Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Peddars Way north of Little Cressingham (Early morning walk)

OK, so Norfolk does not have too many hills, neither, as some will tell you, is it flat. Parts of Norfolk, including my patch on Breckland, is quite rolling and undulating, with some decent ‘hills’ to get the heart pumping.  This mornings birding took me along a 2 mile stretch of the Peddars Way footpath north of the village of Little Cressingham for about 2 miles or so.

Peddars Way north of Little Cressingham
North Bridge Little Cressingham
The habitat along this route is mostly arable with good roadside hedgerows and pockets of deciduous, coniferous, and mixed woodland, and it was interesting to note that this morning I found a reasonable stock of Sloes at North Bridge, Little Cressingham.  The Sloe crop has been conspicuous by its absence this year as blossoms were devastated by spring rains and wind.  North Bridge is a wonderful little area with Watton Brook meandering through grazing and arable habitat, the roadside here comprises various fruiting bushes, Birch, Alder, and mixed woodland.   

Birding along the Peddars Way over the years has always delivered, however, most notably, in early July 1995, a Balearic Woodchat Shrike stayed for a few days in the hedgerows of the road shown in the picture 'Peddars Way north of Little Cressingham'

Todays birding was most productive in the trees and bushes in the area of North Bridge.
Winter Thrushes included a number of Redwings, Fieldfares, and probable continental Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were seen in the dense bushy habitat where they fed upon Sloe berries and other fruits.
Also in this area was 2 Grey Herons, a pair of Egyptian Geese, 1 hunting Kestrel, a distant Common Buzzard watching from a dead tree branch, and a single Kingfisher flying along the Brook.

Grey Heron on grazing land at North Bridge

A wandering flock of Long-tailed Tits also included a couple of Goldcrests.  A flock of 50+ Goldfinches were seen in the tops of Alders at the bridge.
Common species also present in the area included Bullfinch, Robin, and Wren.

Away from the vicinity of North Bridge, a number of small flocks of Fieldfare (max 50+) passed by from east to west, and several Redwings and continental Song Thrushes flew up from hedgerows along the route.

A distant flock of 30+ Lapwings were wheeling about low over farmland west of the Peddars Way.

The wide expanses of farmland either side of the Peddars Way in the Little and Great Cressingham areas can appear wild and bleak.  These open areas provide good wintering habitat for visiting raptor species.  In recent years I have seen Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Goshawk, Peregrine, and Merlin.
Wintering Wader species are present in good numbers in this area, this includes Golden Plovers in their hundreds, and equally high numbers of Lapwings.     Paradise I say.. 



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