Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The beauty of my job

For the past 21 months I have been working as a carer, a job which I love.  I meet some wonderful people with lovely life-stories to share.  I also travel to great locations within rural Norfolk, many of which I have never known of until my job took me there.
Today I visited many villages including Morley St Botolph, Deopham, Wymondham, Barnham Broom, and finally this evening ending at Hethersett.  My travels today around these wonderful locations brought the following highlights:

1 Barn Owl
4 Kestrels
1 Peregrine at Deopham
c.20 Golden Plovers
1 Woodcock

The day dawned dry with a moderate frost and the day remained dry with plenty of bright sunshine and a high of about 4 degrees celsius.
At dawn I was driving towards Wymondham when I caught glimpse of a Barn Owl hunting the grassy verges of High Oak Lane at Morley.
Having completed calls in Wymondham I was driving towards the lovely village of Morley when I saw 2 Kestrels on roadside wires/telegraph poles from where they watched the rough verges below.  Later that morning whilst driving towards Barnham Broom, a further 2 Kestrels were seen, again on roadside wires.

Deopham Green
For my break during the afternoon I parked up at the site of the former WW2 airfield.  Concrete hardstands and lengths of the former runway (now a connecting road between Deopham village and Little Ellingham) serve as a reminder of the former existence of this B17 Flying Fortress station.
This locality is one of a vast, open landscape of arable with some nice patches of Sallow and Bramble habitat.  I often like to watch this site as it is usually good for wintering raptors.
A few Pied Wagtails walked and ran along tracks made by farm vehicles in their search for food, also here was Carrion Crow, a few Skylarks, and a Dunnock which skulked within an isolated bush.
Whilst overviewing the large fields a raptor species passed overhead, this was a fine looking adult Peregrine Falcon, it initially flew away from me and then doubled back towards me offering great views of the Black hood, streaked underparts, stiff looking pointed wings and torpedo shaped body.  I then watched this beautiful bird climb away to the south-east.  The presence of this Peregrine is not entirely unexpected within this open habitat.  I know this species as a scarce but regular winter visitor to this part of Norfolk.
Also seen from the hardstand was a small flock of about 20 Golden Plover, their twisting and turning in flight alternating between flashes of white of their underparts to the dark of the upperparts.
Also noted was a single Buzzard passing over.

My calls today ended at Hethersett.  Parking up at dusk in the village produced a wonderful silhouetted view of a Woodcock flying silently against the darkening sky above a residential area.  The Woodcock is truly an enigma of the bird world, a wading bird which inhabits woodland, and whose numbers are swollen in the winter in the UK by continental migrants.  Was this Woodcock one such visitor I wonder?

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