Monday, 27 April 2015

April 27th Cley

I'm back at Cley yet again with Mum. Now that spring is truly here, it is always worth coming to Cley as it is a hot spot for migrating birds. The spring migration draw a lot of birdwatchers to this reserve as this place is famous for exciting rare and scarce birds turning up. From little ringed plover to Wilson's phalarope, you never know what will be around here. In fact, just a few days ago, a white-tailed eagle flew over this part of North Norfolk (when I wasn't here, typical). So it is always worth a visit to Cley and check the 'menu' (the sightings board) of what is about.

Hare and Red-legged Partridge
The board today was a list full of great migrating birds like sedge warblers and 3 little ringed plovers, but two birds peaked my interest. Spoonbills was my first and I could see one from the telescopes from the Cley Spy building nextdoor to the visitor centre. My second target was a lesser whitethroat and we planned to look for it later. After leaving the Cley Spy building, I noticed something in the field behind it. The unmistakable long ears of a hare bounding across the field, ducked under a hedge and reappeared into the next section of field. A red-legged partridge then joined it and I took this picture. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a heat haze, so this was the best I could get.

Sedge Warbler
We entered the reserve proper and instantly we were greeted with the sight of a sedge warbler singing. Following a dyke towards a bridge and the three hides beyond, we were stopped in our tracks when we saw a bird fly into a branch overhanging over the dyke. I point my binoculars to see if I could find it, but then something in the water below the overhanging branch caught my attention. It was large, rounded, brown and furry. A water vole!! Mum also spotted it and before I could say what it was, she shout out excitedly "Otter!" Then she remembered it was larger than it actually was because she was looking through her binoculars. Yes, embarrassing I know, but worth a laugh.

Water Vole
The water vole swam towrds us and we lost sight of it in the reeds on our side of the dyke. We looked carefully for it, hoping it would return. Passers by were becoming interested in our search and became an audience on the bank with us, all keeping an eye out for voles. Then one appeared from further up the dyke and vanished beneath us on our side again! There must be a burrow here, so we all moved to the bridge for a better vantage point. It worked! Not only did our accompanying audience grow, but also we saw the water vole (or voles) cross the dyke back and forth about 3 or 4 more times. I have never seen a water vole this much before! Better than rare migrants any day! The size surprizes us a little. I had forgotten on how big they were. A magical moment!

Somehow, we managed to draw ourselves away from Ratty and got to the hides, seeing marsh harriers along the way. Black-tailed godwits in gorgeous orange plumage, avocets, redshanks, dunlin, lapwings, shelducks, teal, shovelers and little egrets were busy feeding or sitting around outside the hides on the pools. A harem of female ruff surrounded a larger male, who was flirting with them by bowing and puffing out his plumage that lacked the ruff feathers that would be around his head like a lion's mane. We could also see the spoonbill again but the heat haze made it hard to properly see it. After just two out of three hides, we decided to leave and go look for the lesser whitethroat. On the way out, I found another hare in the distance in a field.

Black-tailed Godwits
Avocet with a Pied Wagtail
Little Egret

We walked towards East Bank to the whereabouts of the lesser whitethroat. We came across it's larger cousin, the common whitethroat singing it's short scratchy song before flying out of it's bush that it was hiding in. No sign of the lesser whitethroat though. It is a much smaller bird with a greyer back, white throat and a completely different song to the brown-backed common whitethroat. I went on alone up the bank to see if it was around there, but still no sign. I did get to see another spoonbill feeding at the pool near the beach. It was a lot easier to see than the previous spoonbill as the heat haze was almost non-existing. I got a few distant shots of these large white birds with the strangest of bills and went back to reunite with Mum for a late lunch.

1 comment:

  1. So lucky to see water voles. I'd love to see one!