Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Years Day Birding

After a long run of very mild days and nights this morning dawned something more akin to winter with a slight frost, a low of -1 degrees and a daytime high of 7 degrees.  It was bright and crisp first thing with high cloud eventually moving in.
Today I visited three local sites, Hockham Fen, Bodney, and Little Cressingham, and gathered a total of 47 species, or rather 46 and one very frustrating raptor seen all to briefly (and once binoculars were packed away back at the on).

Hockham Fen/Forest
I arrived at the road to Galley Hill long before sunrise and to the wonderful sound of at least 4 calling male Tawny Owls.  A Song Thrush was also singing at this time.
I reached the Fen, just prior to sunrise and to the wonderful sound of calling Teal.  I was able to glimpse Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, and an Egyptian Goose through my binoculars.  It was about this time that 4 Red Deer slowly strolled out of the forest, over the fen, and into Cranberry Rough where they will spend the day in the safety of thick, damp, swampy cover.
Long before sunrise, the most abundant passerine species heard was Siskin, these delightful little Finches continued to be both heard and seen after sunrise, presumably leaving their roost sites to their feeding grounds.
Two or three Green Woodpeckers were heard (2 seen), and 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard/seen, this included a 'drumming' bird.
The walk back through the forest produced typical species including mobile Tit flocks comprising Marsh and Coal Tits, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper.

I next decided to pop over to Bodney to see if the Stonechats were still in the same area, and they were, and showing well as they typically flew between the tops of weeds from where they dropped to the ground for food and swiftly back to their elevated perch.
Also in the area was 100+ Fieldfares wandering the large expanses of fields.  A single Chaffinch was seen and a couple of Mute Swans passed overhead.
Stonechat (Female) Bodney 01/01/16

Stonechat (female) Bodney 01/01/16

Little Cressingham (Great Cressingham Road)
My final stop of the day was just north-west of 'The Arms' from where I walked to Watton Brook Valley and back.  I expected to see a variety of Finch species and was lucky enough to locate Bramblings, Chaffinches, and Greenfinches in the hedgerows close to the maize strip.  One male Brambling was seen well in a hedgerow tree.
At Watton Brook Valley a check of the meadows produced a distant Buzzard on the ground, often running to collect prey, presumably an invertebrate such as a worm or beetle.  A few more Fieldfares and Starlings were seen and 4 Mute Swans overflew.
This had been a good mornings birding and I was packing away my equipment back at the car, I glimpsed something to my right moving at speed and saw the bird, a raptor for less than a second disappear below the level of the maize strip, it was heading for the wooded pit where large numbers of Finches and Buntings gather, I think it was possibly a Merlin, although I did not see it long enough to confirm.  I do encounter  a Merlin occasionally in winter on the patch.....was this one such bird.

NEW YEARS DAY SPECIES: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Teal, Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin (possible), Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker (inc. 'drumming), Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Marsh Tit, Skylark, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Robin, Stonechat (2), Dunnock, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer.
47 species seen including the unconfirmed possible Merlin.

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