Yesterday morning, Saturday 27th August, I had a very enjoyable trip up in North Norfolk for a change. Picking up Jeremy G from Gorleston and first stop was just past the "T" junction along Warren road off Sidestrand road just south of Cromer town centre. An enforced wait of 30 minutes due to the heavy rain led us eventually 8.30am to walk south along the road through the wood and up a steep hill where a Holm Oak was and eventually out into the open where other birders stood. From this vantage point "the look out" we could view the tops of the trees of a lot of the wood plus looking further north we could see the town of Cromer and Cromer Pier. It was nice to John H, Ian M & Baz here too. First 1 and then 2 Swift were seen flying overhead. No sign of any warblers so Jeremy and I went back into the wood and saw 2 calling Nuthatches on a big tree and 1 Treecreeper also seen.
It was at this point in the wood that I heard a sharp terse "hu-eeef" call which sounded like the Greenish Warbler in with a tit flock but sadly it wasn't seen despite much searching.
We then decided to press on to Cley when a call from John H 10 minutes into our journey (thanks John) had us retracing our steps back to Warren wood and going specifically to the large green area on the southern border. Running up to a group of birders, I immediately locked my bins on the Western Bonelli's Warbler that was ranging left (west) along the tree edge at around 1/2 to 2/3 height of the trees. It had greyish- brown head and mantle with slight supercilia and crucially unmarked lores in front of the eye (a distinguishing feature for Western as opposed to Eastern) and obviously yellow- green colouration on the wings.
Seen for all of 3 minutes it followed the Tit flock across the field to the hedge on the western border of the open green area and then flew south into another thickly wooded wood.
From here we drove to Walsey Hills, walking down the path we came to the finger post turned left meeting Penny C (she hosts an excellent blog entitled "Hot Birding & Life") and we then walked half way down a field and looking at the bushes at the end we could see an excellent immature male Red- backed Shrike perched on the top of bramble bushes and flowering Clematis. At one point the Shrike flew down to the ground feeding on something, before returning to the top of the bushes again.
Next stop Cley NWT reserve & it was good to see Chris B at the new very swish-looking visitors centre (I remember the old wooden hut!!) At Daukes hide overlooking Pats Pool, we saw lots of birds, beyond the pool was an island were 8 Immature Spoonbill, 5 asleep & 3 preening. To the left of the island, were loads of waders 5 Black- tailed Godwit, 12 Dunlin and 8 Curlew Sandpipers. At one point everything was flushed by an overflying female Marsh harrier and all 8 Spoonbill flew up wheeled around in the air (showing greyish-black wingtips of immatures) and settled back on the island. The Phalarope was initially hard to spot, but was eventually spotted the excellent immature Red- necked Phalarope right at the back swimming along going right hugging the waterline it was constantly swimming occasionally spinning around and pecking the water like a sewing machine. A superb bird with brown buff V'd back and dark brown cap, dark mask and pinky buff on chest with white underparts and pencil thin short/medium bill.
Occasionally it would fly, behind the island repeatedly going across the back of the pool and the island. It then flew closer to the watery area in front of the island.
Several Ruff were seen, 2 very close birds in the water and then on the grassy island right in front of the hide and a further 8 Ruff including 1 very golden buff- breasted brown immature
A calling Green Sandpiper flew right across the front of the hide.
Looking over to the far left amongst a load of Dunlin, 1 Little Stint was walking left along a muddy ridge interspersed by water.
Later looking out from Bishop hide, overlooking the front edge of the Pool several very close waders were seen including Green Sandpiper that was along the muddy perimeter of the pool followed by first a Ruff and a Common Sandpiper. A further 4 Curlew Sandpipers were seen including an adult half moulted out of its fine brick-red summer plumage.