Today marked my "transition" to Norfolk's north coast. I'd planned a rough route which allowed me to call in at various places, but added to this by deciding to go through the centre of Great Yarmouth too. Why,you ask ? Well, the seafront at Great Yarmouth is one of the easiest places in winter to see Mediterranean Gull, hence my detour. However, such appeared not to be the case as very few gulls were around at all after my "drive thru" southwards so I resumed my journey northwards feeling a bit disgruntled. Eventually I saw a veritable cloud of Black-headed Gulls and the inevitable figure dispensing bread to the assembled throng ! And, as expected, there within the flock , was a single Mediterranean Gull ; a quite handsome individual with the black flecks of its emerging hood just begining to appear. But only one...interesting !
On, northwards, to near Horsey, in fact almost opposite the point at which we'd all been stationed last evening watching for Cranes and harriers! Several fields carried pools of water around which were groups of Golden Plover and Lapwing together with low numbers of Common Snipe dispersed across the same areas. Several Skylarks put out phrases from , as yet, incomplete songs.
Onward to Walcott, where I called in at the Kingfisher Cafe ( closed Mondays ! ) for the habitual bacon butty and tea to accompany a sea watch from the adjacent promenade. The sea was dull, grey and seemingly flat, but carried a restless, disguised swell that saw birds disappearing for intervals within its advancing embrace. A few Red-throated Divers, but little else other than scavenging Turnstone and Sanderling "working the pavement" opposite the cafe, but nowhere else along its length.
And so , finally , to Salthouse , where I saw the results of the storm surge and devastation of less than a couple of weeks ago. As expected a few Mallard, Wigeon, Shelduck , various gulls, a Little Egret and a single Pied Wagtail was all that was on offer so I moved on to the NWT Centre at Cley where I met with people from last evening and picked up on news about a Bean Goose, possibly more, that was with a large Pink-footed Goose flock at Weybourne. So it was back along the road ( not that far ) , parking in the coastal car park before walking eastwards over the hill to the Coastguards' Cottages to view the flock from the nearby access lane. It was rather a big flock spread over two fields at least , mainly due to being spooked by two idiots who entered the main field trying to get photographs ! I did manage to get a view of at least one of the Bean Geese before heading back to try and get the last couple of hours of daylight at Cley.
Walking along the East Bank at Cley it was immediately obvious where the tidal surge had moved through as some quite large areas of reeds were still flattened. This inundation had reached the coastal road and deposited large volumes of debris carried forward on what must have been a significant tidal surge of 10-15 feet high. Whilst there was plenty of duck and waders in evidence on Pope's Marsh, small birds were few and far between. Both the Local Authority and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust need to be congratulated on restoring normality to what had otherwise been an extreme event which, by now, had no effect on access along the road or within the reserve at all. I simply enjoyed the raw, wildness of it all, promised myself a full day taking in the delights of the whole area and "retired" at dusk to a welcome pint of "Ghost Ship" and the promise of a good meal!
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