29th October 2019 – Day One of 3 Day tour

With a steady NE wind we started the day at Cley with a seawatch. There was plenty to keep us occupied, with a steady procession of Dark-bellied Brents arriving from the East, plus several groups of Eider, numerous groups of Common Scoter, plus Shelduck, several Red-throated Divers including close inshore on the sea, numerous Guillemots on the sea and passing by, small numbers of Gannets, plus several flocks out of Starling out over the sea. The highlight was when we eventually connected with a Little Auk passing by close along the shoreline. Lots of Wigeon and Teal also passed by and also a pair of Gadwall.

After a couple of hours we decided on a walk to warm up a little and we headed easy of coastguards to inspect the rough grassy area. A short search didn’t find any Snow Buntings, but I almost trod a Short-eared Owl that flew up from below my feet! It flew out on to the reserve and dropped down and was hidden again from view.

We then headed down to the East bank, there was a nice selection of wildfowl , lovely views of lots of Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler all in glorious light. On Arnolds there was small numbers of Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Redshank.

We decided to have another quick look on the sea, and were delighted when we spotted a Little Auk right close inshore, just 10 yards from the shoreline, although it soon took flight and headed off West, there was also still plenty of wildfowl passing.

The group looking for that Little Auk!

We lunched at the Cley Centre and then headed off to Stiffkey Fen. There was plenty of wildfowl, plus 2 Ruff on the Fen, Cetti’s were calling and 2 Brambling were a nice surprise. A Peregrine passed overhead and briefly toyed with the Woodpigeons before disappearing off inland. Out on the saltmarsh, there was masses of duck, including lots of Brents and Shelduck. Good numbers of Grey Plover and nearby 2-3 Rock Pipits.

We rounded off the day with a raptor watch from the Stiffkey NT car park, there were several Marsh harrier, possibly five birds, bu the highlight was a dashing Merlin, that eventually perched and allowed scope views albeit distant.