Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 26 February 2016

Golden Beauty at Thompson, Norfolk

Within its native China the Golden Pheasant inhabits mountainous regions where its status is described as rare.  This beautiful species was introduced from China into the UK in the 18 century.  The only UK populations are in Anglesey in Wales, Galloway, Scotland, and the South Downs, however, the stronghold for Golden Pheasant is in the Breckland of Norfolk and Suffolk.
Golden Pheasant at Thompson, Norfolk 26/01/16
In the early 1990's, the Breckland stronghold for Golden Pheasant was Wayland Wood, a 10 minute walk from my home, however, due to disturbance the species no longer occurs there.  In 1993 I counted a gathering of 24 Golden Pheasants in Wayland Wood.
Golden Pheasants occur at a number of Breckland localities close to my home in Watton but not in any great numbers.
Despite the male Golden Pheasants bright colours it can be surprisingly difficult to see as it moves through dense, dark woodland floor.  I have found this species favours areas of Holly.
Golden Pheasant near Thompson, Norfolk
My observations of this male Golden Pheasant was seen prior to sunrise, the cloud cover added to the very low light, therefore I had to use settings I rarely use - 300mm f2.8 ISO 6400 1/160th.
This bird silently wandered the woodland floor, picking at and scratching in the leaf litter.

Clearly the presence of this Golden Pheasant held my attention for some time, however, the morning also produced many singing passerine species.
10+ Song Thrushes were located as were a number of singing Treecreepers and Goldcrests.  Marsh Tits were present in good numbers with males heard singing their repeated "chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip-chip" notes.
At least 5 'drumming' Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard, but no Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers on this visit.  Nuthatch was seen and heard at a number of localities.
A short visit to Thompson Water produced 20 Mute Swans, Gadwall, and Coot, and in the reeds Reed Buntings were seen.

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