Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Improving conditions encourage Raptors

Atlantic storms have been a dominant feature of our weather for some time now, these storms have brought heavy rain and very strong winds, however, we in the east have come off quite lightly compared to those living in the west of the country where flooding has been a significant issue.
Bright conditions have been lacking for some time with thick cloud bringing poor light, however, today, there was virtually wall to wall bright sunshine with a moderate, occasionally fresh south-westerly.

Great Cressingham
About mid morning I parked up at Little Cressingham and walked to Great Cressingham to search for Raptors.  The mild and bright conditions seemed just right for displaying Raptors and having reached my intended watchpoint I met my friend Dave Capps who was already hunkered down waiting for birds to appear.  Sitting out of the wind, the sun was quite warm, this had encouraged my first Bee species to fly past.
Soon after my arrival Common Buzzards started to appear over woodland and nearby farmland, the maximum number seen together was 5 birds, however, with Buzzards coming and going, actual numbers may have been higher.  Individual Buzzards approached at height whilst other were seen just above the woodland canopy where some sparring behaviour was seen between birds.  A single Sparrowhawk was seen briefly displaying above woodland.
Red Kite (one of a pair) at Great Cressingham, Norfolk 16/02/14
After some time watching the Buzzards, another large Raptor appeared high to the distant north, this was a Red Kite and would be one of a pair that would eventually patrol the fields and woodlands in the area in search for food.
Initial views of the distant Red Kite provided stunning views of the raptor in the bright sunshine.  Even though distant, diagnostic features seen included the obvious deeply forked tail which was rufous above and the white 'windows' on the underwing.  Diagonal pale bars were easily seen on the upperwing and the head area appeared bright white, and these features were all visible despite the distance.
Eventually, 2 Red Kites patroled slowly over the woodland and fields in the area in search of carrion.
After spending a very pleasant time with Dave, I left him to make my way back to Little Cressingham.  I soon located a friend of mine and Dave's, our local very pale, almost white looking Common Buzzard.  This bird is always readily identifiable even at height due to his unusual appearance.
This was a good mornings birding, especially as the conditons today brought a long awaited Raptor spectacular.  

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