13th June 2014 – Spoonbills, more Spoonbills & Nightjars

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Day 1 of 3 day tour, we spent the afternoon and evening looking for Spoonbills and Nightjars. We started at Holkham and were quickly rewarded with the first White Admiral of the year, and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding among the brambles. A splendid male Marsh Harrier passed by just in front of us, twice, but refused to come back a third time when we all had cameras at the ready! A Green Sandpiper called briefly, but was not seen, possibly an early returning bird. At least 9 Spoonbills were around the pools, mostly very white juveniles with their ‘teaspoon’ bills, but the odd adult flew in from feeding, causing a round of begging from the young. The adults are distinctive by comparison with their shaggy crests, yellow-tipped bills and duller body plumage with an obvious dirty yellow patch on the breast. A good selection of other regular wildfowl and waders was also on offer. As we walked back, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth landed on the track in front of us – very odd to see like that, and a good opportunity to photograph it.

From there, we drove back to Cley. On the way out, a small party of Bearded Tits pinged from the reeds. A group of 5 more Spoonbills were sleeping on one of the scrapes, but as we looked out of the hide two juveniles dropped down in front of us and proceeded to give stunning views right outside the windows. Amazing – a proper frenzy of Spoonbills for the afternoon. We also had a chance to look closely at both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers in particular, as well as admire the variety of other waders and ducks in view.

After grabbing something to eat, we headed up to the heath before the sun went down. The Woodcock put on a stunning display, roding right overhead. It was hard to tell how many different birds were involved, but there were several passes overhead by a single bird and a couple of dogfights between twos. Several Tawny Owls were also hooting again. The Nightjars were a bit reluctant to get started, but once they did they more than made up for it. We had at least 3 churring males and one in particular perched up repeatedly on several of his favourite perches in full view of the scope – a real treat. We also had great flight views of the same male as it flew around us, displaying his white flashes in wing and tail. Such a good way to end the day.

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