Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 9 September 2013

Little and Great Cressingham

A beautiful autumnal morning, quite cool and with misty patches in the valleys.  This morning I parked at Little Cressingham Mill and walked to Great Cressingham via Fairstead Lane, through the village and off along the Watton road to the Peddars Way, and then north back to Little Cressingham along the Peddars Way.
It was quite evident this morning that suitable isolated pockets of woodland habitats once again supported good numbers of migrant Warblers.

Long-tailed Tit (one of a pair) Little Cressingham
1 Grey Heron
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel
1 Tawny Owl
2 Common Buzzards
1 Kingfisher
2 Grey Wagtails
Swallows (inc. 30+ Gt. Cressingham)
House Martin (reduced numbers Lt Cressingham)
2+ Whitethroat
1 Lesser Whitethroat (Watton road Gt. Cress.)
Chiffchaff (inc. 10+ North bridge)
Long-tailed Tit
Coal Tit (widespread)

Green Lane, Little Cressingham, which forks off from Fairstead Lane, is a reliable locality for Tawny Owl and as I walked along the lane, a single bird was seen flying ahead of me on a couple of occasions. 
Walking down Chalk Hill in Great Cressingham a gathering overhead of 30+ Swallows was good to savour before they depart for warmer climes.
A check of the roadside hedgerows east of Great Cressingham towards the Peddars Way produced a Blackcap, also, a warbler flew over me between a gap in the hedge, further investigation eventually revealed this to be a Lesser Whitethroat.  This was typically a very immaculate looking bird, I managed to watch it briefly before it moved on and was able to see the beautiful dark grey head and ear-coverts, white throat, and whitish underparts.  Lesser Whitethroats in autumn have varaible amounts of white markings on the head, this bird had a thin white loral stripe (between the bill and eye).  A single, short, and thin "cht" was heard. 

North Bridge (Little Cressingham)
Walking south along the Peddars Way, I was approaching North Bridge down in the Watton Brook valley. This locality has always been reliable as a site for good species range and numbers, this being due to the the wide range of habitats here including mature Oak woodland, mixed roadside woodland habitats comprising Alder, Birch, Ash, Rowan, and Sallow, and lots of healthy ground cover of Bramble, Blackthorn, and Hawthorn.
This valuable habitat must at some time in the past (and hopefully in the future) played host to a scarce or rare migrant, however, despite only common species being seen, it was interesting to note that the numbers here indicated another previous nights arrival of migrants using the area as a staging post on their passage.
A good count of 10+ Chiffchaffs continued on from the previous mornings theme of obvious passage by this species. Chiffchaffs appeared to occupy all habitats here including high in Birch, birds at medium level and others close to the ground, my estimate of 10+ was surely at the low count.  Also in the area was Blackcap, Goldcrest, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tit (pair), and Robin.

Little Cressingham Windmill
The first most obvious thing I was aware of upon my arrival at the mill was the lack of good numbers of House Martins, a few were seen, however, most appeared to have departed for Africa.
I positoned myself where I could overview a thick belt of cover alongside Watton Brook.  2 Whitethroats made frequent appearances in Elder where they fed upon berries, also, in front of me in a large Sallow, 3 or 4 Chiffchaffs were seen and Blackcap was heard.
A single kingfisher darted past me and off along the brook and a short while later 2 Grey Wagtails did a couple of circuits in front of me. 
As I was preparing to leave, a quick check of the distant fields to the west produced lots of Crows and Wood Pigeons, also, a single large looking Sparrowhawk alighted on the ground before flying off north low over crops.

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