Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 14 August 2015

North Pickenham (Houghton) Norfolk

Some years ago I first visited this locality and then thought to myself that this is a great migration watch-point, and indeed, up to the current time, the elevation has proven to be an excellent visible migration site.  Yes, coastal watchpoints produce greater numbers and variety of species, however, my site, and other inland sites are very much under-watched, and if one perseveres, vast numbers of common birds can be seen passing through, or stopping off whilst on migration.  This indeed has occured at my watch-point, along with rarities and semi-rarites passing over, or stopping to refuel.  I find this kind of birding more rewarding and exciting than visiting sites where birds are more expected.

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This morning started with a definite autumnal feel to it with low cloud and mist, and poor visibility, although it was quite humid.
My walk took in lanes and tracks lined with a wealth of fruit-bearing hedgerows, and although not ripened fully, some Elder fruits appeared black and ready to eat.
With post-breeding dispersal by Warblers species having taken place, and family parties moving from the breeding areas to forage, the presence of various Warbler species (including birds in 'out of habitat' locations), on the patch at this time of year indicates that most are true migrants.
Early August sees smaller numbers of passage Warblers moving through, however, as the month progresses, then migration begins to quicken and multiple numbers of the same species can be readily seen exhibiting more social behaviour than in Spring when territories are defended against rivals.

Blackcap (photographed August 2014)
To this mornings visit to Houghton and the first bird heard was a 'tacking' Blackcap, in fact Blackcaps appeared to be present in good numbers with several heard and seen in various habitats.
Chiffchaffs were also heard at various localities, but also a very bright yellow Willow Warbler was seen at one of my favourite sites, an overgrown, scrubby pit.  Here, a number of Dunnocks were seen and heard and Whitethroat was also seen.
It is here that I usually see good numbers of Lesser Whitethroats in late August and September.
A walk along a corridor formed by a magnificent double hedgerow produced more Whitethroats, although numbers appeared low at the moment.  Multiple numbers of Whitethroats are encountered here, especially in September when day counts have reached 20 to 30 birds, a memorable sight to witness. 

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