Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Little Cressingham and Bodney

Following recent rainfall the Watton Brook valley from Watton through to Little Cressingham, and onto Bodney, is under unprecedented levels of flood water.  Further flooding is expected with further rainfall predicted.

Today saw a respite from rainfall, it was a bright day, very mild, and with a fresh to strong south-westerly.
At dawn, I parked at Little Cressingham Mill and walked north along the Peddars Way for a couple of miles, little was seen due to the wind strength, although Bullfinches were heard and seen at a number of locations with the best party being 6 birds close to the Priory Road juction with the Peddars Way.
Back at Little Cressingham Mill, a flock of 60+ Siskins were seen in the Alders alongside the mill, whilst close by on farmland, 70+ Fieldfare were feeding.

BODNEY (Smuggler's Road)
An early afternoon walk along Smuggler's Road to the STANTA access gate produced 4 Common Buzzards.
Looking north from Smuggler's Road, over a field of sugar beet, I saw a large raptor appear low over the crop, my suspicions were confirmed when I picked it up in my binoculars, it was a Goshawk and it was hunting Wood Pigeons.  One particular Wood Pigeon was singled out, however, it just managed to evade the talons of this very large, powerful raptor.  Having failed to catch the Pigeon, the Goshawk was seen for a while against the sky and tree-line before it went out of sight behind a line of Scots Pines.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Little Cressingham - A productive early morning visit.

A dawn walk along the Peddars Way at Little Cressingham started well when 6 Crossbills passed directly over me.  These birds were initially heard calling from woodland known as 'The Nunneries', this woodland east of the Peddars Way holds good numbers of Larch trees - a favoured food source for this species.  A short while later, all 6 birds passed overhead giving their familiar repeated "chip" call.
Further north along the Peddars Way at North Bridge in the Watton Brook valley, good numbers of Goldfinches, Siskins, and Long-tailed Tits were seen.  The Finches would have been attracted to the Alders at this location.
From North Bridge, the Peddars Way climbs towards the Great Cressingham to Saham Toney road, prior to the junction, in the thick hedgerow, 2 Waxwings flew out of the hedge, above me, and then continued in an undulating flight in a southerly heading.  A check of the hedges at this localtiy revealed heavy crops of rose-hips.  This will be a locality worth checking during the forthcoming weekend.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Dawn at Thompson Water

I arrived at Merton Church in the early morning darkness and walked along Sparrow Hill and then south along the Peddars Way to Thompson Water, as expected, several Tawny Owls were calling along the route.
Little on the water this morning other than 18+ Mute Swans.  No evidence of any wildfowl on this occasion.  A single Cormorant was sitting in the usual tree with wings spread.
More activity noted around the water with singing Cetti's Warbler, a single Kingfisher, and Reed Bunting.  The woodland around the water held Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper, and overhead, Siskins and Redpoll were seen and heard. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

East Wretham Heath and Little Cressingham

East Wretham Heath 0800-1000
This morning I decided to walk around the vast area of heathland/grassland east of the A1075 road.  Light was excellent with good visibility.
Large numbers of Crows were the dominant species, also one Common Buzzard was seen circling over the grassland.  Rabbit warrens occur all over the heath, and indeed, Rabbits not only provide a good food source for Buzzards but undoubtedly contribute to the management of the heath.
A single Sparrowhawk passed over conifer woodland.
The mammal highlight was seeing 3 Red Deer close to, these included a young Stag which was photographed.
Red Deer Stag on East Wretham Heath 09/12/12.
Little Cressingham (mid-afternoon to dusk)
The vast, wide open farmland and heathland in the Little Cressingham area is always a prime area for wintering raptor species, and effort on this afternoons visit was given to searching for such species.
With the sun setting behind me, I was overlooking rolling grassland close to Fairstead Lane, when a Merlin appeared. This small raptor was flying into the fresh wind and remained in view for about 20 seconds before powering away to the west towards the valley at Southwater, Great Cressingham.
Also seen on this walk was a large female Sparrowhawk, large numbers of Crows and Wood Pigeons, about 20 Lapwings, and a pair of Egyptian Geese.
Several pairs of Yellowhammers were seen in the hedges at dusk along Fairstead Lane.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dawn at Thompson Water

Today dawned bright and sunny with a slight to moderate frost.  I decided to visit Thompson Water this morning with scarce duck species in mind i.e. Goosander or Goldeneye, however, only common species were seen. 
At least 13 Mute Swans were on the water, these comprised adult and immature birds.  Duck species seen included a few Teal within patches of surface weedy growth along with some Mallard.  A single Kingfisher flew from a perch at the waters' edge.
A single Cetti's Warbler gave a burst of its incredibly loud and hurried song from within the scrubby habitat along the east side of the water.
Other woodland species in the area included Treecreeper, Marsh Tit and Goldcrest, whilst overhead single Redpolls and Siskins passed over.
The only raptor species seen today was a single Kestrel which attracted the attention of a mobbing Carrion Crow.

Whilst driving away from Thompson Water, I met a couple friends, firstly Maurice, with his lovely Collie, made some very nice comments about my blog (Thank you Maurice), and also I met Corinne and her 3 dogs.  Corrine is a French shepherdess who has settled in Norfolk.  It is always good to meet friends new and old and share my birding experiences with them.