Birds of Norfolk, England


This video is called The Feathered Marsh – Cley Marshes nature reserve, Norfolk.

By Peter Frost in England:

The marvels of Norfolk’s winter

Thursday 10 January 2013

The quaintly named village of Cley-next-the-Sea looks particularly good when the early morning sun paints the sky with pale watery pink streaks.

Silhouetted against the dawn is the handsome tower mill that dominates the narrow high street.

The sharp but lovely smell of smoked fish hangs on the morning air from the smoke house just opposite the mill.

Oak chippings have been smouldering all night preserving yesterday’s catch of herring, mackerel and sprats.

We’ll be back later in the day, when the shop is open, to buy some kippers for tomorrow’s breakfast.

High above us a skein of geese make a series of huge V formations across the wide Norfolk sky. The spectacular sight and their honking call always makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

It may be icy cold this morning but these geese have flown down to relatively warmer climes from Arctic Russia and Scandinavia’s frozen winter wastes.

Despite its name, Cley has not been “next the sea” since the 17th century. Much land has been won back from the North Sea.

In fact it’s a decent walk across the marshes to the sea. In summer these marshes are a riot of colour with bright yellow horned poppies and other marshland plants.

They are also rich with samphire, that delicious vegetable that is the taste of summer holidays on this coast.

The poet Rupert Brooke was in Cley early in August 1914, staying with the Cornford family who owned the mill. News came that Britain had entered the first world war.

Bacause of the visit classics professor Francis Macdonald Cornford and his poet wife Frances named their son Rupert John after Brooke.

John Cornford would join the Communist Party, fight and die with the International Brigade in Spain and be remembered as one of Britain’s best known communist poets.

However, we aren’t here for communist history or indeed poetry. We are here for the birds.

The Cley marshes are internationally important for their populations of rare breeding and visiting birds.

Cley Marshes have been in the care of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust since 1926, making it the oldest county wildlife trust reserve in Britain.

Today it has a spectacular new eco-friendly visitor’s centre containing viewing areas and exhibitions. The view from the centre across the marsh to the sea is almost unbelievable.

There is a cafe, toilets and the inevitable shop making this a comfortable and convenient way to watch the amazing birdlife of the coast.

Around the centre all year round you can see avocets, Bearded Tits, bitterns, marsh harriers, spoonbills and many more common birds.

In winter visitors include Brent and Pink-footed Geese, wigeons, pintails and many waders.

Wintering gulls might include glaucous or Caspian gulls as well as more common species.

Birds of prey will include hen harriers, merlins and short-eared owls.

In recent years little egrets have become quite common on the coast hereabouts.

Exciting winter passerines include snow and lapland buntings, twites, shore larks, water pipits and waxwings.

And it isn’t just the seashore and marshes that have birds worth watching.

Winter too is an excellent time to enjoy the area’s woodland and farmland birds.

Common buzzards, woodcocks, barn owls, woodpeckers, kingfishers, grey wagtails and flocks of winter thrushes, tits and finches are all to be seen on walks from the centre.

Some species like the exotic Egyptian goose have become so common they have become a real pest.

Most years see some real treats for both twitchers and we mere mortals.

A black brant or two perhaps, or some other rare goose and a few other surprises such as a great grey shrike, a rough-legged buzzard or an Arctic redpoll might be about.

In mid winter daylight hours are short, but don’t let that put you off.

Wrap up warm and get out into the winter landscape. This is the most magical time to enjoy north Norfolk’s coast and country.

7 thoughts on “Birds of Norfolk, England

  1. Pingback: Great grey shrike, Dutch research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  4. Pingback: United States military helicopter crash in English nature reserve | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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