Saturday, 9 June 2018

Nightjars and a ghostly Barn Owl: North Coast Nocturne!

Every year or so Peter, Sue, Linda and I spend an evening on one of Norfolk's several heaths to enjoy the sight and sounds of the charismatic 'Goatsucker'.

Leaving home after lunch we headed north to Cley: a longish walk was predictably not over-productive, although Peter did find a Little Ringed Plover. After coffee and scones at the visitor centre we moved east to Kelling Quags. The water levels were very high, so the only waders were a few Avocets and Oystercatchers: however, a confiding Meadow Pipit and a Red Kite were good to watch.

Returning eastwards (needing to pass a few hours before dusk) to Stiffkey Fen,  solitary Spoonbill dozed distantly on an island, while a Marsh Harrier and Buzzard had an altercation overhead:  Garden Warblers, Blackcaps and Yellowhammers provided a delightful soundtrack. By the 'flint barn' there was a terrific field of poppies....

Next stop was the 'Two Swallows' for a delightful supper (veggie Wellington!) which took us through to early dusk: time to stake out the 'jars!

As we passed the Beach Road turnoff at Cley a ghostly leucistic Barn Owl flapped by: we followed it towards the beach, getting some reasonable photos, considering how gloomy the evening had grown.

Our chosen location was just a shortish drive, and we were parked and in position as it grew dark. As if by magic the evening was filled with the churring of at least half a dozen Nightjars (but probably more!) We had great close-up views of several birds and heard plenty of 'kewick-ing' and the odd wing clap.

A great expedition in great company!


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