Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 18 April 2014

Early morning migrant magic at Great Cressingham, Norfolk.

At 0645 I arrived on the Peddars Way at Great Cressingham to bright conditions with a light to moderate north-easterly wind.  Despite the brightness a couple of dark clouds passed over giving very light drizzle, but this soon passed to leave bright dry conditions. 6 degrees celsius.
I decided to take Toby for a walk along the Peddars Way to check for newly arrived migrants with an emphasis on hopefully seeing my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year.
As soon as I got out of the car a male Whitethroat was singing in the track-side hedgerow ahead of me, and then as I continued along the path my predicted species, a singing male Lesser Whitethroat was found singing (and seen), again, in the track-side hedgerow.
The next species however was certainly not predicted and came as a complete surprise to me, it was a singing QUAIL.  This bird appeared to be singing quite close to me but I could not locate visually within a field of young wheat.  This is an extremely early bird as they are not generally heard in Norfolk until the second half of May.  Quail is our only migratory member of the Partridge/Pheasant family, it is thought to winter in the Senegal and Sudan area of Africa.
1st summer male Wheatear Great Cressingham 18/04/14.
As the Quail continued to occasionally sing I walked a little further along the Peddars Way and found this 1st summer male Wheatear.  The Quail was singing somewhere close by in the crops seen here behind the Wheatear.
This Wheatear can be aged by its pale-fringing on the wing feathers, in adult plumages the wings are a solid blackish.
A little further along the Peddars Way, a second Whitethroat was heard in song, also a singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff were heard.
Evidence of breeding was also seen with a Linnet carrying nesting material.

Late morning and we arrived at our daughters home in Irthlingborough to deliver Easter presents to our three grand-daughters.
Red Kite near Great Addington, Northamptonshire 18/04/14
At about 1400, I drove out to Great Addington for a walk in the rolling countryside to look for migrant species.
The most evident species seen was Red Kite with at least 6 birds together.  Although for much of the time the Kites were soaring and hunting for prey below, occasionally these beautiful raptors displayed great agility when engaged in chasing or diving steeply to the ground to pull up sharply.  4 Common Buzzards were also seen.
In the hedgerow close to where I parked, a male Lesser Whitethroat was singing, he was occasionally seen when flying between cover.
The only other migrant species seen on this visit was a single Swallow which overflew farmland and the nearby road.

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