Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sunburst Over Salthouse Marsh

Very mixed weather here in Norfolk, yesterday being the first dry day (don't ask about today's weather!), so I headed for Cley. I dumped my brother off at the west bank car park, as he was going to walk to the Blakeney Point. As we arrived, a Barn Owl passed close by, so stopping quickly, we got out and watched it quartering the wet fields just behind the shingle bank. After a couple of minutes, it was out of sight, so I made my way to the reserve centre car park and headed for the east bank, hoping for Bearded Reedling. I neither saw nor heard any as I walked along, but the walk was nevertheless enlivened by skeins of Brent Geese and a couple of Avocet flying across Cley Marshes into Salthouse Marsh. A On the sea were lots of Cormorant and a few Red-throated Diver.

Salthouse Marsh
Although it was dry, it was overcast and flipping cold, the deceptively gentle breeze seemingly blowing straight through me. Back at the centre, to buy a hide permit, I was told that no one had seen or heard any Beardies for quite a while. I had a cup of tea and one of their huge scones, in the cafe and was told by the bloke serving me, that there were Lapland Buntings on the marshes at Blakeney, so after a hurried break, I drove there and walked the path into the marshes.
At the place indicated by my informant, there was nothing to be seen, so I walked on another half a mile or so, scanning the likely looking areas. There were lots of Skylarks and a few Meadow Pipits singing, making it seem springlike.
I headed back to the original spot and was joined by a few more birders and toggers, and had only been there a few minutes before someone called and there was a lovely male Lapland Bunting, already acquiring its breeding plumage. It was soon joined by a female and another male, with less well developed plumage. What stunning birds and a lifer for me too. Someone had been putting food down for them and so they fed in plain sight and quite close for several minutes, before hopping back into the more heavily vegetated areas. While they fed in the open, they were harassed by an equally stunning and very bolshy Reed Bunting.

Back at Cley, I did a tour of the hides, but apart from a lot Black-tailed Godwits, a few of which were looking very colourful as their breeding plumage was quite advanced, the only other species of note were a few Ruff and an apparently larger flock of Avocets than normal for Cley. They certainly made a fine sight.

The light was going by now, as the cloud thickenned and the forecast rain was approaching, so I packed up and made my way back to Cromer.

The day before, I had visited the Great Wood at Felbrigg Hall, getting a few woodland species, including Marsh Tit for my trip list. Amongst the fungi seen were these  Xylaria carpophila, on old beech mast.

Xylaria carpophila


  1. Nice read mark and glad you getting some good birds.

  2. Yes, but listening to local birders chatting in the hides, it seems that most of the goodies which were still around last week, have now gone.

  3. That aways the way Mark and the North Lights were showing from the Beacons and i almost went out too look .

  4. I would just have had to look out of the window to see it, but it was raining that evening. I had heard my aurora alert app going off earlier in the afternoon, when I was driving, but I then forgot to check it out. To rub it in, on the news were photos taken from Cromer, where I am staying and Happisburgh, just down the coast. Blast!

  5. Yes i bet mark and i would be gutted to

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