Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 22 December 2014

Little Cressingham, Norfolk

Today dawned mild with temperatures at 10 degrees celsius, rising to a high of 13 degrees.  It remained dry and reasonably bright, however, the main feature of the weather today was the strong and very gusty west-south-westerly wind.
My walk this morning took me from 'The Arms' north over the Watton Brook and along the Great Cressingham road to just south of 'The Fairstead'.
I did not expect to see too much small bird movement today due to the wind strength, however, Bullfinches were seen all along the route with the greatest number together numbering 5 birds.

My thoughts of raptors paid off when a female Hen Harrier drifted west to east at some distance to my north, the bird then turned to head south over rolling farmland.  Despite being in view for only a short time, the distinctive brown upperparts and contrasting white rump was seen well.  I soon found an opening in the hedge and decided to watch the area for a possible second sighting of the Hen Harrier, however, it did not re-appear.  Hopes were raised when Wood Pigeons and Starlings scattered, this was probably down to a Buzzard seen low over rolling farmland.

To my north over 'The Fairstead', an impressive mixed flock of 2000+ Jackdaws and Rooks departed nearby woodland to spend the day feeding in fields.
Small numbers of Skylarks passed over low heading west, this movement was again possibly indicating the Hen Harrier was about, but I did not see it.
Given the habitat here, feeding opportunities, and time of year, I am sure that the Hen Harrier will winter in the area.  I have seen a Hen Harrier about 6 miles to the west of this location west of Hilborough, it is possible this is the same bird, however, given the good wintering habitat at both locations, I may have two of these delightful but scarce raptors on my patch.

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