Bempton Cliffs.

Bempton Cliffs.

Friday, 15 July 2016

** Norfolk Holiday + Bempton Cliffs **

NORFOLK; Pam and I have just returned from a trip to Norfolk, East Runton, near Cromer. One of the reasons was to see a few wildlife species that I have never seen. It was a break that we had already booked, but as it happens it was a holiday that was needed, Pam needed. Back in May Pam had to have a operation to have a Cell Squamous Carcinoma removed. If it hadn't already been arranged we would have arranged one. If she ever needed a holiday it was now.
We had lots of lovely days out, but I am only writing about my wildlife sighting.
The first place I wanted to go to was Hickling Broads, but I had to wait for a lovely calm warm day, and I didn't have to wait too long. As I arrived and started my walk around the the trail the first thing I saw was this, now you don't see many dragonflies like this one!
From here I followed the path around towards the first hide, and just as I went though the first gate, on my left was a Swallowtail Butterfly on a thistle. Another couple turned up and they was over the moon to see one. I seem to be lucky when looking for  Swallowtails.
 
That was one down, 3 to go. As I got close to the centre I came across some nice Foxglove.
  I also  saw 1 other species in butterfly. I thought it was 2 but thanks to Greenie he has informed me that they are all pictures of large Skippers. 
 

The next one was not going to be so easy, that's what I thought, but as I got  to the end of the trail where it splits, left to the boat trip, right to the centre. I could only go a short distance to the right because the trail was flooded. Just a few yards along is a small wetland with plenty of reeds. I stopped on the bridge for a rest and I saw this dragonfly hunting. I kept looking at it with trepidation hoping that it might be what I was looking for, and it was, a Norfolk Hawker. It's a pity it didn't come a little closer.

All the years that I have been coming to Norfolk I have never seen one, now I can say if anyone asks, I can say " Yes I have".
On our way home we passed a lovely lighthouse, below is a picture of it.
After having a lovely day in Hunstanton I wanted to stop off at Titchwell RSPB reserve because I was hoping that a certain bird might be there, it had been there for for a while. I got there at  4ish. I asked in the centre if it was about and they said "Yes", but it  was mixed in the what was estimated to be about 5-6 thousand Knot. The bird in question was a Great Knot, also known as the Eastern Knot. Apparently they breed in the arctic barrens, and there distribution is not fully known. I was lucky because when I got near just passed the hide there was about a dozen birders watching it. As it happens it was close to the front of the Knots, once seen it was easy to see the difference, bigger, a black and rufous back and a white front with black/brown spots. I believe the sighting of one of these birds in the UK is very low. That was number 3, and the one I really wanted to see. Whilst I was there 2 Spoonbills flew in.The other species of birds seen whilst there was: Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet, Ruff, Greylags, Moorhen, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, B/H/Gull, Common Tern, Stock Dove, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, C/Crow, Rook, Cuckoo(Heard). There was also 4 Red Crested Pochard in eclipse at the viewing screen. On our way back when we got as far as Cley a Barn Owl was out early hunting.
The final one meant going out at dusk and waiting for the sun to set. You might have guessed what bird I am talking about, the Nightjar. I found out that one of the best places to go was Salthouse Heath. If anyone is interested in knowing where it is. this is where I went. Along the A149 until you get to The Dun Cow Inn, near Salthouse and Cley, go up the road next to it as far as the crossroads, turn right, and a little way along is a small lay by on each side of the road. The one on the left goes down a short way to a small car park. from here just follow the track and you end up with plenty of gorse and a few trees around. I stood here for quite a while and then I heard it, the churring.
While I was listening  2 other birders turned up and while we was all listening between us we heard another 3 join in, then one of them saw one fly up and land on a branch of a nearby tree. Hearing one was what I wanted, seeing one was something else, the wait was well worth it. I have tried before at Kelling Heath but never had any luck. So now I saw the "Big Four" that I want to see.
On another day I paid a visit to Cley because I heard that there was some Spoonbills there, and they was right, I saw 7 while I was there all feeding together.  Cley seems to be the place for them, last year while there with friends we saw 11. I did see some nice birds, what I saw was as follows:  : Greylags, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Swift, House Martin, Mallard, Coot, Shelduck, Avocet, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Reed Warblers close up.
Pam and I went to visit friends at Fakenham and afterwards I went to Sculthorpe Moor. It is a lovely reserve but you need to be able to walk OK, it is quite a big place, plenty of woodland and reeds.so I didn't stay long, but I did see a couple of birds which I haven't seen for a while, a Nuthatch, and a Marsh Tit, the latter I haven't seen for a very long time.
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BEMPTON CLIFFS: We arrived at Bempton on a lovely sunny day. After having a chat in the centre I made my way down to the cliffs, Sunday wasn't a day I wouldn't have chosen but I had no choice. The first thing I noticed was the smell of guano, there was a lot of Gannets around, if you know what I mean. I took a slow walk along to another 2 viewing platforms and overall I saw 9 Puffins, close enough for great views through the bins, but too far away for a decent picture. I did attempt some  but they didn't come out that well, as you will see, but at least I have a record of them. Below are Puffin, Guillemot, and Razorbill pictures.


It was great seeing many of the young sea birds on the cliff ledges. but it was even more impressive watching the huge rafts of birds on the water, it never fails to amaze me watching Gannets diving for food, it's a good job they have got air sacs between their muscles and skin, hitting the water at up to 60mph is no mean feat. Many other species was seen to which I am not going to list, but my grand total for the holiday was 76.
Now how do you pick a "Bird Of The Holiday", there are so many to pick from, but after great deliberation I have gone for 2, the **GREAT KNOT**, for being such a very rare visitor, and the **NIGHTJAR** to be out on the heath in the dark and hearing that churring sound is something I will not forget in a hurry, plus seeing one was such a huge bonus.
 

2 comments:

  1. Ken ,
    Firstly , I hope Pam got as much out of your trip as you obviously did and that it will help with her recovery . Please give her my best wishes .
    Nothing like a trip when you manage to see your target species and your ' big four ' were super species to find .
    Had hoped to go up for Swallowtail this year , but it hasn't panned out . Re. your Skippers , they are all Large . The first two with the black marking / sex brand on the wing are male and the second two are female .

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  2. Greenie.
    Thank you for putting me right on the butterfly front.

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