Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 2 December 2019

Thompson Common, Norfolk

A stunning morning with a moderate frost at dawn then bright, sunny conditions throughout the day.
The winter woodland is now dominated by mobile flocks of Tit species in their never-ending search for food, this morning was no exception with good numbers of Blue Tits (20+), Marsh Tits, Coal Tits, and Great Tits frequently seen this morning.  Nuthatch (2+) also seen.
Damp Birch woodland on Thompson Common 2nd December
A stunning Nuthatch at Thompson Common 2nd December
There appeared to be little Finch movement during my visit other than the odd Siskin passing over and calling.
A single Goshawk was seen flying into a tree canopy, its presence scattering Wood Pigeons.
Thompson Water 2nd December
My visit took in Thompson Water where a variety of Duck species were seen, these included Wigeon (20+), Mallard (40+), Shoveler, and Gadwall.  3+ Grey Herons, a single Grey Wagtail, and one Little Grebe were seen.
As expected within the dense reeds, a Water Rail gave its eerie squealing call.
Within mature woodland on the common a single Tawny Owl briefly called from its daytime roost site.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Marsh Harrier at Hockham, Norfolk

Whilst birding at Hockham on a glorious late autumn morning, I became aware of a distant raptor species being mobbed by a Crow.  I was confident that this was a Marsh Harrier, given the size and lack of any white rump, and as it eventually got closer I could clearly see this was a female bird.
The Crow broke off its attack and the Harrier turned its attention to a perched Buzzard which it mobbed.
The Marsh Harrier soared above woodland for a while before slowly flying off in various directions. The Harrier was seen on a number of occasions, sometimes quite low, when it 'put up' many Teal and Shoveler.
I was able to photograph the Marsh Harrier with the following results




This Marsh Harrier exhibits typical features which aids identification, the large size for example, the beautiful yellow-creamy crown and throat broken by the dark band through the eye.  The lack of yellow-cream on the inner forewing, along with the pale tips to the upper wing coverts, shows this as a juvenile female Marsh Harrier.

Hockham, Norfolk

Finally, following many days of greyness, the sun put in an appearance.  The day dawned with a slight frost and little wind.  Light was very good and visibility was also very good.
With today being my only day off this week, I intended to use the fine weather to my advantage and check on a site at Hockham, Norfolk.
This mornings visit to Hockham accrued a reasonable list of 25 species:

2 Mute Swan
Teal
Wigeon
Shoveler
Mallard
Marsh Harrier (juvenile female)
1 Buzzard
Water Rail
3 Pheasant
2 Carrion Crow
2 Jay
Wood Pigeon
2 Stock Dove
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
3 Blackbird
Redwing
Robin
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Goldcrest
Wren
Treecreeper
1 Cetti's Warbler
2 Bullfinch

I love the sight and sound of wintering duck species and this morning was particularly good for Teal, some were seen when put up by a female Marsh Harrier, however, the true numbers were clearly high given the calls of birds heard within marsh habitat.  Wigeon, Shoveler, and Mallard were also present.
A distant raptor was being mobbed by a Crow species, it certainly looked liked at Harrier, and as it neared, it was clearly a Marsh Harrier, a female bird.  The Crow broke off its attack and the Harrier then itself mobbed a perched Buzzard.  Later, the Marsh Harrier spooked several Duck species, including many Teal and a few Shoveler.
Marsh Harrier at Hockham 29th November


Monday, 25 November 2019

Sparrowhawk over Watton 18th November


A Sparrowhawk over the garden on 18th November.  The coarse barring on the underparts suggests this is a juvenile bird.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Ravens at Little Cressingham

0720: I was on an early morning dog walk between Little and Great Cressingham when I heard the call of an approaching Raven, I eventually saw the bird approaching from the north-west and then realised there was two birds.  These impressive Crows passed either side of me and alighted in trees and offered good views, they dropped down into the field before flying off calling.  A memorable sighting of this huge Corvid species.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

'Phantom of the forest' in the mist

This morning was a typical November start to the day, fairly calm, a slight ground frost, and thick fog persisting until mid-morning.  The dawn temperature was +1 degree Celsius. By late morning brighter conditions with strong sunlight lasted into the afternoon.
I arrived in the forest near Hockham at about 0720 and remained until about 1030.  Despite poor visibility, Redwings, a few Fieldfare, and lots of Blackbirds, plundered Hawthorn bushes for their fruits.  Higher in trees both Goldfinches and Siskins were present in good numbers.
My frequent visits to this locality over the years has seen me identify specific trees where Goshawks like to perch and survey their surrounding, so, despite the poor light and visibility I positioned myself where I had good views of the said trees.  Time passed by and the fog was reluctant to move, short and promising glimpses of the sun through the fog was often frustratingly all too brief with thick fog covering the sun again.
Goshawk chasing Carrion Crow in fog near Hockham 9th November
I then noticed a tussle between a couple of birds ahead of me, one was a Goshawk literally on the tail of a Carrion Crow, this tussle developed into a chase, however, the Crow got away and the Goshawk alighted in one of its favourite trees just a hundred yards  or so ahead of me, its size indicated this was a male bird.  The Goshawk was aware of my presence and flew leisurely off into the fog.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Deopham, Norfolk, 3rd November

Once again, for my afternoon work break, I headed off to Deopham to check on the species present in the wide expanses of arable.  The habitat mostly watched was maize stubble and a wide weedy strip comprising mostly of fathen.
Golden Plover once again featured with high numbers on the ground with further decent sized flocks arriving.  They remained uncounted on this visit. One Lapwing was on the land.
An impressive 400+ Linnets wandered around the farmland with an emphasis on the birds visiting a weedy strip where they hung from the tall fathen to extract seeds.
Some of the 400+ Linnets wandering farmland at Deopham 3rd November
Also present was at least 100+ Skylarks, however, their movements made it difficult to assess their true numbers which were probably much greater.
Meadow Pipit at Deopham 3rd November
Meadow Pipits are now present in good numbers, their familiar "sip sip sip" calls often heard around me.
Small flocks of Starlings (30+) and Redwings (16) were seen.  Only two raptors seen, a single soaring Buzzard and a hunting Kestrel.