Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Hockham Fen

Hockham Fen, which adjoins Cranberry Rough, is a gem of a site sitting within the vast Pine plantations of Thetford Forest in Norfolk. The habitat here is one of restored ancient grassland, bog, reed-beds, juncus, and boggy scrub habitat.  Highland cattle are used as part of the management of this unique Norfolk Wildlife Trust site.
Almost immediately upon my arrival at Hockham Fen, I saw a Marsh Harrier alight on a small dead tree about 150 yards in front of me, I quickly raised my binoculars jsut before it flew off again to see that the bird appeared darkish brown with a mostly all dark-brown head as well.  I then watched the Marsh Harrier hunting over the Fen, although it went absent for longish periods before appearing again.  In flight, the Harrier had darkish wings with pale grey secondaries and a dark, blackish hand. The tail was distinctive in that it was a pale silvery grey colour and very much contrasted with the rest of the birds plumage.  When gliding the wings were raised above the level of the body.  The plumage of the Marsh Harrier indicates this is a juvenile male bird (see attached poor record shot).
Marsh Harrier at Hockham Fen 04/08/13 (Poor record shot)
 Also seen at Hockham Fen: 4+ Grey Heron, Reed Bunting, and Common Buzzard.
The walk from Hockham Fen through Frost's Common produced a flock of 15+ Crossbills directly overhead.  Several Chiffchaffs, Coal Tits, and Goldcrests were heard.

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