With the threat of wild, wet, and windy weather by the afternoon, an early morning visit to Croxton Heath was in order, specifically with early displaying Woodlarks in mind.
A hint of brightness in the east at dawn was soon replaced by full cloud cover and poor light, at least the rain stayed away.
As soon as I left the car park at East Wretham Heath at dawn vast numbers of Crow species circled over the heath east of the Thetford road. I estimated 5000+ Jackdaws and Rooks moving east to west, this, according to my previous visits, is a daily occurence at dawn over the heath with birds leaving their roost sites to their feeding grounds, presumably on surrounding farm and heath land.
I arrived on the vast open areas of clearfell of Croxton Heath and firstly made my way to the tree which has for some weeks now proved reliable for Crossbills. I could see straight away that a pair of Crossbills were sitting in the tree.
I initially set up close to the tree for views of visiting Crossbills but then I decided to relocate to try and view these Finches actually visiting a puddle to drink.
|Crossbills coming to drink on Croxton Heath 14/02/14|
I also witnessed other very interesting behaviour with the Crossbills, this included singing males, a mating pair, but most interesting of all I saw a female Crossbill collecting bill-fulls of nesting materials.
Also of particular interest this morning was the presence of my target species, a singing and displaying male Woodlark. This Breckland speciality is found within forest clearings and heathland where they require short grass to search for insect prey. Scattered trees and bushes are used to sing from.
Also noted on the heath was Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Meadow Pipits, and Yellowhammer.
My walk back along one of the tracks saw a Woodlark rise up from the ground within feet of me, checking the surroundings here saw that this was very typical breeding habitat with plenty of bare sandy soil, young saplings, and a long wood-pile which will be used for song posts.
This was am excellent visit to Croxton Heath with my target species of Woodlark seen with the superb bonus of seeing Crossbills at their drinking site.