Breckland Birder

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

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Houghton ( 30+ Song Thrushes)

Departures. It is just over a week ago now that I last checked the wonderful hedgerows in the Houghton area for passage migrant birds, then, good numbers of Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, and Lesser Whitethroats used the habitat here to fuel up for their long journeys to Southern Europe and Africa.  As I walked along the corridor of hedgerows, Warblers would be seen flying from one side to the other, between fruiting bushes, however, the area today was strangely quiet with most birds having departed south.  Although a sense of sadness comes with their departure, thoughts turn to the north with incoming Thrushes and Finches making full use of the heavy Blackberry and Hawthorn crop.

Pre-dawn to 0800:  I arrived at Houghton this morning in semi-darkness, it was dry although varying levels of cloud gave poor light.  The moderate southerly wind was not conducive to passage, despite this, it was clear there was some Thrush arrivals scattered over the area covered this morning.
My visit started with a Barn Owl hunting over an area of permanent grassland/grazing.  The silent ghostly image of the Owl reminded me of stories of apparitions seen at this locality.  A hunting Barn Owl in low light could certainly fit the bill for those inclined to believe.
The beautiful old hedgerow which hosted many Song Thrushes 1st October
There was virtually no evidence of any summer migrants today, however, walking along a narrow track it was clear that a number of Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were present in the old, thick hedgerows.  A number of "tik" calls betrayed the presence of Song Thrushes, and indeed, as I entered a clearing, 2 Song Thrushes were seen quite high.
Walking along a corridor of hedgerows brought further Song Thrushes and my only Blackcap of the morning.  Overhead, a very light southerly passage of Meadow Pipits was noted.
Back at where I started the mornings walk, light had improved with a large break in the cloud and I decided to watch an old, well stocked hedge around the grassland where I had earlier seen the Barn Owl.  This beautiful thick hedgerow comprising very old Hawthorn, Elder, Ash, and a superb large bank of Bramble, played host to many Song Thrushes passing through it along with several Blackbirds, and a couple of Mistle Thrushes.  In an ancient Hawthorn 2 Goldcrests were seen.

30+ Song Thrushes in total were seen and heard in total this morning, clearly, these are recently arrived continental migrants.

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