Posts Tagged ‘Cley


The Greyest of days

This Grey Phalarope gave us, and others, the run around this week. A flighty young bird if I ever saw one!

I was lucky enough to get a shot of it in defensive posture as a Carrion Crow flew over.

Grey Phalarope.




The fullness of the neck ring on this Branta Goose photographed in the eye Field at Cley last week looks good for Black Brant. The white flank patch also looks pretty good as did the extent of the black belly through the legs. The mantle however looks a little too pale; perhaps indicating this bird is a hybrid. … maybe?

Black Brant



Winter approaches

It must be winter … Snow Bunting a Cley last week.

Snow Bunting


You Mipit

I was having a day off. A busman’s holiday. Standing on the east bank at Cley I was photographing whatever flew by. A Meadow Pipit called, landed and sang a little. I glanced down at the field and what I saw took me back a little.

Not the usual olive green and dull white pipit but an orange breasted creature. The first thing that went through my mind was Red throated Pipit, but this was quickly excluded when it called again and  had a good look at other plumage features. Water Pipit had been reported here the day previously and indeed several people passing asked if that’s what it was; some were sure it was! Despite the peachy colouration and supressed breast streaking the bird had pale legs and a lack of supercillium and it called like a Meadow Pipit. It was a Meadow Pipit … just an odd one.

Trevor Williams has kindly commented that it may be the race ‘whistleri’ from Western Scotland and Ireland. He points to a good article on this race in Birding World. (ref Porter, R ‘Orange Breasted Meadow Pipits – an identification pitfall’ Birding World 18 (4) 169-172). However, I’ve been to Ireland and Western Scotland … lots of times, and I’ve never seen birds like this one. Maybe they are from further north and further east? … or maybe it’s just an oddly marked Mipit! #lotstolearn

Meadow Pipit (2).. Meadow Pipit..


Black Curlews

Black Curlew is an old English name that refers to the Glossy Ibis. It is the use of this name in old texts that lead us to believe this bird once bred on these shores during ancient times.

As far as I’m aware Glossy Ibes (the plural never sounds right) are not currently breeding in Britain but there are certainly a lot around; scattered across the country in singles and small groups. This is usual of late. The species is prone to late winter wanderings and a few landing on our doorstep from time to time is to be expected. It is a bird more at home in the warmer climate of the Mediterranean. In 1993 a regular breeding pair took hold in Spain but by 2007 the population in the Iberian Peninsula had increased to 3777 pairs. In the Camargue the breeding has risen from 14 pairs in 2006 to 478 in 2010. Despite numbers globally decreasing, in Western Europe numbers appear to be on the up!

The first breeding record for France outside the Camargue took place in 2011 just outside Nantes … just 300 miles from the British Coastline.

As we watched a Glossy Ibis feeding in the flooded grazing meadows in the Glaven Valley here in Norfolk the day before yesterday I couldn’t help wondering how long it would be before Black Curlews once again became a regular backdrop to our countryside.

Glossy Ibis


The Great Storm of 2013

Destruction abounded along the coast here after the high tides last nights and this morning. The pictures speak for themselves.

The Centre Hides at Cley – North Hide is no more!

Cley Hides

Cromer Pier at this mornings high tide – lots of damage to the railings on the prom

Cromer Front Damage to Railings

The storm has hit the sea wall at Cromer with much force

Cromer Front Damage

This mornings high tide at Cromer

Cromer Front Waves

Lots of businesses on the front have suffered damage or even been swept away completely

Cromer Pier Waves

Grambrough Hill at Salthouse is now ‘Grambrough Island’ – most of the sea defences here have gone

Granbrough Island

The Coat road at Cley from the bottom of Old Woman’s Lane

Old Womans Lane

The Coast Road into Salthouse looking West

Road to Salthouse



There I was sat in the hide at Cley trying to photograph the Wilson’s Phalarope; a rare visitor from the other side of the Atlantic.


When people are describing the location of something that I’m intent on photographing and they begin their sentence “It’s at the back of …” I know I’m in for a tough time. The damn thing was further away than the planet Pluto. I decided to sit it out and wait for it to come nearer.

I must have been in there about an hour when every wader within sight got in the air. I looked around for a raptor. Various shouts were made in the hide “HOBBY” and then “PERIGRINE … perhaps”

I looked around for the perpetrator of the mayhem and saw a small immature falcon. Yes, it was a Hobby. Just a minute … no … it was a Peregrine. It took me a while to decide. It appeared to have a long tail and slim wings … and did it have a touch of paleness at the base of the flight feathers? Oooh er! Thoughts of the Mediterranean came to mind … but a Peregrine it was.

Anyway, by the time the raptor display was over and all the waders had settled the Wilson’s had taken umbrage at being disturbed and was nowhere to be seen. Added to that the call of a cup of coffee back at the reserve centre was strong so I decided to call it a morning.

Maybe I can get some better shots of the Wilson’s Phalarope latter … if it stays … and if the Peregrine spares it!

Wilsons Phalarope




Perigrine 2


Perigrine 1



A muddy tale of a tailess bird

Lying in the mud meant I had to turn up for lunch at Cley reserve centre looking less than my debonair self. I wish.

Carrying my camera along the muddy path aside the Glaven channel meant an uncomfortable three quarters of a mile walk slipping and sliding and generally struggling to keep an upright posture. Having talked to a photographer who was returning, walking the opposite way, I was told the Long tailed Duck was viewable but only at some 500m. Despite the disappointment of only being able to photograph the bird at such a distance I decided to go ahead and at least get a record shot of the bird. Long tailed Ducks are not rare especially further north in the UK but to get close to one within Norfolk doesn’t happen often.

It didn’t take long to find the bird sitting in the middle of the channel. I decided to walk past it and find an area where the channel was closer to the path where I could sit quietly and let the bird come my way. If it didn’t I’d lost nothing and still had my record shot. I found what looked like a good place to sit and waited. A group of Teal came by so I hid; lying flat on the ground. If I spooked the Teal the Long tailed Duck would never come close. ‘Long tailed Duck’ by the way in this instance is a complete misnomer as no long tail was evident – she was female and therefore lacked the Oldsquaw feathering of the male. As the duck dived and fed she came closer and closer and eventually sailed by. No doubt in complete ignorance there was someone admiring her nearby getting exceptionally muddy.

Long tailed Duck

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Aug 2022


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