Friday, 28 April 2017

Three Days in North Norfolk - 3

Sedge warbler in the Cley reedbed

This is really a post for our list of wildlife sightings over the three days - plus a few photos.

All sightings were made in North Norfolk during a three-day break.

The places we visited (and saw wildlife) included:

[1] NWT Cley
[2] NT Morston Quay, Blakeney
[3] NWT Holme Dunes
[4] Snettisham (beach near RSPB reserve)
[5] Hunstanton
[6] Holkham estate
[7] Brancaster staithe
[8] Hawk and Owl Trust Reserve at Sculthorpe Moor
[9] (English Heritage) North Elmham Saxon Cathedral - in the Wensum Valley, where hedgerows removed by the 1980s have now been restored.
[10] (English Heritage) Creake Abbey

We are far from expert birders and sometimes get our identifications wrong. But it is always interesting to record what we have seen... and to enjoy the surprises along the way.


[1] Avocet
[2] Bar-tailed Godwit
[3] Bearded tit
[4] Blackbird
[5] Black-backed gull
[6] Black-headed gull
[7] Blue tit
[8] Bullfinch
[9] Buzzard
[10] Carrion crow
[11] Chaffinch
[12] Collared dove
[13] Coot
[14] Cormorant
[15] Curlew
[16] Dunnock
[17] Goldfinch
[18] Greylag
[19] Great tit
[20] Grey Heron
[21] Herring gull
[22] House martin
[23] Kestrel
[24] Knot
[25] Lapwing
[26] Linnet
[27] Little egret
[28] Little Owl
[29] Little ringed plover
[30] Long-tailed tit
[31] Mallard
[32] Marsh harrier
[33] Moorhen
[34] Mute swan
[35] Nuthatch
[36] Oystercatcher
[37] Pheasant
[38] Pied wagtail
[39] Pinkfoot geese
[40] Red-legged partridge
[41] Redshank
[42] Reed bunting
[43] Ringed plover
[44 ] Robin
[45] Sedge warbler
[46] Shelduck
[47] Shoveler
[48] Skylark
[49] Song thrush
[50] Sparrow
[51] Starling
[52] Swallow
[53] Teal
[54] Wood Pigeon 
[55] Wren

Cley - the path to the sea via Arnold's Marsh


[1] Grey squirrel
[2] Hare
[3] Muntjac
[4] Rabbit
[5] Rat and one young
[6] ?Vole
[7] Weasel (seen by David and confirmed by wildlife ranger)


[1] Tadpoles and frog spawn

Cley windmill and the tower of St Margaret's, Cley


[1] Alderfly
[2] Black beetle (not sure which sort...)
[3] Brown-tail moth tents and caterpillars
[4] Eyed ladybird? (awaiting iRecord identification)
[5] Green-veined white butterfly
[6] Harlequin ladybird
[7] Kidney-spot ladybird
[8] Orange-tip butterfly
[9] Peacock butterfly
[10] Woodlouse

NWT Holme Dunes - Brown-tail moth tents and caterpillars

As above - shades of Miss Havisham and her wedding cake, perhaps...

Sea purslane - I think on the mudflats at Morston Quay

Water front at Wells-next-the-Sea

Looking back to St Nicholas church, Blakeney, with its distinctive pair of towers

Herring gull at Blakeney

Remains of St Edmund's Chapel, Hunstanton (Hunston)

North Elmham Chapel/Saxon Cathedral

North Elmham Chapel/Saxon Cathedral from the castle mound

North Elmham. Guess who is happy to have found a sign...

Oystercatcher in the evening sunlight

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Three Days in North Norfolk - 2

Bearded tit
I mentioned that I would add some more Cley photos in a second post, so here they are. We were thrilled to see Bearded tits in the deep reedbeds with the Sedge Warblers. We stood poised on the path, listening for the ping that often precedes their presence. These beautiful birds are extremely elusive!

But it was not just tits and warblers in among the reeds. It was lovely to see a few butterflies, including this Peacock in a sheltered spot below the raised path to Cley from Morston Quay. 


We were just about to enjoy our picnic lunch when I noticed what I took from a distance to be a female Orange Tip, but when I drew near I realised it was actually a Green-veined White, another seasonal first for me. We actually saw several flying about near a patch of dandelions. 

Unlike the Peacock butterfly, this black beetle was strolling along the top of the bank in the sunshine. 

David noticed a streak of red in the brambles at the edge of the raised path, and it turned out to be the chest of a Linnet. I think this is my best view to date of a Linnet's back. What lovely pied markings on the tail.

There are usually quite a few Avocets on the Cley reserve. I was so hoping to take a photo of one in flight, but this will have to wait for another occasion. I see it is the 70th birthday of RSPB Minsmere (down the coast, into Suffolk) this weekend and that there is a new Avocet mug to mark the occasion. 

These Bearded tit pictures below are definitely 'click-and-shoot' shots, but who could resist these magnificent little birds? And it seems to me that the 'beard' is definitely more of a moustache!

There were several ladybirds along the path to the sea at Cley. 

 I am puzzled by this one, though, as it looks very like an Eyed Ladybird
but I don't think the habitat is quite right 
as these insects are usually found on pine trees and other conifers. 
Another insect for the UK Ladybird Survey...

I love this landscape of mere, reedbed, sea and sky. Tides and migrant birds come and go, just like the light and the shadows. 

There was just time for a slice of malteaser cake on the terrace at NWT Cley before heading home to Suffolk.

Species list to follow, but do click on the yellow background and take a look at a wonderful post on North Norfolk from fellow blogger, Adam Tilt.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Three Days in North Norfolk - 1

At Morston Quay, with Blakeney Point out to the left

We returned from North Norfolk a couple of days ago after a glorious time around the coast. There is so much wildlife in the area: we counted 45+ species of bird and had several encounters with animals. It was good to see a few insects emerging. I took (too) many photos so will save some for the next post. As you can see, the weather was bright at times, though often chilly. The National Trust photo here gives a good impression of the landscape.

The path to Arnold's Marsh, NWT Cley

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre at Cley is always a favourite destination. The sea is just beyond the ridge.

Morston Quay, looking back to Blakeney
The North Norfolk skyline is peppered with towers, spires and masts.

The light may be intoxicating at times but the soundscape is compelling, too. We enjoyed the heady mix of Skylark song, Oystercatcher calls and the occasional Curlew.

Morston Quay

There were plenty of waders in the mudflats, including Redshank. 

The view from Morston Quay

The blue building in the distance is the Blakeney Point Visitor Centre...

A bit of camera-shake, but it gives a good impression
... It was built in 1898 and was originally a lifeboat station. 

Blakeney Point

Once again, a good zoom was needed; but my record shot shows the Watch House, which had previous lives as a Customs and Excise lookout (yes, there was smuggling activity along this coast) and later as an official coastguard station.

Back in Cley, just along the coast, there were good numbers of Little Egrets. I recall seeing these birds for the first time some 26 years ago when we first arrived in Swansea. I believe (if my memory serves me correctly) that they were all or mostly migrant visitors at that stage. These days many of them breed in the UK and live here all year round.

It is always hard to drag oneself away from the Cley area, but we had other sites on our agenda, including a first visit to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust site of Holme Dunes, along the coast in a westerly direction. This beautiful coastline hugs the Wash, and is wild, windswept and a very fragile environment.


You can see the attempts to slow down the effects of coastal erosion...

... and although this could hardly be a more different setting, I was reminded of that evocative line by Keats in Ozymandias

'the lone and level sands stretch far away...'

We saw a few Ringed Plovers on the beach, and plenty of evidence of bird life in the empty shells that were scattered along the tideline.

NWT Holm Dunes, Norfolk
The photo above fails to do justice to a remarkable boardwalk, but you can just make out the ridge on which it stands. David is looking east towards Burnham Overy and Brancaster (with its Saxon Shore fort remains). The Wash is away to his left.

To our surprise and delight, we found a reserve within a reserve, and we enjoyed visiting the NOA hides and looking at the ringing nets. There were charms of Goldfinches in the trees, and quite a few Linnets, too. There were Pink-footed Geese nestling in the grassy areas - and a few Lapwing doing their aerial acrobatics.

Insect in spider's web, bird hide, NOA Observatory reserve at Holme

I mentioned insects, and there were plenty of these strange black ones in the air. It must have been their time for hatching out. I will try and get an identification. We saw them at Cley and Holme.

As we left the nature reserves at Holme we noticed a number of caterpillar tents. They are aleways interesting to see.

We encountered this unusual pair of Mallards at the approach to the beach in Snettisham, another excellent birding spot on The Wash. Mallards, of course, are renowned for their hybridising partnerships (and are sometimes known as 'manky Mallards'), so perhaps these ducks were not so unusual after all.

 We knew that Snettisham was a good place for waders, 
 and as you can see, we were not disappointed.

There were also a few Shelduck and Oystercatchers around.

You can see the vast mudflats around this part of The Wash. From Holme we thought we caught a glimpse of the famous 'Boston Stump' across the vast expanse of water.

Folk at the RSPB Wildlife Fair in Norfolk last year had recommended the Hawk and Owl Trust reserve at Sculthorpe Moor, so we felt it was time to pay it a visit. The boardwalks were long and well maintained.

Sculthorpe Moor, near Fakenham

There were signs of spring everywhere, including out on the water. This was one of a clutch of nine Mallard ducklings.

More insects - above and below - and both species in need of identification. I will add in the names if the kind people on iSpot are able to help.

It was good to see tadpoles...

I am more familiar with ladybirds, and it was good to see our first 2017 Kidney-spot ladybird on the trunk of a tree.

David produced his measuring card, and I will log the ladybird's details on the UK Ladybird Survey site.

We did not see any moles, but there were some new mole heaps about. We also noticed a huge mole fortress, something quite new to me.

This little chap (too small for a rat) was scampering below a bird feeder...

The creature was incredibly nimble and I kept missing a good (photo) shot.

Missed again - just a couple of golden-brown ears!

This was an impressive hide!

Our sightings at Sculthorpe Moor included Reed Bunting (above), Bullfinch and Nuthatch.

More woolly than wild, but we enjoyed watching these Suffolk (or Suffolk-cross) sheep.

More tadpoles!

We had good sightings of Sedge Warbler at Cley and Sculthorpe...

There were a few pairs of Teal at Cley: I love that iridescent splash of emerald on the female!

Wells - for waterfront fish and chips!
A seal of sorts... (unfortunately the seal boats were not accessible)

Part 2 to follow... but for an account of the birding scene in this area
by someone who knows his species far better than we do,
why not click here to visit Adam Tilt's blog
and share his North Norfolk adventures.