Now that we are well into February, my attention today turned to checking suitable habitat for Woodlarks, a real Breckland specialist. It is this time of year when male birds return to their breeding grounds within forest clearings. They need areas of clearfell with young trees not exceeding a few feet in height with plenty of short grass/bare ground upon which they nest and feed. Wood piles and young trees serve as song-posts, howeverm the song flight is a real sound of the Breckland landscape.
|Woodlark at Hilborough. 5 birds seen including 4 singing males.|
Continuing my walk along the various trails, I eventually reached the largest area of suitable habitat and found 3 Woodlarks (2 males singing and a female). This had brought my total to 5 Woodlarks, of these 4 were singing males and one was female (pictured).
Song was delivered both on the wing and from wood piles. Some territorial behaviour was seen when 2 singing Woodlarks met high above the clearing with one giving the other a short chase.
Woodlarks are quite different in appearance from their larger cousin the Skylark. In flight, Woodlarks appear broad winged, the shorter tail accentuates this feature. On the ground, Woodlarks have a bold pale supercillium, this meets on the nape to give the look of a shallow V shape. Another highly distinctive feature on the Woodlark are the black and white markings along the wing edge.
Also of interest close to the clearing was the presence of several thousand Starlings on Pig fields.
Little Cressingham (The Arms north towards The Fairstead) 1330-1500
|Brambling (female) Little Cressingham 13/02/15|
The Brambling pictured here is a female, she is told from the male by her pale grey head and pale orange breast. the male has a black head with a strongly contrasting bright orange breast.
Further along the road a single Kestrel was seen, also, 2 pairs of Buzzards were seen.
Large numbers of Crows and Wood Pigeons were seen, whilst back close to the Chalk pit, at least 20 Stock Doves joined Wood Pigeons on the ground where they would have been attracted to maize etc.
Once again, good numbers of Finches and Buntings seen here with the odd bright male Brambling present.