NE winds onto the Norfolk coast in mid-October. Who could ask for more? so David and I pitched up at Cley at 9:30 to join what would undoubtedly be a large number of sea watchers.
Actually there was just two other people, everyone else having gone off bush-bashing. But we were playing a long game - let everyone else find the birds and trot round letter cleaning up. Well that was the plan.
We'd missed 3 Poms but there was still stuff moving; Kittiwakes, Eiders, a few Scoters, Wigeon, Brent Geese and Auks, and a couple of Red Throated Divers on the sea. And a male Mallard. There was a shout of Peregrine? And we saw a falcon with prey going across the sky. It looked very brown for a Peregrine. It was, of course, a Merlin, but the flight with prey and the bulk of the female did throw me I must admit. That dashing hunting Merlin flight? Well, it wasn't that.
We kept going for a couple of hours, at the end of which we were the only ones there. Two Little Auks sped through mid-range, and at the end of our session a party of Scoters heading east had a bird out front with a broad white trailing wing patch; nice to get Velvet Scoter on the list. We ended with a list of probables was well: a couple of very distant skuas were large and heavy (I believe the technical term for these views is 'definite Pom'), a distant party of gulls looked like Little Gulls as they were light and buoyant with a mix of all pale wings and black W but too far to clinch the dark underwing, and a female duck whizzing through was almost certainly a Long-Tailed Duck, with that distinctive pointed-wing look, but I just couldn't clinch it. But that uncertainty is one of the joys of sea-watching.
For some reason David was mad keen to see Cattle Egret. We stopped at North Point Pools where some had been reported but with no cattle in sight we headed on.
Holkham was our next and final stop. We soon came across a group at a bush contains a reported Blyth's Reed Warbler. The bird showed well displaying a massive bill. Nice. We went on, stared blankly at a space where a Red-flanked Bluetail had been, and ended up at the end of the wood on the dunes where a juvenile Barred Warbler was giving very decent views. Ten Cattle Egret flew distantly past giving David his target tick.
Here we heard that the Blyths had been downgraded to plain Reed. Really? Despite the tuc-tuc call reported first thing? As we turned to head back for the car the Cattle Egrets suddenly appeared flying in formation near us, before settling in the adjacent field where they gave fantastic views, perching on a cows, back, catching frogs, whilst a Great White Egret wandered serenely around. David had got his wish fulfilled in spectacular fashion..
We retraced our steps towards Lady Anne's Drive. There were birds all over, particularly Redwings and Blackbirds. Siskins called over, and once a Brambling. Goldcrests were everywhere, so much that stopping to look at birds simply because there was a movement was a waste of time, and calls were the key. We went past the Not Blyth's, gave it another look, Christ that's a hell of a bill, then as we were discussing the lack of any Chiff-Chaffs we came across a group looking at one with some Goldcrests. A quick double-note call and yes! Yellow-Browed Warbler giving excellent view for this species.
And that was our lot. There were Pallas' Warblers at Stiffkey, but it was 4:15, there was parking, ages waiting for them to appear possibly, then the two-and-a-half hour trip back. It wasn't as though we were going to accidentally stumble across a Rufous Bush-Robin was it? So we called it a day and left for home. An excellent day in Norfolk.