Sunday, 7 May 2017

May 7th Cley

Dawn at Cley
Today is International Dawn Chorus Day and for this year, Dad and I woke up really early and travelled to the north Norfolk coast. We arrived at the car park by Cley's East Bank at 4:40am. The sky was covered in thick gloomy-looking clouds in various shades of blue as the dim light begins to lift towards the bottom of the horizon. Sedge warblers dominate the soundscape as many of them sing their energetic warbles close to us, often popping out of cover for a short song flight before parachuting back down again. A new day is on the verge of being born.

In the videos below, you should be able to hear parts of this morning's coastal dawn chorus and its cast of songsters (as well as the sea breeze blowing into the camera). You should be able to hear birds such as sedge warblers, redshanks, the odd growling of a shelduck and a few other species too. Also, I would like to point out that the light was rather dim to get many clear photos of the wildlife, so I apologise about the bad quality in some of the shots I managed to get this morning.

As the sky grew brighter and brighter by the minute, more birds added their voices to the chorus. The yodelling calls of the redshanks were perhaps the most wonderful and possibly one of the main stars of the show. The piping calls of the avocets is another, though it was less frequent than the redshanks. Reed buntings then joined in, followed by the honking of greylag geese and the squeaking of their goslings. I also heard the odd meadow pipit and lapwing, black-headed gulls, mallards, Canada geese and a brief ping from a bearded tit or two. Meanwhile, in the gloomy darkness of the saltmarshes that had yet been touched by the light, I saw grey plovers, godwits and oystercatchers, while Dad said he saw a hare run by, but I missed it.

Greylags with goslings

Godwits and Grey Plovers
Grey Plovers
Black-tailed Godwits
Sedge Warbler (facing the wrong way!)
Sunrise over the sea
We reached the beach and the sun was peeking through the clouds low along the horizon of the sea, bathing the surrounding area in an orange glow. The surface of the sea was also reflected this orange light and with gulls flying over it, the scene was rather romantic-looking. In comparison, the sky behind us was still dull and gloomy. Dad and I sat on a makeshift bench of a piece of driftwood and watched the sun rise over the sea while eating a slice of cake (an unusual breakfast item, I know).

Dad enjoyed the sunrise with a flask of tea
Gloomy scenes behind us!
Sunrise over the saltmarshes
After our cake and tea break, it was now bright enough to see everything clearly. We were also making our way back along East Bank to return to the car. Along the way, we saw little egrets, red-legged partridges, a marsh harrier, a kestrel, a heron and two roe deer at the edge of a field in the distance. Late additions to the chorus were wrens, willow warblers, blackcaps, dunnocks and skylarks. This was a very different dawn chorus compared to my previous choruses through the years. It wasn't as magical as last year at Strumpshaw, but it was certainly new experience, though I was disappointed and surprised not to hear birds such as curlews or the 'drumming' of a snipe. Still, it was a chorus to remember.
A distant shot of a Roe Deer

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