Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Good start to the new years birding

Clear skies at dawn was soon followed by increasing cloud cover giving total coverage after sunrise. The wind was a moderate, increasing to a fresh south-westerly.  Mild.  Poor light owing to cloud cover.

Main highlights
15+ Crossbills on Croxton Heath
Goshawk (1) Croxton Heath towards E. Wretham Heath (0857)

East Wretham and Croxton Heaths, Norfolk.
Although not always considered to be the most species-rich habitat, the vast heathland, pine forests, and extensive clear-felled areas will hold birds which are well adapted to these habitats, and which may be more difficult to find away from the unique Breckland area.
At dawn, Crossbills were heard overhead in small numbers, most were unseen, although, singles and pairs were occasionally seen.  I made my way to the clearing which I have recently found has attracted Crossbills to drink from puddles in deep vehicle tracks....and waited.
Crossbills at Croxton Heath on New Years Day 2014
Whilst in the area, a single Brambling passed overhead and single/pairs of Crossbills were always present.
Corvid species were typically noisy, however, a particularly noisy small group of Crows held my attention and then a single Goshawk distantly flew over pine trees towards East Wretham Heath.  This large raptor had little problem flying into the strengthening wind, slow, powerful wings beats were broken by long glides. Despite the range the heavy, deep chest of this bird was evident.
Crossbill numbers began to build and silently a flock of 15+ Crossbills gathered in the single tree by the track, as with previous observations, these beautiful Finches were here to drink and after a while singles dropped to the ground to drink from the puddles.  I was able to take a few shots of the Crossbills, however, the poor light affected the quality sadly.
The long walk back along the forest rides and Harling Drove produced a number of common species: Goldcrests (3+), Treecreepers, Wrens, Dunnock, and a few overhead Linnets.  A small flock of Redwings were both seen and heard in Silver Birch woodland along Harling Drove.  A couple of Song Thrushes also seen and heard.
A brief view of the diminishing water at Langmere produced c.25 Teal and walking back to the car park a single Shelduck overflew the heath.

Finally, I would just like to wish all of my followers a very happy, healthy, and bird-filled 2014.

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