Breckland Birder

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

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Little Cressingham and Hockham Fen, Norfolk.

Another dry and mild start to the day, a complete contrast to the wintry scenes seen here this time last year, in fact, it felt that mild you would be forgiven for thinking that dawn resembled an early spring morning.
Siskin (female).  Flocks seen at Lt Cressingham and Hockham Fen
Little Cressingham
Even though we are still in winter, birds will already be establishing their breeding territories, this was evident this morning when I heard a distant Mistle Thrush in song within Seven Acre Plantation.  A further 4 of these large Thrushes were seen between 'The Arms' and Hopton Bridge, these included a single flock of 3 together.
Further along the Great Cressingham road at the wooded pit north of 'The Arms' , several Chaffinches were seen on the ground where they fed upon spilt seed etc, also here was a few Yellowhammers and a Brambling (heard only).
Approaching Hopton Bridge in the Watton Brook valley, my thoughts were with the Siskins seen here yesterday, I soon found these beautiful little Finches in the Poplar and Alders by the brook, some were feeding others were preening.
Bramblings were seen along Fairstead Lane.
As I approached 'The Fairstead' I overlooked the large area of grazing and saw good numbers of passerine species along Fairstead Lane, I walked to where these birds were and found several Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, and a few Bramblings, these birds were gathered here for the good feeding (maize strip) and the excellent cover offered by the mature wooded hedgerows.  
Walking back along the Great Cressingham road towards 'The Arms' I stopped to overview the flooded fields in the Watton Brook valley, here, an impressive gathering of 300+ Common Gulls stood around, and some in, the water.  Slightly further along at the Hopton Farm drying barns 2 Common Buzzards were seen calling in the conifer woodland. 

Hockham Fen
The afternoon saw very bright and mild conditions with a temperature of 10 degrees celsius.
Species typically associated with conifer woodland were both seen and heard on this shortish visit, these included Goldcrest, a number of Coal Tits, Great Tit, Blue Tits, and a Nuthatch.
At the fen itself, a single Common Buzzard called from trees and a number of Teal sprung from the marshy habitat...I wonder if the number of Teal here are in four-figure numbers, as seen on previous visits.
The tall trees around the periphery of the fen held what appeared to be good numbers of Siskin (30+), this was surely a low estimate of the true numbers present.

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