Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Deopham Green, Norfolk

My afternoon break from work today saw me visiting the wide open expanses of arable farmland which was formerly the WW11 airfield of Deopham Green.  My visit coincided with the building of thick grey cloud which only served to worsen the already poor light, this was soon to be accompanied by squally rain showers.  From my perspective, the moods seen with the weather, which increases the feel of bleakness in this already very open and exposed landscape, is still a thing of beauty.  I can see and feel beauty where others may see 'a day to be tucked up in a warm home'.
The vast exposed farmland at this locality is broken by patches of hedges, small thickets, and scrub, and although appearing quiet from distance, held birds.
The most visible species seen initially was a couple of Carrion Crows wandering over one of the many muck-heaps in the area.  These muck-heap habitats are wonderful places for birds to be seen as the various invertebrate species provide good feeding for Wagtails and Pipits, also, the seepage of stagnant water may hold a wintering Green Sandpiper.
Pied Wagtail at Merton, Norfolk Feb, '13.  Often found around muck-heaps
Close to where I was parked is a wonderful strip of Ash hedgerow with a wide understorey of Hawthorn and Bramble.  Appearing quiet from my position I decided to walk its length and found 6 Redwings and 3 Blackbirds within.  A quick look through binoculars revealed the stunning head pattern of the Redwings and the reddish flanks which gives the bird its name.
Walking back to where I had parked the car it was evident that light was getting very poor with the increasingly dark, rain-bearing cloud almost upon me, it was at this time that the highlight of the visit was seen, a flock of 400+ Fieldfare moving between a small wooded area to the hedgerow I had just walked along.  These beautiful Thrushes mostly flew in largish numbers together into the trees with smaller looser numbers following, this was lastly followed by another large movement, a wonderful sight which brightens the dullest of days.
I have seen a number of good-sized flocks of Fieldfares in recent days, perhaps these are birds moving through and preparing for return passage to Northern Europe.

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