Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Cressinghams and Hockham Fen

LITTLE and GREAT CRESSINGHAM (Dawn)
The very strong winds of yesterday have been replaced today by a moderate north-westerly wind. the day started dry but rain moved in from about 0700.
I did an early morning circular 5 mile dog walk taking in both Little Cressingham and Great Cressingham.                                                                                                                                     
Little Cressingham combined wind and water mill
I started my walk this morning at the Little Cressingham combined wind and watermill. This beautiful structure (only one of 2 in Norfolk) was operating up until the early 20th century, however, it fell into disrepair following storm damage. The mill is now in the ownership of the Norfolk Windmills Trust and has been lovingly restored with all components within in working order, however, as can be seen in this picture, it no longer has its sails. I find this a lovely, tranquil place to sit and overview the mill-pond and watch its birds.

My walk this morning encountered a few singing Blackcaps but it is evident that many suitable areas of habitat are yet to be occupied by this migratory Warbler.
Walking along Priory Road, Great Cressingham, a Barn Owl was hunting along the roadside verges and adjoining field edges.  A Common Buzzard was sitting on the roof of sn old barn, this was a particularly pale looking individual.
Overhead, a single Redpoll passed by, given the scarcity of this small Finch as a breeding bird in the Breckland area, it is likely that this is a winter visitor from Northern Europe.
Further along the lane towards the junction with the Peddars Way LDP (Long Distance Path), a single Whitethroat skulked in the road-side hedge occasionally giving its agitated call, this appears to be a warning call to others of approaching danger.   The next week or so should see a significant increase in numbers of this common sylvia Warbler species.
Walking south along the Peddars Way towards Little Cressingham, rain started to fall, little was seen at this time, however, to the distant west it was reassuring to hear the mournful wailing call of a Stone Curlew.


HOCKHAM FEN
With the rain and cloud moving off, this afternoon turned out bright, sunny, and quite warm in shaded areas.
Having parked at the Great Hockham picnic site, I walked the forest trails to Hockham Fen where a few Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were in song, although as I have previously written, many suitable Warbler habitats have yet to be filled.  With settled conditions and high pressure building overnight, tomorrow could see a big arrival of migrant birds.
At Hockham Fen, a pair of Grey Herons was seen, one of which was seen carrying a stick to its nest site in Cranberry Rough.  A few Mallard and 5+ Greylag Geese were seen whilst Teal called from the cover of the swampy habitat.  A hidden Little Grebe was giving its strange 'whinnying' like call.
Overhead, a pair of Common Buzzards incessantly called.
Typical Breckland species encountered within pine woodland included many singing Coal Tits, Great Tits, and Goldcrests.
On the walk back to Hockham Picnic site I was searching sheltered areas hoping to find Adders
basking in the warmth of the afternoon sun, however, none were found.  This would be a timely warning to anybody with dogs visiting Breckland to be aware that many pets are bitten annually by Adders, it would therefore be advisable to keep dogs under close control.

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