Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Little Cressingham (The Fairstead) and thoughts of wintering raptors.

Fairstead Lane is a  lovely hedgerow-lined route running from the village of Little Cressingham to 'The Fairstead'.  Adjacent to the south-side of this land lies vast tracts of arable and grazing land within M.O.D. ownership.  This is an outyling part of the much larger expanse of army training land in Breckland known as STANTA (Stanford Training Area).
This afternoon's short visit took in the large area of rolling grassland used for grazing sheep.  In the summer months this grassland supports a couple of pairs of breeding Common Curlew.
Todays visit produced a wandering flock of about 50 Fieldfare, a few Redwing, and single overhead Skylarks.
These vast open areas of Breckland always supports wintering raptor species, and this particular area along Fairstead Lane has seen both Hen Harrier and Peregrine within the previous 12 months.

Hen Harrier Little Cressingham November 2011
Hen Harriers are scarce winter visitors to Breckland with singletons, usually 'ringtail' females hunting over the vast open heath and  arable areas within my patch.

The Hen Harrier seen in this photograph was seen over the open grassland near Fairstead Lane in November 2011.  Here, it was seen hunting along the fringes of a stand of maize crop.

Peregrine Falcon Little Cressingham January 2012
On the 13th January 2012, I was overlooking the M.O.D. land adjacent to Fairstead Lane when to the distant east, large numbers of Golden Plover and Gulls were panicked and sent off in all directions, minutes later, a small flock of Lapwings were disturbed from a field adjacent to the lane.  I was aware that a raptor species was the probable culprit and then this Peregrine put in an appearance, it approached me and changed direction having seen me, it was then I took this shot.

Peregrine Falcons are regular but scarce wintering raptors in my part of Breckland with singles, or as in the case of the previous two winters, two birds present.  On these occasions, one was an adult, the other, a juvenile bird.   

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