Saturday 2nd Oct:
The initial plan for the day was to meet up at Salthouse to try to photograph the barred warbler. But when I drove alongside Cley Marshes and saw how calm it was, I opted to park in the East Bank car park, and see whether the beardies were about. They were, in their flocks and in addition to this was the welcome sight of Di Stone, who'd come over for the day from her caravan holiday.
I've never seen so many bearded tits! The flocks at times numbered over 20 birds, all pinging as they flew. A wonderful sight, and when they landed close by, an even better photo opportunity. The males are such pretty birds, so striking in both colours and markings. Certainly made a great start to the day, and it wasn't long before Steve and Ann joined us, to take advantage of the unusually still conditions.
The warmth of the day soon brought about a breeze and the beardies descended the reeds for shelter. By then we had taken hundreds of shots and we changed our attention again to the buntings on the shingle banks behind the beach. After spotting a pair of Laplands, we approached with care and as with the Malvern bird, they didn't mind us taking photos. Unlike some pillock on the East Bank, who shouted (well, screamed) obscenities at us about how people like us kill birds. What a complete moron. Idiots like him disturb far more, and no doubt upset other folk with such foul language.
We left the birds to carry on feeding and moved over to Salthouse for the barred warbler. Finding it was easy as there was a crowd, and the warbler, a rather bland-looking chap, was feeding on the berries of the bushes. To be honest, had I seen it myself, I'd have put it down as a garden warbler, took a couple of shots and headed off! But what do I know?!
As it was, we bagged lots of images, though it never really showed that well, in the open. Steve stayed on, going bananas for that elusive, "out in the sunshine" shot, while Di and I headed along the path to see the red-necked phalarope over at Kelling. Wish we hadn't bothered, as the bird was a fair distance off, and against the sunshine, so I didn't even take a shot. Di managed to get some more bearded tit shots though, when a small family group flew in close by. In fact, all I got was a bad back. I really need to get a better backpack.
Back at the barred warbler, yet another rude birder told me off. "Keep still!!" he barked as I walked over. "Please" I replied. These people really have no manners at all, though I suspect I'd have said a lot more had there been no-one else around. And I fail to see how me approaching from one direction had any more bearing on the bird's behaviour than him walking directly past the bush when he'd had his fill of it.
The warbler hadn't given that shot to Steve and we retired to the car park for a break. Steve and Ann had to reluctantly leave, and Steve even more reluctantly had to hand back my lens. I hope he sorts something while his 500mm is being sorted by the insurers, as he's currently lens-less, which is a horrifying thought for any of us 'togs.
Di and I headed over to the Dun Cow to quench our thirsts, before she headed back to her husband at the caravan. I pottered around Cley a little longer before again trying the layby for the owls, and again failing to photograph any. At least I saw one this time, albeit a fair distance off. And typically, as I had a smaller lens with me, no owls were perched on the wall later!
Sunday 3rd Oct:
My last day and though the forecast was for rain, the morning was quite sunny. Very windy though, and walking along the East Bank was a tad blustery! Beardies were around, as was a pair of whinchats, but neither came close. The phalarope at Kelling was again distant, and the blast from a canister in a nearby field, spooked it away completely.
With the clouds on the horizon and the wind becoming increasingly strong, I headed home. Just the small matter of picking images to process from over 25 gig's worth taken!