Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 17 July 2015

North Pickenham (Houghton), Norfolk (and thoughts on forthcoming migration)

Despite overnight thunderstorms the morning dawned muggy and warm at 16 degrees celsius. 
Now that we have passed mid-July, thoughts are now with forthcoming migration, the most fascinating aspect of birding in my opinion.  Wading birds should be found now around muck heaps where they rest and feed upon midges and insects within these micro-habitats.
August will see the first evidence of passerine passage with the first Warblers stopping off at the numerous staging posts on my patch to feed up.
Although Swifts are still present over our towns and villages in good numbers, passage involving this species has already been seen at coastal localities.
Cuckoo behaviour as everyone knows is fascinating.  The tracking of some adult Cuckoos has shown that our birds are now back in Africa, whilst young birds will still appear over-sized in a small Warbler, Pipit, or Dunnocks nest.  The young birds will then fledge and will eventually make their own way back to Africa unassisted, truly fascinating behaviour.

Houghton
July has often been cited as being a quiet month for birding, on the contrary in my opinion.  This morning I saw several young Blackcaps moving between hedges, presumably to follow their parents for food.  A few Blackcaps were also heard in song.
Several young Blue Tits were seen foraging for food, their pale yellow faces indicating their young age.
Thrushes were well represented this morning at Houghton with at least 6 Song Thrushes together (family party), and some Blackbirds, however, I had a good record of 48+ Mistle Thrushes in a large loose gathering.  Post breeding flocks of Mistle Thrushes can reach impressive numbers, my best count was 80+ some years ago in nearby Saham Toney.
Other species recorded this morning included singing Wren, Robin, and Dunnock, however, just as I was about to leave the distinctive call of a Crossbill was heard passing overhead.  The winter of 2014/15 has lacked any good numbers of this stunning Finch, but recently a passage of irruptive Crossbills has been witnessed along the east coast of Britain.  These migrants will be from Northern Europe and will migrate to Britain when their normal food supply in Europe has either failed or is not sufficient to support them.  The Crossbill heard today would have undoubtedly been a migrant from Northern Europe.  Here's hoping to a great Crossbill winter this year.

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