Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Houghton-on-the-Hill and Lynford Water, Norfolk

It started raining shortly after dark last night, this was persistent and heavy through to dawn when clear, sunny weather brought a pleasant day.  The wind was a moderate to fresh west-north-westerly.

Double hedgerow at Houghton 17/09/15
In autumn I can think of no better place to be than at Houghton (North Pickenham Parish).  The habitat here and topography assures it as a migrant hotspot.  The double hedgerow east of St Mary's Church runs east to west for some 400 yards, and is virtually unbroken with the exception of a couple of gaps for tractors to access fields.  The whole length of the hedgerows is on an elevated ridge and is a significant visual feature from some 5 miles from the north and about 3 miles from the south.  The topographical characteristics of this superb habitat will ensure that migrating birds will aim for this feature as a valuable staging post to feed, refuel, and rest, before continuing their journeys south.  All these characteristics leads me to say that this is one of the most important migrant staging posts on my Breckland patch.
Migrant Whitethroat at Houghton 17/09/15
The overnight persistent and heavy rain was surely going to ground passage migrants, therefore, I wanted to check this migrant magnet for evidence of overnight arrivals.
It was clear that several Whitethroats and Blackcaps were present in good numbers (both species in double figures), and judging be their behaviour, they were arrivals given their need to feed.
A few Chiffchaffs were present also, but Whitethroats and Blackcaps were the more numerous species. 
Common species seen in the hedgerow included many Dunnocks, Wrens, lots of Blue Tits, and Coal Tits.
Overhead, small numbers of Meadow Pipits passed over and Siskins were also on the move but in lesser numbers.  A small party of Siskins arrived in the churchyard and remained for a while before continuing their journey.

Lynford Water (mid-afternoon)
Lynford Water 17/09/15
Lynford Water is the site of former gravel extraction but is now a wonderful place for families to walk and enjoy this beautiful part of Breckland.  It was whilst gravel was extracted that Britains biggest ever haul of Mammoth, Rhinocerous, and Hyena remains were made, also, evidence of Neolithic man was found here.
The first birds seen on todays visit was 12+ Crossbills flying around the treetops nearby.
The most abundant Warbler species present was Chiffchaff with many calling birds around the periphery of the lake.
On the water was a pair of Mute Swans with 2 young, a Great Crested Grebe, and small numbers of Gadwall.
An area of scrub habitat held Song Thrush and Blackbird.

Saturday 19th September looks like a settled day with fine conditions and light Northerly winds.  I will be visiting my migration watchpoint at Houghton before sunrise until lunchtime.  I am predicting significant movements of Pipits and Finches.  The hedgerows will probably hold good numbers of migrant Warbler species.  Later in the morning Raptors may well be on the move.  Also, Wader species may be heading west, hopefully this may include Whimbrel.
This could well be a good day.
Pressure chart for 0100 on Saturday 19th September


  1. "Double hedgerow at Houghton "....
    sod the migrants...
    I'll bet those wide hedgerows are wonderful for the little breeders!
    And bigger ones to boot!

    And a Gossy through the garden... I'll bet that took the toothache away for a while!!

  2. The Goshawk was such a chance observation of being in the right place at the right time. Makes you wonder Tim what other delights pass through unnoticed.

    1. Loads... just loads...
      we just can't spend 24hrs a day with our head spinning round....
      as we try to cover the full view!!
      A chance look across the field opposite spots a male Monty quartering...
      does he glide through every day...
      we hear the call of the Black Woodpecker...
      occasionally seeing that dark creature fly across our field of view...
      but how often does one fly past/over??
      No, we miss loads... we do have other lives to lead...
      like veg to be weeded, harvested and planted....
      and the harvest to be processed to last the year where needed.

      And now we have another problem....
      "Osprey" the buzzard has moved about 800metres nearer the village...
      and we have "Ring-tail Harrier" the buzzard....
      so all our future female harrier sightings will need to be more carefully observed and checked!!

      So... raise a glass to all the teasers...
      those snatched sightings where jizz tells you it wasn't what you thought you saw...
      but what the heck was it!!?

  3. And may I say Tim, what a wonderful read your last post is....Thank you.