Cley -next-to-Sea, Norfolk Sunday 18th February

40 intrepid members took the journey to Cley for our first coach trip of 2024 in distinctly unpromising conditions. On arrival at Cley there was driving rain but the promise of better conditions later on. As a result the planned itinerary was hastily altered to ensure that everyone could take shelter in the generous hides at the earliest opportunity.

We split into four groups with Stan and Mike taking theirs to the Bishops Hide to begin with. Robert and Steve took theirs to the central hides. All four groups were therefore in prime position to view what turned out to be the day’s star birds, a pair of Spoonbills feeding continuously in Pat’s Pool. (As it turned out it was a good thing to be there early as they flew off in the afternoon). At midday the rain abated and the groups emerged to proceed in opposite directions around the reserve.

On the west bank Twite had been reported but these were not in evidence. On the east, Bearded Tits were heard by all groups but at no point seen, not a great surprise given the conditions. All groups had found their way to the beach by 1 pm where lunch was to be taken but a sudden squall had us looking for shelter again! Fortunately this was short lived and the routes continued, although some members splintered off to search for the Twite further up the reserve on the Iron Road. Everyone had good views of Brent Geese which flew over the reserve on a number of occasions and fed in the fields towards the beach.

Regrettably sea watching was hampered by the low cloud base (no wind farm visible) but a couple of members got onto a Gannet and a couple more onto Common Scoter. There were a good number of waders available in the central pools with Turnstone, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Black Tailed Godwits amongst the most notable.

Stan and Mike’s group had views of a Kingfisher on Pat’s Pool. Most people had good views of a pair of Marsh Harriers which Robert & Steve’s group enjoyed seeing as they hunted at close quarters to the East Bank. The female perched obligingly on a stumpy bush allowing excellent scope views to share with some intrigued passers by and future ornithologists. Stonechats and Meadow Pipits were also conspicuous from the Banks.

Most people made it back to the café in time to order a warm drink and/or cake before last orders at 3:30 and many drifted onto the viewing platform afterwards to be treated to a magnificent flypast by 100+ Brents low down above us. Then it was back to the full coach for the trip home to Hertfordshire. All told we recorded 66 species between us, the full list will be available on the website as usual.

66 Bird species recorded

Little Grebe (H), Great Crested Grebe, Gannet, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, Common Scoter, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Pheasant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Greater Black Backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood pigeon, Kingfisher, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Wren (H), Dunnock, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler (H), Bearded Tit (H), Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting

1 Mammal Recorded