Dotterels Beardies and Nightjars - Norfolk Birdwatching Part 2

My second day at Norfolk was going to involve another early start and more lifers. It would be a long day. Watching waders at Cley at Dawn, searching huge fields for Dotterels , returning to the Cley Marshes in the afternoon and then an evening spent listening to Nightjars at dusk.

Cley Marshes - RSPB hides Post Code NR25 7SA

It was gloomy dawn start. Visibility was quite poor with Nev and me peering out of one of the three hides that provide a view out onto Simmonds Scrape and Pats Pool.

There was plenty of birds on show. Three Spoonbills, a flock of Black Tailed Godwits, Greenshank, Redshank, Ringed Plovers and Dunlin to name but a few. I had my first sighting of an Egyptian Goose (Lifer no.9)  as its flew out of the mist and landed in Simmonds Scrape. My highlight was watching a Redshank feeding just in front of the hide. As we left we spotted two male Cuckoos calling whilst perched on opposing telegraph posts.


We left before the RSPB visitor centre opened (to use it after 9 am you are looking at a £5 per head charge if you are not members - expensive in my opinion) and headed back towards the B&B for Breakfast. En-route we stopped just outside Cley at a spot that is good for Barn Owls. Unfortunately one did not show but I caught sight of a Muntjac deer running through a field and quickly grabbed a picture.

Muntjac Deer

After breakfast we headed for Chosley Barns. In the vicinity there had been Dotterel reported so we we were eager to chance our luck. Seeing this species would be a "lifer" for both of us.

Choseley Barns

The farmland in Norfolk is incredible. I have never seen so much wildlife on agricultural land. The place is teeming with insects, mammals and birds. Lots of wildflowers around as well. Perhaps they don't use as much pesticides , who knows but whatever they are doing seems to be good. I got to see another lifer - Red Legged Partridges ( Lifer no.10). Really colourful game birds and quite confiding to photograph.

Red-Legged Partridge

I could not believe my eyes when I saw a Brown Hare close up for the first time. They are huge and almost as big as a springer spaniel. We watched them from a distance in the fields. They blend in really well.

Brown Hare

Yellowhammers and Whitethroats were everywhere you looked. I have never seen so many "Hammers" in my life. Its shame they are not as common in  Welsh farmland.

We got talking to a friendly local birder who pointed out a line of cars in the distance and he told use where the Dotterels were showing.

Excitedly we made our way there and turned up to look at a big arable field that looked devoid of anything, especially birds. Then with some help from another birder she showed me where they were. With the naked eye they were impossible to see. Even through the scope I had to strain my eyes hard, then seven of them were revealed. I then took what is probably will be in the annals of history recorded as the worst ever record shot of all time using my video camera at x 30 magnification with digital zoom on. Ultra pixelated but you can just make out the shape of a Dotterel ( Lifer no.11)

I must state everyone who was present was very well behaved and stood on the roadside at considerable distance. Many of the people we met were local and provided us with lots of tips and advice for our trip.

The worst record shot in history - stare long enough you will see a Dotterel

This is the view with the naked eye!

Our next significant stop would be back to Cley and a return to Arnolds Marsh. This time for a birdwatch in better weather.

Arnolds Marsh. NR25 75A.

Whilst walking to Arnolds Marsh we noticed a fellow photographer appearing to be transfixed by movement in the top of the reeds. A metallic sounding call was heard and we recognised it as a Bearded Tit. Now these are birds I have really struggled to see alone photograph back home at the Newport Wetlands.

Suddenly a male and female appeared busily making there way through the reeds. At times they looked like stilt walkers as they moved from reed stem to reed stem.

At last I managed to capture a few pictures of these beautiful birds.

A male Bearded Tit walking from reed stem to reed stem.

Male Bearded Tit

After watching various species of Gulls , Geese , Waders, Ducks, a Marsh Harrier and a Spoonbill at the Marshes we headed to some higher ground for a change and for a change of habitat

Kelling Heath Postcode NR25 7ER

This is a large area of heathland. It reminded me of some locations we have in Gwent but with huge areas of Gorse. There are numerous paths and gorse bushes as tall as trees with so much yellow flowers it looked beautiful. You could quite easily get lost.

Nev and I actually visited the place twice , firstly late in the afternoon and then the evening.

On both visits we were fortunate to watch Yellowhammers singing on the top of gorse bushes and small trees. We did not really have to search for them that much as their call is so distinctive you just kind of track the direction of the calls are coming from.


Singing its heart out

We waited patiently until dusk standing in amongst the heath. It felt like we were a million miles from anywhere - out in the wilds. Muntjac deer began calling to each other as the darkness crept in and they sound quite scary at first.

Then I heard my first Nightjar calling . All I can say is"wow". It was really amazing to hear.

I made a video recording of the Nightjar calling and you can listen to it on my You Tube feed. Please click below and listen.

After listening to a number of the calls we then saw a Nightjar fly from the top of a small conifer tree and land in amongst the Heather. Brilliant and another first for me to end the day.( Life.No 12).


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