Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hilborough, Norfolk

A drive along the B1108 west of Watton towards Bodney at dawn saw very good light and visibility.  A slight frost and 2 degrees with a fresh south-westerly gave a fresh feel to the morning.  Once the sun broke the horizon it was very bright, although the forecast suggests this is not to last.
The drive along the B1108 takes you through vast open, rolling countryside with little evidence of human habitation, this in turn can give a bleak feel in winter, this I like, and this is why I love Breckland so much.

Hilborough
I walk through forest rides produced good numbers of Goldcrests, Marsh, and Blue Tits stirring from dense Ivy covered trees where they probably roosted, they then started their daily feeding routines high in the smaller limbs of the trees.
Woodlark (photographed Hilborough Feb 2015)
A check of a weedy field produced at least 9 Woodlarks rising up, some flew off over trees whilst a couple descended back into a weedy strip, a typical wintering habitat for this Breckland speciality.  I wonder if these numbers of Woodlark comprised adults and youngsters from a local known breeding site. The habitat where these Woodlarks were seen this morning comprised cereal stubble and wide weedy strips, a vital habitat for Woodlark survival in autumn and winter.
Also seen was 40+ Fieldfare overflying.
A check of a field of Pigs produced large numbers of flocking species, most notably, 2000+ Starlings which when disturbed rose up above the field together and wheeled around almost performing a mini-murmuration until they felt confident to return to the ground to feed.  Large numbers of Gulls were also present in the area, with more constantly arriving to feed.

3 comments:

  1. I love watching starlings "murmur"...
    and other birds, waders especially...
    even though they have been disturbed enough to have to...
    the end result is always very relaxing!!

    Saw a female Goshawk yesterday...
    sitting at the side of the road...
    it flew beyond 5x-zoom range before I could get the camera out of the bag... dammit!
    I was going shopping, not birding!!

    My first thought was resting Hen Harrier...
    then, as it flew to a nearby tree I noticed "NO BLACK"...
    and the wings were far too deep...
    I was still uncertain that it was a Goshawk...
    it seemed too pale, with no sign of streaking...
    it was Pallid Harrier / Herring Gull pale...
    then I read in Collins [when I got home] that Europe gets winterers from Russia...
    and they are, according to Collins, extremely pale!
    Made my day that did.

    Otherwise, little to report from Central France...
    ground so wet it is unworkable...
    just fractions of a millimetre more fall than evaporate off...
    leaving it YUCK!

    And I have got to get a last mow in...
    I'm thinking of taking the blades to razor sharpness and doing it anyway...
    if I can't cut the meadow paths... all 1.5 kilometres of them...
    it is going to make access difficult for the winter work!
    And need to get the whole potager trimmed so that veg harvesting over the winter is easier...
    the orchard can wait... I just need to do the edge so that I can tackle the invading brambles.

    How's your new back garden coming along as a nature reserve?

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  2. Hi Tim
    Very well done with the Goshawk, I am glad your day was made by that sighting. The only 'different' Raptor in the area at the moment is an escaped Harris Hawk, it appears healthy and is feeding well.
    I notice from various reports that Waxwings are beginning to appear in small numbers now, no signs of a major irruption as yet, but we are over do.

    The garden is coming along nicely thank you Tim. It appears quite thin and sparse at the moment with many of the leaves gone but most plants are well established with possibly room for more to thicken it up. During the latter part of summer and into autumn I noticed some interesting spider species and various insects, so it is now becoming a nice little habitat already. Also had a couple of 'Robin's Pincushions' on the Dog Rose. The Dog Rose was the only fruiting bush, the Hawthorn and Blackthorn didn't fruit...I suppose it needs to become a certain age before they do. In good time I hope to have Blackbirds and Finches nesting, and perhaps migrant Warblers and Thrushes will also use the hedge.
    Although the garden is quite small, we are in a rural town and in time it should provide a good little habitat for a variety of species.

    Your description of your garden with its 1.5km meadow path sounds very mouthwatering, a nature reserve in its own right...wonderful. I bet your diary is full of wonderful accounts of nature from within your garden.

    Chat again soon Tim and take care.

    Paul

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    Replies
    1. "a nature reserve in its own right"....
      and registered as such with the LPO [French RSPB equivalent]...
      and read the blog / diary...
      Aigronne Valley Wildlife [ http://le-moulin-de-la-forge.blogspot.fr/ ]
      for more details....
      saw yet another Hen Harrier today...
      not the one on our territory.

      Hawthorns fruit from about year five....
      Blackthorn has good years...
      round here they make Epine Noir...
      using two builders handfulls of the young growth, white or red wine and cognac...
      leave mix to brew... filter it off the blackthorn shoots....
      bottle and leave until Autumn....
      Sloe Gin is also made when it fruits...
      as is Sloe Rum... both winter warmers.
      We actually have stopped making it...
      we have loads of all three... but don't drink it all that frequently...
      Pauline has taken to making Sloe Jelly... great with cold meats...
      and dark-brown rye bread!

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