Cley more than made up for this early disappointment with a superb selection of birds giving great views as we slowly made our way around the circular walk. Our main objective was to see Snow Buntings along the beach so we walked down the famous East Bank, but made slow progress as there was so much to see - a juvenile Peregrine was sat on an island in the middle of the main marshland pool, with nervous wildfowl keeping their distance. A juvenile Glaucous Gull, which we'd been told was feeding on a seal carcass along the beach, flew past us and on towards the centre of the reserve.
Further on we hear the distinctive chattering call of the Snow Bunting and looked up to see the wintering flock of about sixty birds fly past us and down towards the beach car park, settling in amongst some tall dock plants.
A Curlew delighted us, feeding in a small pool very close to the path, a nice opportunity to watch this often quite wary bird at close quarters.
|Spot the Glaucous Gulls|
|Two juvenile Glaucous Gulls, with Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Lapwings|
|juvenile Glaucous Gull with sleeping juvenile Great Black-backed Gull and Lapwings|
Looking back towards the sea my eyes were drawn to what looked vaguely like a large black oil slick out to sea. However, closer inspection with binoculars revealed a large and very dense flock of Common Scoter feeding intensively in a tightly-knit group. We tried to estimate the flock size, gradually increasing our count towards 500 birds. Then, the whole flock decided to move and flew a few hundred metres across the sea, enabling us to increase the estimate further - to 600 birds - plus a single Velvet Scoter.
As we completed our loop around the marshes we were rewarded with more waders - flocks of Ruff, Dunlin, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and a few Golden Plover. Pairs of Gadwall and Shelduck were displaying and Lapwings flocks were scattered across the lagoons. Some great views too of four male Stonechats gathered together along a short stretch of fence, we checked them for colour rings as there is a study going on locally, but all were ring-free.