Time out from the allotment

Having recently acquired an allotment and with the weather definitely spring-like, we (brother Bryan and I) spent most of last week constructing a poly tunnel. However, with the sun continuing to shine and only a moderate north westerly wind, on Friday we decided to catch up on a few historic Norfolk churches. With only two old mountain bikes available to us, albeit that one is a classic Muddy Fox Courier Comp which Bry had the privilege to ride and given that I hadn’t been on a bike since Christmas (shame on me!) we opted for a rather modest 45k/ 10 church itinerary, details below:

The Route

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The Churches

All Saints Weybourne, St Mary Kelling, St Nicholas Salthouse, St Margaret Cley, St Nicholas Blakeney, St Mary Wiverton, St Martin Glandford, St Andrew Leatheringsett, St Andrew Holt, All Saints High Kelling

The Pictures

First church of the day, All Saints Weybourne, with the remains of the Augustinian priory in the foreground

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St Nicholas Salthouse

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Detail of the roof and clerestory

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Part of the painted screen

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View of St Margaret, Cley, from the Wiverton side of the former Glaven estuary

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Interior of St Margaret’s, showing the cathedral-like proportions

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Detail of the St Francis stained glass window, depicting a number of interesting bird species, including Bluethroat

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A more recent addition, the Richard Millington depiction of the 2008 White-crowned Sparrow, in the west window

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View over Cley and the distant bird reserve, from the tower of St Nicholas Blakeney. The tower is open each Friday, 2.00 – 4.00. Highly recommended!

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St Mary, Wiverton, with St Margaret, Cley in the distance

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Detail of a medieval window discovered during renovations

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The interior of St Martin, Glandford

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The only round tower of the trip – St Andrew, Letheringsett

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The last and least ‘grand’ of the days churches, All Saints, High Kelling

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Post Script

The aforementioned poly tunnel – impressive eh!!

 

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Melton Mowbray…famous for pork pies and RBG!

This afternoon we took a brief excursion to the pork pie capital of England – Melton Mowbray, though not on this occasion for ‘growlers’ but for the ‘resident’ Ring-billed Gull, a rare larid  from North America.  Similar to our own Common Gull but paler on the back and, on adult birds, a prominent black band on the thicker yellow bill.  This particular bird was a ‘first summer’ bird, with heavy flecking on the head, nape and ‘shoulders’.

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A nice bird in a highly unlikely location and a welcome addition to the year list.

Billy unblocked

Finally, finally, this afternoon in a small patch of scrub just inland from the coast at Horsey Gap, Norfolk, I ‘unblocked’ a ‘Billy Bluetail’…or Red-flanked Bluetail, to give it it’s proper title – a bird which has led me a merry dance for many a long year. A three star rarity, that breeds in the Siberian taiga, occasionally as far west as Finland and winters in South East Asia. I knew there must be a reason for these constant howling easterlies over the past few weeks and now I know – it was to bring me this tiny, gorgeous, shy ‘slip of a girl’… for a female it probably was! If one was really greedy, which I am not, then a spring adult male in all his blue and orange ‘regalia’ would truly be a sight to behold but I am perfectly content with a female (or adolescent of the species) – perhaps more subtle, less ‘glitzy’. But don’t take my word for it judge for yourselves!

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And to cap it all, a couple of miles down the coast at Winterton, roosting in a holly tree – a couple of Long-eared Owls.

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A ‘Lifer’ and a Norfolk ‘tick’ ( I know, I ought to be ashamed of myself for letting this one go under the radar for so long!) all in one glorious, sunny spring afternoon….ah that’s the magic of birding!

Glorious Glaucous

I was pleased with this sequence of Glaucous Gull pictures so I thought I’d share them. Taken at Sea Palling on Easter Sunday, one of four present amongst the thousands of other gulls. This is a 1st winter bird, showing considerable fading to it’s ‘coffee’ coloured juvenile plumage. Glaucous Gulls are rare winter visitors to England from Iceland & Scandinavia. They are slightly bigger than our familiar Herring Gull, as can be seen from the first couple of photos and always have white primary wing feathers. They can be told from the very similar and equally rare Iceland Gull by size, structure and, in young birds, the reduced area of black on the bill-tip. ‘Glaucs’ are typically scruffy individual, found picking through urban waste on refuse tips or seen roosting on inland reservoirs, so it was nice to see them in their maritime environment in good winter/spring sunshine. Four birds at a single location is pretty exceptional.

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And finally a flight shot of a second ‘1st winter’ individual showing rather more of it’s coffee coloured plumage

 

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Hopefully the next birds to feature in this blog will be spring migrants!