Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Little and Great Cressingham (Peddars Way) for migrants.

A bright sunny day with some warm sunshine in sheltered areas, however, the moderate north-easterly wind had a cool feel to it.
Walking north along the Peddars Way from Little Cressingham I first checked the bare field for migrants but as far as I could see there were none.
Reaching North Bridge typical species seen and heard included Bullfinch, singing Greenfinch and Chaffinch, and a singing Blackcap.  The Peddars Way then runs north through open country with vast areas of arable on both sides of the road, crops here probably held few migrants, however, field egdes have been left uncultivated which are worth checking for migrant species, again, I could not locate any.
North of the Peddars Way/Great Cressingham crossroads the path is lined on both sides by well established and well stocked hedgerows with the thickest being on the right (eastern) boundary.  More breaks in the hedge on the left allow for views of the very large field beyond.  I reached one such break in the hedge to check the uncultivated field edge of bare soil hoping for Wheatear and almost as soon as I had this thought I saw a single Wheatear standing close to the crop.  After a few seconds the Wheatear flew up into a small tree ahead of me.
1st summer female Wheatear Great Cressingham, Norfolk 19/04/14
This female Wheatear was found in almost the same locality as the 1st summer male bird on the day before.  The pale fringing on the primary, secondary, and coverts ages this as a 1st summer bird.  I generally see most of my passage Wheatears in the Brecks from mid to late April.
A colloquial name for Wheatear is "clodhopper" and for me this a very appropriate name given its habit of running between and 'hopping' onto slightly more prominent clods of earth on open fields.
Also seen and heard along this length of the Peddars Way was a single singing Lesser Whitethroat and a fine looking singing male Whitethroat.
The walk back south along the Peddars Way produced a soaring Common Buzzard high above a traditionally used mixed woodland habitat for this species.
Before leaving I could hear the familiar call of a young Blackbird in the Watton Brook valley, whilst a male Blackcap sang in the area of the mill.


  1. Hi Paul,
    Was good to see you and Toby last weekend, next time I’m in Norfolk well have to meet up.
    I had no joy with looking for Stone Curlews but I did have a Little Owl in Threxton. I took my Dad to Wretham Heath on Monday which produced a Redstart in the same area as you saw one latter in the week, we also had walk down Harling Drove and down one of the rides had an adder and at least 4 Woodlarks but no Tree Pipits, they must have arrived in the next day or so. Also had a quick visit to Santon Downham where there were still at least 100+ Bramblings many of the males singing and looking splendid in their summer plumage.
    Cracking pics of Wheatear especially the male against the grass giving great contrast and the raindrops on the grass, really stunning!!! And a Quail as well, have never had a Quail in Norfolk, it’s a bit of a bogey bird for me.
    I’m off to Dungeness early tomorrow morning, so hopefully can get a couple of hours birding in before the rain sets in, fingers crossed the wind shifts to a south-easterly so there might be some ‘up channel’ passage.
    Good Luck and all the best
    Chris White

    1. Hi Chris
      It was great to see you last weekend have a lovely family...please pass my love onto them all.
      Thank you for your lovely comments...very kind of you.
      I am glad that you saw the Redstart...what a stunner. I was fascinated by the story of the 'ringed' Tree Pipit on Croxton Heath....I always marvel ay bird migration.
      Your 100+ Bramblings was an excellent count Chris, I expect they will be on the move soon, if not already gone.
      I had another walk along the Peddars Way this afternoon (20/04/14) and the Quail was singing well...hope it stays to breed.
      I agree Chris, it will be great to meet up again and have a trip out together.
      Best wishes to you and the family.