Breckland Birder

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

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Visible migration at Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk.

At 0630 I picked up my good friend Daniel Watson and we headed for Houghton-on-the-Hill for a mornings birding with emphasis on visible migration.  With the clear conditions of the previous night and into the morning we thought that any passage birds were likely to continue high overhead and out of sight.
A dedicated 4 hour spot count of migration watching produced the following:

1 Yellow Wagtail high south
50+ Golden Plover west
1 HOBBY south-west
c.10 Meadow Pipits south-east

Recent arrivals included 15+ Chiffchaffs skulking around in dense Elder and Hawthorn habitats and just a couple of Blackcaps heard.  Surprisngly, not a single Whitethroat of Lesser Whitethroat was seen.  Daniel also commented on the absence of Hirundines, it is likely that this group has already departed our shores.
An early morning movement of Gull species, including a few Great Black-backed Gulls, were all heading in an easterly to south-easterly heading, this eventually stopped.  These birds had undoubtedly roosted north-west of our location and were leaving to feed in fields.
Local birds included several Common Buzzards at a number of localities from our vantage point, also a family party of 4 Kestrels (including 2 juveniles entertained overhead.

Marsh Tit at Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk 26/09/13
A single Little Owl called from the lane to the north of us.  Dense habitat close by held a number of Great and Blue Tits, also Yellowhammer and Bullfinches were present. 

Late morning, Daniel and I departed our 'watch-point' and headed back to St Mary's Church, here we checked out the spring by the track.
A couple of more Chiffchaffs were seen in the Hawthorn habitat by the pond, also, a single Marsh Tit made frequent visits to a thistle, this small species often revealed its presence by giving its loud "pitchou" call.
At 1215, we left Houghton with fewer migrants than initially expected, however, it was likely that many birds passed very high overhead given the clear conditions.

Garden (Dusk)
Whilst having a coffee in the garden, a very high flock of 80+ Black-headed Gulls headed north-west in a long drawn out. loose V formation.  It was likely that these gulls were heading for their roost site, possibly at a large water body west of Swaffham, or posssibly 'The Wash' area. 

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