Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 20 April 2015

East Wretham Heath, Norfolk (with Alan Schpot)

I arrived at the car park at East Wretham Heath to meet Alan Schpot, a fellow Norfolk birder and friend.  Although there was some early morning sun, it soon clouded over which increased with time, this in turn gave low light at times.  The wind was a cold moderate North-Easterly.
One of our target birds this morning was a Redstart, a summer visitor to the heath, however, a good coverage of favoured habitat did not reveal this very smart little bird.  At one traditional site, large numbers of noisy Crow species did not help with trying to listen for Redstart, however, Alan and I were confident that this bird has yet to arrive at Wretham.
I suspect the cold wind affected bird activity, however, we did locate at least 4 singing Willow Warblers, a number of Blackcaps, and some Chiffchaffs.  A recently cleared area of commercial pine crop was visited after hearing a singing Woodlark, a search of the skies eventually produced this beautiful songster at height above the clearing.  Other woodland species included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, singing Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, and Chaffinches.

Langmere is a large Breckland mere which has fluctuating levels of water with the basin, this morning there was a good coverage of water, and at todays visit the muddy fringes gave hope for some wader passage.
An intitial scan produced pairs of Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatchers which noisily flew in, a nest building Coot and several Shelduck.  Checking further along the waters edge, a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were seen.  Despite the distance at times the bright yellow eye-ring was visible.  Several Teal were seen, this included a very smart male bird seen in direct sunlight.
Alan and I decided to walk back along the Harling Drove and over the heath with a large ditch attempt at seeing Wheatears, however, none were seen.  A single Curlew flew over, this was probably a local breeder off to feed in fields.

The visit to East Wretham Heath was a bit disappointing in that Redstarts were not located, either they were being very quiet or perhaps they are still yet to arrive.
I really enjoyed my mornings birding with Alan, a lovely man with whom I will be sharing future birding trips with.  Thank you Alan.


  1. Dear Paul. I have just come across your blog on Google because I visited East Wretham wed 27th May and didn't hear a single redstart. I also didn't get any at Hollesley Common in Suffolk and Knole in Kent. Old Lodge at Ashdown Forest in Sussex still had good numbers.
    have you heard of any reports at East Wretham since your visit?
    Neil Sumner (obsessed with redstarts)

  2. Hi Neil
    Pity I missed you on your visit to Wretham Heath ...would have been nice to meet.
    Sadly no Redstarts for me on the 27th, and indeed, I met a couple of birders from Durham, similarly, they had no sight or sound either of this beautiful Chat.
    I understand why you are obsessed with Redstarts, they are stunning birds.