Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Winter Warmers part two

Okay then part two of my winter warmers and sadly the trolls have been trolling...again. There are two points why I'm doing this 1) I've mentioned before how a (should've been fatal) car crash left me with serious brain injuries etc, since that crash one of many mental side effects is S.A.D or seasonal adjustment order. This leaves me at worse depressed and the least very lethargic. So as the nights draw in earlier the spiral starts, these posts are really just to cheer me up and give me something to look forward too etc, 2) As accused by trolls, yes I know posts like this may be teaching the more "experienced/knowledgeable" birder how to suck eggs, but you forget a) not everyone's been to Norfolk and b)some birders are newbies and might (who am I kidding lol) find this useful. How else are newbies to learn? We all have to start somewhere.
So in part two I'm focusing on mostly on Cley Marshes and the surrounding areas and Salthouse. Most people know of Cley marshes an a all year spot with great birds depending on the time of year. Giving this is a winter post I'll talk about birds from September through to April. Cley marshes is a Norfolk Wildlife Trust site. It's mostly reedbeds and a selection of lagoons both freshwater and saline. There are five hides and a great but very long footpath that encircles the site which includes a walk along the North Norfolk shoreline. Normally I'll photograph Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits (if they haven't moved inland), various geese species including Brent Geese and Pink footed geese, various wildfowl including Teal,Pochard and Tufted Ducks occasionally Pintail turn up too. Wader wise I've photographed Dunlin,Pectoral Sandpipers,Wood sandpipers, Green sandpipers,Little Stint, Little Egret,Spoonbills, both Black Tail and Bar Tail Godwits, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Golden Plovers and towards spring Avocets I have also had Peregrine Falcons, Sparrowhawks, Hen Harrier and Barn Owls in front of the hide. There's been more to watch too it is a great reserve but VERY popular and sadly more people mean there's an increase chance of someone moaning about photographers....but don't be put off. My tactic is to arrive at Wiveton village (just behind Cley village on the A149/coast road) just before sunrise as on the marsh (very private so stick to the road bordering it) at Wiveton I always photograph a Barn Owl if it isn't showing there I'll always check the reed bed behind the windmill in Cley village or the field opposite. If you head out of Cley on the coast road towards Titchwell, just as you leave Cley on the left hand side is a small "pull in" spot to park the car go and have a look you won't be disappointed, however regulary photographing this owl I can say it vanishes to roost about 08:00am so early bird etc. But once or twice as I've left Cley village and headed towards the carpark for the reserve I've had Barn Owls just on the left. It's worth remembering the amount of Barn Owls in Norfolk it's worth just easing off the gas pedal a little as you never know when a Barnie will pop over a hedgerow and cross over into another field. I always come to Norfolk via the A148 and Ben and I always play a silly game of "first to spot a Barnie" the looser paying for lunch...it's always a free lunch for me unless Ben tries to string a gull lol, this road (very busy) always produces a Barnie normally just after Fakenham/Sculthorpe Nature reserve. One time we were driving along early one morning a lorry heading towards us and a Barnie came out of the field and flew down the middle of the road. I slowed down and the lorry driver pulled into the middle of the road (to prevent the cars behind him overtaking him) and slowed and we watched as this owl flew down the road then back into a field, fair play to the truckie.


After lunch we always go to my personal number one winter spot, though again earlier you go the better the experience...SALTHOUSE. I have to confess I'm not sure who owns this spot etc. Again first thing in the morning will produce a Barn Owl. The one feature about this place I like the most are the Turnstone flocks and the wintering flock of Snow Buntings. Every winter a group of birders out of there own pockets will cover the site in bird seeds which encourages the flock of buntings to hang around. Normally as you pull into the carpark the Snow buntings and Turnstones are very nearby. Majority of people stay close to the pools and the shingle bank nearest to the carpark, however the more further you walk and explore the more you'll find, and if it's been a wet winter the more pools of water are evident. After photographing the Turnstones and Snow Buntings I always (images of Turnstones and Snow buntings posted here are from the carpark area) walk in the direction of Cley village. It's a bit quieter in early spring I've photographed Hen Harriers and Avocet's (APRIL). I've posted a Common Redstart (right click it once to see proper size) below from Sept'08 (just started photographing wildlife then) but later in the winter I have had Linnets, Skylarks,Meadow Pipits,Stonechats,Twite,Kestrels,Redshanks,Ringed Plovers, Marsh Harriers, Eygptian Geese and Brent Geese. There is alot more but my photographing skills being what they are I've missed a lot more like Shore Larks and one early spring a Richards Pipit.
In part three I'll cover my last "favourite spot". I decided to do it as a third post as there are a couple of "do's and don'ts" type of rules for the site that are a bit long winded. I'll post it probably Friday/Saturday, and remember to right click once on the image below...one from my first year photographing birds...it's worth a laugh or two not least because I remember when I got the species, a first for me and image I thought I was "KING of THE HILLS" lol.




  1. Superb Blog! Like you, I love Norfolk in Winter and go to Snettisham,Salthouse and Cley among other places. I'm off to Snettisham next week for the high tides and was casting around for info to remind myself sbout shutter speeds for wading flocks. I'm going to try some slow stuff next week!
    The Snow Bunting in the pebbles is beautiful btw.
    Keep writing!

  2. Hi Rosie,
    Thanks for the kind comment. I hope you have some luck up at Snettisham it is a great place. In terms of shutter speeds this is what I go for, bearing in mind I'll mostly go for flight shots. I'll use as my main lense a 500mm prime coupled with 1.4 teleconverter this gives me a starting aperture of f5.6. And use either a Canon 1d mark2 or 1d mark3 depending on wether I have to use a high ISO rating if I use a high ISO rating (greater then ISO 800) I'll use the mark3. I prefer to get about (lowest) 1/1800th to 1/2000th a second shutter speed but if I can more the better. For portrait anywhere from 1/200th to 1/800th.

  3. Hi Douglas
    Trolls are sad bitter people who are just out to upset people, only trolling because they can remain anonymous.
    I am enjoying your blog and photographs so please continue and brighten my day, if I see you at Summerleys then I will say hello.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Yep trolls are annoying, nowt else to do in life etc. In some comments you're left scratching your head wondering how they're able to breathe and talk at the same time without falling into an unconcious state, others you wonder if they've ever had any friends, that should get them trolling:0 No I've developed a "sod them" mentatlity towards them

  5. Hi Dougles,
    Great blog and superb photography ... I'll definitely add you to my reading list.

    My (nearly) annual visits, often in winter, to the North Norfolk Coast started over 20 years ago and I just wish it was closer to home.

  6. Hi Frank,
    Living in Northants I too wish I lived that little bit closer to Norfolk, long drive home :)