Today (Tues 8th) after spending most of Bank Holiday Monday replacing a couple of rotten sections of our conservatory I finally had a list of jobs that could at least wait half a day, so I decided a trip to Cley NWT was in order to look for the Purple Heron, not a 'lifer' but a Norfolk tick none the less.
Agnes and I left after an early breakfast as I didn't want to be out in the full heat with her. We first stopped at Salthouse Heath to look for Nightingale, although not the ideal time of day after a short wander around I located a single bird giving short often incomplete bursts of song. A Garden Warbler was also heard but not located.
Moving onto Cley NWT, from the bottom of Old Woman Lane I could see a group of birders on the West Bank all looking in different directions, I guessed the Purple Heron wasn't showing. Agnes and I therefore first tried the hide cluster. Reed and Sedge Warbler serenaded our walk, and after greeting the birders in the hide Agnes sat down to watch her 'birdies'. From Daukes Hide Avocet, Godwit and a summer plumage Ruff came very close to the hide exciting Agnes, but I mistakenly it appeared had swapped my camera bag for her change bag! Two Little Tern were my first of the year and a Sandwich Tern briefly stopped in. I checked the log book and noted that a Spotted Redshank was apparently still around so had a second check of the back of the scrape with the scope. A Common Sandpiper wandered the margins and two Little Ringed Plover were nice to see as always, I then found the Spotted Redshank, a bonus bird for late spring. We spent a short while in the Avocet Hide scanning Cricket Marsh for the Purple Heron but without luck. The Common Sandpiper did however come within feet of the hide and some Avocet displayed almost as close. By the Warden's House the call of a Cetti's Warbler perplexed Agnes, I could see the bird but she couldn't. While listening to its calls a Swift wheeled away overhead another new bird for the year. Parking up on Beach Road we joined the small group looking for the Purple Heron, it hadn't been seen all morning. We waited about 25 minutes with the only birds of note a couple of Wheatear.
It was only just after 10.00 we stopped on Kelling Heath to look for the resident Dartford Warbler. Linnet seemed to be the bird of the moment, seemingly singing from every bush, being joined by the occasional burst of Whitethroat. We found a couple of Common Lizards one of which kept Agnes amused as it popped its head in and out from a tussock of grass. I only saw one Adder, which although not approached closely reared up and hissed before slithering away. At least one Woodlark was heard singing but not seen, and a couple of Blackcap were in the Silver Birch. I had given up on Dartford Warbler when walking back past an area already checked, I heard the mechanical song from a stand of Gorse, rounding the corner I briefly saw the bird, before it saw me and dropped down from its perch. Back in the car park a Garden Warbler was calling in the scrub, after a few minutes and changes of viewing angle, eventually I could see the source. Although I was feeling the heat I think Agnes would have wandered the Heath all day but I needed to get back to those not so important jobs at home.
Despite dipping on the target bird of the trip and at times the heat, it proved a worthwhile morning out which I think we both thoughtfully enjoyed. At some point Agnes is sure to rebel or if not become a bird watching maestro, either way I lovely she wants to share my passion.
On Sunday (6th) after work I called into Mousehold Heath to look for a singing Wood Warbler, still in shirt and trousers (there's nothing wrong with formal birding). Upon arrival I met Ricky and a few other local birders, who informed me I had missed the bird by 5 minutes and it was being a bit illusive. I spent the next 45 minutes wandering the area without luck, before duties at home meant I had to head off. It was great to catch up with a couple of birders I've not seen for a while even if I missed the bird. After I left the bird was eventually found, having relocated across the road closer to the pitch and putt.
Thursday 24th May 2018
5 hours ago