Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 30 April 2016

East Wretham Heath and Little Cressingham, Norfolk

East Wretham Heath 0640-1130
Finally today, the weather was beginning to feel more like Spring.  A slight frost at dawn, however, the rising sun began to have some warmth about it. The wind was less cool than of late.
My intention today was to locate Redstart within the beautiful Waterloo Plantation, especially in areas of old broken Scots Pines where suitable nesting habitat occurs.  But first I wanted to check Langmere, one of two meres here on the reserve.
Male Willow Warbler at East Wretham Heath 30/04/16

An overview of Langmere produced a couple of pairs of Lapwings, one male bird was seen to stir up the soft ground on the fringes of the mere by shaking his leg to stir up any invertebrates for food.
A pair of Oystercatchers were seen to copulate, whilst on the mere I saw a pair of Little Grebes, a pair of Pochard (really handsome male), a pair of Teal and Shoveler, and a pair of Mute Swans which soon departed.
I then spent the remainder of my time here searching the magnificent Scots Pines for Redstart and Warblers.  A slow walk around this habitat produced nice views of both male and
Willow Warbler territory at East Wretham Heath 30/04/16
female Blackcap, and Chiffchaffs were very active amongst the woodland understorey.
A calling Cuckoo was often heard, he appeared to be somewhere within forest clearings
A pair of Willow Warblers were seen in open woodland/heathland habitat, the male singing, and the female always close by.  Often, both birds were seen on the ground amongst bracken where they were presumably were attending to a nearby nest.
I located a singing Redstart within an old woodland habitat comprising very old, large Oaks, similarly large Scots Pines, and lots of old broken trees where suitable nesting habitat occurs.  And a singing Redstart was all I could muster, he was always high in the woodland canopy and despite searching I could not locate him visually.  I was happy though that we have at least one Redstart on territory.
Both Blackcap and Chiffchaffs continued to be both heard and seen.  Several Goldcrests were also singing and three male Stock Doves sang.
As always, the Rookery at the traditional site made it presence known with constantly calling birds.

Little Cressingham (late afternoon)
I arrived on the Great Cressingham Road north-west of 'The Arms' at about 1600 for a walk to Watton Brook and back.  By this time the wind had dropped and it felt pleasantly warm in the sunshine.
Whitethroat (male) at Little Cressingham 30/04/16

A singing Whitethroat was seen in a Briar patch, I wanted to check him out on my return.  A Blackcap also sang here.  3 Curlews flew south to north over the Watton Brook valley, these were undoubtedly local breeding birds.
Back at the Briar patch, I sat and watched a male Whitethroat on his territory.  I watched this bird flying between several patches of suitable breeding habitat, I assumed he was still attempting to attract a returning female as he was the only bird seen.  He would often approach me giving his "tcshrrrr" warning note.

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