Monday, 1 February 2016

Feb 1st Cley and Sheringham

Today, my mum and I were pondering on where to go. We were thinking of being more adventurous by going somewhere Mum has never taken me before, but she was not confident enough to drive to the places I suggested. So, we ended up playing it save with a visit to Cley instead. Nothing wrong with Cley of course, it is a great place to come to throughout the year, but we have been there so many times and the bacon butties are far too tempting, that I just feel like we should find somewhere new (and without bacon butties!). Anyway, while at the visitor centre watching the reserve as I eat my bacon butty (yes, naughty of me I know), a marsh harrier was soaring low over the scrapes, scaring up the waders and wildfowl into the air. I also spot a few snipe flying over the reserve.

It was very windy today along the coastline. We took shelter in two of the three central hides overlooking the scrapes. The marsh harrier did not show up again once we were inside the hides and the snipe were nowhere to be found either. Fortunately, there were birds to see including; several curlews, black-tailed godwits, dunlin, lapwings, avocets, wigeon, teal, gadwall, shovelers, mallards, shelducks, gulls, a redshank, a little egret and two brent geese.

Godwits and Lapwings
Gulls and Lapwings
Little Egret
Brent Goose
Lapwing and Dunlin
Pink-footed Geese
The air was alive with geese, mainly pink-footed geese in their hundreds, maybe even thousands. They filled the sky with many skiens arriving to the scrapes from the far horizon out at sea, honking noisily with their 'pink-wink-wink' and 'ahng-unk' calls. An aeroplane kept flying low over the reserve and the sound of its engines kept stirring the geese back into the air, creating a 'murmuration' of sorts before landing back down again on the bank along the far side of one of the scrape pools. They were quite amazing to watch and listen to, though I was annoyed about the plane flying so low.

Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull
Before heading home, we popped over to Sheringham for a quick walk along the front. Gulls flocked together, lazing about on the beach. Turnstones were more lively, moving around them like clockwork toys, stopping now and then to lift up seaweed or turn over stones as they searched for a meal underneath them. A flow of water was pouring out of a pipe and towards the sea. This attracted turnstones and gulls to bathe in, flicking the water all over their feathers to get them nice and clean. I also noticed a great black-backed gull feeding on what was the hind flippers of a seal. I hope the photos aren't too upsetting and I apologize if they do, but it is an easy meal for a scavanger like a gull.

Black-headed Gull
Juvenile Herring Gull
Bath Time!
Great Black-backed Gull feeding on Seal carcass
Purple Sandpiper
While at Sheringham, I was looking for one bird in particular. Purple sandpipers are often seen around the rocks of the sea defence here and it wasn't long until I had found one. These birds behave similarly to turnstones, checking every nook and cranny for food and regularly hang out with them. They are winter visitors and you can tell them apart from the yellow legs and their longer, slightly curved bill. They are brown all over, but apparently, if the light hits them just right, a very faint purple sheen can be seen on their backs. It is this sheen that gives the bird its name. A charming bird to watch, though often easily overlooked. Not a bad way to end a day that we planned out on the fly!

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