Been a While

Good title on three counts.  Firstly it’s been a few weeks since my last posting.  For this the blame can be put on the push to finally finish the interior decorating so freeing up spring and summer to do as we please (I’m sure more jobs will be added to the ‘to do’ list).

Secondly.  It’s been many years since I last visited Cley Marshes Nature Reserve up on the Nth Norfolk coast.  Founded in 1926 this is the Countries oldest Wildlife Trust reserve.  430 acres of freshwater reedbeds, man-made scrapes, ditches and wet grazing meadows this is a famous site for turning up rare birds.  Only separated from the volatile North Sea by a (now un-maintained) shingle bank the reserve has flooded four times in recent years due to storms, taking a couple of years to recover from the salt incursion each time.  One day it will inevitably be lost for good.

And finally you have to go way back in the mists of time (well 1998 to be precise) for my last sighting of the feature bird a Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus).  This rare vagrant from North America turns up annually in the UK.  The specimen at Cley has been present since late October and last Friday I decided to go see if I could locate it.

Dowitcher spotted and it has a long bill!

Let me apologise here for the quality of these highly cropped and processed images of the Dowitcher.  In my defence the bird was always very distant, right at the limit of my 600mm lens, and the light was pretty poor, the promised ‘sunny spells’ were few and far between!  However it is what it is and I’m just glad to come away with something resembling the bird.

Shh! Don’t wake the sleeping Wigeon
Always on the feed

I wonder what will become of our visitor from ‘across the pond’?  It’s a 1st winter bird and is doing alright for itself.  It was constantly feeding, head down going like a demented sewing machine!  Come breeding season (not long off) will it stay or tag along with other species and head north?  One thing for sure it could be a bit lonely for other Dowitcher company.

Nice comparison shot. From left, Redshank, Dunlin, Dowitcher, Dunlin

Let’s have a look at a few other sightings.

A beautiful and elegant wader, the Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
A pair of Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) enjoy a rare moment of sunshine. Soon they will be off to start a new generation down the nearest rabbit burrow!
5 Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) flew close by the hide taking me by surprise, I fluked this one shot
Not all birds were as distant as the Dowitcher. This smart drake Pintail (Anas acuta) was just a few yards away

Spring still seems some way off, two weeks of rain, snow showers (yikes) and low temperatures forecast.  Soon it will be butterfly time.

40 thoughts on “Been a While

  1. We’ve had a load of Pintails and Wigeon wintering on our estuary. I’m not sure if they’ll also fly off to somewhere nice for the summer. We’ve also seen a few shelducks and a whole flock (aka curfew) of at least 7 curlews flying around. I’d love to see an avocet mind you. (We almost booked a holiday in north Norfolk, but changed our minds and we’re going back to Alnwick again!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, sorry about that. It was partly finding the ‘right’ (self catering) accommodation and partly the travel time of around 6 hours! It’s not much less to Northumberland, but somehow it seemed easier (and we can call in at my daughter’s in Sheffield on the way there or back).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yikes is right on n the snow! I have bulbs blooming and just coming out of the ground. Oh well…
    Nice shots. That picture of comparison birds, I really couldn’t tell the difference (maybe why I am not a birder)😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The garden is going to take another hit with this cold snap, I’ve already lost several plants but life goes on, it will sort itself out, natures like that.
      You must invest in a good field guide CJ and then study them for 50+ years!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous images Brian, even if some were stretching the 600mm. Can’t wait to see the upcoming butters and dragons! You’ve always captured many excellent photos of all their vivid colors. 🙂

    Over here on this side of the Pond, Mom caught the first return of the hummers; a female Black-chinned to be exact. Geeezzz, it seems like I just put away the hummer-feeders a month ago! 🤦‍♂️ Then Mom was SO EXCITED that we (which really means ME) had to immediately drop what I was in the middle of… a make sugar water for at least four hummer-feeders out there. Grrrr. 🙄 And in my “haste,” and Mom trying to quickly cool-down the boiled water in order to get the full feeders outside, I proceeded to SPILL sugar water all over the kitchen floor! 🥴

    Needless to say, after about 5 attempts with a hot wet mop, our shoes finally began NOT sticking and making that annoying cracking squishy sound. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very beautiful photos! I am amazed that this bird can fly all the way to the UK from the States. How does it do this? It can’t fly all the way over the ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers John. It’s always a puzzle how birds make it across the Atlantic. In most cases they get caught in a fast moving storm. Some have been known to rest on ships but most just keep going and sadly very few make landfall the rest perish. More amazing we have had dragonflies (Green Darners) and butterflies (Monarchs) reach these shores from the U.S.A.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, Monarchs! They are so beautiful! They know where their other home is! I love the UK and have thought of it as my other home country. 🇬🇧❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  5. How good to see a post from you!

    Congratulations on the Dowitcher. We have plenty of Dowitchers here but I still haven’t figured out how to get them closer to the end of my lens.

    I certainly see why you like visiting Cley Marshes! What a terrific collection of birds.

    Kudos on your dedication to working on the house. I am not that steadfast and would keep scooting off to go birding.

    Hope your next bit of weather will not be as severe as the forecast. Come on Spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people managed to get close shots of the Dowitcher, right place right time I guess.
      Cley holds lots of great memories. I used to spend nearly every Sunday morning during migration time sat in the hides with all the old and famous birders of that era (sadly nearly all passed on). Here they taught me id skills you could never learn from books though I’m a bit rusty now due to life getting in the way!
      No snow as yet but it’s bl**dy cold!


  6. I’m glad you could tear yourself away from the house chores, Brian. How nice that you found the bird on your wish list, in addition to so many other photogenic birds. I hope you won’t have to wait too long for your butterflies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw my first butterfly a couple of weeks back in a (very) short mild sunny period but no chance of any more in the next week or two. Spring will arrive and we will appreciate it even more now the house is decorated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We have lots of Dowitchers here on the Texas Gulf Coast (I would have to drive about an hour to a site to see them) but I still can’t be sure whether I’m seeing Long-billed and Short-billed either. I’m glad you got to see it, and I really enjoyed your photos of all the other birds, so I could have a little virtual tour. It looks like a beautiful site!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very nice pictures of these beautiful birds Brian. I especially like the last photo, where you got close and to see 5 spoonbills suddenly fly by must have been amazing!!
    Birds are not the easiest to capture with the camera, but I think you did a great job here!!! And shortly you’ll have a lot of butterflies around you, as soon as spring appears even where you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We await springs arrival eagerly. Today it has finally stopped raining for the first time since February but it’s still too cold for butterflies and dragonflies. I am getting quite depressed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can understand that Brian. The weather can be really depressing, I remember from when I lived in Sweden where the winters are long and cold and sometimes the sun wouldn’t be seen for weeks. Hopefully, spring is just around the corner in Norfolk. 🦋🌞

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s