I don’t usually go out of my way to see rare birds that turn up in the UK, and not even if they are in Norfolk unless they are on my way home. I didn’t actually go to Cley (Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve) in order to see a rarity but since they had put a note around on the systems that they had a citrine wagtail and a cattle egret the other day, it reminded me that as the grass was still too wet to cut I might as well use my time a bit better seeing as it was a lovely warm almost still day. So I took myself off for a short drive and spent the afternoon looking at birds.
Cley really is a fantastic place. I didn’t go in the nice modern eco-friendly visitor centre other than to pick up my pass for the reserve, as I know the temptation of their orange and almond cake would have been too much. You can bird-watch from the cafe with its wonderful panoramic views. I went straight out to the main group of hides, putting up a snipe on the way which flew round in a figure of eight before dropping down again, giving me excellent views. There were loads of birds around, unlike the depths of the freeze a few visits ago, all manner of ducks (in their eclipse plumage making identification more challenging) and waders – common and green sandpipers, red- and greenshanks, ruff, knot, lapwing, spoonbill, little egret, curlew and whimbrel. There were hundreds of geese, gulls and starlings, and lots of wagtails. With a bit of help from the others in the hide I managed to identify all three there – pied, yellow and the visiting and rare citrine wagtail, a juvenile in a nice soft grey with two marked wing bars, very handsome. I’m fairly sure I wouldnt have noticed it if the other people hadn’t been there, nor would I have noticed the yellow-legged gull sitting among the black-headed ones. But I did see a green sandpiper and a greenshank all by myself, and I also pointed out the reed warbler and the sedge warbler right up close to the hide while everyone was looking at wagtails! They were lovely birds too.
And there were loads of migrant hawker and common darter dragonflies as well.
All in all a lovely afternoon.