Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Early morning and I drove to Hilborough to a largish forest clearing to look for Woodlark, a real Breckland speciality.  Full cloud cover reduced light somewhat and there was occasional light drizzle.
The area of forest clearing is on sloping land and therefore will drain well, several strips of old wood piles provide song-posts for woodlark, and the clearings comprise young pine saplings and short cropped grass/moss like habitat which is ideal feeding for this species.
Almost immediately upon my arrival I could hear the sweet "lulululu" song of Woodlark and soon I could see that there was 2 singing males here.
Woodlark display flight at Hilborough 25/02/14
The distinctive display flight of Woodlark, as seen here, is a good opportunity to see the structural differences between Woodlark and the commoner Skylark.  The Woodlark is a smaller bird than Skylark but the main visual difference is the rather odd short-tailed appearance of Woodlark, in fact, at height, observers would be forgiven for thinking the bird looked tail-less.  This tail-less appearance gives the bird a broad-winged look when displaying.
As well as performing song-flight, both male Woodlarks sang from a high perch within the wood pile strips. 
The Woodlarks were also seen on the ground between the rows of saplings where they shuffle along in search of food.
Having left the clearing I walked through mature pine woodland where several Bullfinches were seen in thick scrubby habitat where their presence was given away by their soft piping "puu" call.
Nearby pig fields attracted large numbers of Gulls and Finch species including Bramblings.  Also at the pig fields as I was about to leave, a pair of Woodlarks passed overhead with the male singing and the female close behind.

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