Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

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
Mute Swan
Egyptian Goose (pair)
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
1 Wigeon male
Shoveler 2 male
1 Mandarin (male)
Water Rail (heard)
Grey Heron
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Wood Pigeon
2 Stock Dove (pair)
Carrion Crow
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Marsh Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Wren especially numerous at Cranberry Rough
1 Chiffchaff
1 Blackcap
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.

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