Blakeney National Nature Reserve

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The North Norfolk Coast with Blakeney point in the far distance

Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Blakeney National Nature Reserve extends to 1,097 hectares (2,711 acres), almost all of which is within the ownership of the National Trust. It includes Blakeney Point, Blakeney Freshes, Morston and Stiffkey Marshes and supports a wide range of coastal plant communities with many nationally important species. Blakeney Point itself is a 3½ml long sand and shingle spit, noted for its colonies of breeding terns and migrant birds passing through. Both common and grey seals can also be seen. An information centre at Morston Quay provides further details on the area.

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Where to watch Birds in East Anglia
East Anglia is one of the best birding regions in England. With its extensive areas of nationally scarce habitat such as the fens, reedbeds, undisturbed beaches and Breckland heath, it can be the only place to see several of England's most exciting birds. This is a guide to where to go in East Anglia to see many different species. It contains site accounts, plans, maps, lists of birds in the region and advice on planning birdwatching trips. This fourth edition is revised and updated.
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Where to watch Birds in East Anglia
Recommended reading: The Birds of Blakeney Point

Recommended reading: The Birds of Blakeney Point

Andy Stoddart, Steve Joyner and James McCallum
Few places in Britain, or indeed anywhere, have as long an ornithological history as Blakeney Point. The Point has always been known for its colony of Common Terns but was `discovered' in the 1880s as a haunt of autumn Bluethroats and subsequently acquired a reputation as a rich hunting ground for bird collectors. Early rarity credits from this era include the first British Pallas's Warbler and Yellow-breasted Bunting and the first English Arctic Warbler.

The tern colonies and breeding waders have always been of national importance and benefited from some of the country's earliest and most enlightened conservation efforts, continued today through the work of the National Trust.

Between the 1950s and the 1970s Blakeney Point was renowned as a place to observe `falls' of continental migrants and was at the forefront of the bird observatory movement. Today the Point continues to cast its spell, with such exciting birds as Snowy Owl and Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler now added to its growing list.

This book attempts to bring together for the first time a complete account of Blakeney Point's long history of birds. It includes a description of its topography and wider natural history, a history of its ornithology, an account of migration and the influence of weather through the year, an overview of its breeding birds, tales of some `great days' and a full Systematic List.
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Reviews:The Birds of Blakeney Point
Andy Stoddart and Steve Joyner.Wren Publishing 2005. Hardback 239 pages.

'I think the saying is......never judge a book by its cover.Well, - that is usually Not the case when it comes to ornithological books and 'The Birds of Blakeney Point' is no exception. I had the privilege of visiting Robert Gillmor's studio in Cley, earlier this year and was impressed by both the process of production and the inspirational artwork done for the New Naturalist series, and this beautiful cover depicting a Male Red-spotted Bluethroat certainly reflects the 'new nats' style, and immediately captures the mood of 'eager anticipation' that comes with birding on the point.
It's some years now since I took a boat trip to Blakeney point from Morston, and instead of returning via the boat, my wife and I decided to do the four mile trudge back to Cley.Never again ! (with the wife that is) , as any potential migrants were probably scared away by the constant moaning (only joking)
Anyhow, back to the book....The introduction gives a concise and informative background to the point's location and birding history (one of a handful of places, including Fair Isle where birds and their migration have been studied for over a century) it was here that Britain's first Pallas's warbler and Yellow-breasted bunting were recorded, and England's first Arctic warbler.
An ornithological history of the point traces the first 'gunners' or gentleman collectors of the 1880's, the characters and names that lend themselves to some of the earliest 'bird books' and the practice of shooting to obtain specimens including E C Arnold's (of Cley's Arnolds marsh fame) shooting of Britain's first Yellow-breasted bunting at the watch house in 1905 and another on the hood in 1913.
We then read of the National Trust's purchase of Blakeney point in 1912 and as such becoming Norfolk's first bird sanctuary to be protected by freehold status, we read about the early wardens and the efforts made to secure the point's important breeding birds and finally the reader is brought bang up-to-date with all significant milestone bird records for the point to 2005.

Dotterels and Northern Wheatears (James MaCallum)

Dotterels and Northern Wheatears (James MaCallum)

The next section entitled weather and bird migration explains just how and why the point is a regular magnet for rare and regular migrants, with archive weather charts reproduced for a particular 'special day' i.e. the fall of 16th October 1988.
Blakeney Point's reputation as a rarity hotspot has somewhat overshadowed its importance as a breeding area for around 23 species, among them the colony of sandwich,common, little and, (at the southern limit of their range) arctic terns.The other breeding species are dealt with briefly as well as featuring in the full and comprehensive systematic list of birds.
A chapter entitled 'great days' recounts Ian Wallace's visit on the 4th -5th September 1965, Steve Joyner's day on the 10th October 1975, Andy Stoddart's encounter with Icterine Warbler, Grey-headed Wagtail and Red-throated Pipit on the 27th may 1992 and finally James MaCallum (who's excellent black & white illustrations compliment the book throughout) tells us of his 'great day' with Norfolk's second Pallid Harrier.
The major part of the book is then given over to the full systematic list which is thorough and extremely well written,illustrated by James MaCallum's beautiful sketches -himself one of the point's summer wardens.A section of photographs from the Richard Richardson archive and superb colour shots by Richard Porter (and others) compliments the finished work.

If you,like me visit Cley on a regular basis,but usually shy away from the daunting trek along the point -buy this book, it's guaranteed to reinvigorate your enthusiasm,and at twenty five quid (when most similar books are touching Forty !) it's a snip! Definitely should be part of any serious birder's book collection.
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The Birds of Blakeny PointThe Birds of Blakeny Point
Andy Stoddart, Steve Joyner and James McCallum
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Recent Bird photographs from Blakeney
Birding Video from Blakeney
Blakeney & local patch Tweets
Blakeney Links
Blakeney Local Services and accommodation
Suggested birdwatching walks in the Blakeney area

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