Friday, 30 December 2011

One (or maybe 2) Foot in the Door

Here at the Bagsy Blog we avoid advertising at all cost, even with attractive financial inducements and in one case a $1,000 offer for the site in its entirety, that was never going to be our direction. However, when I come across a special little gem, I think it only fair to share it with my true and loyal readership. Here is the Web Site, well worth tucking away in your Favorites/ Bookmarks if nothing else, and a few photographs taken this morning.

Wooden Cabins, of what might be described as in the Swedish style, are located in the

Back Garden of Pip & Alison Weston's home 2 minutes away from the main North Norfolk road with easy access to all 'birding sights', places of interest and some quality restaurants and pubs.

Inside they are totally cosy, even on the coldest winters day, and not strewn with all my kit.

Everything you might expect in a good hotel or guest house is on hand and if reasonably requested can be obtained (such as Internet access).

and did you notice that picture on the photo above? None other than Portland Bill, a site I visit regularly and often when I'm in residence. It was intended to show readers an example of the Breakfast Table, which will follow eventually, as soon as I've got the wide-angle lens.

Now on to today, with the first visit being to Cley next the Sea

or more particularly to the Cley Marsh Reserve Visitor's Centre to enquire after a recent migrant from the Americas.

While I have been to this almost new building before, I had never venture inside and was mightily impressed with all the facilities. However, pulling up in the car park and baring in mind I hadn't been in Norfolk 24 hours yet, I was shocked to be told "you can't park here mate". I was even more surprised to turn and find Dave Foot ( a 'birding' friend also from Weymouth) stood beside me with his brother.

They too were in search of the same quarry so we walked the west bank of the East Scrape together

reaching 3 equally new hides via a series of boardwalks.

Dave & brother Mike.

There were plenty of birds to sort through, mainly Wildfowl and Wader with the best of the latter (so far) being this small party of Avocet.

Some of the Wildfowl were at close quarters like these Wigeon

with both male
and female approaching very close to the hide.

There were also Shelduck

putting on an amusing display in an attempt to get to the more succulent bits,

Teal and

Greylag Geese but still I had not seen a Pink-footed Goose. In addition, there was a Sparrowhawk hunting the marsh which was seen to take a small Wader from a spit some distance away. As these things do in 'birding' the rumour soon started that this may well have been our target bird, but I was reassured by Dave's claim that he saw it fly to the east bank.

Nevertheless, the Raptor did put0up all the Wader making for a spectacular sight of Golden Plover, Ruff, Dunlin, Lapwing and best of all

the small flock of Avocets.

These may not be the most striking pictures, but the Avocets were certainly the most striking birds so far today.

At this point Dave and Mike departed to search pastures new, while I hung on for another hour during which time a Tundra Bean Goose arrived as did a Black-tailed Godwit. By now I too had decided to try again later and went off in search of Partridge and Pink-feet.

All I saw were 2 cock Pheasants in a sparring contest and a Common Buzzard, but a call from Dave soon had my interests firmly in another directions. Seems his eyes were not letting him down and he had found the Yank at the other side of the lagoon. With 'perfect' directions I arrived at

Arnold's Marsh without delay, but then there was just the small matter of walking the Bund to where the bird was - let's hope the emphasis is not on WAS!

The tiny Western Sandpiper was there alright

and seen here between 2 Dunlin. While the views were all distant this was a bird I had only seen once before in Great Britain, the first time photographed in UK and a great addition to the Year List. Along with the Coues' (which is by all accounts pronounces 'cows') Arctic Redpoll, brings my GB year total to 267. Together we decided to change location and on the way back to the cars there were great views of

Cley Mill

and on arrival at Cley Beach Car Park,

quick as lightning, Dave set up a 'Soup Kitchen' me opting for the pea & ham - lovely! The discarded bits of bread brought in a few Black-headed Gulls,

a couple of most confiding Turnstone

plus a fine looking Common Gull.

Our target here had been Snow Bunting and while a party of about 50 did alight on the beach they remained distant. With all optics now trained to seaward we saw a single Black-throated plus 9 Red-throated Divers, a Little Gull, a couple of Guillemot, a Razorbill and at long last an identifiable skien of Pink-footed Geese.

There was also a bonus Atlantic Grey Seal while looking back to landward 2 Marsh Harriers, 30 Ruff and a few Brent Geese. While D & M went to replenish their water supply, I attempted to see a gaggle of White-fronted Geese seen earlier in a field close to Holkum, meeting up with them again at Lady Ann's Drive. Now, I have alway been of the oppinion that Weymouth & Portland car parking charges were exobitant, but here they wany £2.00 for every hour. Greed on a grand scale I would venture, and 'killing the goose', so it will only be a Dodo that will drag me that way again.

Unfortunately, while walking to the George Washington Hide was when the weather broke, but in doing so we also recorded male Goldeneye, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Jay all worth seeing.

The photo doesn't quite capture the severity of the storm, but the wind picked up to at least 35 knots, the rain was torrential and all acconmanied by some thunder. During a lull I made a break for it and was glad to reach the sanctuary of my warm and snug 'garden shed' - you'll be glad you paid a visit!