Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Migrants

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 ChiffchaffYellowhammers 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.

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. This is very kind of you...thank you very much for following the blog.

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  2. Catching up...
    third comment this evening!!
    We got no Snipe and no Water Rail here this winter....
    not cold enough...
    even the Dabchick didn't hang around long...
    his normal waters never froze...
    so he soon returned.

    But that was a warm winter for you...
    no Siskin, no exotics...
    save one fleeting visit from a Great White Egret...
    the resident Moorhens had no challengers from the lakebound, local migrants.
    Whilst we had plenty of Lapwing... around 3000 at times....
    there were only a handful of Golden Plover...
    and those before Christmas!

    But hey, 'tis Spring, the Black Redstarts, Blackcaps and Whitethroats are back...
    the Chiffchaffs stayed all winter, entertaining us with their flycatching antics on the window...
    and we are expectant parents....
    a Mallard has chosen the bramble patch oppposite our kitchen window to nest in...
    she takes a stretch and a feed around 6AM... returning around seven...
    escorted by one or both....
    yes both...
    drakes.
    This is France...
    even the ducks, it seems....
    have "les menages á trois!"
    She has been sitting now for twenty days...
    Collins "Nests and Eggs" says 24 to 28!

    Sometimes, during the day, the drakes paddle back and forth...
    just like the expectant fathers they are!!
    No, Paul...
    not much work gets done at times like these!!

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    Replies
    1. Hello again Tim. Once again I love reading your comments..thank you for taking the time to write your very informative and entertaining notes.
      Good to see your Whitethroats are back...love these Warblers...mine generally arrive around the 17th of April although my earliest was the 12th of the month.
      Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, and some Willow Warblers back on territory and I saw my first local Swallow today (although I am sure they arrived earlier). Interesting to read of your wintering Chiffchaffs, I had 3, possibly 4, at a local sewage treatment works.
      Any sign of Cuckoo with you Tim...thin on the ground here last year.

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    2. Definately a couple of 'cookuks' in our bit of the valley...
      two calling from different sides...
      and I wasn't where I'd get an echo from the buildings.

      Swallows have been passing through... but none stopping yet.
      No sign of the House Martins yet, tho'...
      But the Night&Dayingales have started up....

      No ducklings to report as yet....
      but she has spent some daylight hours in the midday sun...
      where I've mowed the meadow near the nest.
      She returns by flying upstream and floating gently down...
      when level with the nest, she paddles to the bank and hop-flies up....
      then stands looking around for a couple of minutes, just in front of the entrance...
      then, if she thinks all is clear, she'll melt gently back under the brambles...
      fascinating to watch.

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