Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

With temperatures at dawn at 4 degrees celsius and with misty conditions in low lying areas, this morning had an autumnal feel about it.  Bright and sunny conditions soon pushed temperatures up.
With the elevation of this locality along with its obvious natural and man-made features, Houghton-on-the-Hill presents itself as not only a good inland migration watchpoint, it also holds a wealth of habitats attractive to migratory bird species.
My main focus of attention this morning was a long corridor flanked both sides by virtually unbroken, berry bearing hedgerows.  This feature sits on a elevated ridge which is visible from the distant south and north.  This in turn must also be imprinted into the minds of passage migrant species.
Once light had improved on then took a slow walk along the full length of this wonderful habitat and it soon became obvious to me that Whitethroats and Blackcaps were present here in high numbers with Whitethroats being the most numerous.
One of the many Whitethroats at Houghton on 24/08/14
As I walked along the corridor, birds were either flying ahead of me or passing quickly from one hedge to the other.
Eventually I came to a break in the hedge where I could view movement, it was clear from what I was watching that an overnight arrival of migrant Warblers had occured.
Whitethroats were everywhere, sometimes, several were seen in one small patch of habitat.  The urgency to feed upon the wealth of Elderberries also indicated these were well probable overnight arrivals.
It is at times like this when I marvel at migration and consider where these birds have come from i.e. eleswhere in Britain or Northern Europe perhaps.
Also present this morning was good numbers of Blackcaps, many of those I saw were males and as with the Whitethroats, the Blackcaps were feeding upon the heavy supply of Elderberries.
Reed Bunting at Houghton 24/08/14
 Chiffchaffs were also seen in fairly good numbers, again, the Elder crop providing welcome feeding.
As well as the long-distance migrants seen at Houghton today, there was also evidence of some more local movements of resident species. 
This beautiful female Reed Bunting is showing off her intricate patterning on her back and wings.
A pair of Coal Tits passed through, and Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, Wrens, Robins, and Linnets were also present at this locality.

I find the miracle of migration just as exciting, possibly more so, than finding something scarce or rare, and indeed, watching large numbers of migrants will occasionally include something more unusal.  How wonderful it is to be in the presence of these migrants and witness a small part of their journey which will eventually take them to Africa.


  1. Paul, Nice blog and quality pictures.

  2. Dave, thank you very much for your kind comments and for following my blog. Hope you are all well.