080418. Cley Marshes.

The weather was awful; misty and cold and rainy.   I couldn’t take any proper photographs, so I have instead included a copy of the map provided for visitors to this lovely place.  I am using it without permission, but I hope this is ok.  The Cley Marshes site is very impressive; a great expanse of reeds growing in a series of marshes between large banks built hundreds of years ago for flood protection.

I have two short recordings here; the first from the cluster of hides directly in front of the visitor centre; the second from a bit down the road (east) at East Bank.  I came for bitterns, and I heard them distantly and randomly, but was unable to record them; their extraordinary booming came and went and didn’t make it onto my recording!   Next time.   So instead we have what I was able to capture:

Recording 1:  Cley Marshes near the Hides.  This was a real treat; I went into the Whitwell Scrape Hide and watched for a while.   There were beautiful black and white waders with long and upward turned bills; I think I counted over 15 of them.  As they walked through the shallow water they would swish their long bills into the water, left and right, left and right, presumably to collect food.  Avocets.  Such striking birds, and – indeed, the symbol of the RSPB’s focus on bird protection.   Their scientific name is wonderful:  Recurvirostra avosetta; Recurvirostra means “curved backwards”, and this is a perfect description – especially when contrasted with that of the curlew, whose bill swoops out and down.

So then I went outside the hide and started recording.  The nice thing about recording is it lets you “hear around corners”; I don’t need to see what I record.   Here there are many birds: geese (greylag almost certainly), lapwing, snipe, avocet and more.

Recording 2: Cley Marshes halfway along East Bank.  I walked out there and just sat and listened.   Again, I was listening for bitterns, but I got others instead.   There are curlews, sandpipers, lapwings, geese – lots of greylag, and others.  In the background, the ocean; and around can be heard water: I think water being pumped in or out.  this seems quite common in Norfolk; there is a lot of water being shifted about here.   The view was lovely; it was quiet and I was alone until a couple came along the bank.   They said that this was a lovely place to be when you are alone.  Also, that bitterns were not much around here any more and I really should try somewhere else; also that there was a beautiful barn owl that came out on dry nights (not tonight!).   And indeed, this is a lovely place to be, with or without bitterns.


  1. The Field Recordist Apr 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Excellent – a difficult place to record from, as there are not many days when the wind lets up enough to capture a good recording!



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