Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Deopham, Norfolk

On my way home from work I stopped briefly at the muck heap to check for evidence of wader passage.  Nothing seen on my immediate arrival, however, at about 1500hrs, some 5 minutes following my arrival, 3 Green Sandpipers alighted in shallow water by the muck heap, seconds later, they flew off again, gaining height and heading off north.  I was setting up at the time, I think my movement probably caused the birds to fly.
Green Sandpiper at Deopham
Many Wood Pigeons dropped in as did a couple of Stock Doves.  A hunting Kestrel, Swift, a few Swallows, and the expected Pied Wagtails were present.  Linnet and Yellowhammer also passed through.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Deopham, Norfolk 1230-1300

Following work I decided to visit the muck heap once again in the hope of finding passage wader species.  The sky was wall to wall grey with frequent rain and heavy drizzle showers, the light and visibility was poor, and wind was a northerly, moderate to fresh in strength.  It really did feel bleak in these conditions, however, the muck heap today proved to be a magnet for various species to drop in at.
My intention on this visit was to find passage Waders and immediately upon my arrival, a familiar sight of a bird with all black wings and snowy white rump took to the wing, this told me that my visits to this wonderful sight paid off as this bird was a stunning juvenile Green Sandpiper.
Eventually, the Green Sandpiper came back into view along the edge of stagnant water where it proceeded to feed in the shallows.  Whilst feeding, the bird was relaxed and adopted a horizontal carriage, however, when alarmed, it was quite alert and stretched its neck to appear a more elegant bird before adopting its more familiar carriage once again.
A number of other species seen visiting the muck heap included the expected Pied Wagtails, Wood Pigeons, a pair of Stock Doves, and Linnet.
Green Sandpiper at Deopham 24 July

Green Sandpiper at Deopham 24th July
Green Sandpiper at Deopham 24th July

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Deopham, Norfolk

I went out this morning just as the previous nights storms were moving off to give brighter conditions, the wind was a moderate easterly, and the expected high today is 30 degrees Celsius.
Last night I heard a Green Sandpiper pass over Watton after 2200hrs, with this I decided to visit habitat near Deopham which should attract a passage Wader species.
Last nights thunder storms resulted in plenty of surface water on the roads but most were passable with care.  I arrived at my destination near Deopham and firstly checked the muck heap where a Wader should drop in, however, this morning only a couple of Pied Wagtails were seen, an adult female and a juvenile bird.
I then walked north-east along the road which is on the course of the former main runway of the second world war USAF airfield.  The country here is a vast expanse of arable with pockets of small woodland and some excellent Bramble cover.  This was a quiet morning with an occasional car passing by, whilst in a nearby field, farm machinery stand silent within a part harvested crop of Oilseed Rape.
Reaching a wonderful habitat of Bramble cover within isolated, exposed country, a family party of Whitethroats were heard giving their agitated calls, the occasional bird briefly breaking cover to check me out. One adult bird carrying food looked a little scruffy in appearance, clearly a result of the birds busy lifestyle raising its young.
Whitethroat near Deopham 19th July. One of a family party in a lovely patch of bramble within vast, open country.
Many Whitethroat breeding habitats checked on my patch recently have now fallen silent as youngsters disperse from their natal sites, this results in young Whitethroats turning up anywhere as they follow good food sources.
Close by to where I was watching the Whitethroat family, about 20 Swallows passed by low over a crop of corn, whilst a single Common Tern passed over in a northerly heading.
A Finch species associated with open country is the Linnet, a number of these birds were flying about in variable directions, however, a small flock of about 6 birds alighted in a small Hawthorn, two of these birds were males and showed off their stunning rosy breast patches in the early light.
A final check of the muck heap once again produced just Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Green Sandpiper

Just heard a Green Sandpiper overflying the garden at 2217 hours on Tuesday 18th July.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Deopham, Norfolk

Another afternoon work break spent by a muck heap with lots of lovely stagnant water for various insect species to thrive in, and of course for attracting birds.  No sign of passage waders again on this visit, however, if the water remains it should attract a wader on passage.
This afternoons visit saw some good birds visiting this small site, most notably, Pied Wagtails, including adult male, female, and juvenile birds constantly on the move picking off midges from the mud and surface of the water.
Pied Wagtail (juvenile) at Deopham 13th July
A few Swallows visited to drink from the water, however, a pair of Swifts displayed great agility and speed as they made a few circuits and low passes over the site to pick off insect prey.
Single and pairs of Linnets were seen including a very handsome male displaying rosy breast patches.
Pairs of Stock Doves dropped in as well as the ubiquitous Wood Pigeon.
A very attractive female Kestrel was seen hunting the area.  Rodents, small birds, or possibly an invertebrate species, such as a beetle, would be possible prey items for the Kestrel.
Kestrel (female) hunting at Deopham 13th July

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pied Wagtails at Deopham Green, Norfolk

4 or 5 Pied Wagtails (adult female and juveniles) were seen around a muck heap and still, stagnant water at Deopham Green, Norfolk.
This time of year I spend a lot of time around manure and muck heaps as they attract various midges and other insect species to the stands of still, stagnant water. Such habitats attract a wide variety of birds, especially wader species on passage. Recent rains will ensure stagnant water will remain for a while, increasing chances of a Wader dropping in. Today, swarms of flying midges as well as water borne insects were seen here, plenty of feeding for migrating and resident birds.
As well as the adult female bird, much paler juvenile birds (3+) visited this site.
Adult female Pied Wagtail at Deopham Green 1 July

Juvenile Pied Wagtail at Deopham Green 11 July

Adult female Pied Wagtail at Deopham Green 11 July

Juvenile Pied Wagtail at Deopham Green 11 July

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Hockham, Norfolk 0615-0730

Following a fairly quiet 20 minutes or so at Hockham, the silence was broken by the straining calls of a number of Crows, immediately I thought Goshawk.  Seconds later, a Wood Pigeon flew low in front of me closely followed by male Goshawk, the Pigeon turned and twisted in an attempt to evade the raptor, however, the Goshawk was determined and the chase ended in a puff of white feathers as the Goshawk caught its prey.
Marsh Harrier (male) at Hockham 8th July.  Note the tri-coloured wing pattern.
One other raptor was seen, a hunting male Marsh Harrier.  This bird is easily identifiable from the female from his smaller size and tri-coloured appearance.
Commoner species seen and heard included Grey Heron, Stock Doves, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, and a singing male Reed Bunting.