Cley, November 2014


Our proposed trip to the muddy, Mistley, Stour was diverted to Cley after Peter and Gill visited the planned location only to report that the tide level was unsuitable and birds were too distant for meaningful viewing.

So it was that a full house of 12 members met at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Reserve for a coffee and quick chat before the serious business got underway. We walked to the several hides in the centre of the reserve only to find the lagoons sparsely populated with birds, save for a few redshank, little egret, heron, a lively group of teal, a winter-pale pair of ruff, and a sizeable group of dunlin busily foraging in the mud.

The real story of north Norfolk in the autumn, is the inward migration of thousands of geese, mainly brent and pink footed, as well as ducks and waders. From Hide 1, (Avocet) we could see distant groups of brent geese grazing the fields, with a group of suitably drab homo sapiens lined up looking on. Norfolk artist, Brian Lewis could have used his Lowryesque style to capture a caricature of this iconic scene.

A walk along East Bank provided distant views over Arnold’s Marsh, where black tailed godwits, more redshank, shelduck, shoveller, and ruff were to be found. A brief spell of sea watching yielded a couple of red throated divers, which didn’t have red throats but white, that winter plumage thing again. Two shingle-hugging little brown jobs were identified as twite, down on holiday from their Yorkshire home.

The most productive area was North Scrape, viewed from Hide number 5, which wasn’t there anymore, after being destroyed by the February storms and now replaced by a screen and a few benches. Here we had our first sighting of some of the thousands of pink footed geese along this coastline, plus all the common ducks including gadwall, and widgeon, more godwits, redshank and shelduck.

Tony and Ann, took a different route back to the car and were lucky to spot and photograph a water rail and see the, until then absent, marsh harrier.

Our timing overran a little and with a table booked at The Wiveton Bell for 1:30 it became a forced route march back to the cars along the beach road; the hundreds of brent geese seemed quite unperturbed at their grazings as we dashed by.

The Bell’s meal offer of fish, chips with crushed peas and a drink for £10 was taken up by the whole group; silence descended over the table as we enjoyed the beautifully fresh fish. Peter’s guest, friend and ex-work colleague, Malcolm Taylor from Somerset, entertained us with his superb wildlife photos from a recent trip to Svalbard. The magnificent polar bears and walruses were sprinkled with a super collection of arctic wildflowers all of which made us green with envy. To view Malcolm’s photos visit his website at

We then totalled the group’s sightings for the day at 37 species, not at all bad but could have been better. We look forward to our next visit when the current expansion of the visitor centre to include an educational centre and large viewing platform will be completed.