Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Ashill Common, Norfolk

It has been a while since I visited this lovely common, I should in fact do so more often than I do as there are some great habitats there, especially along a feature known as 'Devil's Dyke', a very ancient ditch with very dense scrub comprising Elder, Bramble, Hawthorn, Dog Rose, and Gorse.  Clearly, my aim today was to check for migrants.

500+ Gulls (mostly Lesser/Great Black-backed Gulls) following the plough
2 Buzzards
1 Sparrowhawk (female)
2+ Meadow Pipits
5+ Whitethroats
2+ Blackcap
1 Chiffchaff
Blue Tits
Great Tit
4 Bullfinch
4 Greenfinch
200+ Linnets
Reed Bunting

I first of all decided to make my way to where the Gulls were present in high numbers, I must admit to not being too over-excited about Gulls, however, the numbers indicated a visit was in order.  Overviewing the field being ploughed, I could see that the vast majority of Gulls were both Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls of varying age groups from juvenile birds to adults.
Ashill Common 15/09/15. A staging post today for Whitethroats 
It was at this locality that a flock of 200+ Linnets frequently flew around an adjoining field of Sugar Beet, an impressive count.
I couldn't resist a slow walk alongside a large, inviting area of dense scrub habitat, there must be migrants making use of this rich habitat.  With the westerly wind blowing moderate to fresh, I stayed along the sheltered side to watch for movement.  As expected, I did find migrants along 'Devil's Dyke', at least 5 Whitethroats were found moving quickly between cover. These birds were looking quite immaculate in their fresh plumages.  Also within this habitat was Blackcap, Chiffchaff, at least 4 Greenfinches dropped in and calling Bullfinches were seen. 


  1. Your photograph...
    "Ashill Common 15/09/15. A staging post today for Whitethroats"...
    another nice bit of scrub!!
    Always good birding inland...
    would have liked to have seen Linnets in such number!
    Beats sitting in salty spray at the coast....

  2. Hi Tim
    Judging by this and your previous comments I think we both find areas of scrub some of the best birding. I think I find this and Blackthorn scrub very exciting habitat as it offers so much for so many species i.e. feeding, roosting etc, also Tim, my mind often wanders about that tiny patch on thick scrub of in a field corner which remains completely undisturbed...Shrike perhaps.
    The Linnet numbers was impressive Tim and I remember on one occasion seeing them all turn with the sun on their backs and showing a mass of lovely brown mantles.
    I am off this week Tim and although quite busy I hope that by the weekend, if conditions are right, to do a morning of watching passage on the patch....could be exciting.
    Chat soon Tim