Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hockham and Stow Bedon, Norfolk

A much improved day with lighter winds and warmer conditions.  Overnight was cool and the day dawned with a slight frost.  It was sunny from the start of the day and despite some high cloud, afternoon temperatures rose to a high of 18 degrees, a real taste of spring.

Hockham Forest and Fen 0830-1045
I was undecided as to where to visit this morning, however, my choice of destination was to prove productive with the finding of a singing Firecrest.
I parked up and walked paths through the forest (found Firecrest) and continued on to the fen before returning to watch the Firecrest.

Greylag Geese (10+ including pair with 6 young)
1 Shoveler
Little Grebe
6+ Grey Heron
FIRECREST (singing male and probable female present)
1 Cuckoo
Sedge Warbler
Blackcap - several singing birds

Having left the car, I walked a path leading to the fen and within minutes heard a Firecrest singing. A search of sun dappled woodland eventually found this incredible little bird mostly quite high in trees.  The habitat here was mixed deciduous and conifer woodland.  Having located the bird, I wanted to check out the fen, and then return to watch the Firecrest.
Firecrest (singing male) at Hockham 01/05/16
Having spent a short time at the fen I then walked back to where the Firecrest was singing, it didn't take long to relocate it, but by this time the light was improved a little upon earlier.
The bird was frustratingly mobile and I was always changing position to follow the bird.  There were brief spells when it showed reasonably well.
Song: Somewhat different from its close relative the Goldcrest.  A variation of this piercing song was heard.  Song varied between "si-si-si-si-si-si-si-si", also heard was "si-si-si-si-si-su-su-su-su", and another variation which ended in a little flourish "si-si-si-si-si-si-si-si-srll"
Firecrest at Hockham 01/05/16 (showing its striped head and bronze shoulder)
The habitat the Firecrest sang in was of mixed woodland habitat i.e. deciduous and conifer with plentiful Ivy present.  The dominant deciduous tree species is Sycamore, the large leaves looking particularly bright in the dappled sunlight.  It was within the Sycamores here that the Firecrest appeared to frequent most when both singing and especially feeding, although other habitat such as Holly, and deep, dark Ivy was visited often.
Although I was concentrating on the singing male, my photographic evidence indicates a female was also present.
I am not entirely surprised by the presence of Firecrest at this locality as I have seen the species in this area before, however, that was in winter.

Stow Bedon (afternoon)
Much warmer now with a high of 18 degrees Celsius, and it felt warmer out of the cool, but lighter wind.
My walk this afternoon took me along Gravelpit Hill, Rocklands Road, and Mere Road (about 3 miles).
Most notable was the increase in Whitethroat territories with at least 5 located.  Also noted was singing Blackcap and Greenfinch.
A female Sparrowhawk passed over the Rocklands Road, also a Buzzard with particularly pale underparts was seen.