Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Great White Egret.

I recently found this fine and elegant Great White Egret.  Close by was a Little Egret which offered a nice comparison with its larger cousin.  Although considered a rare bird to the UK, it is obvious from recent records that the Great White Egret is an increasing visitor.

Here be Monsters!

In deepest darkest Breckland on a recent early morning, this incredible creature rose from a swamp.  In the name of science it shall be named Crocodilius Brecklandica Newportii 
Crocodilius Brecklandica Newportii

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Impressive Song Thrush count.

A great visit to this swampy habitat near Watton this morning. Birds included an impressive 12+ singing Song Thrushes, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, singing Treecreeper, Marsh, Coal, Blue, Long-tailed Tits, and Goldcrest.   T
he habitat in this picture held calling Water Rails, and at least 4 Woodcock seen.

Marsh Tit. A fairly common Breckland species.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Finches and Buntings.

A check of a large maize strip near Watton today produced a great variety of birds. Seen was Chaffinches (high numbers), Bramblings (many), 20+ Redpoll, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting (female pictured here), Yellowhammer, Fieldfares, and Marsh Tit, Coal Tit (4), and Blue Tit.
Reed Bunting (female) One of the mixed species seen near a maize strip today.

Reed Bunting (female)

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Hawfinches (30+) near Norwich, Norfolk

Another full day of work today.  Following on from yesterdays Hawfinch record near Norwich, I decided for my afternoon break from work to revisit the area.  I soon relocated Hawfinches, however, I did not expect to see 30+ birds, an incredible sight.
Hawfinch in Yew near Norwich, Norfolk 14/01/18
Given the shy nature of this species, I decided to sit under a large tree to watch the Hawfinches, the very poor light resulted in poor shots, therefore, I was content just to sit and watch the birds as any movement on my part would have disturbed the birds.
Hawfinch high in tree canopy near Norwich 14/01/18.
Most of the time, the Hawfinches were either seen flying between trees and sitting quietly high in the canopy, however, on one occasion, most of these birds descended into a nearby Yew where they consumed berries. 
Hawfinch near Norwich, Norfolk, 14/01/18
The light here was very poor resulting in poor photographs.  Despite the poor light, watching the Hawfinches through binoculars saw the following salient features:
A large, bull-necked Finch with an overall Pinkish-chestnut colour, a huge pale bill and thumb-nail shaped Black bib patch. Grey nape. White wing-bar, especially noticeable in flight, and a bold white tip to the tail.
This was my first observation of witnessing several Hawfinches feeding together, at times they demonstrated excellent acrobatic skills as they reached for berries.

In addition to the Hawfinches, the following was seen/heard, Stock Dove, 150+ Fieldfare, a few Redwings, 1 Goldcrest, Coal Tit (heard), Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, 10+ Greenfinches, and a single Siskin over.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Hawfinches near Norwich, Norfolk

Today was the first day of three consecutive weekends of working with little time for any good birding, therefore it is my intention of putting my afternoon breaks to good use by visiting a variety of random sites for an hour or so of short bursts of serious birding.
This afternoon I parked up in the Yare valley near Norwich.  Following lunch and a coffee, I decided to check an area of parkland trees.  Movement was detected high in the canopy of a few trees, I trained my binoculars and found a Hawfinch, this eventually increased to four birds, however, the true number became apparent when a flock of 8 Hawfinches flew almost directly above me and then off west.
The individuals seen high in the canopy showed off their pinkish colour, strong, pale bill, and the neat black chin patch.  In flight, the magnificent white wing-bar was clearly seen on the outstretched wings.  When all 8 Hawfinches flew off west the 'top-heavy' (head area), and large white wing-bar was seen.  The flight was powerful, direct, although slightly undulating.  Light was always poor throughout this special find.

Also noted in the area was Stock Dove (pair), Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Jay, Blackbird, and a small flock of Redwings.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Thompson Water, Norfolk

Poor visibility greeted me upon my arrival at Thompson Water.  Low cloud, mist descending into thick fog, and a dawn temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
As with any season, and any conditions, Thompson Water still had beauty, and a mysterious feel to it, the sounds of calling Ducks reassuring you that life goes on, albeit out of sight in the fog.
I was rewarded upon my arrival by the beautiful whistling calls of Wigeon, the 'kleeps' of Teal, the slapping of Mute Swans wings upon the surface of the water, and the occasional burst of song from a nearby Cetti's Warbler.

23+ Mute Swans
Pink-footed Geese
Water Rail
1 Black-headed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Long-tailed Tit
2 Cetti's Warblers (singing males)
3 Reed Buntings (inc. pair)

A male Cetti's Warbler was seen reasonably well and close to within thick reed cover.  As is typical with this species, this particular bird rarely ventured from cover.  Although seen quite well, I never had prolonged views of the bird, the poor light allowed mostly darkened views of the bird as it moved between thick clumps of reed, often entering the habitat and being temporarily lost to view, and then being picked up again as it moved between cover in fast, direct flight.  The Cetti's Warbler usually kept low within cover, being close to the surface of the water.  On one occasion the bird appeared to pick something from the waters' surface, or possibly took a drink.
This Cetti's Warbler was a typically rounded looking bird with a wide, square-ended tail.  The upperparts were dark (brownish) and the underparts appeared whitish, however, the light was so poor that good detail was not seen.  The bird often gave bursts of its explosive song as it moved around.  This was one of two singing Cetti's Warblers at Thompson Water this morning.

Having left Thompson Water, |I was walking back towards the village of Thompson when I heard many Pink-footed Geese flying over, but were unseen due to the fog.  I have previously encountered this species over Watton during poor visibility.

A late afternoon/dusk walk near Bodney was quite productive despite the rapidly failing light with the following seen.

1 Barn Owl hunting over marsh habitat
1 Woodcock
1 Song Thrush
200+ Fieldfare