NWT Cley Marshes in Autumn

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
On Saturday we drove to the North Norfolk Coast to the Cley Marshes in search of fresh air as well as to make the most of the glorious blue skies and crisp, cool weather. During the week I'd had a lovely invite pop up for us to visit and it sounded like the perfect tonic to a hectic week. I knew we had found ourselves at Cley in summer a couple of years ago but the details felt a little hazy. 
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
You find the Norfolk Wildlife Trust information centre right on the edge of Cley, it's got a good sized car park. The centre itself is modern and beautiful; I'd classify it as a large bird hide of epic scale as it blends so naturally into the surroundings. Even the roof has a mossy, grassy layer. It's quite special.
The welcome you receive into the centre is warm and informative so that you can get the very best out of your visit. The Cley reserve dates back to 1926 although it's been added to recently with a new section of land to the East.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
The centre has a lovely shopping area; the books were inviting and I do get a little exciting leafing through pages, lots of thoughtful gifts in here, especially for someone into birds.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
See what I mean about the centre being a bird hide? An amazing view over the marshes from the warmth of being indoors. The cafe is a must-do part of any visit, to enjoy a coffee and cake while surveying the landscape or to refuel with a well deserved lunch. There was a pleasant hubbub of activity going on (I wonder whether some people come exclusively for the cafe? We all like a cuppa but the view here was something special).
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Whilst in the warm we walked though in to the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre which had a super large screen with a video playing, interactive screen and some information boards. It was very interesting and I could have lingered for the duration and C was pretty taken with the screen but we were keen to head outside. If the weather had been that bit miserable I would have lapped up the entirety. The old former visitor centre now holds exhibitions and the Cley spy crew. We marvelled over the divine pictures exhibited by Wild Norfolk and I was tempted to peek through the scopes but didn't quite dare.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
The reserve itself is absolutely stunning, a mix of grazing lands, marshes, saline lagoons and beachy land which clearly attracts a wide variety of birds. We took a walk of about 3 miles, though we could have gone much further or a shorter stretch. As I stubbornly refuse to use anything but my 50mm lens these days I wasn't ever going to be in with a hope of getting some beautiful bird photos, though I have to say I do like the few I snapped. At the visitor centre they have a screen with today's list of birds spotted on the reserve, which is interesting. Such a diverse mix.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
A few residual flowers! I couldn't resist. The spring and summer seasons feature so much wildflower goodness, Cley really is an all-year place to come as the landscape constantly changes to give it a whole different feel. It's definitely somewhere I want to come back to again and again.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
A wavy convoy of ducks - I loved it so much I cropped a closer shot a little later on.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
I love this unintentional shot of C taking a picture of bids against the sun. It's one of those rare 'sums it up perfectly' moments.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
The paths are particularly well-laid and easygoing, so three sides of the square route we took were a doddle (the fourth, beach side was tough going on all those pebbles!). We didn't venture to the main hides but you can see them just peeking over the reeds in the distance. I'm much more of a bird-appreciator these days compared to when I was younger so on a quiet day I can imagine I'd quite merrily sit a while and peer though my binoculars or through the viewfinder, should anyone have prised the 50mm lens from my hands and the lure of the 75-300 zoom proved too much to resist.
Cley would be an absolutely ideal place for some digiscoping too, an abundance of birds to photograph. We were tipped off about a spoonbill as we approached the new hide.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
We both commented on the clarity of the water. It was crystal clear.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
The thousands of reeds made for an amazingly relaxing background sound which was a gentle shhhh which was a soothing and restorative way to clear the mind. I must have sent a good while taking endless pictures of the fluffy reed heads waling in the sunshine, quite captivating for me.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
This picture is one of my favourites; land, birds, and the offshore wind farm all seamlessly harmonising.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Geese! And a fair few of them at that.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
As I mentioned, the beach was a pebbly one which is a tad taxing to walk on, but the crunch is rather satisfying and the sea breeze will blow the cobwebs away. Naturally I took the opportunity to get some outfit pictures against the shoreline while it was quiet.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve

Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
The above picture is a fitting representation of how Cley Marshes has appeal for everyone. The serious birder, the couple with the binoculars out for a walk and the father and son out for some fresh air. As a fan of the great outdoors itself I have to admit my love is for the landscape, the light, the flora and all that it makes me feel. Cley offers something for everyone.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve
We'll be returning to Cley to see it change over winter and into spring. For all the opening times and up to date visitor formation take a look at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes info page.
Many thanks to the team for making our visit happen, we had such a lovely time.
Sophie

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3 comments

  1. Great piece Sophie, it is a magical place and you covered every aspect of it, the NWT could not have done a better advert for the place , excellent photos x

    ReplyDelete
  2. It sounds wonderful!! I second Chris M's comment!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Enjoyed reading your blog. We were over there on Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful day and we were rewarded by seeing a seal just off the shoreline. See my Twitter page @churchillcroc We went to see the Starling murmaration and weren't disappointed. We are lucky to have this about 20 mins away - Grahame

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I love to hear your thoughts and I always like to return the favour. Thanks for dropping by x

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