Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Little and Great Cressingham, Norfolk.

50+ Bewick's Swans - (high) east
2 Red Kite (pair) Great Cressingham
Bramblings - Little Cressingham

Although the morning started dry, cloud was increasing after sunrise and by the end of the my walk it was clear that full cloud cover was moving in which brought rain by the afternoon.
Starting in Little Cressingham, I walked at dawn along the Peddars Way north for Priory Road, onto Great Cressingham and then back to Little Cressingham via Fairstead Lane (5 miles).
At North Bridge north of Little Cressingham, the dense hedgerows here in the valley held several Goldfinches, Bullfinch, and calling Redpoll.
Walking away from North Bridge along the Peddars Way I soon became aware of distant approaching Swans, I then picked up a flock of 50+ Bewick's Swans in the western sky which eventually passed high north of me, I watched them as they departed east.  These birds, also known as Tundra Swans will be heading off to their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra of Russia. 
Huge numbers of Crows were stirring on land west of the Peddars Way and on one occasion their noisy, strained calls indicated the presence of a raptor, however, I did not see one.
Bramblings at Little Cressingham 06/02/14
Leaving Great Cressingham, distant raptors appeared over woodland, it soon became evident that these comprised 2 Red Kites and Common Buzzards.  When confronted by these species together, this is a good time for those new to birdwatching to observe the obvious differences between these species.
During my observations of the Red Kites I noticed some aggression/sparring between these and the Buzzards with the Kites appearing to be the aggressors.
Later, whilst walking back to Little Cressingham, I watched a Red Kite (probably one of the earlier pair) approach quite low drifting over the land, I could see the bird watching the land below for carrion.  I could see the Kites tail twisting and turning, this acted superbly as a rudder, steering and controlling the flight as it passed over the land.
Maize strips are always good places to stop in winter to check for Finch and Bunting species where they feed upon the plentiful supply of weeds and seeds.  One particular maize strip near Little Cressingham this morning held a good sized mixed flock of Bramblings, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, and Yellowhammers.
Bramblings are beautiful Finches which visit us in winter from their breeding grounds in the Birch woodlands of Scandinavia.  The Brambling seen in the right of this picture is a male, as spring approaches he will become brighter with a solid Black head.  A noticeable feature of Bramblings in flight is their narrow white rump.  Bramblings will depart our shores for Northern Europe in March and April, however, I have seen this species as late as May, by which time the males are acquiring their stunning breeding plumage.

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