Breckland Birder

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

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill

1 Goshawk (male)
2 Kestrel
2 Buzzard
20+ Blackcap
15+ Chiffchaffs
1 Lesser Whitethroat
35+ Goldfinches
12+ Linnets

Throughout much of September and October I spend much of my birding at this locality.  Its elevation and virtually uninterrupted views from the west to the north-east allows for excellent visible-migration.  The distance viewable from this elevated point is something in the region of 5 miles or so.  Again, this proves invaluable when tracking migrants, and the wealth of habitat at Houghton and landmarks would make this a target staging point for many hungry and tired migrant birds.
Raptors have featured significantly at Houghton with Honey Buzzard, Ospreys, Montagu's Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Peregrine, all being recorded.  Wader species are often seen including Greenshank, Whimbrel, and Snipe passing over.  Significant movements of passerine species have been observed, this has included hundreds of Meadow Pipits being seen in one morning moving over as well as winter Thrush movements which have exceeded thousands.  Flocks of several hundred Hirundines have been witnessed and as seen from my posts, this is also a staging post for many migrants, including Warblers, Wheatear, Redstart, and less frequently, Tree Pipit. 
Looking north from Houghton 3rd Sept.  The land slips away gently to the valley and River Wissey tributary and rises again to a viewing distance of about 5 miles.  A great place to witness bird migration.

Blackcap (male) at Houghton 3rd Sept.  Many seen this morning.
0605:  As I was approaching Houghton, large numbers of Crows had clearly been disturbed, moments later a Goshawk alighted in an Oak ahead of me before flying off again in a southerly heading.
This morning was focussed on migrants again and a circular walk beginning at the church eventually produced well in excess of 20 Blackcaps, with all age groups being seen.  One of the first was an immaculate looking female bird seen quite close to, also a number of males seen including a couple together in one Elder.  Male Blackcaps were heard giving sub-song and the alarm tongue clicking "tak" was often heard.  The main food source for the Blackcaps was Elderberries and indeed some birds were seen taking food.
Chiffchaffs were also quite numerous this morning and again, Elderberries were the main food source.
A single Lesser Whitethroat was heard only.  
30+ Swallows were present with individuals flying between trees to find insect food, one bird was seen for a while chasing a small insect before successfully catching it.
As I was nearing the end of this visit a Tawny Owl called very close to me, however, it was not located visually.

1040: Back home, I was enjoying a coffee in the garden when a very notable 8 Buzzards seen soaring very high directly over the garden/Watton.

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