The day dawned grey and very blustery, but we headed to the coast to Cley Marshes. NWT Cley Marshes is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest and best known nature reserve. It was purchased in 1926 making it the first Wildlife Trust reserve in the country. The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
A new eco-friendly visitor centre opened in 2007 containing a café, shop and viewing areas.. a great place to have a cup of tea with amazing panoramic views across the reserve.
Within a couple of minutes of getting out the car, we had seen our first marsh harrier, battling against the fierce winds buffeting the coast. We headed along the broadwalks to the hides. This amazing reserve has a selection of hides, all looking out onto different scrapes and pools. A vast array of small waders moulting into winter plumage greeted us….. really diificult to decide what they all were… living in the Midlands, waders are not my speciality! Luckily, a Mitchell Beazey guide and helpful fellow watchers, we clocked up quite a good list of species. I am sure that there were others, but the ones I definitely identified were:
Little grebe, Marsh harrier, mute swan, moorhen, canada goose, shoveler, gadwall, crane (yes, one with half a leg missing!), avocet, snipe, ruff, bar-tailed godwit, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, teal, wheatear, skylark, shelduck, rook, pied wagtail, dunlin, redshank, greenshank, greylag goose, black backed gull, black headed gull,wigeon, kestrel, little egret, curlew, spotted redshank, rock pipit.
Considering the gale force wind and squally showers, I was prettypleased! I was really hoping to see the spoonbills, but just missed them, and bearded tits, but with the winds as they were, there was little chance of seeing them. An amazing reserve though, and I would really like to come back in the winter, when you get loads of wintering wildfowl visiting.
On the way home, we checked out a few barn owl haunts as we plan a dawn visit to some.
The evening was so foul…. driving rain and high winds, I felt there was little chance of barn owls… an early night instead.