What happened in Cley depended almost entirely on the weather, a factor that really influenced our experience, considering that from Wednesday afternoon to Friday evening (the length of our stay), all of Thursday found torrents of water dumping out of the heavens.
Wednesday was the best day by far, on which we found 18 life birds, and others, including rarities like Red-crested Pochard, Spotted Redshank, and Common Raven. Our target species were not many, only five species were on our Cley bucket list: Barn Owl, Bearded Tit, Water Rail, European Storm-Petrel, and Smew.
We searched for the Water Rail first, but did
not find it. Next, we walked down through the marshes keeping our eyes open for Bearded Tit, Reed Bunting, and Barn Owl. Nothing. At the first lake, however, we found Shelduck, Common Redshank, Red-crested Pochard. Curlew lurked among the banks of small rivulets, while Lapwing strutted around like they owned the world – and in those numbers, maybe they did!
We ate lunch in one of the hides, sporadically scanning the lake to see if anything else was there. Suddenly, a medium sized duck slipped off the shore and swam away, catching my attention – Common Scoter!
Continuing to the sea, we came upon a kilometer long beach, 500 meters on each side. Deciding to go left might have been the right choice, but with what we found out later, it’s hard to decide!
Hundreds of shorebirds littered the point – Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Ringed Plover. Over to the left, there were 2,000 Herring Gulls settling down for the night. to the right, a solitary Great Black-backed Gull.
Walking back, we hit upon the Marsh Harrier roost, and saw 15 of these amazing raptors retiring for the day. And, with the last ray of the sun shining on a single portion of the Marshes, it was time for the Bearded tits to make a quick appearance. Two of the made themselves obvious, a male and a female. One target species was good enough for the day.
Then we saw the most significant sighting of the day. My Mom. We had overstayed our welcome at Titchwell. We were losing light and it was time to move on to Cromer, where we were staying. My family had been killing time at the RSPB lodge and was ready to move on. But guess what they had seen?