Breckland Birder

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

Friday, 7 November 2014

Great Cressingham, Norfolk (Village to Rowley Corner and back)

Today has been a very windy day with low thick cloud and frequent showers.  Light was generally very poor with just the odd bright spell.
The route taken is a straight road of just over a mile, it then meets the main A1065 Swaffham to Brandon road.  Being as staight as a dye , some drivers think it is ok to speed, clearly, these people fail to understand that the unexpected may occur and therefore the thinking time is greatly reduced if a potential incident occurs...maybe these drivers will learn the hard way.
From the crossroads at the South Pickenham crossroads to Rowley Corner is exactly one mile and for the full length along the southern side of the road is given over to Pigs.  This area has for many years been used for rearing Pigs.
Probably the most impressive sight of the day was the 1,000's of Starlings which kept in one large gathering on the field presumably to feed upon various invertebrates.  Also on the field was hundreds of Gulls, these comprised Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, and by far the most numerous was Black-headed Gulls.  Often these Gulls would be near or in the wallows.  Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves, and Jackdaws were scattered around the field.
Pied Wagtail.  A species seen around livestock.
The roadside hedgerows supported Goldcrests, Bullfinches, a flock of 50+ Fieldfare, and a few Redwings and Song Thrushes, and a single Buzzard.  Sadly, I found a dead Tree Sparrow, a traffic casualty.
Pied Wagtails were seen, this is an expected species in such habitats where they are constantly on the go searching for midges etc. around livestock and beside water, in this case wallows for pigs.
At least 2 Red Kites were seen, these beautiful raptors constantly scoured the ground below for carrion, and in fact along the road I found a long dead animal and it was clear that the Kites took a great deal of interest in it as I stood by the potential food.  Despite the strong and gusty wind, I marveled at how the Red Kites mastered the wind and held course, their beautiful reddish forked tail being used as a rudder to steer.
This was an interesting area to watch and I must admit that the large numbers of Starlings was very impressive.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Paul...
    a little bit of news from France:
    We needed a break from the veg patch....
    and making a mobile chicken coop...
    [she, who must be obeyed, decided that this was to be the year of the chickens]
    and kitten sitting for some friendz who've returned to the UK for a couple of weeks....
    so we drove to the Brenne to see the Cranes come in to roost....
    a wonderful site.. thousands of them... and the noise... tremendous!!

    We had a treble treat...
    they looked to be aiming somewhere else, nearby...
    so we decided to "follow" the noise...
    three kilometres by road to get about 800 metres from where we originally were...
    and there they were... in odd large groups dotted around the fields...
    and we could hear more over the hill.
    But what we'd discovered was the...
    "let's meet at the pub before going to the hotel for the night" location...
    we'd been there for around thirty minutes...
    watching more and more groups come in...
    whilst also watching an Osprey sitting on a post...
    next to a reedbed that housed an impressive Starling roost...
    the sound of them coming in drowned, momentarily, the trumpeting of the cranes...
    but we couldn't hear [sorry, I couldn't... too much Hawkwind] the sussuration from the roost.

    Then suddenly all the cranes took off at once...
    the sky was full of honking birds...
    all flying low as they were only going a kilometre at the most...
    even the osprey was disturbed and took off low to the ground...
    away from the flight path.
    The starlings also all erupted from their roost and began making wondrous starling paintings.
    They hadn't bothered about the osprey that was about fifty metres to their right!!

    Once the cranes had almost all crossed the wood between the Mer Rouge and us...
    t'wife and I motored back to the original observation point to watch the last ones come in to roost on the lake edge.
    Once it got too dark to see properly...
    we came back home.

    And as we were eating supper....
    the sound of cranes came through the double glazing...
    we were off our seats and out the door pronto...
    accompanied by the cats... who'd also heard them.

    Three large waves came over...
    one of which sounded as though...
    after passing overhead...
    it had come down nearby...
    this was confirmed about an hour later when I let the tomcat out and another flight was passing to our right...
    there was calling also from close in front of us at ground level...
    that stayed a constant volume...
    so I'll be setting the alarm for before sunup tomorrow to go and check!!
    They've only finished harvesting the maize a couple of days and there are large swathes of open ground to roost in...
    Thought you'd be entertained by that...

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  2. Hi Tim
    Yes, a very entertaining read. I am so impressed by your Crane watching, and the numbers...incredible. I have seen a maximum of 4 birds together in Breckland, even the calls from one or two of them was impressive.....the calls therefore of your thousands would be a real "hairs standing on the back of my head" (if I had any) for me.
    I suspect the Cranes I see are commuters between their Broadland home and Lakenheath, however, a couple I saw over Watton in September 2013 were very high and I suspect these were true migrants.
    You mention the Starlings and their 'wondrous Starling paintings'...a wonderful description. How many people would believe Tim that the Starlings visiting their gardens may later in the day form what I regard as one of THE most fantastic birding experiences as they gather in their pre-roost gatherings.
    Once again Tim thanks for the post....I love reading your experiences.
    Paul

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