Breckland Birder

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

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A morning of easterlies brings migrants.

At 0630 this morning I met up with my very good friend and excellent birder, Daniel Watson.  This was our first meeting for some time due to Daniels commitments at university, also he has just returned from 8 weeks of birding in Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua) where he saw numerous bird species that I can only ever dream of seeing.

Houghton-on-the-Hill
With overnight rain moving through and the day dawning murky with a steady easterly wind, thoughts turned to finding migrant birds as well as hopefully observing visible migration (vismigging), therefore we headed off initially to Houghton-on-the-Hill to start our search. 
We chose a small site, a particular habitat rich area which has faithfully attracted migrants in previous years and this morning was quite productive with 10+ Blackcaps, 5+ Chiffchaffs, 6+ Whitethroats, and 2+ Willow Warblers.  More local movements were seen with a flock of 6+ Linnets, several Goldfinches, Yellowhammer (adult and juvenile), and 1 Bullfinch (juvenile).  A single Common Buzzard and Kestrel were seen nearby.
A small flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings were seen high to the south of our location.
Visible migration (vismig) produced the following:

1 Curlew (high) flying north-west
1 Snipe (high) south-west
1 Crossbill directly overhead south-west
1 Yellow Wagtail (high) west and calling

Little Cressingham
Late morning and the earlier murky weather gave way to warm sunshine and an increase in the strength of the easterly wind.
We decided to visit the Watton brook valley on Fairstead Lane, Little Cressingham, with the hope of finding migrants such as Whinchat along the fencing adjacent to the brook.  We did not see any passerine species, however, 4 Common Buzzards were seen, 3 to the distant south, and one closer soaring over 'The Nunneries'.
Turning to look along the hedgerow alongside the lane, a party of Long-tailed Tits made their way, often one at a time, between cover, then Daniel exclaimed "Bloody hell", we both connected with a bright yellow butterfly with obvious dark borders to the wings, however, I didn't know what this was, Daniel confirmed that this was a Clouded Yellow Butterfly and remarked on the rarity of this species.  We discussed the origins of this migratory butterfly and agreed that it was probably brought over from the near continent by the easterly airflow.  A great end to our morning together. 

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