Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Threxton, Norfolk

3 Chiffchaffs (including one singing briefly)
1 Peregrine
1 Grey Wagtail
50+ Pied Wagtails
Goldcrests
Long-tailed Tits
1 Reed Bunting
Dunnock
Wren
1 Kestrel

The day started pretty foul with strong south-westerly winds and at times, driving, and stinging rain.  The afternoon saw brighter conditions with strong sunlight, however, the wind remained strong and cold.
I made two visits to Threxton today, the first at around 0945 was on my return from a four mile with my dog Toby, the second at 1400 was a dedicated watch of the area.
A Chiffchaff was singing at Threxton sewage works this morning in strong winds and driving rain. This species winters in small numbers in the UK, however, the vast majority winter in the Mediterranean basin and North Africa to as far south as south of the Sahara Desert. Chiffchaffs winter with us when winters are mild and they are often found in and around sewage treatment works, these works form micro-climates as waste and the surrounds attracts midges, and the woodland screens, usually Leylandii, provide warm roosting areas at night.
Chiffchaff - one of 3 today at Threxton STW.
At 1400, I visited Threxton STW for a second time, on this occasion, sunlight was strong but the wind remained strong and biting.
Checking a sheltered side of the
Leylandii belt, I immediately found 3 Chiffchaffs together...a very pleasant surprise.  I expected to hear or see one Chiffchaff but 3 was great.  These birds undoubtedly all wintered at this locality due to the relatively mild weather in the UK.  As seen in this picture, the Chiffchaffs often appeared on dead branches, they also flew into the cover of trees or dropped to the ground to feed amongst dead umbellifer stalks.  No song was heard on this visit however the familiar "hweet" call was heard at times.
Within the STW, 50+ Pied Wagtails fed upon the short grassland, all reacted noisily when a Peregrine drifted over low east to west.  A Grey Wagtail was also present at this locality.
The leylandii belt along the west side of the STW also held a small number of Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest, one of which was seen to display its flared red crown stripe. One female Reed Bunting dropped in for a short while.
I departed this locality at about 1500 very pleased with the variety of species seen on this short visit, especially the 3 Chiffchaffs...a great find.

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