Breckland Birder

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

Monday, 30 March 2015

Ashill and Merton, Norfolk

5+ Chiffchaffs at Ashill
1 Blackcap at Merton

Ashill (Common Road and Ashill Common)
Buzzard at Ashill Common 30/03/15
The walk started with an occasionally heavy and prolonged shower of rain and hail, this was pushed away to the south-east of a fresh north-westerly wind.  It was then bright but breezy.
Walking east along Common Road the sky was becoming very threatening behind me and after about a mile into the walk the heavens opened.  By this time I was on the sheltered side of the disused railway cutting where a single Chiffchaff was in song.  A male Reed Bunting was in song and a single Buzzard cruised along the cutting.
At the end of the metalled road a further 2 Chiffchaffs were in song in mature wooded hedgerows.  Walking back along Common Lane I checked the fields for migrant Wheatears but found none.
A circuit of Ashill Common produced a further 2 singing Chiffchaffs, several Linnets amongst the Gorse, a pair of Song Thrushes, and Yellowhammers.  A pair of Buzzards were also seen.

Merton (early afternoon)
A short walk through open woodland near the village produced a single singing male Blackcap, my second singing bird of the year.  At least 2 pairs of Marsh Tits were found.
I am working all day Tuesday to Thursday, hopefully my next day off, the 3rd of April will produce good numbers of Blackcap, and hopefully Willow Warbler. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Little Cressingham (Great Cressingham road) and Bodney, Norfolk

A beautiful day today with sunshine from the outset, despite this, the light to moderate North-Westerly dampened temperatures somewhat.
Setting off from just north of 'The Arms' I firstly encountered a small flock of 12+ Redwings flying off north from roadside hedgerows.
Once I reached the B1108 I walked west to Bodney to check the flood-plains and Army training area for possible Wheatear, however, no sign today.  Sadly, I did find a dead Barn Owl on the roadside, a traffic casualty no doubt. 
I continued along the roadside and once at the flood-plain I encountered my first Green Sandpiper of the year.  This wader flew up along the length of a ditch showing its conspicuous white rump.
Sign of courtship and forthcoming breeding was seen with a pair of Blue Tits prospecting for potential nest-sites, this included one of the pair entering a hole in an old dead Elder branch.  Overhead, a male Greenfinch showed off his slow butterfly-like display flight, the female was also seen in a conifer below.  A pair of Coal Tits passed through and male Blackbird and Song Thrush were feeding on nearby heathland.  A single Redpoll passed over calling and heading north-west, a probable migrant on route back to its northern-europe breeding grounds perhaps.
Walking back along the road a pair of Curlews were seen together, this included the male singing its beautiful liquid/bubbling call.  Woodland ahead of me held about 20 Fieldfare, 2 singing male Blackbird, and a singing Mistle Thrush.
I decided to check grassland close to Watton Brook and saw a pair of Oystercatchers probing in the earth for food.
On my walk back to the car I passed the barn where I think the dead Barn Owl found earlier called home, a sad end to this walk.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hockham Fen and Cranberry Rough, Norfolk (with Paul Hague)

At 0600 I met with Paul Hague at Hockham for what was to be a great mornings birding at both Hockham Fen and Cranberry Rough.  I was hoping to locate Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the area, however, this was not to be on this occasion, despite this we did have a very respectable 46 species count.
1 Cormorant high east                                 
Little Grebe (heard)                                 
20+ Snipe                                                  
Lapwing - display seen
5+ Buzzards
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel
Pheasant
Mute Swan
Egyptian Goose (pair)
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
1 Wigeon male
Teal
Shoveler 2 male
Gadwall
Mallard
1 Mandarin (male)
Water Rail (heard)
Coot
Grey Heron
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Nuthatch
Treecreeper
Wood Pigeon
2 Stock Dove (pair)
Carrion Crow
Jackdaw
Jay
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Wren especially numerous at Cranberry Rough
Dunnock
Robin
Redwing
Blackbird
1 Chiffchaff
1 Blackcap
Goldcrest
Siskin
Chaffinch
Reed Bunting singing male

Selected notable records
At the start of our walk, a moderate frost and a dawn temperature of -1 degrees made for a nice fresh beginning to our morning.   What was especially beautiful was seeing frost hanging on patches of young Silver Bitch woods within the regimented stands of tall pine trees.
A walk along the periphery of the fen saw small numbers of wildfowl, Herons, and Snipe.  The return walk later was to prove good for Snipe numbers, however, a find by Paul was especially exciting.
Walking through the very swampy habitat at Cranberry Rough produced very good numbers of Wrens low down in tangled vegetation, however, a highlight along the path was hearing a male Blackcap in song, my first of the year.  Both Great Spotted Woodpeckers (drumming) and Green Woodpeckers were seen and heard high in trees, I located one particularly fine looking male Green Woodpecker as he popped his head round the side of a tree.
Back at Hockham Fen, the sun was rising to give a feeling of warmth in sheltered parts, conversely, in sheltered areas it remained quite cool.  A clear overview of the fen produced a variety of duck species in small numbers, and closer to us along the water margins, Snipe were seen probing into the soft earth.  Continuing our walk along the fence line, Paul was scanning the rasied dyke bank and located a very fine looking male Mandarin, this stunner remained long enough for a good view before flying strongly away over the tree at Cranberry Rough.
With fine conditions came Buzzards over the fen, and at least two pairs were seen with both males of each pair performing their breath-taking rollercoiaster display. Following display, one of the male Buzzards closed his wings and plummeted earthbound at great speed, a contrast to what appears often as a raptor slowly soaring high on thermals.  Both Sparrowhawk and Kestrel appeared over the fen, however, Goshawk did not show on this visit.
Another overview of the fen later produced good numbers of Snipe once again, this brought the total seen this morning to 20+ birds.  The true number of Snipe over the whole fen must be quite high.
Time was marching on and we had a slow walk through woodland back to our start point.  Paul and I parted company at about 1100 following what was a very productive mornings birding.
I will end this post by thanking Paul for his company this morning.  I had a great time Paul, thank you.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Little Cressingham (Fairstead Lane and Great Cressingham road)

A weak weather front moved out into the North Sea to leave a bright sunny morning.  A low of 5 degrees early morning rising to 11 degrees and feeling warm in sheltered spots.
I walked the length of Fairstead Lane and then turned onto Great Cressingham road to overview maize stubble alongside the STANTA access track.

1 Red Kite
5 Buzzards
6+ pairs of Lapwing
2 Curlew (pair)
100+ Black-headed Gulls following farm machinery

50+ Fieldfare
20+ Redwings
Brambling
Chaffinches
2 Chiffchaff (singing males)
Yellowhammer at 3 sites along Fairstead Lane
Red Kite being seen off by a Lapwing at Little Cressingham 24/03/15

One of the most beautiful sounds of the spring countryside is of displaying Lapwings.  This familiar and delightful species has suffered dramatic declines, however, on my patch they appear to be doing well, much of their success is undoubtedly down to land set aside by farmers for this Lapwings and of course Stone Curlews.
This morning I located 6+ pairs of Lapwings, display was seen, and a potential threat from a passing Red Kite was dealt with by an intercepting Lapwing.
Along the Great Cressingham road I decided to sit and watch an old wooded hedgerow which sides a track leading onto STANTA.
At least 50+ Fieldfares were seen along with smaller numbers of Redwings.  Finch and Bunting species were seen to fly into maize stubble from the hedgerow, these comprised a mix of Chaffinches, a few Yellowhammers, and a number of Bramblings.  One male Brambling was seen quite well in a tree, he showed off his bright Orange breast and scapulars, and in flight the white rump was distinctive.

Once back at home in Watton I decided to give the lawn its first cut of the year.  A short break revealed 4 Buzzards soaring and calling high directly overhead.  A wonderful sight and sound which sadly most people on the ground below are unaware of. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Thompson Water and Cockley Cley Warren, Norfolk

Following a clear night the day dawned frosty with a temperature of 0 degrees.  The morning was sunny with a high of 11 degrees, however, from early afternoon cloud began to increase.

Thompson Water 0615-0800
Chiffchaff at Thompson Water 23/03/15
An early morning walk through woodland carr habitat leading onto Thompson Common produced a good range of common species in song.
Several Nuthatches (4+) were heard as well as a number of singing Marsh Tits.  Small numbers of Redwings were seen and heard passing through the tree-tops.  2 or 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were 'drumming'.
Around the peripheral habitat at Thompson Water, 3 Chiffchaffs were in full song.  Nearby to where I was watching the Chiffchaff pictured here a Reed Bunting sang.
On the water, 2 Little Grebes gave their 'whinnying' like call.  Walking back through carr habitat a Water Rail gave a call from cover.

Cockley Cley Warren (midday - early afternoon)
Cockley Cley Warren lies on the western limit of my patch and this afternoon I decided to visit the following a report yesterday (22/03) of a probable Booted Eagle passing over.  A walk along the road did not produce this Buzzard-sized Eagle, however, several Buzzards (10+) were seen and a single Red Kite passed overhead.
At least 20+ Bramblings were seen along the roadside, these beautiful Finches were probably attracted to a cut maize strip and field edges for food.  Chaffinches and Yellowhammers were also present.  On a stony field alongside the road a few Fieldfare and 10+ Lapwings were seen.
Several Skylarks sang overhead, also, 2 Woodlarks were seen with one a singing male.
Mass dispersals of Wood Pigeons and calling Crows always immediately grab my attention, this happened on 2 occasions whilst I was overlooking the Warren, the first did not reveal anything as far as I could see, however, a second such dispersal was shortly followed by a Goshawk passing leisurely overhead.
I have only seen Booted Eagle on one occasion and that was on a mountain trail in Majorca, therefore, a Breckland bird would be nice, however, it was almost at this location in 2000 when I saw a long-staying White-tailed Eagle.  With the recent White-tailed Eagle over nearby Great Cressingham, and the Breckland Short-toed Eagle last summer, other Eagle species are a distinct possibility.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Houghton-on-the-Hill and Merton, Norfolk

4 Chiffchaffs at Houghton (3) and Merton (1)
Snipe displaying at Houghton
50+ Meadow Pipits at Merton
12+ Tree Sparrows at Merton

With the wind dropping to a light northerly today, generally, it felt quite spring-like with a mostly bright day following early cloud and low of 2 degrees celsius. A high of 12 degrees gave a warm feeling in sheltered parts.

HOUGHTON-on-the- HILL (0645-0900) From this start point I walked down the track to meet the Peddars Way and onto Houghton Springs.  After a while at this superb habitat I retraced my steps along the Peddars Way and made for Houghton Common and back to the church of St Mary's.
My intention was to overview the wonderful fen-like habitat at Houghton Springs where the following species were seen/heard:

1 Greylag Goose                                                      
7 Shelduck
Mallard
1 Snipe (display flight)
Lapwing (display seen to the east)
1 Water Rail calling
Wood Pigeons - song
Stock Dove - song
Moorhen
Buzzard
Blackbirds
Song Thrush
100+ Fieldfare
1 Chiffchaff singing
Chaffinch
Reed Bunting singing
Carrion Crow

Having spent some time at the Springs, I retraced my steps back along the Peddars Way and made for the track which leads to Houghton Common. On route, a number of Yellowhammers were seen either feeding on the roadside or as singing males.
The long track which leads up to Houghton Common is well-wooded with many standard trees and old hedgerows, here, a further 2 Chiffchaffs were in song.
The beautiful walk along the hedgerow corridor east of St Mary's Church produced at least 3 Bullfinches, and Linnets.
Back at my start point I decided to sit and watch for a while.  Many common species were seen as follows:

Buzzard (pair)
1 Red Kite directly overhead then off north
1 Kestrel
2 Mistle Thrush (pair)
Goldcrest song
Coal Tit song
Great Tit (pair and song)
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
100+ Starlings south

MERTON (afternoon visit).  From the village I walked to the Peddars Way and onto Merton Fen and back again to the village.
Tree Sparrow at Merton 22/03/15
From my start point in the village I was immediately greeted by calling Tree Sparrows.  This now nationally scarce species has always been reliable here at Merton.
I then walked to the Peddars Way with the intention of watching the Tree Sparrows on my return.
At Merton Fen, a single Chiffchaff was moving away from me in a hedge and then back again giving its "hweet" call.  No song indicated this was possibly a female bird.
Also in the area of the fen was a pair of displaying Buzzards and two calling Little Owls in one of a line of Oaks isolated in a nearby large field.
My walk back to village produced at least 50+ Meadow Pipits in a small field just west of the paddocks.  These will be migrants which along with recent Thrush sightings, will be feeding and fueling up for their north-bound migration to probably upland Britain where they will breed.
Approaching the village, a check of the paddocks revealed a pair of Blackbirds, Song Thrush, a pair of Starlings, Dunnock, and at least 12 Tree Sparrows and House Sparrows.
As written earlier, Tree Sparrows have always been a traditional species at Merton.  These beautiful Sparrows appear more slender than House Sparrow, however, the most distinctive feature separating Tree Sparrow from their commoner relative is the chestnut crown, white collar, and black spot on the white cheeks.  Unlike House Sparrows which can be easily sexed, both male and female Tree Sparrows have the same plumage features.
Finally, I will mention that I met Rob Mellowship and his wife Jan at Merton this afternoon.  Rob has very kindly been following my blog, however, in the field, we have always missed each other.  It was very good to meet you Rob and Jan and chat about the local Breckland wildlife.  I look forward to seeing you again.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Little Cressingham (Great Cressingham road), Norfolk

A cold day with virtually full cloud cover and frequent light showers driven along on a fresh northerly wind.
0700-0845 I parked at the STANTA access road just north of 'The Arms' and walked north along the Great Cressingham road to just south of 'The Fairstead'.
Despite the poor conditions there was good numbers of birds seen with Thrushes and Finches dominating.

1 Curlew male displaying
4 Cormorant (2 + 2 singles) east
3 Mistle Thrushes
6 Blackbirds (all males) together
90+ Fieldfares
9+ Redwings
1 Wheatear (possible only)
Bramblings
Chaffinches
Greenfinches
300+ Starlings

From my start point I saw 2 Mistle Thrushes (pair) in the field west of the road, this was followed by a singing male bird at Hopton Farm drying barns.
Walking north along the hill towards 'The Fairstead' a singing Blackbird was heard in roadside hedgerow, this was shortly followed by an interesting sighting of at least 6 male Blackbirds together moving north along the hedge ahead of me.  Perhaps these were wintering migrants from Northern Europe joining other Thrush species for their journey north.
70+ Fieldfares were seen over the MOD grassland pasture along with 300+ Starlings, undoubtedly these birds were on the grassland taking worms and other food items.
Also here, in the roadside trees and the hedgerow along the track leading to STANTA was a number of Bramblings, Chaffinches, and Greenfinches.
Back at the bottom of the hill, I made a check of the grassland south of Watton Brook, here I saw 20+ Fieldfare, whilst on the other side of the Brook, a distant lone female Blackbird on grassland/grazing initially gave thoughts of an early Ring Ouzel, worth checking as I have seen Ring Ouzel at this locality previously.
As I was about to leave I did a final overview of a large field west of the Great Cressingham road, a shower once again passed through at this time, when I saw a distant Corvid chasing a small bird erratically low over the field, the smaller bird appeared to have a patch of white on its back suggesting Wheatear, however, conditions were too poor to confirm this.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Hockham Fen/Forest, Norfolk 0715-0745

Hockham Fen
Mute Swan
9+ Greylag Geese
2 Shoveler (males)
Mallard
Teal
1 Water Rail calling
4 Lapwing (display seen)
19+ Snipe
2 Grey Herons
Wood Pigeon
Stock Dove (pair)
2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (drumming)
1 Meadow Pipit over
1 Pied Wagtail (male)
Jay
Fieldfare
Redwing
Treecreeper
5 Siskins over
2 Reed Buntings (singing males)

Hockham Forest (Trails and mixed woodland)
Redwing
6+ Song Thrushes
Marsh Tit
Coal Tit (song heard)
Nuthatch
4+ Treecreeper
4+ Goldcrests (singing males)
Jay
Siskins over

An early morning, pre-eclipse walk from Hockham Picnic site to Hockham Fen and return through woodland trails produced at least 25 species.
My arrival at the fen was greeted with at least 19 Snipe rising up from the boogy parts of the fen close to where I watching from.  I wonder what the true numbers of Snipe were in total around the fen...impressive count I suspect.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Fieldfares

In recent days I have seen several flocks of Fieldfares on the patch, this is typical of this time of year with these birds stopping off to feed in fields in order to fuel up for their return journey to Scandinavia.  Fieldfares may have wintered as far south as the Iberian Peninsula, as well as of course in the UK.
Fieldfare at Little Cressingham 16/03/15 (One of 100+ birds)
Fieldfares can be found at this time of year on large damp fields where they will feed upon worms etc., also, check fields of sheep and pigs where the ground is disturbed. 
A flock seen today at Little Cressingham numbered 100+ birds, a few Redwings accompanied their larger cousins, however, as the month of March draws on even larger numbers may be seen stopping off to refuel.  I have seen flocks of 400-500 Fieldfares passing through my patch in March.
Fieldfares themselves are strikingly beautiful birds to watch as they hop strongly over the ground in search for food, however, late March is the time to scrutinise these flocks more closely as another migrant Thrush, the stunning Ring Ouzel, will join Fieldfares on their journey north to their breeding grounds.  I have been lucky enough to find Ring Ouzels with Fieldfares on my patch in early spring.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Thompson, Norfolk

A lovely walk through woodland carr habitat at Thompson this morning with many common species seen and heard.  Also had my first Chiffchaff of the year this morning.
At the end of the walk I met renowned birder friend Mick Saunt.  We discussed birds seen in the area, also I suspected from his tan that he had been away recently and revealed he had a fantastic trip to South Africa in January.  Mick kindly showed many of his photographs of the animals and birds from that trip, they were very impressive indeed with Elephants, Hyenas, African Wild Dogs, Zebra, Rollers, and Bee-eaters, to name but a few.

2 Water Rails calling
2 Stock Dove (pair)
Wood Pigeons
4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (drumming males)
2 Green Woodpeckers
5+ Nuthatch territories
6+ Treecreepers singing males
3+ Song Thrushes
40+ Redwings
1 Chiffchaff (probably 2) My first of year
Marsh Tits
Great Tits
4 Goldcrests territories (singing males)

Stock Dove (one of a pair) at Thompson 13/03/15
The highlight of this walk this morning was the hearing, and finding my first Chiffchaff of the year.  I suspect there was in fact 2 singing birds present.  Mick, who I met at the end of the walk, had Chiffchaff at this locality yesterday (12/03/15.
As can be seen from the list, common species were well represented throughout the damp carr woodland habitat.
The Stock Dove pictured left was one of a pair seen.  Stock Doves are beautiful birds, they are a well proportioned species, unlike Wood Pigeon whose head appears too small for its large body.  Stock Doves essentially appear as greyish birds with some black markings, however, closer examination will reveal the dull pink breast and gorgeous iridescent greenish collar which in some lights shows a wonderful purple sheen. In flight, Stock Doves once again appear well proportioned, the essentially, the bird has a grey body, the underwing is also grey but is boldly bordered black.  The call of the Stock Dove is a repeated "OOah OOah OOah".

Monday, 9 March 2015

Lynford Water, Norfolk

2 Mute Swan (pair)
Treecreeper at Lynford 09/03/15
Greylag Geese
Mallard
2 Great Crested Grebe (pair)
1 Little Egret
Tufted Duck
7 Redwings
Song Thrush
2 Jay
Jackdaws
Goldcrests several singing
Treecreeper
Chaffinches
Siskins numerous including female
nest-building
Marsh Tits
Coal Tits

I was hoping this afternoon for an early Chiffchaff, although I am sure there will be one or two around, I was not in luck on this occasion.
I had an intitial walk around the lake with few birds seen.
The car park held most interest with numerous common species present.  A number of Chaffinches were seen dropping down to the woodland floor and back again into cover.  A number of Treecreepers were seen including the bird photographed here.
Coal Tits and Goldcrests were plentiful, however, an interesting observation was of a female Siskin frequently visiting a lower branch of a tall Scots Pine, it was clear she was nest-building within a dense bunch of needles which was hanging from the outer most part of the branch.  Siskins do breed in the area, however, the vast majority of birds seen will be winter visitors from Northern Europe.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Thompson, Norfolk

For a sheer habitat variety, I think Thompson excels. This is a heavily wooded parish broken by arable farmland, typical Breckland heathland, commons, a large lake surrounded by thick reedbed and waterside Sallow and Willow scrub.  Thompson Common is home to the world renowned  Pingos.  These features were originally low hillocks that formed 20,000 years ago during the last ice age when water beneath the surface froze to form lenses of ice pushing soil upwards. During the summer thaw, the soil on the surface would sludge off and accumulate around the periphery of the hillocks.  These pools are now vital habitats for a variety of rare plants and animal species.
Nuthatch - a common species around Thompson
My walk today produced a good variety of common species in song with Nuthatches being heard at at least 6 locations, also a couple of male Treecreepers gave their distinctive thin song.
The 'visual' prize today went to a pair of Goldcrests which I watched for some time around me in open woodland.  The male was singing (a number were in song today), however, on one occasion I caught a glimpse of him displaying his beautiful flared Orangey crest to the female....how I would love to photograph this one day.
A male Siskin was watched overhead performing his display-flight, an encouraging sign of breeding behaviour considering that the vast majority of these small Finches are winter visitors only.
Song Thrushes were also in song and many Blackbirds were seen.  Marsh Tits were seen and heard as well as both Blue and Great Tits.
The only raptor seen was a very brief view of a Goshawk just above woodland canopy, this bird was being mobbed by a Crow species.
Within the next week or two I expect to see and hear the first summer migrants in the area with Chiffchaff likely to be the first to be encountered.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Adders on Croxton Heath, Norfolk

The end of each February sees me looking for the first evidence of Adders emerging from their long winter hibernation.  Providing the weather is mild, sunny, and settled, Adders will emerge as early as the end of February, however, March sees most activity, and by the end of March, one should be certain of seeing these beautiful creatures taking in the early morning warmth from the sun before retreating to cover if it gets too warm.
Adders on Croxton Heath, Norfolk 07/03/15
I walked a favoured length of woodland edge intially in my search for Adders, however, I may have been a little too early as the sun had only just broke through and the wind was cutting along the woodland trail and giving a cool feel.  Despite the cool feel I did locate a couple of basking Common Lizards.  I decided to search more sheltered locations for Adders.
I arrived at a traditional site for Adders, a dead tree stump with plenty of Bracken ground cover, I immediately found an Adder which was soon followed by a second coiled at the tree stump.  Tree stumps are great habitats for Adders as they use these to seek safety as well as hibernating underground within the root systems.  Some great views of these beautiful Adders were head, and at close quarters also.  Beautiful creatures.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Grimes Graves, Norfolk

Clear overnight conditions was followed at dawn by a slight frost and a sunny sky, however, cloud soon built to bring a period of low light before moving away again to give a day of sunny weather with an occasional wintry shower.  The wind was a fresh westerly.
I parked on the roadside which leads to the entrance to Grimes Graves and walked the forest trails which eventually brought me to the single track road which leads down to the entrance gate for Grimes Graves.  These Neolithic flint mines are well worth a visit, I think flints were mined and made into tools and weapons for hunting.  Seeing aerial photographs of Grimes Graves gives this site a very lunar appearance.
Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves 02/03/15. A typical view.
Once on the road, I did a sweep of the heathland and scrub habitat and before too long I located a Great Grey Shrike on a small Hawthorn bush some distance away on the heath.  This was quite an easy find due to the bright white underparts of the bird which strongly contrasts with the darker background of the habitat it site in.
From this point on the Shrike offered good views of between 100 and 300 meters distant.
One of my favourite birding habitats is heathland/woodland scrub and this habitat here is very typical of that chosen by Great Grey Shrike, it is wild, bleak looking, with the lone Shrike observing its surroundings from a high perch and waiting for prey to come into view.  The latin name for this species "Excubitor" is I understand latin meaning Sentinel or guard, this is very apt for this bird as it does appear to stand bold as a guard over its environment.
Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves 02/03/15.
For most of my stay this morning the Great Grey Shrike stood proud in the top of a number of bushes, its head was constantly turning from side to side and skyward in search for prey.  I also witnessed on a couple of occasions, the Shrike descending into the heart of a small bush/Hawthorn where it remained hidden for a short while before re-appearing to sit low in the relative open of the bush.  I questioned the reason for this behaviour, either it was seeking some shelter from the cold wind, or, was it adopting a more inconspicuous attitude to hunting.

Also heard above the heath was 2 Woodlarks, a wonderful bird to both see and hear, however, at this time, a species which needs to be alert as I am sure it would be considered a prey item for the Shrike.
A Mistle Thrush was in song and a small clump of tall pines held singing Goldcrest.
Of interest was a distant Curlew performing its song-flight, this is my first returning Curlew on its Breckland territory this year.