Breckland Birder

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

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Hockham Forest, Norfolk

Today dawned bright with a slight frost in sheltered parts.  There was a significant drop in windspeed today with the very strong, and sometimes stormy conditions of yesterday giving way to a fresh north-westerly with strong gusts.
I arrived at the Hockham Picnic car park and once ready, walked the wonderful trails eventually ending up for a brief visit to the fen.  With the bitter wind keeping most birds low I decided to head into sheltered woodland where I spent most of this visit.
As soon as I arrived at the car park a flock of Siskins passed overhead, these, or other birds would be relocated later.  The walk along the woodland trails brought me to the fen where I spent a little time overviewing this wonderful habitat.  A single calling Buzzard passed overhead.  Within the fen I could hear lots of Teal calling, however, occasionally, some birds would rise up to relocate, the best numbers was 50+ Teal, the actual numbers will be much higher giving the unseen calling birds present.  A few Mallard were seen and a juvenile Mute Swan passed overhead west.  Also on the fen was 3 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese, and a single male Lapwing.  Overhead birds included a soaring Sparrowhawk, a single Siskin west, and a Fieldfare.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was 'drumming' in nearby trees.
I then  headed into mixed woodland where I sat against a tree viewing the wonderful woodland/Bracken habitat in front of me.  Firstly, it was evident that a number of Siskins were present and feeding in the tops of a number of Alders.  Most of these delightful little Finches will have origins in the Birch forests of Northern Europe, however, small numbers do breed on my patch.
Siskin (male) Photographed March 2014.
Also within my chosen patch of Woodland was at least 2 Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Marsh, Coal, Great, and Blue TitsGoldcrests appeared numerous, perhaps I was seeing more because most birds seen were keeping low within the shelter of woodland whereas ususally, many will forage within the woodland canopy. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker was 'drumming' to affirm his territory.
Many of the bird species seen here also dropped down to drink from a woodland pool.  Siskins especially will be seen drinking frequently, this being due to their dry diet of seeds which are extracted mostly from the cones high in Alders.
Walking back along the various woodland trails, further Goldcrests were seen low in woodland along with more Treecreepers and Nuthatches.  Close to the car park, I located a Nuthatch hammering and chisseling away at the base of a large pine.  This bird was clearly intent at getting at something it had found under the bark presumably, and it always amazes me how this species arches it head right back to deliver hammering blows to the tree.  Also in this area, Marsh Tits, Great Tits, and Blackbirds were seen feeding amongst leaf litter on the woodland floor.  A great end to this productive visit.

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