Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Watton Brook Valley, Norfolk

The Watton Brook Valley passes through my home town of Watton in Norfolk and meanders in a more or less westerly direction until it flows into one of the major Norfolk rivers, the Wissey.
I spend a lot of time birding along the valley, especially at this time of year when the lush habitats which follows the water margins, attract migrant birds to feed and rest.  Much of the valley is grazing for sheep and cattle, fencing and posts which border the fields and contain the livestock are always worth checking for migrant birds.
Today I visited the valley at Great Cressingham and Bodney in the morning, and Threxton mid/late afternoon.

Great Cressingham/Bodney
The lush valley initially appeared quiet, however, I was quite early and was optimistic that migrants would be found.
Whitethroat at Bodney 06/09/14
A small, damp woodland of Poplar and willow held several Chiffchaffs and Blackcap, however, the most numerous species was Long-tailed Tit.  A moving flock of Long-tailed Tits is always worth a check for other species, this flock contained Marsh and Blue Tits, Treecreeper, and Chiffchaffs.
I found a patch of rough ground with scattered Elders, I concentrated my efforts on one Elder where large clumps of black fruits were there for the taking.  Waiting paid off when a Whitethroat dropped in to feed.  Robin, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, and overhead, 50+ Swallows hunted.
Skulking Reed Warbler (immature) Great Cressingham 06/09/14
My walk back was to prove both rewarding and frustrating.  I caught a glimpse of something 'different' flying between dense herbage.  The bird was a warm brown colour and as soon as it entered cover it gave a harsh "chrrrr" call, this call was to be repeated.  My suspicions were confirmed when I saw a Reed Warbler skulking in cover of dense herbage.  This bird always remained elusive, however, enough views were had to confirm this as an immature bird.
This record shot shows the Reed Warbler in cover.

I started this walk by checking the ever-productive habitat at the Sewage Treatment works.  Straight away it was evident that lots of birds were present, most notably, Chiffchaffs, however, a single juvenile Spotted Flycatcher was in the mix of other birds moving along dense roadside habitat
Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher at Threxton 06/09/14
This Spotted Flycatcher is aged by its pale fringed wing coverts and blotching on its back.  On adults, the upperparts sre uniformly grey-brown.
Other birds seen at this time was a number of Chiffhcaffs, a passing mixed flock of mostly Long-tailed TitsGoldcrest, and Blue Tits.
I paid a short visit further along the lane with little success, I therefore returned to the sewage treatment works.  Once again, Chiffchaff dominated, however, a splash of yellow was provided by a probable family party of 5 Grey Wagtails.

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