Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk.

With the wind direction not being too favourable for migration today, I decided to pay attention to the habitats in the area that provide both a home and good feeding for birds.  I am not too knowledgeable as far as botany is concerned, however, I try to learn the names of in particular, those bushes, hedgerows, and trees, which play host to resident and visiting birds.
I often think that autumn is my favourite time of year for birds, but also, I love the colours of autumn and all the varieties of wild fruits which feeds birds, and of course us, as many types of fruits are consumed by humans either as additions to food or drink.
Fruits of Blackthorn - Sloe's (loved by Thrushes) 
I love to see a full hedge as we approach autumn and identify the larder therein.  As with almost everywhere, Houghton-on-the-Hill has a good supply of Hawthorn, this is a very common hedgerow plant and the small red haws will feed many species, especially Thrushes.  I have noticed in recent days that Elder bushes (one of my favourite) are heavily in fruit this year, and although not yet ripe until September, the small size and softer feel of the fruit will attract many warbler species as they fuel themselves up for their long passage to Africa.  Possibly one of our most attractive fruits is that of Blackthorn, these are commonly known as sloes, and very much favoured by our wintering Thrush species.  Rose hips, the fruits of the Dog Rose, are large firm fruits which again are generally taken by larger migrants like Blackbirds and other Thrush species.

Bird migration is well underway now, however, September will see the greatest variety of species and numbers passing through.  Despite today appearing quiet as far as migrants are concerned there was still several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the hedges and scrub on Houghton Common along with the odd Whitethroat.  Mid-September will see very large numbers of migrant warblers darting between cover and feeding up after a night of passage.  I have seen 20+ Whitethroats in one section of hedge previously on Houghton Common, I suspect these birds were 'downed' by a previous nights thunderstorm.
Common Buzzard on Houghton Common 17/08/13
Common Buzzards were vocal throughout my visit today to Houghton, especially so a juvenile bird which gave incessant begging calls to its parents.  The above Buzzard was perched on the top of an Oak where the lane meets the common.
I left this isolated, yet beautiful site with thoughts of migrant birds visiting the area in the knowledge that they will be presented with a full larder of fruit.

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