This morning it was evident that spring migration has quickened with the following highlights noted:
1 QUAIL still singing at Great Cressingham
1 Marsh Harrier (female) at Hockham
1 HOBBY at Hockham (my earliest date for this Falcon)
2 Sedge Warblers
6 Lesser Whitethroats (included 4 in song at dawn on 3 mile dog walk)
Great Cressingham (pre-dawn)
I arrived on the Peddars Way with some light mist hanging over some fields and valleys, and the air was still, it was beautiful.
As I got out of my car, I immediately heard the highly distinctive song of a male QUAIL a short distance to the north of me. The relative quiet of this early hour accentuates the song of this highly enigmatic species.
My early morning 3 mile walk with Toby produced 4 singing Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Whitethroats, and 3 Blackcaps.
Driving back to Watton near Saham Hall, the 5th singing Lesser Whitethroat of the morning was in a well-wooded hedgerow.
I arrived at this locality at about 0630, some mist was evident but this was soon to burn off to give bright, sunny conditions.
As soon as I arrived I saw 7+ Crossbills high overhead, then, I could hear 2 singing Sedge Warblers somewhere within a small patch of Phragmite reeds and Sallow. There will undoubtedly be other birds in similar and distant, inaccessable areas.
At least 6 noisy Greylag Geese were seen as well as a few singleton Grey Herons in flight.
After a while I checked some of the peripheral woodland of Scots Pine and Larch when a small party of Crossbills alighted to feed. A few Goldcrests were in song with one bird typically high in the canopy of a Scots Pine.
I later made my way back to my earlier location when I could see a female Marsh Harrier hunting back and forth over her territory. It was interesting to note that when Buzzards (3 in total) appeared she would gain height and keep an eye on them and then return to hunt when the Buzzards moved off.
|Marsh Harrier (female) at Hockham 21/04/14.|
The photograph below of the Marsh Harrier shows one of the very distinctive features of the flight behaviour of this raptor, the wings are held in a shallow V as it quarters aboved the ground, quite different from the much bulkier Buzzard. Also note the beautiful creamy head and inner leading edge of the wings, a feature which aids the sexing of this species.
|Marsh Harrier (female) at Hockham 21/04/14|
Mid to late April sees migration picking up and it is generally safe to predict when migrants return to us to breed or are seen on passage, however, as with the Quail, some species do take me by surprise as happened this morning when my first HOBBY of the year passed over and did some sweeps for insects. I usually see this magnificent Falcon during the latter days of April or early May, this particular Hobby is my earliest ever record for this species.
|Hobby at Hockham 21/04/14 (My earliest record for this species)|
Ashill (late afternoon)
A walk along Common Road to as far as the old railway cutting produced a singing Lesser Whitethroat in a well-wooded hedgerow and dense Bramble scrub. Also by the rail cutting a Chiffchaff and Blackcap was singing. A check of the fields produced no migrants as far as I could see.