Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Great Cressingham, Norfolk

Following yesterdays migrant finds in the Watton Brook Valley, I decided this morning to visit another section of the valley to try for further migrant activity.
Although I did not find any Chat species, the morning turned out to be a productive one for Tit species and Warblers.
The morning started with Whitethroat and Chiffchaff on Chalk Hill, Great Cressingham.  I then made my way down to the Brook where I heard a couple of calling Nuthatches.  Walking west I came to some old Sallows in the valley where it was clear that many birds were present.  Initially, two Nuthatches were seen, a short while later a large mobile flock of mostly Long-tailed Tits passed through the trees.  This time of year it can be very rewarding to watch these delightful birds and to see what other species are with them.  On this occasion, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, and Treecreeper were all within the mix of this mobile flock.
A great patch of rough ground received some attention as this was excellent Chat habitat, however, on this occasion none appeared to be present.
Further west along the valley, a second, smaller mixed flock passed east along the valley, this also included Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, including a briefly seen male Blackcap in an Elder quite close to.  Also seen in this area was Kestrel and a fine male Bullfinch.
Woodland and scrub habitat in the Watton Brook valley at Great Cressingham 23/08/14 where many Warblers were present
Walking back east along the brook, I reached this beautiful patch of habitat (pictured) where I spent some time watching many Warblers and other resident species feeding in the Elder and Bramble scrub.  Perhaps what I was watching here was the coming together of the two previously seen mobile flocks of birds further west along the valley.
Blackcaps appeared to present here in good numbers, all around me I heard the agitated "tak" call from a number of birds, also sub-song (not the full effort and quiter) was heard.  Blackcaps were also seen to feed upon both Elder and Blackberries.  In addition to Blackcap, a number of Chiffchaffs were present as was Whitethroat, one of which fed upon Elder berries.
This beautiful habitat also held many other species including Blue, Marsh, and Great Tits, two more Nuthatches, Treecreeper, Wren, Blackbirds, and Bullfinch (including juveniles).  A single Kingfisher passed quickly above the brook in a flash of blue.
The numbers of Warblers both seen and heard on this visit indicates that many will be passage birds as well as birds having dispersed from their breeding sites to join the safety of mobile flocks in searches for food.
My observations of mobile Tit flocks clearly demonstrates the value of scrutinising their numbers for migrant species.

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