22nd May- Pat’s Pool to Walsey Hills (and Back)

Having just recovered from a long & torturous away cricket match the previous day, I made another trip to an old favourite, Cley Marshes.

Straight off the bat (excuse the pun), a Bullfinch flew over the visitor centre carpark. Having recorded it on the board, I stepped out onto the path walking towards the hides. Almost immediately, a Whitethroat started posing for photographs (a bit like one earlier this month). It flitted about a little before settling on an exposed snag right at the top of one of the bushes that lines the dyke following the path.

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I then progressed towards Teal Hide, the sound of Sedge Warblers & House Martins filling the air. Jackdaws were constantly flying over, as were the local Woodpigeons & the first of many Little Egrets. As I stepped into the hide, the islands were awash with nesting Avocets: the water level on Pat’s Pool was VERY low, so I could barely see a Redshank on the scrape. Not to be outdone, I made for Simmonds, which was slightly more active (and with several Redshanks). Then, a Little Egret complete with breeding plumes flew in & landed right in front of the hide! A very elegant bird, especially in its breeding plumage.

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Having checked the again desolate Avocet Hide, I made my way back down the path, heading towards Bishop Hide. Just as I started my journey, a stonking adult male Reed Bunting posed on one of the bushes & stopped me in my tracks.

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Having made my way to Bishop’s Hide, I suddenly found the entire sky filled with Marsh Harriers: I must have seen at least three. One of them (which looked disturbingly similar to an Osprey) circled over the hide, enabling a few distant shots to be obtained.

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Having photographed some of the Avocets, I was just about to leave when someone said they’d seen a Little Ringed Plover on the mud. Indeed, it was a Little Ringed Plover, but now it was a question of whether it would come closer to the hide. Fortunately enough, it did: though slightly distant for the Panasonic, it was very nice to photograph before running daintily off into the grass.

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Then I made my way to Walsey Hills. This hillside reserve overlooks the North Foreland wood & a decent chunk of the marsh east of East Bank. There’s also an extensive forested area beneath it in between the hide & Snipe’s Marsh. The walk was fairly long, but it was made better by overflying Grey Heron & singing Chiffchaff coming from deep inside the North Foreland across the road. Upon arrival at Walsey Hills, I discovered that the hide is only has free accessibility to non-members: I’m not a member, and neither is my dad for reasons that are very much unknown. Not to be outdone, I walked along the public footpath & back inside a very thickly forested area: a Lesser Whitethroat was a great sighting, as was a passing Goldcrest. That, coupled with several very vocal Cetti’s Warblers, three different tit species (Blue, Great & Coal) & a stunning Goldfinch made Walsey Hills a great passerine supplement to the non-passerine specialist Cley Marshes on its doorstep. However, all the birds were too flighty for any photographs, so I didn’t spend long here before starting to walk back towards the reserve.

I then made my way along the East Bank, stopping to observe a ringed Oystercatcher (unfortunately too distant for any combination to be obtained), several Lapwing chicks, a flyover Marsh Harrier & a distant Common Sandpiper. Watling Water yielded a ‘Cley Tick’ in the form of a pair of Pochard with several chicks & also a male Gadwall preening.

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Unfortunately, I was running out of time, so I made my way to the visitor centre for a delicious packed lunch before heading for home.

Another great trip to the local gem of Cley Marshes, and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this.

 

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