Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Hockham and Grimes Graves, Norfolk

Hockham 0630
I arrived just over an hour prior to sunrise, the forest at this time was almost in complete darkness, despite this it was a good opportunity to listen for Owls, and my route to my intended destination produced 12+ male Tawny Owls calling, often three or four in quick succession.   Throughout this visit light remained poor with leaden skies.
This mornings visit was most notable for the movement of Finches with Siskins in variable numbers long before sunrise.

Teal (heard)
4+ Water Rail
12+ Tawny Owls
2 Marsh Tit
75+ Redpoll
Reed Bunting

Of particular interest was the post-roost movement of 75+ Redpolls (20+15+40+) overhead, all three flocks passed directly above me in a southerly heading.  I was initially alerted to the presence of Redpolls by their approaching "djit djit" calls, a call which I love to hear.   Approximately half a mile south of my position stands some fine old Silver Birches, perhaps these trees were the intended destination, given their propensity for this species to feed in. 
Redpolls are scarce breeding birds now, the birds seen today will be winter visitors from the upland Birch forests of Britain or Northern Europe.  

Grimes Graves
The purpose of this mid-afternoon visit was to check suitable habitat for Great Grey Shrike.  This area is a regular wintering site for this spectacular predator.  Although not seen today, I am confident that this site will eventually produce a bird in the coming months.
Wintering habitat of Great Grey Shrike at Grimes Graves 27th October 2016

Stonechat at Grimes Graves 27th October (One of 4+ seen today)
 At least 4 Stonechats were seen at Grimes Graves today, two seen on open heathland, and two seen in a mixed young open conifer/grassland habitat.  The above Stonechat is seen here in typical pose, on top of a young conifer from where it utters its soft tongue clicking call.
Also seen here today was single Redpolls, a single Mistle Thrush, small numbers of Redwings, Jays and a couple of Magpies.

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