During our recent long weekend on the North Norfolk Coast we made regular visits to Cley Marshes NWT Reserve but often only stopping off at Bishops Hide to scan over Pats Pools before heading elsewhere along the coast.
More often than not any waders present were always too far away but there was always a few other species that ventured a little closer to the hide.
Avocet constantly feeding, Shelduck parents aggressively chasing off anything that got close to any of their 15 goslings and Coot just showing off.
Throughout our numerous visits over the years it has been unusual for us not to see Marsh Harriers quartering over the extensive reed beds but this activity is often interspersed with long periods when individuals perch atop one of the few trees as they monitor their options for their next foray.
Fortunately our visits coincided with the flight of this majestic species so the opportunity was grabbed to capture a few images as one individual effortlessly glided close to the hide.
(Western) Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
These brief forays by the Harriers often result in pushing the various waders into the air and on more than one occasion it was a decent sized flock of Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) that felt threatened but it didn't take them too long to resettle on the far side of the pool.
During this frenetic activity I did notice that there was one Godwit feeding alone much closer to the hide and it decided not to take to the sky so my attention turned to it as it's particular colouring suggested that it might just be a different sub species.
What struck me about this particular individual was that its rufous summer plumage extended much further down the breast suggesting that this could be an Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa ssp. islandica). Unfortunately it's legs, which should be shorter, were never fully exposed but everything else including the slightly shorter bill length indicated 'islandica'. [I would be interested to here what any of my readers think about its ID].
On one particular day we decided to spend longer at Cley and undertook a leisurely anticlockwise circuit of the whole reserve.
After leaving Bishops Hide we headed up onto the East Bank towards Arnold's Marsh where a Black-winged Stilt had reportedly been seen but we couldn't find it. However we did get views of four Spoonbills and a hastily taken shot as three of them they decided to move location. Scanning the marsh did produced Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Ringed Plover.
Dropping off the bank to get some relief from the stiffening breeze I was totally surprised when I found a Painted Lady and managed a couple of shots before it flew away. (My first sighting this year.)
Climbing up onto the shingle sea defence bank provides a good spot to scan all over the reserve and across the sea but there was little activity apart from a few gulls, Cormorant and the occasional flypast of Sandwich and Common Terns returning from fishing trips with food for their growing youngsters.
Anita, always ready to help carry the gear, has often commented that she would never have thought 40 yeas ago that, as a 'townie', she would ever be interested in birding and wildlife but that's why I admire her so much as we continue to enjoy our life together.
A brief visit to the North Scrape hide didn't produce any more photo opportunities so we strolled on past the beach car park and then along the West Bank, watching flying Little Egrets, before returning to the boardwalk and back to the Visitor Centre for some much needed refreshments.
Once again a very enjoyable visit to Cley Marshes and I'm sure it won't be our last. FAB.