Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pacific Golden Plover at Cley Norfolk 26 June 2012




Well it was just too much to resist. I have only seen one of this species before and that was in winter plumage, in China and which only gave the briefest of views. This individual at Cley was in summer plumage and had been mainly residing on the North Scrape at Cley Marshes for the last few days. If I went to see it this would give me the chance to study it at leisure, if twitching can ever be called leisurely.The only problem was it would involve a round trip of some 270 miles. I thought about it at work for a morning and then decided to take the afternoon off and drive to Norfolk to see it.

I finally arrived at Cley at 4pm and parking in the Coastguard's Car Park made the short walk to the Swarovski Hide and found the plover feeding on one of the muddy banks right in front of the hide. Much more leggy than "our" Golden Plover with longer tibia it also appeared more attenuated and not quite so solidly built. This individual showed a black and white pattern on the head and breast that was very similar to an American Golden Plover but apparently this is not unusual. The wing point extended just beyond the tail but due to the distance it was not possible to note the number of primaries extending beyond the tertials. The gold spangling only appeared to be present on the mantle, scapulars and tertials whilst the wing coverts appeared more grey and white giving a subtle two toned appearance to its upperparts. 

Any Golden Plover in full summer plumage is worth seeing, just for their sheer beauty but when it is a Pacific Golden Plover this makes it all the more special. I watched it for around an hour. Occasionally it was harassed by Lapwings and took flight .When it did it was possible to see the grey axillaries and underwing coverts. 

The scrape was alive with bird activity. I counted over a hundred and fifty Avocets, many still defending virtually fully grown young, a Spotted Redshank in full summer plumage fed at the back of the scrape and there were many Black tailed Godwits, resplendent in their rusty summer plumage. Dunlin and Ringed Plover came and went as did a Little Tern. I left the Hide and retracing my steps stopped at some pools a short way west of the North Scrape.On here were four Spoonbills, one asleep but another adult was being pursued around the marsh by two juveniles with grey pink bills begging for food. I wonder if these were bred locally? Whilst watching the Spoonbills a Wood Sandpiper very obligingly walked in front of them. 

It was now 6.30 pm and thoughts turned to food before the long drag of the journey home. For me there is only one place to go to eat around here. The Dun Cow at Salthouse, one of my favourite pubs. Unpretentious, friendly and with outstanding food and Adnams beer. Also the bonus that you can sit in the garden and bird the marshes the other side of the road whilst drinking and eating. Just brilliant.


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