Today started with a rainbow, a double rainbow in fact that formed a perfect arch across Cley Marshes showcasing it nicely in a multi-hued frame. Where there's a rainbow you can bet rain is not far away and sure enough a gaze out to sea from the comfort of the Visitor Centre showed fragmented curtains of moisture descending from evil looking dark clouds being pushed fast along the coast by the prevailing North-easterly wind.
After a while (the time it takes to sip a cup of tea and catch up with birding gossip) the skies cleared somewhat allowing my volunteer duties to commence. So, what could a walk around the hides reveal today? First off a large group of dark-bellied Brent geese, originating from Russia or western Siberia, were busy cropping the grass in meadows bordering the coast road. As luck would have it a pair of the pale-bellied race (or species if you're greedy) which spend their summers in Greenland were the closest birds to the boardwalk and therefore allowed a good look and comparison with their duskier relatives. These birds, almost certainly a romantically tied couple, sported much lighter flanks and a pure white underside which was somewhat difficult to see as they waddled through the lush grass - such food source being the main reason the geese are here.
Pink-footed Geese, photo by Barry Madden
One thing we are seldom short of in this Norfolk of ours is wind, especially on the North coast in winter where the cold Arctic air is frequently swept into the county unabated across the broiling North Sea. These winds can be cruel, whipping the mud coloured coastal waters into a churning frenzy and causing destruction to all that dares to challenge its might. We have had a spate of strong northerly gales lately which have not only caused a 'wreck' of starfish, flatfish and shellfish whose desiccated bodies now litter the strand line, but have also forced a number of unusual gulls to make landfall between Cley and Sheringham.
Second winter Iceland gull, photo by Barry Madden
|Fulmar, photo by Barry Madden|
So, despite the opening scene no crock of gold today at the rainbows end, but the wealth of birds on these wonderful NWT reserves more than made up for the absence of shiny metal.