After a couple of days of more rainy weather, today saw another bright and sunny start. A Common Sandpiper flew over the car park at Cley as we got ready to leave. First to Kelling, where the Wood Sandpiper which has been lingering for the past couple of days showed well. The Water Meadow also held 15 Mute Swans, mostly non-breeding immature birds, an unusually large number for the site. A singing male Stonechat was the other local highlight – the species has become much rarer here in recent years. We took the time to study up close a good selection of the regular birds and several species of butterfly, including Small Heath, Common Blue and Brown Argus.
From there we went up to the heaths. A Hobby flashed through as we walked across. We heard our first Dartford Warbler, but it refused to show itself and remained stubbornly deep in the gorse. The mournful song of a male Woodlark drifted over and we picked up the bird sitting in a dead tree. A little later, as we walked further round, we saw the male and female feeding together quietly in the short grass. A search nearby and we found a female Dartford Warbler feeding quietly in the heather. As we walked back, we could hear daytime hooting Tawny Owls in the trees. More butterflies were also much in evidence, including a couple of Green Hairstreaks.
Finally, we drove down to Stiffkey. A Common Sandpiper and single Little Ringed Plover were on the Fen. A Whimbrel flew across the saltmarsh and some lingering winter waders and Brent Geese were still in the harbour, where we also got good views of Sandwich, Common and Little Terns. A Small Copper added to the butterfly list for the day. We also enjoyed the fabulous views across the harbour to Blakeney Point in the afternoon sunshine – we shouldn’t forget the great scenery on offer during a day out in North Norfolk!