worked I would be happy. Our local electrical store was very helpful and the next day of shiny new one arrived, a bargain as it was one the store bought as part of a buy out of another local shop. All looked good until I tried to fill it and discovered that the salad drawer and shelf were not compatible, with them both in place the door won’t shut! Stuart, the salesman couldn’t have been more helpful but after over an hour of phone calls we still have a fridgegate situation! Seems it may have to be returned and we may have to try again but there is still one more chance of a solution on Monday so watch this space!IMG_7174 fridge door

So later than we hoped for we arrived at Cley beach car park and walked along to the North scrape where Spoonbills had been reported earlier. As we approached the blind a man was walking away so of course we asked if they were still there. There followed a good news/ bad news situation as yes they were there but due to the lay of the land all he had seen was an occasion glimpse of the top of their heads! Not quite what we had hoped for but it would be better than nothing…just! Well my walking boots were dry and mud free so I decided to hop up onto the bench, they were distant but eminently viewable.

Better than just the tops of their heads for bird 238 I reckon! There was not a lot else to hold our interest but we had noticed butterflies on our way so we went in search of them. We thought at first there were lots of Meadow browns but later realised they were in fact Gatekeepers, another little beauty.

We also saw Small skippers, they were very flighty so I only managed a couple of shots.

We hope over the next few days to get out butterfly hunting again but for today we were going to see my sister and brother-in-law. On our way back to the car we saw some ‘contemporary art’ and to be honest I thought it was ok but was slightly underwhelmed! As I walked towards it I saw that it was meant to line up with the natural surroundings and then it looked quite different and I was rather taken with it so hats off to Brian Korteling!

Next stop Janice and Chris’ where a warm welcome awaited us along with coffee followed shortly by lunch and a lovely chatty couple of hours together. Thank you J & C.

We are heading back to Scotland soon and are going via the Lake district so hopefully there will be things to report before too long…Scotland here we come!IMG_7221 thistle