Friday, 4 November 2016

Nov 4th Cley and Holt

Wigeon everywhere!
Oh look, I am at Cley once again. But this time, it is my dad who is the one with me. We also began our visit with a walk along the East Bank first, a break from tradition. It was actually a very interesting walk towards the beach with hundreds of wigeon grazing on the marshy fields adjacent to the bank. Bearded tits made brief appearances, popping out of the reed beds on the opposite side of the bank, alerting their presence to us with pinging calls. As we neared closer to the beach, curlews, redshanks and a water rail produced reasonably close views as they continued to probe the pools for a meal. Above us, the barking calls brent geese echoed down to my ears, the first time since they departed to their breeding grounds back in spring.

Little Egret
Grey Plover
Water Rail
Blackbird (a Scandinavian one)
Dad at the beach
Thatching one of the hides
After a quick stop at the visitor centre, it was back to tradition as we made our way to the three hides at the centre of the reserve. Unfortunately, one of these hides was having its roof re-thatched, which meant that there were no birds on a couple of the three pools due to the workmen's disturbance. Only one of the hides was worth entering, but only just. Most of the birds were down the other end of the pool and there weren't as many to look at compared to what we saw from the East Bank, but we did manage to see a couple of distant marsh harriers, dunlin, reed buntings, a black-tailed godwit and a pintail. On the way back, a few stonechats were posing for us on top of some tufts of reeds opposite the ditch next to the main path, delighting passers by.

Female Pintail
Black-tailed Godwit
Pied Wagtail

Male Stonechat

Female Stonechat
Daylight was fading as we were leaving Cley, but we weren't finished with birdwatching just yet. A Scandinavian invasion had been reported across north Norfolk and we decided to visit one location that these invaders were as we made our way home. We had a tip off that a flock of waxwings had been seen all day by the entrance to a prep school in Holt. As soon as we arrived to this school, we knew we were in the right place as there were a couple of people with scopes and cameras watching some trees from the roadside. I got out of the car and I immediately could hear the waxwings calling, which has a jingling bell-like quality to it. They were sitting in a large chestnut tree on one side of the school's main gate and every now and then would fly down to a bush full of berries along the roadside fence on the opposite end of the gate in front of us. There were so many of them that it was impossible to tell the exact number as branches and leaves were hiding a majority of them.
Waxwings are beautiful looking birds and are winter visitors to the UK. They are often a bird everyone wants to see. I have seen them on a few occasions now, but I can never say no in seeing them again and again. Its their punk-like crests that I really love the most, but its the red patch on the wing that actually gives the bird its name. This red patch apparently feels waxy to touch, plus it looks a bit like sealing wax. In some winters, waxwings visit the UK in great numbers, an invasion as it were. These invasions don't happen every year, so it looks like this winter is going to be one of those invasion years. If you want to see a waxwing for yourself, just find a tree full of berries and you may get lucky. It doesn't matter where you live, city or countryside, as long as there are plenty of berries for them to gorge on, your chances of seeing one is pretty good, especially if this is indeed an invasion year. Good luck!

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