Goldfinch, photo by Liz Dack 1/3
Sandwich tern, photo by Nick Appleton 2/3
Yellow horned poppy, photo by Bob Carpenter 3/3

Summer: Cley to Salthouse

The summer wind is warm today, southerly, and the sun’s heat seems to reflect off the shingle. My every footstep crunches and shingle makes my feet heavy as I make my way from Cley beach car park towards the East Bank. I can hear the ‘kirrick, kirrick’ of Sandwich terns, long before they pass overhead, shiny silver fish in their beaks, heading west towards Blakeney Point and hungry young.

I pause on the crest of the ridge to scan the sea and my reward is one of my favourite birds: black cap, shiny white forehead, yellow beak, a perfect hover and a little tern plunges for fish just at the point where the waves begin to break before swishing and swirling noisily as water becomes white foam. This afternoon Cley is wearing one of its big skies, marshland diminished into a flat haze of greens across which cows are lazily munching.
Blackcap, photo by Ray Jones
The visitor centre, and further west Cley village, are barely noticeable at all under huge towering white cumulus clouds set in an infinite blue sky. A sky, and a day, made perfect by a skylark singing invisible overhead. From my vantage point on the shingle ridge there’s a huge sense of space around me, to one side the sea, to the other the tapestry of Cley Marshes. This landscape and its wildlife over many years have given me so many special moments. I seek this place to gain perspective and it never disappoints. Enough of philosophising, a glittering party of goldfinches dances its way effortlessly ahead of me over yellow-horned poppies and sea campions. Just one of Cley’s many charms and my walk has barely begun.

Wildlife explorer, Summer, Cley to Salthouse