Saturday, 28 June 2014

Salthouse and Cley Beach

9th June 2014

Today was the start of our weeks holiday at Blakeney and the first port of call was to be the car park behind the sea wall at Salthouse. As we made our way down Beach Road I couldn't understand why all the cars were parking along the road, but as we approached the car park the reason soon became evident. The car park was under two feet of gravel following the tidal surge.

As I got out of the car I could hear a strange tinkling noise and there right in front of me was a Meadow Pipit with a beak full of food. I grabbed a few shots and then backed away to allow it to deliver its food to its young presumably in the nest or hiding in the grass.

Then on to Cley Beach for my annual attempt to photograph the Little and Sandwich Terns that fly along the coast to their feeding grounds from the tern colonies at Blakeney Point. Here too the landscape is quite different from a few years ago. That fantastic landmark, Arkwright's Cafe is long gone and the Everest-like sea wall has now been abandoned by the Environment Agency and is now no more than a very wide and flattened mole-hill. You can even see the sea from the car park.

The main challenge when photographing terns is to keep vigilant as it can go fairly quiet at times, but if you lose concentration you will suddenly have half a dozen terns zipping past without having their photograph taken. It is also uncanny sometimes when you have a sixth sense that you are being watched. At one such moment I turned round and came face-to-face with this Grey Seal which was obviously curious as to why I was standing at the water's edge.

But then down to the main business. It is quite tricky to get the focus and settings all right simultaneously but practice makes perfect and after a couple of hours, yes a couple of hours, I was able to get a few reasonable shots.

As I moved back to the car park I could hear a Sky Lark singing quite nearby. Now what I have found over the years is that it fairly easy to determine the direction of a singing Sky Lark, but much more difficult to work out its height. Therefore I usually point my binoculars in the right direction and pan up and down until the bird is found. This is precisely what I did and I eventually found it......sitting on a fence post not too far away. What a confiding bird, but nothing compared to what happened next.

I could a shrill peeping noise coming from the Eye Field. As  got closer I could see that the source of the alarm call was a Redshank sitting on yet another fence post obviously concerned about the safety of its young hidden nearby. The bird was quite fearless and even flew to a nearer post at one point allowing this photo to be taken. If only all birds were that cooperative. I am going to start a campaign for more fence posts.

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