Breckland Birder

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

Friday, 25 July 2014

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

I arrived at St Mary's Church at Houghton-on-the-Hill at about 0515 whilst it was relatively cool at 16 degrees celsius.  From this start point I walked back down the track to the lane and then east to the track which heads south gently up to Houghton Common, and then along the corridor of beautiful hedgerows back to the church.
This morning would see evidence of successful breeding by both resident and summer migrants, however, my thoughts were also with the forthcoming months when this fantastic site is transformed into a magnet for autumn migrants as well as being an excellent visible migration watch-point.
Goldcrest (juvenile) Houghton-on-the-Hill 25/07/14
At St Mary's Church a singing Blackcap was the first record for this visit.  Walking down the track to the road was fairly quiet as was the walk east to the lane leading to Houghton Common.
As I started along the lane I could calling Buzzards, then, half-way along this route, 3 Buzzards were seen quite close to.  The lane also held a couple of Chiffchaffs.
At the top of the lane it is always worth checking for Warbler species where the lane opens into open country with old fruiting hedgerows, from here onwards I could hear further evidence of Chiffchaffs, as well as the hard 'tak' call of Blackcap.
The churchyard and surrounding woodlands was to prove to be the most rewarding part of this visit.  I sat in the churchyard for about an hour or so, it was clear that Blackcaps were the most numerous species with many seen and heard, again, the hard 'tak' call was heard on many occasions and brief glimpses were had of birds passing quickly between cover.  The start of the walk had a singing male at this site whilst this more protracted watch saw mostly 'brown-headed' females and/or juveniles present.  Chiffchaffs were heard as was Nuthatch.  Other species seen here included a foraging Goldcrest, Marsh Tit, Great Tits, Blue Tits, and Chaffinches.
The pond by the track has plenty of mature cover including Sallow and Hawthorn, this locality and the nearby woodland held good number of Goldcrests (mostly juveniles), although a lovely adult with its bright Orange crown was seen passing through with a youngster.  It is remarkable that these young Goldcrests are already foraging independently amongst pine needles, always on the go with only the briefest of pauses.
Also seen in this great mix of habitats was a number of noisy Marsh Tits, Great Tits, Chiffchaffs, Wrens, a young Blackbird, Chaffinches, and JaysTreecreepers were often heard giving their trilling call but I did glimpse a bird 'creeping' up a tree by the pond.   
I departed this wonderful site at about 0915 with sunny and increasing temperatures, it was already 23 degrees with an eventual high today of 29 degrees.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a lovely morning. Definitely the best part of the day. We often drive down that road at the bottom of the hill, we invariably see something of interest.

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