Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Visible Migration

This morning was working in Hethersett, Norfolk, and the conditions felt like a good day for passage. It was grey, drizzly, with low light, a beautiful morning.
With improving light a number of mostly small flocks of Redwings passed over from the NE, whilst even higher Finches were also heading in a southerly heading, I was able to ID for certain Chaffinches passing over.
A short visit late afternoon to a woodland edge at Little Cressingham produced 20+ Song Thrushes more or less together, clearly continental migrants.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Watton Brook Valley, Norfolk (with Jez Wood) for Goshawk

What a very mild night it was, 17 degrees Celsius, with temperatures during the day rising to 25 degrees Celsius.  Also a major feature was the wind strength, a fresh to strong southerly.  Visibility was good and the light was exceptional.
This morning I was joined by my good birding friend, Jez Wood. It was our intention to locate Goshawk on the patch.
We arrived at our destination at around 0720 and shortly afterwards we heard a Goshawk calling in nearby woodland.  Later, Jez picked out a raptor flying low and north over open country, a stunning female Goshawk, we followed her until lost to view, however, I was confident that if we relocated we could see the bird again.  Meanwhile, Bramblings an a few Song Thrushes passed overhead.  Two gorgeous Roe Deer Doe's exited a stand of tall weeds to offer great views.
We relocated to Watton Brook Valley where we spent the morning in the company of at least 6 Buzzards.  A few single and pairs of migrant Song Thrushes trickled overhead.  In the valley, up to 30 Goldfinches wandered the weedy banks for weed seeds.  Small numbers of Linnets passed overhead as did the odd Meadow Pipit.
Blue Tit visiting us in the Watton Brook Valley 13th October
A check of fence-posts in the valley eventually produced a fine looking male Stonechat.  Also seen was a few gorgeous Yellowhammers on fencing.  A distant Kestrel was seen.  Several Jays were seen along the valley.
Of interest, two flocks of Skylarks flew low over open country, their numbers totalling about 50 birds.  Immediately close by in the valley Dunnock, Wren, and Blue Tit was seen.
As the day started positively, so did the end of our trip out, when at 1030 the Goshawk reappeared and overflew open country before flying into woodland.   Light was particularly exceptional as watched the Goshawk fly on a more or less level course before turning to show us its bright white underparts and underwing in the morning sun.  The large size clearly showing this was a female bird.
Finally, I wish to thank Jez for joining me on this very productive morning.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Little Cressingham, Norfolk

A stunning day of weather with almost wall to wall sunshine and a moderate southerly wind.
The quiet at dawn was interrupted by a Goshawk calling in woodland, the first bird I heard this morning and a remarkable call carrying across the countryside.
I thought I could hear a Woodlark despite the noise of the wind, I walked slowly to the boundary of the army training area and eventually located a singing male Woodlark displaying over heathland.
A scan of distant heathland produced a male Kestrel sitting in a bush, and much closer to me was a calling Chiffchaff.
Small numbers of Song Thrushes passed overhead.

In my garden in Watton this afternoon a stunning female Southern Hawker remained a while on a Dog Rose.
Southern Hawker (female) in my garden 9th October

Monday, 8 October 2018

Visible migration

Highlights 8th October:  An interesting day of movements started at dawn in the garden with overhead movements of Fieldfare (2), several flocks of Redwings (max. flock c.20), and a number of small flocks of Song Thrushes.  All were in either a west or south-west passage.
A mid-morning static watch at Great Cressingham saw 4 Snipe west, 1 Woodlark NW, and more Redwings (largest flock 20+).  One Goshawk, a local bird overflying farmland.

Great Cressingham (overviewing rolling farmland and hedgerows) 0850-1030
A beautiful morning with bright conditions and variable high cloud.  The wind was a feature, a moderate, occasionally fresh south-westerly.

1 Grey Heron - east
4 Snipe - west 0855
2 Kestrel
1 Goshawk 0915
1 Woodlark - NW 0910 (+ 1 heard 0950)
Long-tailed Tit
Redwing (max. flock 20+)
2 Fieldfare

I chose this location for a static watch as it is high ground with fantastic and distant views over rolling Breckland country, a great location for witnessing visible migration.  This is a good spot for watching raptors (previous years have seen Hen Harrier here) and Buzzards featured as the most frequently seen raptor, however, the Goshawk seen at 0915 was not unexpected.
Visible migration this morning saw 4 Snipe together heading west, and a Woodlark seen 0910 would be a local migrant making for feeding grounds for the day.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Little Cressingham

What a cracking autumn day, not too warm but with bright conditions throughout the day.
I decided on a static watch of mixed habitat of arable, a full and varied hedgerow with an adjacent strip of maize, sunflower, and other weed-seeds.  The photograph below shows the hedgerow visited, it is an east-west hedge and descends to the valley to the west, clearly, this picture shows that Norfolk is not a flat county as some would believe.
I expected to see mostly Finch and Buntings species and indeed these did form the majority of birds seen.
The most noticeable species seen initially was many hundreds of Crows in flight above the distant valley.  Much closer in the hedge and adjacent maize and sunflower strip, a mix of Finches and Buntings comprised good numbers of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches, and a few Greenfinches.  A stunning male Bullfinch sat for a while in the hedge offering distant but great views.
A few Song Thrushes were heard and seen, obvious continental migrants, along with a few Blackbirds.  Heard but unseen was Brambling, my first of this autumn

Friday, 5 October 2018

A very productive morning on the patch (with Elaine Elespe)

This morning I met with my good birding friend Elaine Elespe for an early morning visit to a site on my patch within Thetford Forest.  We met up at 0615 and arrived at out destination at 0645 and remained until 0900.  Our primary aim was to see evidence of Red Deer rut.
Upon arrival the weather was mild with full cloud cover, but this cleared to give sunny spells later.
Only minutes following our arrival we saw a fine Red Deer stag showing interest in a nearby hind. No calls were heard and we saw no further sighting of the Deer.

Mute Swan (pair)
5 Mallard
Grey Heron
1 Buzzard
1 Goshawk (juv. female)
1 Kestrel (male)
Wood Pigeon
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Pied Wagtail (several leaving roost site)
1 Woodlark - overhead calling
Carrion Crow
Mistle Thrush
5 Redwing (first of autumn)
2 Stonechat (male and female)
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
1 Cetti's Warbler (1st for this site) singing male
15+ Siskin
Reed Bunting

This was a productive visit with Elaine starting with our observations of the Red Deer stag along with a couple of hinds.
From a birding perspective the following highlight species were heard/seen.

  • Goshawk (juvenile female) found by Elaine.  Seen flying over open ground before going into woodland.
  • A single Woodlark overflying and calling.
  • 5 Redwings over (3+2).  My first of the this autumn.
  • 2 Stonechats (male/female)
  • 1 singing Cetti's Warbler - my first site record.

And finally, a big thank you to the lovely Elaine for joining me this morning.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

For my mid-morning work break today I visited the churchyard at Hethersett near Norwich.   Further evidence of Thrush migration seen and heard when the 'tik' calls of Song Thrushes was heard from three or more locations within the yard, mostly from within dense cover of Yew.  One Song Thrush was seen to fly from a Yew to another thick tree cover.  These migrant birds had probably arrived in the previous night.
Nuthatch, Treecreeper, and Tit species were also present in the churchyard.

Of interest from my garden this afternoon was a single Hobby passing over Watton mid-afternoon in a southerly heading, quite a late record for this migrant Falcon.