Now on to the reserve and the first port of call was the cluster of three hides in the centre. We had only just reached the perimeter path when our attention was drawn to a Sedge Warbler which seemed hell bent on posing on a Hawthorn bush. A number of people were queuing up to take a shot and he seemed to relish all the attention.
Once in the central hide the view was very much as expected with relatively few species on show due to the breeding season, but those that were present performed very well. This group of Avocets were feeding cooperatively, all benefiting from the disturbance in the water, and these Black-tailed Godwits were uncharacteristically close but were frequently disturbed by an over-flying harrier. Quite a large flock of non-breeding birds.
The Shelducks too were closer than normal allowing their superb plumage to be appreciated, although this male Pintail loafing on one of the banks was a bit of a surprise at this time of year, and seemingly unperturbed by the Grey Heron that flew low over its head
Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a brown duck with ducklings swimming down the ditch just two yards in front of the hide. Expecting it to be a Mallard I was pleasantly surprised that a closer inspection revealed it to be a Shoveler, so close that I could not get the ducklings in with my prime lens.
I think that for me, apart from the storm damage and damage caused by the tidal surge, the main change at Cley over the last few years is the number of Spoonbills present, obviously helped by the breeding colony further down the coast. Continental birds have been appearing at Cley out of the breeding season for the least 25 years, but would then return to mainland Europe with the onset of summer. However today, in the middle of June, there were nine birds present.
But the star of the day was this female Marsh Harrier which flew past the hide, despite the attentions of the local Lapwings, carrying a small chick of some sort back to the nest in the middle of the reserve to feed its young. Never seen a harrier carry prey in its bill before.Magic!!