After seeing countless wonderful shots of the bluethroat at Welney, I decided it was high time I made the effort to see it for myself. Another early start and at just before opening time at the centre, I rolled up. Sun was shining and it looked to be a perfect day to be spotting rarities.
Paid my entry fee and hurried down to the hide where it was usually seen from, set up camp in one end of the hide (where swallows were nesting bizarrely) and scanned the area with my bins. I was soon joined by many more eager birders and togs alike, one allowing me to listen to the call, on his MP3 player.
So, on to my hatful of pics of this showy bird then. Hmm. Slight problem. In 4 hours of standing around, listening and scanning the area, I failed to see it. One birder and his son claimed to see it fly over, but I didn't and even my patience eventually ran out. All I'd seen that morning was a reed warbler, a pied wagtail and a pair of swallows going in and out of the hide. Typical. Ah well, I was in Norfolk and in no rush to head back. Hence I set SatNav to Cley and aimed for a favourite spot.
It didn't initially look great there either, when I arrived. The 3 main hides looked out on to rather barren lakes; sure there were avocets, but I can see those at the Flashes. Wandering back towards the centre, I was in half a mind to head home. Then someone I stopped to chat to mentioned that there was a spotted redshank over at the other hide.
Worth a bit more of a walk I thought, and sure enough, there it was pottering around in the shallows, although the light wasn't in the best direction. So I decided to stay a bit longer. It was a lovely afternoon afterall, and you never know at that place what might show up.
While nothing rare showed up, a most welcome sound caught my attention... a pinging sound, and soon I was trying to "spot the beardie" in amongst the reeds. Had to wait a few hours before any showed other than in flight, and even then they were distant, but I got some decent views of a male, then a female and finally a fledgling.
Cley had, as usual, cheered me up.