While the forecast for the week was pretty good, Monday was rather cloudy, so I took the chance to wander around Wells-next-the-Sea. The marshes are a good spot for waders, and I spotted plenty of oystercatchers, curlew and redshanks pottering about. A kestrel led me on a merry dance, never allowing me close enough for a decent shot, and I was chuffed to see a rather splendid marsh harrier float by.
The other end of Wells is more "touristy", but walking along the quay provided decent views of turnstones, curlew and redshank again, plus ringed plovers and dunlin near the edge of the water.
I tried to visit Cley as often as possible, as it's probably my favourite reserve. Strangely, the birds around varied dramatically from day to day. It was great to see the spoonbills again, this time from a closer viewpoint, and when something sparked all the birds into the air, I managed some flight shots too.
Marsh harriers were abundant on the Tuesday, but apparently missing for the rest of the time. I caught them drifting back in one evening, when I stayed around to watch the sunset over the marshes.
Aside from the harriers at sunset, small flocks of starlings provided entertainment, though no real fancy shapes against the setting sun.
Pinging all around, the bearded tits teased from within the reeds, only really appearing on the one evening, in difficult light. Still, they're beautiful birds to watch - though I've not managed a shot of an adult male yet...
At the back of Cley, wheatears, linnets and meadow pipits flitted across the shingle, and the fledgling swallows took advantage of wire fences and old branches to perch, waiting for their frenetic parents to bring them their tea.
Around the various lakes were all manner of waders, with a few new ones for me being seen; spotted redshanks, a pectoral sandpiper, curlew sandpipers and a ruddy shelduck, that I thought was a goose!
Winter months here are great for getting shots of turnstone and snow buntings, but neither were present at this time of year. However, perched / sat resting on the edge of the footpath was a juvenile gannet. It took a bit of crawling around on all fours to get close, but was well worth it when the bird took the occasional look around. Quite ugly looking birds as juveniles!
This was also a good place to soak up some afternoon sunshine with a pint of Wherry, purchased very kindly by Max who was also up in Norfolk for a couple of the days when I was there. Cheers!
I hoped that 3rd time would prove to be lucky here in terms of success, but again it let me down. With work continuing on the sea defences, little was about, and I left disappointed once more. And this was coupled with my poor timing for a very high tide, which meant Thornham and Brancaster harbours were equally barren.
I persuaded Max to join me for a walk around here, despite him saying that it was a poor spot from his last visit. Should have listened... as very little was about. Got some distant views of a pair of marsh harriers, and heard the pings from numerous bearded tits, but no sightings.
The highlights though, were when a hobby flew within 10 feet of me and then shot off down the road towards Max (I think he got some decent shots), and a flock of common cranes that drifted by, though very much at a distance.
This was Max's idea, and initially seemed to have drawn a blank too. However, wandering back into the more floral area of the dunes, yielded stonechats and a kestrel, and a female redstart, hiding in the bushes. It also provided a café for a bite to eat and a dodgy cup of tea. Max scoffed a rather large slice of cake!
I'm not entirely sure what the proper name is for this location. It's known as "The Layby" to most folks, and provides (sometimes) some fabulous views of barn owls. The path along the river also gifted me views of a chiffchaff (I think) and a female redstart. And there was a pair of marsh harriers around, plus couple of deer and a few noisy herons.
But the barn owls were the star of the show. They'd appear from nowhere, ghosting past you suddenly, quartering the fields, hovering and diving into the grass. I was lucky to catch some shots of one of the birds with the golden evening light on it.
If only moments like this could be bottled and reopened to relive over and over.
Four thoroughly enjoyable days spent in Norfolk, and a trip to be repeated I think, if I get some spare time again.