Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Thompson Water (with Leigh Gallant) and Bodney, Norfolk

The forecast for today was for rain, however, it remained dry but cloudy with a strong SW wind.  It was a very mild 14 degrees celsius.
I was joined today by Leigh Gallant, a local man who 'found me' through my blog.  Leigh is very passionate about wildlife and is also a keen photographer.  My intention today was to introduce Leigh to Thompson Water and its birdlife, fortunately there was plenty on offer both on the water and the surrounding damp woodland.

At 0715, Leigh and I arrived just outside of the village of Thompson for a walk along the narrow road which leads down to the Peddars Way, and eventually our destination at Thompson Water.  On route both Goldcrest and Treecreepers were singing in the mature woodland.
We arrived on the bank overlooking Thompson Water and noted many Coot and Mute Swans on the water, whilst here a lovely Grey Wagtail flew into waterside trees offering lovely views whilst close by a female Reed Bunting clambered about in rank vegetation.
Male Chaffinch at Thompson Water 21/02/16
Having spent a little time on the bank we then made our way to the hide in the reeds to check for Wildfowl on the water.  Once again, Mute Swans gracefully presented themselves in front of the hide whilst on open water several Greylag Geese flew in.
Smaller wildfowl seen included several Gadwall, Mallard, a few Teal, and for me, the most attractive Duck, the Wigeon were in small numbers usually hidden within surface weed.  The male Wigeon has the most attractive chestnut head with the golden flash from the forehead to the bill.

Marsh Tit at Thompson Water 21/02/16 (A common species)
Turning to the woodland close to the hide, several Tit species were seen including Marsh, Coal, Great, and Blue Tits.  A Nuthatch nervously moved around in cover.  It was whilst watching these passerine species that a Sparrowhawk shot through at speed.
A pair of Chaffinches were seen well with the male looking especially attractive with his dull pink underparts and Blue-grey crown.
A few Reed Buntings were also present, all were females.

Having left Thompson Water we then headed back towards the village to our starting point, on the way, a number of Siskins were chattering away high in woodland.
Arriving back at our cars we set off our separate ways following what was a productive morning.  A big thank you to Leigh for joing me, a lovely and very enthusiastic man.

The weather continued very mild at 14 degrees, however, the open landscape here gave no shelter from the strong south-westerly wind.
Despite the wind strength, this short visit produced a good selection and numbers of birds, this included 3 raptor species.
The walk-out from the car was into the wind and the first bird seen was 'windhover' or Kestrel as it is more commonly known as.  A pair of Buzzards effortlessly rode the wind.
I was hoping to find Stonechat along the way as this species has been noted here earlier in January, however, not seen today.
I then reached a long Scots Pine belt, a typical Breckland feature, and was greeted by a singing Mistle Thrush, also here was a small flock of Fieldfare.
I was hoping for Goshawk and within a short time a probable juvenile bird appeared ahead of me drifting left to right.  Another pair of Buzzards were seen.
Along the pine belt, a few Siskins and Goldfinches, along with 50+ Chaffinches sheltered from the wind.
The walk back saw a large number of various species flocked together on a very large distant field, these comprised 400+ Lapwings, 1000+ Starlings, and many hundreds of Corvid species, an impressive sight.


  1. Nice little Marsh Tit!
    He'd be at home in our meadow....
    actually the 400+ Green Plover would be more at home at the moment....ankle deep water in the meadow...with deeper pitfalls where the moles have been.
    Currently got two "pieges photographiques" [camera traps / game cameras] out in the meadow and have to monitor them. One is focused on the owl box... the other on some rodent runs in the long grass...
    The Tawnies are very active and I think she's laying...
    but the Barn Owl came through last night... and both adults started calling... the female was giving a not-to-good male call... himself was in full gusto hoot mode.
    The other, pointing at the rodent runs, we hope, will gain more evidence of the water voles.

  2. Hi Tim, my apologies for this late reply. Thanks for your post. How are the Tawny Owls doing. ...are they incubating?