Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 25 December 2014

A very happy Christmas to you all.

Christmas day dawned bright and cold with a slight frost and a temperature at 0800 of 3 degrees celsius.  Cloud would eventually increase to give very poor light throughout the afternoon, however, it remained dry.
I had to make a few calls this morning to a few elderly people in Hethersett and Kimberley in Norfolk, it was whilst driving between calls that several Bullfinches were seen in laneside hedgerows.  I am always delighted to see this common Finch darting between cover and showing off that white rump, but I did manage a brief sighting of a female Bullfinch perched in the open before going to cover.  It was whilst I was driving along the B1108 at Carleton Forehoe when a Peregrine Falcon passed low over the road just in front of me.

Little Cressingham/Bodney, Norfolk
By early afternoon cloud was increasing all the time, initially light cloud, however, by 1400, further cloud moved in giving total coverage and very poor light.
I parked close to 'The Arms' and walked north towards 'The Fairstead', once again, a number of Bullfinches were seen along the route breaking cover from the hedgerows.  As I approached 'The Fairstead' I decided to spend some time overlooking the vast rolling landscape in the hope of seeing Hen Harrier, however, I had no luck.
Back at Watton Brook I checked a small area of Alders and found a small flock of Goldfinches feeding, it was whilst there that 20+ Bewick's Swans passed over low in a westerly heading.
Goshawk (juvenile) at Bodney 25/12/14
Once back at the car I thought I would check the flooded land at Bodney to see if the Swans had landed there, they hadn't, perhaps they were making for Welney.
I parked alongside the B1108 where some Starlings and a few Fieldfare were feeding whilst over a nearby wood 2 Buzzards emerged.  30+ Lapwings were seen beyond the army camp.  Moments later, a number of Crows started calling as if angry about something, this was coming from the wood where the Buzzards had what was upsetting the Crows.  Wood Pigeons also scattered in a hurry, this seemed promising.  Checking the treeline for raptors I soon picked up the distinctive profile of a Goshawk.  Straight away the size in comparison to mobbing Crows showed this to be a Goshawk, it then turned south to pass to my right over the road and into the Army training area, it was then that I could clearly see the very deep, heavy chested appearance of this powerful raptor.  The heavy streaking on the birds chest showed this to be a juvenile bird.  Sadly, the light at this time had significantly deteriorated and was very poor, therefore resulting in this poor picture.
Goshawk (juvenile) Bodney shadowed by a Crow species 25/12/14
Many birders often make the mistake of claiming Goshawk when they see a large Sparrowhawk, however, there are many differences which separate the two species, clearly size is one of them but if there is nothing in comparison about this can make things tricky for some.
The photograph to the left shows the Goshawk being shadowed by a Crow species, a Sparrowhawk would appear much smaller.  Crows also show Goshawks more respect for Goshawk....Crows form a part of this very large raptors diet.  A significant feature of Goshawk which is shown in this picture is the very deep, heavy chested appearance, this is absent in Sparrowhawk.
I finally set off for home at about 1530 in very poor light.
I will end this post by wishing all my followers of my online diary a very happy Christmas.


  1. And a very happy Christmas to you Paul....
    and may you have an excellent spotting year in 2015!

    Our Christmas present yesterday, from the wild...
    A Dabchick fishing in the bief [millstream]...
    A male Sparrowhawk, ground hunting, on the bridge over the bief...
    and his patience paid off...
    he left for our big willows with a large vole.
    Both of these were 'scene' from our best watching point...
    the bedroom window!!
    We currently have freezing fog.... so nothing visible as dawn breaks.

  2. Hi Tim
    Here's hoping you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you also a happy 2015.
    I am picturing your 'scene' from your favourite observation sounds wonderful. Both of your observations in the area of the bief...from your bedroom window....quality sightings indeed.
    I had quite a good day today at Hockham, however, the light was mostly poor with early mist and a slight times the area seemed so quiet on this winters morning...but life abounds.
    Thank you once again Tim for your post, always good to get them.