Breckland Birder

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

Monday, 10 October 2016

Migration watch at Houghton-on-the-Hill 0650-0900

Some overnight rain was followed by a clear morning with cloud moving in from the north-east.  Increasing cloud eventually produced some rain at 0845.  The wind was a light to moderate north-easterly, increasing in strength to fresh with the arrival of rain.

I arrived at Houghton at 0650 for a circular walk starting at St Mary's Church.  It was evident from the outset that recently arrived Thrushes, mostly Song Thrushes and Redwings occupied the hedgerows along the route.

Of interest was a late, calling Willow Warbler east of the church.

Also noted was Goldcrests at 3 sites, Bullfinches at 3 sites, and single Chiffchaffs, also at 3 sites.  A single juvenile Green Woodpecker was seen climbing a telegraph pole where it searched for food.

A stunningly marked Buzzard (juvenile) was seen perched in the upper dead limbs of an Oak.  Close observation through the 'scope revealed a very pale bird with light brown upperparts mottled white. The head of this bird was gorgeous, the crown was streaked light brown, the fore-crown and sides of the crown, cheeks and chin were pure white, a dark stripe passing through both eyes gave it a masked appearance, in fact whilst watching this bird the head markings really did recall those of an Osprey.  With the exception of light brown patches on the flanks, all underparts and under-tail coverts were pure white, a stunning individual.  

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Visible migration 0800-0845.  A dedicated watch for passage species produced a light to moderate westerly movement of Thrushes, especially Redwings.

Redwing - A moderate westerly passage, largest flock 100+ birds.  Overnight arrivals also
Song Thrush - westerly passage, also overnight arrivals
2 Siskins south
8+ Bramblings west

A steady westerly passage of Redwings was seen throughout this watch, most flocks numbered 15, 20, or 30 birds, however, the largest numbered 100+ birds.
Small numbers of Redwings were also seen approaching high and dropping into the well-stocked hedgerows.

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St Mary's Church at Houghton-on-the-Hill

St Mary's at Houghton
I never tire of visiting St Mary's Church at Houghton-on-the-Hill.  This is a peaceful, very isolate site, and a place to sit, think, and watch the bird-life which passes through or lives here.
The church in its current state dates to the 11th century, or probably earlier.  This beautiful place is run and maintained by dedicated volunteers.  The doors to the church are opened daily 1400-1600.  There is so much to see and learn from those who lovingly maintain the church, including fantastic murals depicting biblical scenes which date to the 11th century or earlier.
St Mary's site on the western end of a raised ridge of land (hill) with fine views down to the valley to the north-west and beyond where the land rises again, similarly, it is possible to see a distant horizon to the south, although this descent is gentler.

Birds
I have been visiting this locality for many years now, its elevated position allows for great migration watching, especially in the autumn. 
Todays visit to the churchyard produced a few common species passing through including Goldcrest and a pair of Coal Tits.  3 Great Tits, Dunnock, and Robin were all noted here today.


 

1 comment:

  1. There is an adult Buzzard in our valley... a pale morph...
    who also has Osprey-like head markings...
    combine that with the very white breast, wings and undertail...
    and the fact that it will, regularly adopt horizontal or vertical poses on posts...
    and you can imagine, at this time of the year, it has us dashing for the binos... to check!!
    In flight, there is no problem... the wings are buzzard!
    But even then, its "hands" aren't particularly clear.
    We have had it around now for at least three years...
    nice bird!

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