Sunday, 2 June 2013

Blakeney Point - love or loathe?

All the ingredients were there - it was the end of May, overnight rain and a north-easterly wind were forecast and I also had the knowledge that a couple of goods birds had been seen there the previous day - Blakeney Point was my target!

I set the alarm for an early start.

Birds, Birding, Photography, Norfolk
Welcome to Blakeney Point - not for the weak
Reaching the coastguards car park at Cley on the fog bound, damp and breezy north Norfolk coast, there was only one other car here and that belonged to a fisherman. I had the Point and its birds all to myself, so the long walk began - 3.5 miles of loose shingle!

Anyone who has ever walked Blakeney Point will tell you how much of a trudge it can be, the shingle sapping the strength from your legs with every strenuous step, but hey I'd recently run a marathon, this was going to be a piece of cake! The plan was to travel lightly with just the essentials - bins, camera, apple, banana - I was fully hydrated, fluid wouldn't be needed!

Watch house or halfway house - you may want to remeasure that one
The thought of what might be hiding amongst the scant vegetation always pushes you on and reaching the Watch house in good time the Sueada bushes weren't exactly dripping with birds, a Short-eared Owl and a couple Grey Partridges spooked by the crunching noise of boot against shingle, were the best so far - I continued on. In the distance I could see the area known as 'the hood' surely this would produce the goods? A female Red-backed Shrike had been seen here the previous day, finally arriving, I circled the area  - nothing! Had I mis-read the weather conditions? Had all the birds done a bunk? Thankfully no - it was good to see the Red-backed Shrike was still here, wasp catching from a small patch of sheltered brambles but very little else.

Birds, Birding, Photography, Norfolk
Reward of sorts
It was clear the 'fall' of spring scarcities I'd dreamt about wasn't happening - should I cut my losses now and return back to the car, taking the easy option and just go and sit in a dry and sheltered bird hide at Cley or push on towards the Point? The thought of receiving news later in the day that a 'Mega' had been found on the Point and not by me, spurred me onwards through the shingle.

Finally reaching the Point I could see the Plantation ahead, could this sparsely planted, rarity enticing cover, produce the bird or birds I was after? I could see movement, a smallish Warbler flitting around in the stunted trees, it looked rare - Greenish? Icterine?

Pah - Chiffchaff!

And re-checking the images again on my camera, the wing length looked a tad long it was probably actually a Willow Warbler but I didn't care - had I trudged this far in the wind and fog for that!!

I checked the area around the lifeboat house for any sign of bird life, the brambles looked good for something but alas nothing, well except for a couple of predictable Linnets! Lastly I walked the sand dunes in the vain hope of flushing a Wryneck but more disappointment - a day which promised so much had failed to deliver.

Lifeboat house - home of Linnets
My return journey was equally uneventful with only a couple of Wheatears and a Stonechat of note, passing several birders on the slow route back I dished out the good news - the Point was dead! I could see the blood drain from their faces, their shoulders slumped, but like any good birder worth its salt they dutifully pushed onwards to the Point with the same hope in their eyes that I previously had - fools :)

Finally reaching the car park I opened the car door and slumped into the chair, my aching ears were grateful to be out of the wind, I desperately searched for a bottle of water, quickly gulping down its contents, I was pleased to be back in the comfort of this tin machine - running a marathon was harder but only just!

Was the four hour trudge worth it - just about.
Would I do it again tomorrow - you bet I would.

Blakeney Point like many other coastal peninsulas sometimes leave you disappointed but always leaves you wanting more.


  1. Just catching up. Love it. We're up in July and going to do our usual pop along to see what we can see.

    1. There's always something of interest to see - even in July!