Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk

0515 I arrived at Houghton to a bright, cloudless sky, however, the most noticeable feature of the weather was the moderate, occasionally fresh north-westerly which gave a fairly cool 9 degrees at dawn.
As I approached St Mary's Church a single Barn Owl was hunting along the long grassy/weedy field verge, a good start to the morning.
This morning was used to search for early signs of migrant species on the move.  A few Warblers were seen and heard but the dominant species this morning was many observations of highly mobile Bullfinches.  I was intent of taking a picture of Bullfinch, especially the resplendent male as I have yet to photograph one, I decided to rest my arms for a while after waiting for a bird to appear as they were in the area, yes, you guessed it, a stunning male appeared on a sprig which I was focussed on seconds earlier.
Walking along the course of the Peddars Way path a single Whitethroat uttered its "churrrr" alarm note from cover.  The walk along the lane to Houghton Common produced calling Bullfinch in the dense tree-lined hedge, and indeed as the path opened into arable habitat further Bullfinches were heard.  I recently saw a nice group of 5 juvenile Bullfinches at this locality.
I continued may walk through the wonderful corridor of hedgerows and was greeted by 2 singing Yellowhammers and alarm calling Blackcap.
Towards the end of the hedgerow corridor things started looking up when it was apparent that several Warblers were present, these included a couple of Whitethroats (one seen near ripe Elderberries), and a few Chiffchaffs.  Local post-breeding movements or genuine migrants, that's the exciting thing about bird behaviour I find.
A well stocked hedge at Houghton 9th August.  Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs seen here today.
I arrived back at St Mary's and had a protracted stay here listening and watching life around me.  Several Blackcaps were seen and heard here, those seen were adult male and juvenile birds, also lots of "tak" calls heard.  A rather scruffy Chiffchaff passed through.  Bullfinches featured strongly in this area with several birds mobile and frequently calling.  A stunning male briefly settled on an exposed sprig.
Buzzard.  Probably a parent of a noisy nearby juvenile bird.  The light reflected from stubble below shows of the markings beautifully on this bird.
The noisiest bird of the morning goes to an incessantly calling juvenile Buzzard, an adult Buzzard was also seen, probably one of the parent birds.  A brief sky-watch did produce 7 Buzzards soaring high to the distant north-east. Two Kestrels were also seen, one mobbed a Buzzard.
A couple of Green Woodpeckers were in the area, this included a very scaly juvenile bird seen on the ground before flying into nearby woodland.  BlackcapsChiffchaffs, and Goldcrests featured in this nearby woodland. 
Finally, I was attracted to a number of noisy "seeeu" calls low down close to the woodland floor, but I could not see movement, so I sat a while and waited.  Eventually, several juvenile Wrens appeared along with at least one of the parent birds, I watched as the parents delicately took small food items from weeds and feed its young.  The young Wrens appeared very weak in flight and seemed very recently fledged, clearly a very late brood.

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