Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 19 March 2018

Lynford Water, Norfolk

A very bright dawn with icy conditions and a fresh easterly wind.  The day remained bright with a high of 4 degrees Celsius, somewhat milder than of late, however, the east wind  made it feel much colder.
I arrived at Lynford Water shortly after sunrise hoping to see if the recent wintry spell has brought in any winter Duck species.  I also wanted to check for evidence of Woodlark on suitable habitat near the water.
The relative shelter of the woodland by the car park produced singing Goldcrests.  A Marsh Tit was singing its distinctive "chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip" song.
Once on high ground overlooking Lynford Water, I could see about 40 Tufted Duck, also a bright looking duck by itself was a very smart looking male Goldeneye.  Even at range the dark head and , large white patch below the eye was highly distinctive.
40+ Tufted Duck present at Lynford Water (I love their 'giggling' like call).
Tufted Duck (female) on Lynford Water
Mallard on Lynford Water
Great Crested Grebe (One of a pair on Lynford Water)
Also on the water was a pair of Great Crested Grebes in their stunning breeding plumages.  Mallard, a few Teal, and two pairs of Greylag Geese were seen.  On one of the two 'Tern platforms' held a pair of Oystercatchers.
Checking known Woodlark habitat did not reveal any singing birds, however, walking along the close cropped heath-like grassland revealed a pair of Woodlarks together shuffling along the ground and feeding.
The Sallow habitat alongside the water produced 3 singing Reed Buntings, clearly, the large areas of inaccessible habitat will hold more birds.
Woodlark - one of a pair at Lynford Water.
This Woodlark, one of a pair together seen on the ground, shows a couple of useful identification features,  firstly, the small black and white patch on the wing which is so distinctive on this species, and secondly, the strong white supercillium which meets at the nape to form a shallow V is quite conspicuous.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Thompson Water

A brief return to winter today with snow being driven along on a strong easterly wind and a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius.  Hopefully, in a couple of days we can once again look forward to some spring weather.
An early morning visit to Thompson Water produced a good selection of wildfowl.  27+ Mute Swans, 68+ Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Shoveler, and Teal.
Thompson Water 17th March. A brief return to winter.
At least 3 Little Grebes present, lots of whinnying calls heard, also birds often diving.  30+ Coot and Moorhen also present.
The dense Sallow and reedbed habitat held at least 2 singing Cetti's Warblers and 3 male Reed Buntings.  A single Chiffchaff was seen silently foraging in reeds. A Goldcrest was seen in similar habitat.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Deopham, Norfolk 14th March

Today was another very long day at work, starting at 0600 and finishing at 2000.  Much of the day was very spring-like although the wind was a fresh to strong southerly.
The beauty of my job is not only meeting some wonderful clients, but I also travel around some beautiful villages and towns in the wonderful county of Norfolk.
For my afternoon break today I visited Deopham, a beautiful village which was formerly dominated by a WW2 airfield.  This is the area I took my short break today.
Species seen on this visit was:

1 Buzzard
1 Kestrel
1 Peregrine 1415 and 1440hrs
Wood Pigeon
300+ Starlings
1 Meadow Pipit
Carrion Crow

The vast open country here was dominated by the song of a number of Skylarks high above arable habitat.  Crops and grassy headlands will undoubtedly provide these songsters with nest-sites.
At 1415 I saw a distant, dark ball low in the sky, this was a mini murmuration of a few hundred Starlings, I immediately thought raptor, and on cue a Peregrine appeared passing low over fields and was seen to perform a shallow stoop, disappearing out of sight, and scattering Pigeons and Crows. This distinctive Falcon reappeared at 1440, having presumably been unsuccessful in an earlier hunt.
Peregrines, along with the much smaller Merlin, are scarce winter visitors to my patch.

Upon my return to work just prior to 1600, I noticed a healthy flock of 300+ Linnets wandering over farmland at Wicklewood, a regular and common bird in this area in the winter months.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Major movement of Fieldfare over Deopham, Norfolk

Today was another long day at work starting at 0630 through to 1800.  It was my I intention to have lunch, a short nap, and a static bird-watch from the car for my afternoon break.
I was kept entertained for some time by a group of 12 Brown Hares which, following a period of doing nothing, then proceeded to chase as a group over the large fields, sometimes attaining a good speed.
At about 1345hrs, a large group of Fieldfares gathered in a couple of large trees to my left.  There was typically a lot of 'chacking' calls, then at about 1400hrs the Fieldfare left together, passing directly over my car.  I get out of the car as there seemed to more Fieldfare, but I was not expecting a vast number of birds stretching across the sky, which I estimated to be well in excess of 1500-2000 birds, all were heading in a more or less north-east heading.  Some 15 minutes later another smaller flock passed over, again in a north-east heading.
Fieldfare passage can be seen throughout March and April as they make for their Scandinavian breeding grounds.  My latest date for Fieldfare was 1st May.
A small flock of about 25 Lapwings were seen, 10+ Carrion Crows, a few singing Skylarks, and a singing Yellowhammer.  A Kestrel passed over too.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Watton Brook Valley (Little Cressingham)

A mid afternoon walk to Watton Brook was especially notable for its Finches, however, on a sad note was seeing a very poor example of disgraceful human behaviour.
Good numbers of Finches were seen in an area of maize and adjoining weed strip.  Chaffinches appeared to form the majority species with Greenfinches and Bramblings present also.  One male Brambling seen was beginning to develop black head feathers, this will eventually be solid black for the breeding season.

Female Brambling (Note the white rump on this bird).

Male Brambling at Little Cressingham (Beginning to show its black head (breeding plumage)
Watton Brook is currently running high due to the current snow melt.  A check of the valley produced no sign of Stonechats but a pair of Teal was seen.  A mixed flock of mostly Goldfinches with a few Linnets comprised some 40 or so birds.
On a very sad note, a significant fly-tip was found close to 'The Arms', I did report this to Breckland Council, hopefully their investigation team will find the scum responsible for this unnecessary act.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Garden Notes

Another day spent at home due to the severe weather, however, on a positive note, we reached the heady heights of +3 degrees Celsius which resulted in a slow thaw.  Tomorrow the daytime temperatures will be a positively balmy +8 degrees Celsius, which of course will bring another problem for many, flooding.
The day started with a Song Thrush visiting the garden to feed upon Rose Hips.  Single Song Thrush occasionally came to the garden during the day.  Two Fieldfares frequently came to the garden to feed upon Rose Hips, Cotoneaster berries, and chopped Apples which I provided.
Blackbirds were ever present as were Starlings which enjoyed the fat-ball feast.
Finches were represented by a singing male Siskin, Goldfinches, flyover Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
Also seen in the garden was Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Wren, Robin, and Dunnock.  The only raptor seen today was a fly-through female Sparrowhawk which typically scattered birds everywhere.