Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


On Tuesday 29th November I was working in Costessey just west of the city of Norwich in Norfolk. 
During my morning break I decided to stop to have a look at the Waxwings which had been in the area for a few days.  In fact I have been watching the area for a few weeks as I considered this a good area for the birds to turn up.  The habitat is residential with a small park lined with a few Rowan trees, both red berries and yellow.
I arrived with no birds seen initially but soon I heard their call and a flock circled above before alighting in the yellow-berried Rowan.  I noticed that a few of the red-berried trees had already been stripped, however, a further tree still had all its berries as did one of the 'yellow' trees.  The reason soon became clear why the Waxwings had not touched these two trees yet, they were being defended by a single Mistle Thrush which drove all other birds away, not only the Waxwings, but also Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons.
Waxwing in Costessey 29th Nov.
Waxwing 29th Nov.
Waxwing Costessey 29th Nov.
Waxwing 29th Nov.
In total there was probably 30 to 40 Waxwings involved in this observation.  As well as watching their typical feeding behaviour in the Rowans, a single Waxwing was seen to fly to just above where I was standing to expertly catch a small insect species in 'flycatcher' style.
Also in the immediate area was a single very territorial Mistle Thrush, Jay, a Blackbird feeding upon red berries, and Wood Pigeons.


  1. Wow... absolutely stonking pictures of one of my favourite birds...
    I have watched them feeding in a mixed roadside avenue of Whitebeam and Rowan in Leeds, near the Headingley Cricket Ground.... I didn't have my camera with me so ran the half-mile back home and returned at the run with my camera.... it was not a four-minute mile... it wasn't an eight minute mile either...
    during this period they had finished cleaning out the berried trees and retired to the tops of some nearby poplars.
    I got some shots, but my telephoto wasn't really big enough...
    and, being in the tops of fairly fastigiate trees were not only silhoueted against the sky, but obscured somewhat by branches!
    Still, I have seen the real thing and got photographs...
    just not like these.
    I also like the convoy of Sawbills in the previous post... thats a nicely composed shot!

  2. Hi Tim
    Great to get your comments as always. I hope you are well and looking forward to Christmas.
    Thank you very much for your kind comments regarding the Waxwing pictures. At the time of writing to you the birds are still at the same locality although the berry crop is very much depleted now. Do Waxwings reach you in France Tim?
    I am glad you got to see the Headingly birds, isn't amazing how quick these beauties clear trees of berries. I can actually remember my first observation of Waxwings, it was in the winter of '75/'76 when 3 birds fed upon crab apples in our garden in Beccles.
    I have received a message from a friend who thinks my Goosanders are the first birds recorded in Breckland this autumn/winter. The 'convoy' has made me think that these may be a mother and a couple of young in tow, the lead bird appears to have the most developed head pattern.
    Great to read your comments as always Tim. Thank you.

  3. No... no waxwings this far south... but we do get compensations....
    with a millstream outside the kitchen window.
    We regularly get visits from Water Rail... especially when the weather gets cold enough to freeze the edges of the lakes, they begin to seek continuously flowing water... and I managed some nice shots of one from the kitchen window. We have had snipe and sandpipers... and a Little Egret that was fishing in the millstream the other side of the bridge... felt secure enough to pass under in front of the kitchen and lounge windows.... I didn't dare try for the camera.
    And of course, we get the cranes over twice a year...
    Hen Harriers and Montagu's quarter the meadow from time to time, in season for the latter...and overfly regularly...
    it must be getting colder as we currently see a Reed Warbler every day in the bushes by the house.... just waiting for the Bramblings and Siskins.
    Keep well,