Perhaps not quite two halves. The plan was to explore the Heaths in the morning, and spend the afternoon around Cley, but we couldn’t resist a quick visit to the reserve first thing to see the Temminck’s Stint, which showed very well. Several other waders were on the scrapes, including two Little Ringed Plovers, and a Cuckoo flew over calling while we were there. It was dull, overcast and rather breezy first thing in the morning, but the forecast was for rain, so we moved on quickly to try to secure the target species.
Up to the Heaths. At the first site for Nightingale, there was no sound, possibly due to the windy and cool conditions, but a smart Hobby hung in the air above us, before zooming off over the trees. We tried another location and, after a few minutes waiting and with our hopes starting to fade, a very quiet, croaking ‘tuk, tuk’ could just be heard from the bushes in front of us. Another couple of minutes and it burst into song – already starting so loud, at one point it seemed to increase the volume even further to compete with the sound of a passing car. Such an amazing sound and it always feels like an honour to be able to stand and listen.
We moved on again and quickly caught up with our next target, a male Dartford Warbler working its way through the gorse and heather before bursting into song and song-flighting past us. A careful scan of a favoured area then yielded two Woodlarks feeding quietly in a clearing. The rain had held off all morning, but as it started to drizzle it felt like we would miss out on our final heathland target, but a thorough search eventually gave us two Turtle Doves flying overhead and dropping into the trees.
Back to the coast for the afternoon. Despite the rain, we managed to find several Yellow Wagtails feeding amongst the cattle, a very smart male Whinchat, several Wheatears and a White Wagtail. Unexpectedly, the rain stopped, the wind dropped and it brightened up a little later on. As it did so, a male Marsh Harrier flew in over the reedbed, a larger female circled up from below and he dropped the food he was carrying for her to catch in front of us. Bearded Tits started calling and one flew out and perched obligingly, and the Reed and Sedge Warblers began singing. A quick walk down to the sea produced the surprise of the day – a late Red-throated Diver on the sea.
So, a day which looked like it might be a struggle with the weather turned out to be a great success. Just goes to show, there’s no excuse for not going out!