Tuesday, 16 June 2015

June 16th Cley Marshes NWT

Reed Warbler
Mum and I are back at Cley for a look out of the hides. On the way to the hides, the reedbeds were alive with birds. Reed and sedge warblers kept popping onto the small shrubs to sing and some had insects in their bills. If you can't tell the difference between the two, the sedge warbler has a stripe above the eye and is a sandy brown colour, while reed warblers have no eyestripe and is chestnut brown on top. The songs of the two confuse people the most as they sound similar. I listen to the pace of the song to know who is who. Reed warblers has a regular paced 'churr churr churr' and the sedge warbler is loud, fast and noisy, often mixing it up with whistles like some jazz musician. There were also a few house sparrows around too, adding to the LBJ (Little Brown Jobs) confusion.
Female House Sparrow
Blue Tit with young
We got closer to the hides, but were still distracted to even get inside one. This time a family of blue tits caught our attention. The young are still yellow all over, meaning that they had recently fledged from the nest in the last few days. I am a bit worried about the adult feeding them though. It looks a bit moth eaten with a punk-like hair-do going on. Either it is an old bird or it has a bad case of feather lice. It seems ok, it didn't seem to be bothered by it's appearance at all.

The 'Punk' Tit!
Blue Tit chick
Spoonbills (with Shelduck and Lapwing)
Eventually, we managed to tear ourselves away to get inside one of the hides. Viewing out from it, the first thing that draws me into their direction were about five enormous white birds. These were spoonbills. I don't always see them from these hides when I visit Cley, they are normally at another corner of the reserve where I had to walk far to see them. They were a bit on the lazy side today, though. They were reluctant to show those strange bills of theirs tucked inside their wings. Fortunately, I did get to see the bill when they had to scratch themselves or have a stretch. Behind them, was a group of greenshank. These waders were causing some confusion. Some of the people with us in the hide thought they were green sandpipers, but I wasn't convinced. In the end, I was right, they were indeed greenshanks.

Greenshank and Spoonbill
Awake at last!
Little Gull (last year at Strumpshaw Fen)
From the other hides, our bird tally grew with species such as little ringed plover, black-tailed godwit, avocets with a chick, lapwings, shelduck, oystercatchers, redshanks, skylarks and reed buntings. House martins came down to gather the mud to make their nests with and there were a couple of marsh harriers chasing everything up into the air, with the waders mobbing them in response. The highlight (besides the spoonbills) for me, though, were a couple of little gulls. These are the smallest gulls in Britain and look a bit like black-headed gulls but half the size. If you get to see one flap it's wings, you should see the key most identifiable feature, it's black 'armpits'! Unfortunately, the heat haze caused problems with my camera and most of the images were blurry. Luckly, I do have a pic of a little gull for you to see from last year, when one turned up at Strumpshaw.

Marsh Harrier being mobbed
As we crossed back over the road for the visitor centre, I noticed a strange orchid type plant growing alongside the path. I had no idea what it was, so I sent it to a Facebook page and got it ID'd. Turns out that this was not an orchid but belongs to a close family. This was a species of broomrape, a plant that parasitizes clovers and plants belonging to the pea family. I think it could be the common broomrape, but I was told that it is hard to get an exact ID without cutting it up and looking under a microscope. Who would do that to such an interesting plant?

1 comment:

  1. Lovely encounters! My favorite is certainly that blue tit, incredibly scruffy... poor little thing, so worn out!