Following a phone call alerting me to the fact that there was a possibility that the Semi-p currently at Cley may well actually be a Western Sandpiper, I headed over there this afternoon to have a look at it.
On arrival I was greeted with the news that it had flown off, potentially into Blakeney Harbour, but decided that now I was here I'd stick it out just in case it returned. Constant checking of the Dunlin flock drew a blank, but a Peregrine drifting over eastwards brightened up the wait, however as it succeeded in flushing up most of the birds on the reserve and clearing everything off from Simmonds Scrape, maybe it wasn't that great after all!
Although most people had now left the hide, I decided to stay and eventually with a few Dunlin starting to slowly return to the area, I picked up a flock of about half a dozen flying into the scrape and immediately noticed that there was a smaller bird amongst them. I quickly grabbed the scope as they landed and confirmed that I wasn't imagining the size difference and although they were at the back of the scrape it was undoubtedly the bird so made a quick phone call to get people back to the hide.
After a while it flew onto the island right in front of the hide and allowed me to get a series of photos which hopefully could add something to the id debate.
At the time of writing the opinions as to its id have firmly swayed over to it indeed being a Western Sandpiper, which would be the first record for Norfolk, although there are still a few doubts being expressed, so developments over the next few days will naturally be closely followed.
A second wader present has also been causing some head scratching as to its id, but a small short-billed Dunlin seems to be the most likely option, although a hybrid origin has been muted along with other rarer suggestions. (N.B other photos of this bird give it a much greyer appearance than in the photos below)
As darkness approached a Merlin was watched chasing prey over the scrapes and was then watched on the ground devouring an item of prey in front of the hide, but sadly it was far too dark for photos at this point.