Breckland Birder

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

Friday, 5 December 2014

Southburgh, Norfolk

An improving picture weatherwise today.  Although initially grey, brighter conditions slowly moved in and by early afternoon sunny weather ended the recent run of very dull, damp, and misty conditions.
Early morning and I arrived at the church at Southburgh, my route would take me east for about 1.5 miles, along Church Lane, leading onto Southburgh Road, and ending at the B1135 west of Hardingham.  I would eventually retrace my steps back to the church at Southburgh.
Church Lane Southburgh heads east from the church and winds and undulates through farmland, woodland, and over the Blackwater River.  What appears to be some quite old deciduous woodland abuts the lane, however, approaching the river, close to where the former Reymerston golf course used to be, stands some very old, and very large Oak trees, undoubtedly many centuries old.  One particular old Oak, sadly dead, appears to be at least 500 years old.
A major natural feature is the Blackwater River, this waterway meanders through woodland south of Southburgh Road before flowing through open countryside to the north of the road.  Alders aline the route of the river here.
Blackwater River 05/12/14

What was clearly apparent on this walk was the good numbers of wintering Thrush species present.  The hedgerows lining the lane are well stocked with Hawthorn, a staple for these birds.  Fieldfares, RedwingsBlackbirds, and Song Thrushes were all seen and heard along the route.  Each species has their own behavioural traits, I have found that of all the Thrushes, Fieldfares are usually the most visible as they always choose higher perches in the tops of trees to watch from if they have been disturbed, the smaller Redwing often joins their larger cousin and are readily identifiable by their strongly marked 'facial' pattern.
Several Bullfinches (6+) were seen and heard along the route.  This stunning Finch always alerts us by its soft 'piping' call.
I then spent some time close to the Blackwater River, such habitats always attract birds and other wildlife.  A number of Alders aline, or are close to the river, and today, the tops held a small flock of about 15 Goldfinches.  These Finches, as with Siskins and Redpolls, are attracted to the cones from which seeds are extracted.  Further Redwings and Fieldfares were seen here, also a diminutive Goldcrest foraged in a nearby hedge.  Marsh Tits gave their loud "pitchou" call from at least a couple of localities.
My walk back west towards Southburgh once again saw good numbers of Thrush species moving along the hedgerows and trees, also, Chaffinches and another Goldcrest wandered through these habitats.
As I approached Southburgh church, 2 Mistle Thrushes (our largest Thrush species) flew left to right, and another Bullfinch called within a thicket. 
This was a lovely walk through a variety of habitats with late autumn colours and fruiting hedges adding to the visual spectacle.  Wonderful, grand old Oaks stood in hedgerows or within woodland habitats, and even though dead, that very old Oak presents still as a mighty tree which will continue to provide a very valuable habitat for numerous invertebrates, birds, and other wildlife.

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