Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Arrivals, passage, and possible migrant Goshawk

Houghton-on-the-Hill 0730-1000
Blackcap (male) at Houghton-on-the-Hill 10/04/14
A bright morning with strong sunshine and in sheltered parts it was quite warm.
It was evident since my previous visit that Blackcap numbers have increased, therefore, I decided to sit in an area where I knew that Blackcaps have set up territory. Despite this, the male Blackcap was frustratingly singing out of sight with only brief glimpses seen, including when the bird was seen taking an Ivy berry for food, however, the bird did sing at distance on top of a branch offering the opportunity for this photograph.
Several Chiffchaffs were in song as was a Goldcrest.
There was some evidence of passage overhead with calling Redpoll and Brambling, both species will be heading north with the Brambling making for Scandinavian Birch forests to breed.

Thompson Water 1330-1600
My intention this afternoon was to see if yesterdays Marsh Harriers were still present, however, it would appear that they had continued their passage as there was no sign.
Migrant Warblers were well represented by both Blackcap and Chiffchaff, also, the resident Cetti's Warbler occasionally gave a burst of its explosive song.
On the water was 3 Great Crested Grebes, a pair and singleton.  The pair appeared to be strengthening their bond by showing signs of display.
With conditions good for raptors my eyes were always on the sky, however, just a single Buzzard passed over in a fast glide from west to east.  Things were set to change.
2nd year Goshawk at Thompson Water 10/04/14
At about 1515 whilst checking the sky, I saw a very distant speck against clouds and to the north-east.  I followed the speck and as it came closer it was descending in a fast glide and it became apparent that this was a large raptor species.  It certainly looked good for Goshawk and indeed the structure of the bird indicated also this was Goshawk.  The bird passed almost directly overhead and continued its glide south towards the battle area.  It wasn't until following the examination of the photographs that this was in fact a 2nd calendar year Goshawk. The heavily streaked underparts of this bird separates this species from Sparrowhawk and the absence of dark carpals and hands discounts Buzzard.  Goshawks moult from immature to adult plumage in their 2nd year, this will see the streaking on the underparts become coarse barring as seen in adult birds.  Given the great height and directional approach of this Goshawk, the question is, was this a locally bred bird from last year or a migrant?
This beautiful raptor provided a good ending to this visit to Thompson Water.

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