Breckland Birder

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

Sunday, 27 November 2016

East Wretham and Croxton Heaths, Norfolk 0730-1130

A walk along Harling Drove at dawn eventually led to Croxton Heath.  This location is dominated by Pine woodland compartments of varying ages from saplings to mature trees.  My aim this morning was to first check a number of 19th century marl-pits which have now been colonised by some very fine looking Hawthorn and Blackthorn thickets.  These habitats provide a welcome relief to the seemingly endless Pine woodland, they also offer good feeding and roosting sites for passerine species.
Good numbers of Bullfinches were  seen and heard this morning with an estimated 20+ birds involved including 12+ in one large thicket around a large marl-pit.  On one occasion 5 male Bullfinches were seen together, a stunning sight.  Redwings, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, a female Brambling, and many Yellowhammers also made use of this thick cover.
Walking along a forest ride I came across lots of feathers on the ground, these were sadly from a Barn Owl and Wood Pigeon.  Looking up, a large Scots Pine bough had clearly been used as a plucking post, no doubt by a Goshawk.
3 Goosander (females, or red-heads') on Langmere 27/11/16
Finally, I spent some quality time overlooking Langmere where a variety of Duck species and a few Mute Swans congregated.  20+ Shoveler were seen, some swimming, others roosting on the shore. Teal were also quite plentiful and a few Gadwall and a single, fine looking male Pochard was seen.  Of particular interest was the presence of 3 Goosander (females or 'red-heads') on Langmere.  Goosanders are winter visitors, often encountered during particularly cold spells.  These ducks are known as 'sawbills' this is due to their serrated mandibles which efficiently catch fish underwater.
A single Little Grebe, some Coot and Moorhen was also seen on Langmere, whilst around the fringes of the water, 6 Snipe probed the mud for food. 

SPECIES LIST: Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Egyptian Goose (pair), 20+ Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, 1 Pochard (male), Mallard, 3 Goosander (females), Moorhen, Coot, 6 Snipe, 1 Little Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Rook, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jay, Brambling, Chaffinch, 20+ Bullfinch, Redpoll, Siskin, Yellowhammer.

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