Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 15 February 2013

Swans and Raptors.

An early start at Galley Hill in Hockham Forest produced a herd of 12 Red Deer crossing the road in the half-light.
The expected species were heard in the forest including several Treecreepers and Goldcrests, however, an early singing Woodlark eluded me - perhaps still a bit early.
Large numbers of Teal were present on Hockham Fen, however, these birds were not seen due to being concealed within the rushy cover.
At sunrise, a flock of 50+ Whooper Swans flew east heading for their breeding grounds in Russia, a sign of winter coming to a close.
With the Swans passing over, I picked up a raptor species heading towards me, this was a Peregrine Falcon, it flew quite low and leisurely, directly overhead and off towards the East Wretham area.

THOMPSON (Peddars Way)
Brighter conditions greeted my arrival at this locality and it was evident from the outset that common species were defending their territories, these included Song Thrushes and 'drumming' Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Also, Marsh Tit was singing its loud repeated and rapid "chip-chip-chip-chip" song. Robins and Wrens were ever-present close to the woodland floor.

On the Peddars Way, I decided to sit and wait for activity to increase with the rising sun.
Carrion Crows were noisily calling over heathland and at least 4 Mistle Thrushes were seen including a singing male.  A single Green Woodpecker was seen in flight and a single Sparrowhawk was seen soaring over a block of pine woodland.

At 0950, I was watching a Magpie fly away from me over mixed woodland, however, this bird turned back and then began to fly strangely erratically, the reason became clear, it was being hunted by a Goshawk.  The Magpie dived fast towards the woodland below closely followed by the chasing Goshawk, which, twisted and turned following its intended prey, and revealing not only its white underparts briefly, but also gave a good size comparison to the smaller Magpie.  The Goshawk was in view for a matter of seconds, however, this is yet again a memorable sighting of this magnificent and powerful raptor.  Although not seen, I think the Magpie was probably caught.

The return journey through Thompson produced another single Sparrowhawk close to Thompson Grove.

A brief stop alongside Merton Common where sugar beet was collected from, surface water had formed in the depressions and vehicle tracks, here, several Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails fed from the waters edge and the soft mud.
This Meadow Pipit was one of those seen feeding from the wet, muddy surface close to the road.
Meadow Pipits are often found in close association with Pied Wagtails, although their plumage often makes them hard to find against a muddy background.


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