Overnight rain moved away, this was followed by a cloudy dawn with a further belt of rain moving through mid-morning. Brighter spells threatened, however, the theme for most of the day was cloud with varying degrees of light.
Early morning and I took my Toby for a walk starting at Houghton-on-the-Hill. We walked downhill to the valley and water meadows before returning to Houghton Common and our start point.
At least 2 male Blackcaps were singing in woodland near the church along with Chiffchaff. Yellowhammers and Linnets were typically found in or near farmland hedgerows along the route.
At Houghton water meadows at least 3 Snipe were seen, this included a bird singing in flight along with the distinctive 'drumming' display flight. The song is a repeated "chip-per chip-per", however, the fantastic 'drumming' display flight is a sound very much of yesteryear, sadly, this is a sound not heard too often in inland Norfolk now. When Ornithological writings was in its infancy, observers thought the 'drumming' sound produced by Snipe was a call, however, later studies discovered that this 'pulsating vibrating hum' was made by the outer tail feathers held away from the rest of the tail, the wind passed through these feathers causing this beautiful vibrating sound. The Snipe 'drumming' occurs when the bird is in a shallow, and sometimes steep dive over its chosen breeding site. Whilst watching displaying Snipe with binoculars it is possible to see the outer tail feathers held away from the tail.
Walking back to Houghton Common along the lane produced further singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaff. One particular Blackcap was seen singing in dense hawthorn blossom, he was also seen to visit a thick patch of Ivy, a breeding habitat for this Warbler species.
Also of note was an overhead party of 40+ Fieldfare. This winter Thrush may be moving through Norfolk until late April/early May.