Breckland Birder

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

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A heavy passage of Thrush species.

Houghton-on-the-Hill and Ashill, Norfolk.
Full cloud cover, often dark low cloud with a light east-south-east wind.

Following my prediction earlier this week of the probability of Thrush migration by this weekend, an early morning walk around Houghton-on-the-Hill and Ashill, Norfolk produced a heavy passage of Thrush species.  Although I covered about 6 miles on foot, Thrush species were encountered all along my route and the flocks I saw which occasionally numbered 200 to 300 strong, easily totalled 2,100 birds, and all were passing overhead in a mostly west or south-westerly heading. 
Redwings formed the majority species with Song Thrushes in good numbers and with smaller numbers of Blackbirds and Fieldfares.  Many flocks were very high and difficult to see therefore I would have missed many more as they passed over. 
As well as witnessing visible migration, it was evident from calls that many Thrushes, especially Song Thrushes had arrived overnight and taken up brief residence in roadside hedgerows as the familiar "tick" calls of these birds was heard at many localities.
3 Blackbirds, obvious migrants were seen above me on the approach to Houghton Common, one of these was initially seen flying in wide circles and gaining height, presumably this individual had arrived in the night and was climbing to reorientate before continuing with its passage.
Norfolk-wide and beyond our county, the numbers of birds passing through must have reached tens of thousands. Most of these Thrushes would have flown from Northern Europe overnight, some may stay in the UK whilst other will continue onto France or the Iberian Peninsula for the winter.  

Further reading from observations from the North Norfolk coast shows that from dawn on 12th October, many thousands of Thrushes, mostly Redwings, filled hedgerows along with very heavy overhead passage by this species. Numbers passing through Norfolk must have been at least in six figures, probably more.
Although massive numbers of birds were witnessed on the coast, I still feel inland areas are well underwatched, however, I still get far more enjoyment watching birds and witnessing visible migration on my inland Breckland patch.

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