Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

South Pickenham estate, Norfolk

April is the month which sees the greatest movements of birds returning to us to breed from their wintering grounds in the Mediterranean and Africa, and indeed it is the month which still witnesses migratory Thrushes and Finches departing for their Northern European breeding grounds.
This morning I set off at 0700 from the beautiful church at South Pickenham and walked a large circuit over farmland, eventually re-joining the South Pickenham road at Great Cressingham Fen.  As with many areas on my patch, the localities walked through today are very typical of Breckland with blocks of Pine woodland, mixed woodland, and sandy tracks and adjoining farmland.
The first section of my walk took me through mature mixed woodland and as expected this was where most species was encountered this morning. 
As I set off the first bird of the morning was a lovely Red Kite circling low over the treetops within parkland, this bird settled for a while in a treetop before moving off.  Jackdaws were ever present, the habitat here of mature parkland trees will offer many suitable nest sites in holes and cavities etc.
Warbler numbers are certainly on the increase now with 10+ singing Chiffchaffs being the most abundant Warbler with at least 8 singing Blackcap following a close second.  Most of these Blackcaps were encountered along the initial stage of my walk in a large area of parkland and mature mixed woodland habitat. A single calling male Golden Pheasant was hidden somewhere on the woodland floor.
Also noted along the walk was 2+ Nuthatches, 3+ Treecreepers, 4+ Coal Tit territories, singing Marsh Tit, 4+ singing Song Thrushes, a pair of Stock Doves, calling Green Woodpecker, and many singing Skylarks over open farmland.     

At 0845 I found a good spot to observe woodland and parkland on the South Pickenham estate, here I remained for an hour or so listening to and watching the wealth of birdlife that occurs here.
Red Kite at South Pickenham, Norfolk 01/04/14
Dominating the sky and woodland was this majestic Red Kite, this bird often circled just above the woodland canopy but also alighted a number of times in the tops of trees, when, on this occasion, I was able to photograph it through branches.

Jackdaw at South Pickenham, Norfolk 01/04/14
Once again Jackdaws were plentiful as one would expect in this type of habitat. These 'comical' Crows will utilise holes and cavities in trees, as well as holes in old buildings such as churches, for nest sites.
A Mistle Thrush was seen carrying a worm in its bill, clear evidence of young being tended to.
Early spring bird song in the woodland habitat here really does lift the spirits and species heard during my time here included a male singing Blackcap (seen in treetops), also the following were all in song -NuthatchCoal Tit, GoldcrestMarsh Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, and Wren.


  1. Great pic of the Red Kite. We often are around the South Pickenham area but as I am disabled I only get to see things from the car; even so we normally see something of interest

  2. Many thanks for your comments. South Pickenham is a very beautiful area with a diverse range of habitats. Sorry to read of your disability...please let me know if you would like to be taken anywhere to see something of interest and if you are not sure how to get there.