After a quick visit to Bob Websters shop yesterday to catch up on local sightings I quickly found myself signed up for the local Mid Nene RSPB groups visit to Cley Marshes in Norfolk. As always this site failed to disappoint. Straight after leaving the coach it was decided by Peter, Keith and me to go and get the American Wigeon that had been reported on Arnold Marsh for the last few days. We took a quick walk along the road to get to the East Bank and found a large flock of Wigeon and Greylag Geese infront of us. Experience has taught me that although American Wigeon are startlingly different from our own Wigeon, they can be surprisingly hard to pick out amongst the masses. Luckily for us though it decided to be very showy this morning and as I was working through the flock it stuck it's head up between 2 Greylag Geese and we got some pretty good views. Soon after this it then disappeared behind the vegetation so we decided a better view was to be had from the road. A walk around a couple of bends and we got an amazing view as it came out onto the grass infront of us and just wandered around in the open for what seemed like ages until a Marsh Harrier quartered over the area and the whole lot took off and headed further away.
We'd pretty much had the best view of the American Wigeon that we were likely to get so we left it here and decided to have a wander around the rest of the reserve. A few Grey plovers were dotted around the north end of Arnolds Marsh and on the reserve itself Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew, Teal, Shovelor, Gadwall, Pintail, Mallard and Shellduck were all there in some numbers. A few Ruff seemed to be following the Starling flock and came very close to the first hide we went in and in the water 2 Avocet which were surprisingly easy to overlook, and on the way out of this hide a male Kestrel was trying its hardest to shelter from the biting northerly wind behind some vegetation on the roof. Sea watching didn't produce a thing which I was very surprised about, especially this time of year when you normally connect with the odd Diver and rafts of Scoters. The only thing we found worth having a look at out in the sea was a Grey Seal which was working it's way along the shoreline, which was nice as it was a first sighting for Peter. A walk round to the next few hides got Black Tailed Godwits, Lapwings and Golden Plovers. All day the plovers had been constantly spooking and flying round before settling again, and then 5 minutes later they were back up. They did this all afternoon but nobody could make out why they were doing it. A few people form the group did say later that they had seen a Merlin earlier in the day so perhaps this was upsetting them, but either way they did put on quite a show looking sometimes almost like a Starling roost. After nipping back to the coach to grab a coffee, and seeing 9 Brent Geese on the way, we heard about some Shorelark that had been spotted on the shingle bank near to the East Bank where we had been earlier that day. At the time we had been there no passerines could be seen at all so they must have been to the east of us, but as we had an hour and a half to kill before the coach left we decided to go and get them. We were glad we made the effort when we got there as 5 Shorelark were just west of East Bank and showing very well despite being surrounded by scopes. We had terrific views and they fed amongst the shingle until a group of walkers walked unknowingly right past them and they all took flight. I took this opportunity to count them and got to 8 birds as they all flew further west. From here we made the walk back to the visitor centre and had a chat in the warm while watching the Plovers still endlessly flying up and putting on quite a display before settling again. 2 Little Egrets coming into the marsh as the sun was going down ended the day. A good days birding was had by all.