Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Houghton-on-the-Hill (migration watch) and Great Cressingham/South Pickenham, Norfolk

This morning dawned clear and cool with very little wind and patchy mist.  3 degrees Celsius at dawn rising to a high of 12 degrees by the afternoon.  It remained very bright and sunny throughout the day.
At Houghton this morning there was evidence of passage again with birds being seen and heard as they moved over.  A light but frequent movement of Bramblings seen and heard, also small number of Siskins passed over from pre-sunrise.
An afternoon visit along the Peddars Way at Great Cressingham produced a small covey of Grey Partridges at one of their regular open arable haunts.

Houghton-on-the-Hill 0645-0900 (sunrise 0741)
I arrived at Houghton almost an hour prior to sunrise.  With its isolation, lack of light pollution, and cool temperature, this was simply a wonderful time to be here.
An initial walk around the area produced 3 calling Tawny Owls (2 males), calling Redwings and Blackbirds, and eventually, the now familiar pale Buzzard with the Osprey head markings.
My aim was to conduct a static check for passage migrants, this I started at 0800 and finished at 0900.  The following was seen/heard:

3 Cormorants south
50+ Golden Plover high south
Fieldfare west
Redwings arrivals + light west movement
Bramblings (5+7 seen) west (light passage)
Siskins light passage from dawn  

As with previous recent visits, Brambling passage was witnessed either as high-flying, unseen calling birds, or as visible migrants, including a party of 7 which stopped off close to the church.  Another small flock of 5 was seen heading high north-west, calling heard again.
A light passage of Fieldfare witnessed from before sunrise with small numbers high west.  A small flock of 10 also seen west.  Siskins were also heard long before sunrise passing overhead. 

Great Cressingham/South Pickenham (Peddars Way)
A late afternoon visit to the Peddars Way saw continued bright conditions, however, with the sun low in the sky and temperatures dropping, mist began to form in low lying areas.
Grey Partridges (7) at Great Cressingham 25th October 

Starting at Great Cressingham, I found 7 Grey Partridges together in vast open arable country.  This is as good area for this now scarce species.
Further along the Peddars Way at South Pickenham, hedgerows appeared to hold good numbers of Redwings.  With light fading fast, about 30 Redwings flew from the hedgerows and headed off high west.
A single Goldcrest was seen moving along a hedgerow.
As I was preparing to leave a Sparrowhawk shot along roadside hedges in search of a late meal.

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