Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 20 December 2013

Hockham Fen and forest, Norfolk

Following a slight frost at dawn the morning was very bright and sunny with good visibility.  My intention was to go to East Wretham Heath for Crossbills again, however, a police road block at the Illington cross roads clearly meant an accident ahead, I had to rethink my plans.  I did a U turn and made my way back to Hockham for a walk through the forest and to the fen and back.

Firecrest at Hockham Forest 20/12/13
Hockham Fen appeared quiet, however, it was clear that many Teal were present in the marshy habitat, although few were seen the "kleep" call was heard.
Overhead movements of birds held most attention with small numbers of Crossbills heard, this included 3 seen together including a male bird.
Small parties of Thrushes passed over including a flock of about 10 Redwings over.
About 6 Meadow Pipits were seen including a flock of 4 birds.
Back at the car, my attention was drawn to both mobile flocks of birds moving through trees as well as several Great Tits and Chaffinches feeding amongst leaf litter. The mobile flocks included Treecreeper, Nuthatch, and a number of Coal Tits.
Whilst watching for movement in the trees, I noticed a tiny bird flitting about low cover, a quick look revealed this to be a stunning Firecrest, I just managed to take the above hurried shot of this jewel of a bird.  I attempted to follow this highly mobile bird and eventually tracked it to a Holly tree, again, the bird was very quick amongst the cover.  I attempted to focus on the Firecrest with the camera and just managed to glimpse an extremely brief view of the bird with its back to me...the beautiful reddish crown stripe was flared...I did not get a shot, it would have revealed this beautiful feature of this bird.
The finding of this Firecrest is a classic example that it is important to scrutinse flocks of Tits in winter as something more unusual or even rare may turn up.

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