Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Ashill, Norfolk

A generally bright morning with fast moving cloud moving over from the north.  The wind was a cold, fresh Northerly.
This morning I wanted to check a location reliable for Turtle Dove, however, I couldn't hear or see any evidence so far.  Turtle Doves are a main quarry of hunters in Europe and the Mediterranean basin and I always raise a smile when I know these birds have returned safely, despite this, their lives are one long struggle with their migration from and to Africa.
Although the wind was pretty cold this morning I did manage to locate the following:

4 Lesser Whitethroat (3 territories and one probable passage bird)
3+ Whitethroats
2 Willow Warblers

Lesser Whitethroat
The first bird of the day was a singing male in a roadside hedge (not breeding habitat).  An interesting observation seen with this bird as it flew from the hedge, gaining a little height, and continuing off in a southerly heading until I lost it to view.  An example of a bird on passage maybe.
3 territories were found with singing birds present and at one site I watched for a good two hours as Lesser Whitethroats frequently entered a thick briar patch, which, as it happens, has been a reliable site for this species over the years.
Briar patch 27/04/16.  Breeding habitat of Lesser Whitethroat for many years. Birds seen here today.
On occasions I saw a Lesser Whitethroat in this briar patch in its full glory, I had to view the bird from the road, however, it was just stunning, even with the naked eye.  The main features of the plumage seen was the charcoal grey head and ear coverts, darker loral area (between bill and eye) and eye surround, this contrasted strongly with the bright white throat.  The upperparts were mousey brown-grey, and the flanks had a slight buff wash whilst the underparts were white.
Song: Song was heard, not only given by this Lesser Whitethroat, but by others present this morning. The song I find is difficult to transcribe.  It sounds like no other Warbler in that it is given in two parts.  Most audible was a harsh rattle, written as j-j-j-j-j-j-j, however, if close to the bird, a quiet scratchy warble precedes the rattle

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