Posts Tagged ‘Salthouse


A Desert thirst for birds

Not a lot around locally at the moment other than a smattering of Dusky Warblers and this little chap.

Normally Desert Wheatears manage to turn up in the country at this time of the autumn. I’m lucky in that this little lad turned up not more than a few miles away down the coast. Tania and I spent a little time watching him on Sunday last. His range was vast and getting close to him was near impossible. I went back on Monday to see if I could get a better photo of him. He had settled down quite a bit since the previous day and was less flighty; favouring the sandy parts of a small cliff out of the wind where Sand Martins nest in the summer. Although this may have been because others had put down one or two mealworms. I say ‘may’ because I saw the bird pull one from the sand but on closer inspection of the area, when the bird wasn’t present, I couldn’t see any more.

I’m not keen on feeding birds (or other wildlife) away from bird tables for several reasons. Although there are arguments the other way too. However overall I’m against it.

The bird was an adult male. Normally they are washed out juvenile/female types. This is the first adult male I can remember seeing and he was quite a dapper individual. A real stonker. There are apparently several races within the species range of North Africa East to Mongolia. Although exactly where this individual is from, according to Shirihai ‘Birds of Israel’ p448, is indeterminable from plumage features visible in the field.



Waxwings have been far and few between this last winter. Last month a few were flying from place to place in Salthouse here on the coast. Now Salthouse is not a big place. In fact it’s decidedly small. You would think a half dozen showy birds sat in trees would be easy to track down. In reality they were but getting good views of them wasn’t as easy. Salthouse if full of inaccessible nooks and crannies; hidden places that it is easy to overlook. Tania and I were lucky enough to be asked by a couple if we would like to stand in ‘their’ garden. They were holidaying here. Apparently the Waxwings had taken up residence in a tree by the decking. We duly took position and were even offered a cup of tea. There are some kind and lovely people in the world.

We didn’t have to wait long for them to appear.





It seems to be a regular occurrence at this time of the year that we get a smattering of Phalaropes along the north Norfolk coast. This Grey Phalarope (or Red Phalarope if you are at the other side of the Atlantic) was at Salthouse when we were on tour a week or so ago. This individual seemed to be suffering a little, perhaps from being wind blown in the Autumn storms; it just wasn’t as active as it should be. However, it was feeding and wasn’t there the following day. So it either succumbed or left!


Shopping at Iceland

Passing Salthouse duckpond yesterday I stopped the car and had a good look through the gulls perched seemingly everywhere. One almost immediately stood out from the congeries. There had been an Iceland Gull seen here in recent days … it was back. Stood in short grass the disarray in its plumage was obvious as was it’s reluctance to fly. It also had a gammy leg, was heavy with feather life and spent much of its time with its eyes closed. the bird had obviously seen better days.

Moving the vehicle and walking down the shingle ridge nearby the antics of a 40+ strong flock of Snow Bunting were a delight to watch. On returning to the vehicle the Iceland Gull had moved into the field adjacent to where the car was parked. It was now in longer grass but was closer; although still reluctant to fly.




A bit of a tale

A Long tailed Duck has been seemingly resident on the Cley reserve at Salthouse for quite some weeks now. It was joined, when I saw it last week, by another. They weren’t close. We waited some time for them to swim a little nearer … but they never did. LTD’s are one of the hardest ducks to photograph here in Norfolk. The harbours of Scotland are the best bet for a few splendid Oldsquaw males!



A fall of Warblers

We’ve had a period of easterlies with some rain in the last few days. A combination to bring migrants to our coast. Here on the hill Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats were scattered among Phylloscopus Warblers.

Perhaps the best of the bunch was along the coast at Salthouse. Eddie Myers found a Booted Warbler. This tea coloured plain round warbler from central Russia is rare but annual in Britain. A harbinger of more, perhaps dare I say, even better to come?

I hope so.

Booted Warbler


Stars of the sea

Nothing is so sure in life as death.

Something my daughter has to get her head around at the moment. She will have the good times to remember now her mother is gone. Her memories. I remember when my mother passed away. That feeling of emptiness I thought could never be filled, but I can still hear her guiding voice most days, she’s always with me; inside my head. Memories are strong evocative and emotional.

Something draws both Sharon and I to the sea but more so Sharon. I’ve been dragged along the tideline beach combing more times than I care to remember. After a small wreck of shellfish and starfish she was again out grazing the shingle for jetsam at Salthouse. Eventually she found what she was looking for … or rather I did. Crossaster papposus is the Common Sunstar. It was dead of course. Perched high on the tideline it could be nothing else. The evening sun caught it and it glowed. An evening star full of light. Lifeless, gone … but no less appreciated.




There are some unsung heroes within the birding world; people that spend an awful lot of their time involved with bird recording, from which we all benefit. Pat and Dave Wileman are two of these heroes.

They religiously take note of ringed birds seen in and around Cley-next-the Sea. Not only the ones they see themselves but also those seen by others and they regularly produce an updated document detailing the sightings for those of us that are interested. The report makes for an informative read and contains some spectacular recoveries of birds that make seemingly ‘impossible’ journeys.

Enduring near arctic temperatures (I’m turning into a southern softie) I took the following compilation of photos this week on the shingle ridge at Salthouse just east of Cley on the Norfolk coast. They are of a ringed Turnstone and were taken in an attempt to piece together the ring number. By my observation the bird bears a Museum of Stockholm ring and by using the ‘known’ wording on the ring as a sort of ‘Rosetta Stone’ it’s possible to compile the order of the digits below the lettering as 4595522.

The bird had been seen at Salthouse before and was recorded in Pat and Dave’s document. I was able to glean that the bird had been ringed in Sweden on the island of Nidingen, Halland in the Kattegat which is actually off the west coast. That was on 7th September 2012 when it was a first winter bird. It was still there when it was re-trapped the following day. It was next seen at Salthouse in Norfolk the same year on 24th November and it was still around in the new year on 12th February. The Turnstone was again at Salthouse the following winter on the 26th November 2013.

We can’t prove it from the information we have (at the moment) but the implication is that this little Turnstone flew from Sweden to Norfolk in 2012, Norfolk to Sweden in 2013, and back again at the end of the year, Norfolk to Sweden in 2014 and back again to Norfolk this winter. A total of 4195km – as the Turnstone fly’s – another little hero.

Compilation 2014 12 09 Turnstone Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A5566


Yellow browed Warblers

After a patient wait the other week a shouty Yellow browed Warbler came into the near side of the apple tree at Burnham Overy. A rather quieter bird at Salthouse was equally elusive but in surprisingly little cover. It seemed to frequently employ a cloak of invisibility.


2014 09 17 Yellow browed Warbler Burnham Overy Norfolk_Z5A4001

2014 09 19 Yellow browed Warbler Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A4524a

Notice the long supercillium and the prominent median crown stripe on the lower Salthouse bird. Not completely out of kilter with what you would expect for a yellow browed …but still something that made me look twice!

It’s shaping up into a very good Autumn!



You’re barred

Didn’t anyone tell the Barred Warbler frequenting Granbro’ Hill at Salthouse that it’s not a shrike? This normally shy species was ridiculously confiding.


2014 09 19 Barred Warbler Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A4425 2014 09 19 Barred Warbler Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A4484 2014 09 19 Barred Warbler Salthouse Norfolk_Z5A4771


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Apr 2023


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