On what was a really pleasant morning I set out to visit Sculthorpe Moor Reserve, a site run by the Hawk and Owl Trust ( www.sculthorpemoor.org ) and an area I'd never visited until a couple of winter's ago. It's one of those woodland/wetland areas that is just a joy to be within, even if you don't see very much. Justifiably it boasts the presence of both Marsh and Willow Tit complemented by a wide variety of other passerine species, breeding Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl and Golden Pheasant. Whatever the provenance of the latter the male bird is an absolute gem to behold, but very often proves elusive and demanding of a patient stake out at one of the hides. As previously I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
After lunch I moved on to Cley on Norfolk's north coast, a site run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
After calling in at the modern, self sustaining eco-friendly Centre to see a friend who works there, I set out along the East Bank adjacent to the vast reedbed.
A leisurely stroll provided views of a pair of BEARDED TITS and a further single male, always a species I enjoy catching up with. The paired birds were indulging in an energetic round of chasing, possibly a precursor to them settling down to breed.
Continuing on I reached the famed "North Bank", its shingle line extending as far as the eye can see in both directions.
An examination of the history of this area is spellbinding, indeed in the Three Swallows pub in the village there is a fascinating collection of old photographs of the area and its inhabitants. In the Middle Ages the Cley Marshes were covered by the sea at high tide and boats could navigate along channels into a harbour located near Cley Church. A series of banks were built in more recent times to protect the village from flooding, and to create more areas for grazing and such assisted in the establishment of what is now a premier reserve. Recent extreme weather events have seen the reserve flooded as the fury and force of the North Sea surged over and through the protective "North Bank". A simple visual assessment of how tenous is the permanence of the reserve can easily be arrived at by looking along the shingle embankment and imagining how circumstances must be in the midst of a winter storm.
Today, however, was pleasant, sunny and allowed full benefit to be taken by walking along the raised embankment, which I did all the way to Salthouse and back. My efforts were directed at seeing a couple of SHORELARK which have been in the area for some time. Usually a winter visitor these birds have hung on way beyond the usual time of departure. As can be seen from the photograph the landward side of the bank plays host to a variety of vegetation, squatting low as it does away from the force of the wind. Eventually the birds were pinned down within an area of this cover close to the access point from the East Bank showing that , somehow , I had initially walked past them! Whilst it had been a frustrating afternoon I suspect the bracing atmosphere had been of more than a little benefit and had acted as the prelude to the final reward.
Yet another good day!