Posts Tagged ‘Cley next the Sea


Lincs or Essex

We were speaking to the ‘rellies’ in Australia today when the alert popped up. A red breasted Goose at Cley.

I’d been conscious of a couple of these arctic breeding geese being in both Essex and Lincolnshire this winter. I must admit as we were driving to Cley, shortly after hanging up the phone, I made the comment it was probably the Lincolnshire bird that had made the leap across The Wash. It wasn’t until I got to Cley friend Mark told us the Lincolnshire bird was still present. So this bird must have flown North from Essex.

These small colourful geese should be wintering around the Black Sea before returning to Arctic Russia. Occasionally they get wrapped up with other geese species and end up in the UK. The Cley bird was with a large flock of Dark bellied Brents and was quite obliging.


“To your right!”

The intermittent Iceland Gull within the Cley area recently, has been damn difficult to see. We were stood in the ‘beach hotel’ at the NWT Car Park when it flew east just offshore at nothing less than warp eight speed. “Our engines canny take any more Jim” It couldn’t have flown faster had it been designed by Sir Frank Whittle.

Too quick for some to see … apparently.



Long ago … in a place far, far away … I saw my first Grasshopper Warbler. I had heard them a-plenty but never clapped eyes on one. Elusive little suckers they are; ‘reeling’ from within a bush or bramble and only venturing out in the half-light. They are true denizens of the twilight hours. I didn’t find it myself. It was located by my step daughter. As we stood slightly apart scanning the vegetation the conversation went something like this …

“I can see it!”

“Sssshhh Beckie”

“… It’s here!”

“Will you be quiet, I’m trying to find this warbler”

“… but Carlie … I CAN SEE IT”

I stood behind her … … “Bloody hell she can too!”

I reckon she must have been about seven at the time. Beckie now lives in Australia, and is a parent herself. She reminded me of that conversation just this last week. I can still see the bird in my mind’s eye sat in the reed bed at Blacktoft Sands and I can still see her proud little face staring up at me. She found it!

In a moment of deja vous a couple of days ago at Cley Marshes I came face to face with an atypical Grasshopper Warbler. A Grasshopper Warbler that had not read the books; one that took to perching up and singing in the middle of the day. It cried out to be photographed.

This one is for you Beckie xxX

Grasshopper Warbler

I just love the subtle flecks and edging to the feathering and the chevrons on the under-tail coverts on these birds. The shades of forest, dark yellows and olives within the plumage are worthy of any artist’s palette.

Grasshopper Warbler II

2015 04 24 Grasshopper Warbler Cley Marshes Norfolk_Z5A7503



Grey Phal.

On several tours recently Grey Phalaropes have made an appearance. They always remind me of wind-up toys; some sort of clockwork spinning top. I particularly liked the one that spent a little time at Cley recently. We saw it on several tours and I enjoyed photographing it.

2014 10 17 Grey Phalarope Cley Norfolk_Z5A8714



A couple of years ago when we went to Canada, I had a conversation with a local Acadian birder. When he knew where we were from he asked if I had seen the White Crowned Sparrow at Cley-next-the-Sea some four or more years earlier.

When the Sparrow, a native of North America, arrived in North Norfolk in January 2008 it stayed for a while in gardens close to the church and lots of people came to see it; after all it was only the fifth time the species had been seen in Britain. Every visitor threw a coin or two in a bucket that was put towards the restoration of the stained glass north window in the church. In commemoration of the tiny avian provider a small panel within the window was given over to an image of the sparrow. It was this story to which the Canadian birder referred. Good acts of generosity have a wide audience.

A week or so ago I found myself on the green in front of the Three Swallows Pub … almost next door to Cley church. I called in and took a photograph or two of the now famed window. Whilst there I also saw the window in the east transect. This much earlier window details St Francis of Assisi surrounded by birds. I could see waders, Egrets, Herons, Owls and Wagtails among others. At his feet stands a Bluethroat; testament perhaps to the areas continued association with rare and migrant birds.

The Window

2014 01 14 Cley Church Window Cley next the Sea Norfolk_Z5A5753

The Original

White Crowned Sparrow IMG_3804

The other window

2014 01 14 Cley Church Window Cley next the Sea Norfolk_Z5A5755

2014 01 14 Cley Church Window Cley next the Sea Norfolk_Z5A5773

2014 01 14 Cley Church Window Cley next the Sea Norfolk_Z5A5777

2014 01 14 Cley Church Window Cley next the Sea Norfolk_Z5A5778


A new seawatching hide at Cley

… however architect grossly over estimates how warm it can be on the north Norfolk Coast.

Art? in the eye of the beholder I guess; but does it have to be placed in one of our most beautiful places?

I view good art as something I can’t do or I can’t produce. Give me a Turner or a Constable any day. That IS Art. Where are the metal thieves when you need them?

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Jun 2023


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