Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 28 April 2014

Migrants still arriving....and passing through.

An early morning walk from 'The Arms' to The Fairstead within the Little Cressingham parish produced Whitethroats at several hedgerow locations along the route.  At The Fairstead a singing Common Curlew was heard.  Close to 'The Arms' I checked a small well-wooded pit which always is worth a check due to the density and variety of habitat and heard Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, and Chiffchaff.  It was while I was watching this area that I saw a Cuckoo fly into a small tree alongside the road.  This enigmatic bird then flew to other treetops to the north and then went out of side, evidence of a passage bird perhaps.

Thompson Water 1300-1445
A good range of both summer visitors and resident bird species were heard or seen over and around this beautiful site on this visit from the outset as follows:
Hobby at Thompson Water hunting insects 28/04/14
2 Common Tern (pair)
2 Garden Warblers
Reed Warbler
2 Cetti's Warblers
2 Marsh Tit (pair)
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Treecreeper (pair)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
1 Lapwing
2 Cormorant
3+ Grey Heron
Mute Swan

From my arrival a single Hobby provided great views as it swept back and forth over the water and surrounding woodland where it was hunting insects.  It was possible on occasions to see the bird pass food from it talons to the bill.  This spectacular Falcon often showed great agility as it twisted and changed direction whilst in pursuit of prey.
Also over the water was a pair of Common Terns, these sleek looking birds also showed great agility as they hawked for insects over the water.
A target bird for me today, and not unexpected, was Garden Warbler, 2 of these were present including one bird seen in traditional habitat by the raised bank. 
Garden Warbler photographed at Thompson Water May 2012
The Garden Warbler pictured here was photographed in May 2012 and in the same habitat where the bird today was singing.  Garden Warblers are birds of open woodland and woodland edge and to some, especially those new to birding, may experience some difficulty separating the song of this bird from a close relative, the Blackcap.  Although the songs of these species are similar, the song of Garden Warbler is slightly deeper in tone, is more protracted than Blackcap, and lacks the fluty excited peaks heard in the Blackcap song.
At least 2 Cetti's Warblers were singing in dense waterside scrub along the eastern side of the water. I am sure more birds are holding territory at this site.  Cetti's Warbler were first recorded in the UK in the early 1970's in the Broadland area of Norfolk.  Since this time this species has spread from their original foothold and was first recorded at Thompson Water in 2007.  I was concerned that a couple of successive severe winters may have had a negative impact on the survival of Cetti's Warblers, however, it was very reassuring to hear these birds singing in the following springs.  I have counted a maximum of 5 singing birds at Thompson Water....a very welcome addition to my patch.


  1. Hi Paul,
    just to let you know that I have linked this post with the one my wife has just done on the pair of Hobbies that we saw feeding last night around the stand of Poplars adjoining our property.
    If you look at our efforts...
    800ASA, dusk, grainy [in the extreme]...
    you'll realise that we needed a shot that showed people exactly what the bird looks like...
    the shot above fits the bill perfectly!!

  2. Hi Tim
    Thanks once again for your lovely comments. Thompson Water should hold multiple numbers of Hobbies on warm May evenings...I shall be visiting to see this spectacle, perhaps a Red-footed Falcon will be amongst them.
    Always good to get your comments Tim...thank you.