At 0800 I arrived at the Hockham picnic site to meet with Jim Bradley, a fellow birder, with whom I was to have a very enjoyable mornings birding at Hockham Fen and Cranberry Rough.
The morning was dry and quite still with high cloud and some brighter spells, and no hint of any rain as forcasted just some 48 hours previously.
Having readied ourselves, Jim and I headed off along the various woodland trails and rides to eventually arrive at Hockham Fen. On route we encountered common woodland species, this included Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Song Thrushes, Marsh Tits, Treecreepers and Goldcrest. Much of this activity was seen at an area where Firecrest has been encountered previously, on this occasion however, it was pleasing to see Marsh Tits on the ground tossing leaves aside for food. a nearby singing Mistle Thrush was heard.
We arrived at Hockham Fen to be greeted by 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying to and fro in front of us in what appeared to be some kind of relay...quite amusing. An intended target species this morning was Goshawk, however, there appeared to be no sign of display this morning. Despite this our views over the very wet fen revealed a variety of species. At least 4 Grey Herons were seen including 3 together perched in Alders whilst on the fen other large and conspicuous species included Greylag Geese and Canada Geese, whilst smaller wildfowl species included Mallard, a number of Shoveler, ever present Teal, and stunning Wigeon showing of that beautiful golden blaze on its chestnut head. Jim picked up a Sparrowhawk flying against a woodland background, this bird alighted in a distant tree top and the light was such that the slaty-grey back and conspicuous head pattern could be seen well. A single Snipe was seen overflying. Passerine species included at least 2 male Reed Buntings and overhead calling Siskins.
Having spent some time overviewing the fen, we then headed along the boundary fence to eventually arrive at cross-tracks, here we turned to walk the path that would take us through Cranberry Rough. On route we saw Redwings, a single Fieldfare, Blackbirds, and Robin within old Hawthorn scrub. Jim saw a beautiful Kestrel perched in a small tree from where it observed its surroundings, we also saw Green Woodpecker here. Our third raptor of the day, a Common Buzzard was also heard.
Our walk through the very damp woodland habitat at Cranberry Rough did not reveal another target species, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, however, very good numbers of Siskins with a few Redpoll provided very good birding. It was clear that good numbers of Siskins were present in the Alders here given the continuous chatter and 'wheezing" notes heard. Jim picked up the call of Redpoll in the area, a hard "chit-chit" call, even better still, he also picked out this delightful species low down in woodland, as well as a bird feeding in Alders. It was also evident that a number of Finches, including Chaffinch and Siskins, were feeding on the track ahead of us, presumably picking up seeds etc dropped from the Alders above. As we left the enclosed woodland for more open country, Jim heard the distinctive song of Woodlark, a good find considering a continuous over-flight of lots of fighter aircraft from Lakenheath base. I eventually heard the Woodlark singing when it became a bit quieter.
Having spent some time at Cranberry Rough, we then headed back on ourselves and walked through woodland of varying ages before arriving back at the road which would lead back to our starting point. It was alongside the road where further activity was seen with a mobile Long-tailed Tit flock, also seen in this area was Treecreeper and a ground foraging Goldcrest amongst leaf litter.
43 species seen and heard
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Snipe, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker. Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Woodlark, Skylark, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Wren, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Redpoll, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.
I will end this post by thanking Jim Bradley for joining me on this walk, this was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and we plan to meet up again for more birding. Thank you Jim.